Principal’s Message: Term 4, Week 4, 2021

“If we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship with one another.” 1 John 1:7

To the family and friends of St Edmund’s College,

We welcomed back students in Years 6, 9 and 10 this week.  Next week sees Years 4, 5, 7 and 8 join us back at school, giving us our full student body on November 1.  Just as we have been looking forward to shops and services re-opening after lockdown, so too are we excited at having all of our students back with us on campus to return the College to its full energy and spirit.

Last Friday we had leadership speeches presented to Year 11 by those students who have been nominated for next year’s student leadership team.  I was so impressed by the quality of speeches this year, with all nominated students considering the bigger picture of the needs of the College and its community rather than focusing on just the needs of their own cohort. Congratulations to all of our nominated students for a great effort with their speeches.  The selection process should be finalised this week, and then we focus on the House Captain and House Vice-Captain positions.

Last Friday also saw Year 12 students participate in the annual Exit Survey process.  I explained to Year 12 that just as they look forward to feedback after an assessment task to determine what they have done well but also where they can improve and develop, so the College and its staff requires feedback to let us know what needs consolidating and what needs improvement.  This feedback, along with the feedback provided by all students, staff and parents through the Satisfaction Surveys, will be analysed and incorporated into our Strategic Directions and Annual College Improvement Plan.

It was a great pleasure being able to physically attend Mass last week after a few months of lockdown.  The readings last week provided me with much source for reflection, especially with how we care for those students at the College who are vulnerable and could be considered marginalised. The First Reading has the prophet Jeremiah (31:7-9) telling us that God will save those who have been exiled.  He makes particular mention of God providing a safe path for the most vulnerable of the time, “the blind and the lame, women with child, women in labour”.  God provides the vulnerable with “a smooth path where they will not stumble”.  In Mark’s Gospel (10:46-52), Jesus is walking from Jericho to Jerusalem with a crowd of people.  The blind beggar Bartimaeus, who was sitting by the road, calls out to Jesus.  We are told that many of those around him scolded him for calling out, almost in a sense that he should not be bothering Jesus or is not worthy to be in the company of Jesus.  But this did not deter Bartimaeus.  He calls out again and this time Jesus hears him, eventually giving Bartimaeus his sight. This reminds me of the many times we would walk past people begging in the street and almost automatically think to ourselves, “Surely they can get a job, how hard can it be for them get some work?” without knowing anything of their personal circumstances or their story. The action of Jesus in the Gospel is such a clear and strong example of Jesus reaching out with authority to include powerless, vulnerable people, modelling authentic Christian ministry.

We have a duty of care to all of our students at St Edmund’s College, in particularly those who are the most vulnerable. We do not want a single student at the College to feel marginalised (to sit on the side of the road as Bartimaeus did) and hopefully we have programs and processes in place that recognise our most vulnerable, draw them in closer to us and allows us to give them the appropriate academic and pastoral care.  But having programs and processes in place is only part of the matter.  We need to develop this sense of care and protection within all of our students, so all students become advocates for the vulnerable and are strong enough to speak for them and act for them if they see that the care is not appropriate, e.g. in cases of teasing, bullying and intimidation. For our students to be true Eddies boys, they need to develop the fortitude and strength of character to speak up for and walk alongside those needing that extra care, and not be like the crowd in the Gospel reading who scold Bartimaeus for speaking out and continue to be indifferent. If I have just one desire for our boys, it is for this quality to be developed within them.


EREA Child Safeguarding Standards

This week we continue exploring the Standards by looking at Standards 7 and 8.

Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) and St Edmund’s College Canberra are committed to creating an environment in which the safety, wellbeing and participation of all children and young people are paramount.  We have zero tolerance of child abuse and all allegations and safety concerns are treated very seriously in line with our robust policies and procedures. EREA and St Edmund’s College have legal and moral obligations to contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety, which we follow rigorously.

EREA has responded proactively to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by developing a set of Child Safeguarding Standards. The EREA Child Safeguarding Standards Framework is designed to further enhance a culture within St Edmund’s College and all EREA schools wherein protecting children and young people from abuse and other harm, and the promotion of child safety, participation, empowerment and wellbeing, are embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of our leaders, staff and volunteers.

The EREA Child Safeguarding Standards ensure accountability for the protection and safety of the children and young people under our care. St Edmund’s College and all EREA schools and entities are held accountable to the Child Safeguarding Standards and we will regularly report to EREA on how these standards are being addressed here.

The purpose and intent of the Standards contained in this Framework are to embed a culture of child safety and wellbeing by demonstrating values in practice, nurturing the wellbeing of all children and young people, respecting their dignity, ensuring their safety and protecting them from abuse and other harm. This we do, at all times, by acting in the best interests of children and young people under our care.  The Framework should be read alongside the EREA Child Safeguarding Policy which can be found here, and the St Edmund’s College Canberra Commitment to Child Safety which can be found here.  The entire EREA Child Safeguarding Standards Framework can be found here.

STANDARD 7: ONGOING EDUCATION AND TRAINING Staff, and relevant Volunteers and Contractors are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through information, ongoing education and training.

St Edmund’s College is required to have documented policies and procedures to ensure that all Staff, and relevant Volunteers and Contractors, are able to identify indicators of child abuse and other harm, respond effectively to children and young people and their parents/carers and support other Staff, Volunteers and Contractors.

Rationale: Child safe organisations emphasise the importance of information, ongoing education and training for all Staff, as well as for relevant Volunteers and Contractors. St Edmund’s College promotes and provides regular ongoing development opportunities for its Staff, as well as for Direct Contact Volunteers/ Direct Contact Contractors through education and training, beginning with induction and, for staff, continuing throughout their professional development. This ensures Staff, as well as Direct Contact Volunteers/ Contractors develop cultural and child safety awareness and insights into their attitudes towards children and young people and have a contemporary understanding of child development, safety and wellbeing. Regular and Casual Volunteers and Contractors also receive relevant information to support their awareness of child safety and their role in promoting a child safe culture whenever they are engaged by the school

What is St Edmund’s College expected to have in place to comply with Standard 7?  The core components of ongoing education and training at St Edmund’s College are:

  1. Staff, as well as Direct Contact Volunteers/ Contractors are regularly trained and supported to effectively implement the College’s Child Safeguarding policies and procedures.
  2. The Induction and Refresher training for Staff, as well as Direct Contact Volunteers/Contractors includes training to recognise the nature and indicators of child abuse and other harm, including harmful behaviours by a child towards another child.
  3. The Induction and Refresher training for Staff, as well as Direct Contact Volunteers/Contractors, and the modified training or information for Regular and Casual Volunteers/Contractors, includes training and/or information to enable them to respond effectively to child safeguarding risks, incidents, complaints and concerns of child abuse and other harm.
  4. Staff, as well as Direct Contact Volunteers/ Contractors receive training and information on how to build culturally safe environments for children and young people.

STANDARD 8: SAFE PHYSICAL AND ONLINE ENVIRONMENTS Physical and online environments promote safety and contain appropriate safeguards to minimise the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.

St Edmund’s College is required to take a risk-based approach to child safety by identifying and considering their child safe risks. This is based on a range of factors including the nature of the services we provide, the nature of the children and young people to whom we provide services, our activities and physical and online environments. It includes ‘business as usual’ risks as well as risks posed by specific activities such as camps, tours or excursions. Where risks are identified, the College will institute measures to reduce or remove them.

Rationale: Risk management is part of the College’s core responsibility with respect to its duty of care to protect students, as well as its legal obligation with respect to workplace health and safety. Certain physical and online environments can pose a risk of harm to children and young people. ST Edmund’s College can improve the safety of children and young people by analysing and addressing these risks, reducing opportunities for abuse and other harm, increasing the likelihood that perpetrators would be caught. By taking a risk management approach to child safety the College can better target its use of resources and build a stronger, more effective, child safe culture.

What is St Edmund’s College expected to have in place to comply with Standard 8?  The core components of a child safe physical and online environment are:

  1. Risks in the physical and online environment are identified and mitigated without compromising a child’s right to privacy, access to information, social connections and learning opportunities.
  2. The online environment is used in accordance with the College Child Safe Codes of Conduct and relevant policies.
  3. Risk management plans consider risks posed by organisational settings, activities and physical environments.
  4. The College has procurement policies for contracting facilities and services from and to third parties that ensure the safeguarding of children and young people.

Next week we will explore Standards 9 and 10.

From now on, when an initiative or program is raised in Vortex or any other College publication or communication, we will explicitly make the connection to the relevant Child Safeguarding Standard so the whole community is aware of how we are meeting our expectations.  We will also post the ways in which we comply with each Standard on our website.

Prayer for the Vulnerable
Loving God,
Your Son commanded his disciples to
“Let the children come to me.”
Look with kindness upon us
and help us to shepherd your children,
the vulnerable and the marginalised,
and lead them into your loving embrace,
so that they may know your life and your love.
We ask this through the same Jesus Christ, your son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Blessed Edmund Rice, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our Hearts, forever.

Joe Zavone
Christus Lux Mea