During the summer break I had the opportunity to read ‘A Mother’s Story’ by Rosie Batty. I was well aware of Rosie’s story and the tragic circumstances surrounding the murder of her son Luke in 2014. Her son attended Flinders Christian College, a school that we know well and they lived in Tyabb, an area I also know very well. Rosie has since become the voice and the face of the campaign against domestic violence in Australia. For her courage and passion she was named Australian of the Year in 2015. I don’t think anyone will ever forget the manner in which Rosie faced the media the day after Luke’s death and spoke about the impact of domestic violence in our country and need for all of us to know more and do more to prevent these tragedies. Rosie has become the voice of the marginalised in our country and has used her infamy to influence our leaders in Canberra.
Last year, along with members of our School Board and senior male students, we took the pledge against domestic violence, in front of the audience on White Ribbon Day at the Wellington Entertainment Centre. I have heard many people speak on this topic and I considered myself quite informed, however, it was not until I read Rosie’s book, that I began to understand the depth of manipulation, fear and endless anxiety that is created when families are subjected to this form of abuse. Rosie and Luke’s story began the day that Rosie first met Luke’s father and continued through to 14 February 2014, when Luke was killed by his father. It was a daily sense of fear and uncertainty, as Luke’s father used every means possible to manipulate and threaten. It is very difficult to imagine what could lead a person to treat others in this way and to eventually take the life of their own son, yet this is a story that is played out every day in homes across Australia. It is not restricted to the poor or the addicted, it crosses all boundaries of ethnicity, affluence and profession and it always involves high levels of threatening and manipulative behaviour.
2015 Research from the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria shows that:
- Globally 1 in 3 women experience partner violence
- 1 woman is killed nearly every week in Australia due to family violence
- 7 in 10 women murdered in Australia are victims of family violence
- Children are present in 1 out of every 3 family violence cases reported to the police
Most of us will know of someone who is currently experiencing domestic violence, however, we will most probably not pick up the signs and if we did, we will not know what to do or where to get help. The victim will plead with us to say and do nothing. Rosie Batty was surrounded by people who knew of her abuse and she was entrenched in a system that was supposed to be supporting and protecting both Luke and herself, however, friends and the system failed in protecting Luke and saving his life.
As a society we must do everything possible to help those who are subjected to domestic violence on a daily basis. We must know and look for the signs and risk factors, we must act decisively and supportively and we must always seek to protect those who need help.
Support is available on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) for those experiencing the effects of domestic or family violence. The Men’s Referral Service (MRS) is contactable on 1300 766 491, offering counselling, information and referrals to help men stop using violent and controlling behaviour.
It has been great to catch up with our students this week at all 3 campuses and also our Junior School parents at the recent information evenings. All of our families appear to have returned to School fresh and eager and full of optimism about the year ahead. Whilst some of our Senior students are fresh and excited about the year ahead, they are also a little tired as they come to terms with waking up before 11am in the morning!
Last weekend I was fortunate to spend some time with our senior rowers who were competing at the Barwon Regatta in Geelong. I was at the Regatta as both the Principal and also as an interested father. I love watching the manner in which our rowers interact with each other and also with their coaches. They speak a language that is hard to decipher for non-rowers and they support each other with passion when their peers are racing. To take to the water in a quad, double or single scull is a difficult task for any person to undertake and I am in awe of the manner in which our students mechanically rig their boats, take to the water and compete in such a professional way. They are indeed experts at their chosen sport. As a father I am also very aware of the countless hours that go into their preparation and fitness. For us mere mortals, it is difficult to understand the physical pain that our rowers push through each time they race and the extraordinary levels of fitness they have attained this season. For many, this will be the fittest they will ever be in their lives and this will be closest they will come to experiencing competitive sport at an elite level. Whilst there are times (usually at 5.30am in the morning) when they doubt their commitment and the reasons for rowing, there are also times when the shear sense of accomplishment must be incredibly satisfying. I congratulate them for their commitment, perseverance and resilience. They are learning about themselves in ways that may not be possible again in their lives.
It is with sadness that I report the resignation of Mrs Renee Yeowell. Mrs Yeowell has accepted a position teaching Geography at Knox Grammar in Sydney and will be leaving us early in Term 2. This is a great opportunity for Mrs Yeowell to move closer to family in Sydney and we wish her well. Mr Yeowell will be joining Renee at some stage in 2017. This weekend we will be advertising for a Geography teacher and also a Chaplain, as Rev Taylor returns to Geelong in Term 2. We are confident that we will find 2 outstanding candidates for these positions. Please see our website for details.
I wish all Garnsey students well for the House Swimming Carnival on Monday and also our Year 12 students as they leave for Year 12 Camp on Wednesday. Our Year 12 students have made an excellent start to the year and I am looking forward to spending time with them on Thursday night.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of our families to the 2016 School year. It was great this morning to welcome all of our students back to School and in particular to attend the St Anne’s new students’ welcome fellowship. I welcome all of our families who are new to Gippsland Grammar in 2016. I am hopeful that you will be made to feel included by our community and I look forward to seeing you on Friday 12 February in the Chapel of St Anne (Garnsey Campus) for the Parents and Friends welcome drinks.
During the holidays our non-teaching team have been working productively to prepare the School for the students and the School was looking fantastic for day 1. Our teachers have been meeting since earlier this week to set goals and unpack the School goals for 2016.
We welcomed many new staff to the School this year and I have listed them below.
|New staff member||Position|
|Daniel Broadbridge||Sports and PE GAP Assistant|
|Bridgette Bragg||Outdoor Ed GAP Assistant|
|Amandine Buchart||French Lang Assistant|
|Julie Cannon||English Teacher|
|Katie Cross||Classroom Teacher, Bairnsdale|
|Emma Deane||Receptionist – Garnsey|
|Sophie Dilks||Bairnsdale GAP Assistant|
|Jacinta Fleming||Head of ISC|
|Bree Henderson||Japanese Teacher|
|Andrew Hodges||Maths/Science Teacher|
|Michael Howard||Head of Science|
|Riley Jones||General Duties GAP Assistant|
|Alexander Lawson||Year 9 GAP Assistant|
|Robert Loft||Classroom Teacher, Bairnsdale|
|Richard Macaulay||Humanities Teacher|
|Brendan Morgan||Classroom Teacher, Bairnsdale|
|Ollie Nash||Head of Outdoor Education|
|Kerry O’Connor||Learning Support Assistant|
|Richard Ogilvie||PE & Health Teacher|
|Megan Wills||Maths/Science Teacher|
We also welcome back from leave, Melissa Tatterson who will be assisting with the administration of our ELCs, Michelle Sands to the Pathways Department and Tamara Warden returns to teach Flute.
At the end of last year we had some last minute resignations. Opportunities and family circumstances led to the departures of Judith Lincoln (Boarding House), Na Gu (Japanese Teacher) and Joel Gunning (ICT technician). We wish them well with regards to their new career paths. As a consequence to these changes, Leanne Heywood will be moving to the Boarding House as the full time female supervisor and Leonie Allen will be moving to Accounts Receivable.
I would like to wish all of our students, parents and staff a wonderful and prosperous 2016 and look forward to this being a great year for Gippsland Grammar.
Wow, what a week it has been. We have farewelled Year 6 students from both of our Junior Schools, enjoyed a Christmas dinner in the Boarding House and a Christmas lunch at our Bairnsdale Campus, farewelled staff at Garnsey and finally enjoyed a wonderful Celebration Evening on Thursday at Garnsey.
I would like to extend a very warm thank you to all members of our community for your ongoing support and commitment to our School. I would like to congratulate all of our students for their efforts in 2015. It has been a very successful and satisfying year- our students continue to shine in so many varied and wonderful ways.
Finally I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope that your holidays are a joyous and safe time for you to relax and enjoy time with family.
Christmas -- that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance -- a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.
For some of us, Christmas can also be a time of mixed emotions when we miss loved ones who are no longer with us. Please feel free to join me with Rev Taylor on Tuesday December 15 in the Chapel of St Anne at 7pm. This will be a service of Hope and remembrance.
Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to host the SEISA Year 12 leadership retreat at Raymond Island. This was a new initiative for SEISA schools, designed to bring together the Year 12 student leaders for 2016 in a fun and informative environment where they could explore their roles and responsibilities as a leader. Over 70 students from St Pauls, Beaconhills, Newhaven and Gippsland Grammar came together for the two day event.
Leadership activities and games were facilitated throughout the weekend by Chris Beckman. Chris is a leadership expert from the National Australia Bank who led the students through a journey of understanding, as they explored the concepts of communication, behaviour profiling, forming functional teams and turning ideas into actions. Chris is an amazing facilitator who managed to bring the weekend to life with his enthusiasm and knowledge.
As part of the weekend we were able to have some fun as Darren McCubbin presented a murder mystery, ‘Greased.’ This was a fantastic activity for the Saturday night, as all staff and students dressed up in their favourite 50s Grease gear and managed to solve the mystery of the gang murder. It was a very funny evening and some very good acting managed to bring the crime to life.
Our weekend away finished with a beautiful chapel service overlooking the lakes from the Abbey at Raymond Island.
This was a great weekend and it was very reassuring to spend time with some brilliant students from all five schools. The students created friendships and developed plans for the year ahead and I am looking forward to this event strengthening the bonds between the SEISA schools and also supporting students from all schools as they embark on the leadership journey for 2016.
This week has been full of excitement and anticipation as new students attended our school for the first time. Many new students joined the school as part of the Garnsey rollover and 107 students and their parents attended the Year 7 orientation on Tuesday and throughout the week. Both St Anne’s and Bairnsdale hosted new students at special fellowships today. December is usually a time when schools can become tired and a little ineffective; however, this week our school was filled with excitement, enthusiasm and highly motivated students who were eager to begin the New Year. I would like to thank staff and students at all three campuses for ensuring that new students to the school were made to feel welcome.
I had the opportunity to speak with our new Year 7 parents on Monday at the beginning of Orientation week. I shared with them my top ten tips for parenting teenagers. These are not fool proof and they don’t always work; however, they can be a starting point for maintaining positive relationships with your children.
- Never be scared to say no. if you don’t like something your child is proposing, dig in and say no. Weather the storm and remember, when they say, all the other parents are letting their kids go. They probably aren’t and they probably feel the same way you do.
- Your child will always have work to do- even though they may not have homework- studying and reading can always be done- check their diary if in doubt, send an email to your Mentor if in doubt.
- You can always help them with their homework and try to keep this going for as long as possible. If you don’t feel comfortable with the content they are learning, then learn it with them and demonstrate that you have a growth mindset and you are a lifelong learner.
- Help them to be resilient- add ‘yet’ to the end of their sentences- I can’t do this-yet. Remember that you can’t learn unless you make mistakes and have to grapple with your work. Not understanding something is a normal part of the learning process and they need to develop skills to work through difficulties.
- Try to help them solve problems involving friends. They all experience friendship problems at some stage and as adults we are all dopamine addicts and wish to solve their problems for them. Support them, coach them, listen to them and encourage them to find solutions. Let the School know and we will keep an eye on them.
- Stay connected- when they don’t communicate you have to look for ways to encourage communication and discussion- the best solution is long drives in the country with your child in the front seat, without headphones.
- Set your own rules with regard to technology- no internet in your rooms, technology free time, no phones when we go out for dinner.
- Try to have as many family dinners as possible, set the table, sit down together and have a discussion. Turn off the TV.
- Play games. Board games are great fun, until dad cheats at Scrabble!
- Love your children no matter what.