A few years back in our deliberations we looked and saw a lack of opportunity for our community to gather to celebrate our Catholic faith. In response we introduced a community mass on a Saturday evening at the College each term. These masses are what you might call a ‘low key’ Mass on a Saturday evening commencing at 5.30pm. These masses do not have the formality of our whole school Opening Mass at the Cathedral. While the aim is to give our community the opportunity to gather as a Catholic faith community, the occasion can serve a different purpose for all families and one I am particularly conscious of is the opportunity for families who may have disconnected from a regular contact with their local parish, and this gives a gentle opportunity for the family to reconnect with their faith. Our hope will never be to replace local Parish Masses and celebrations, rather it is an opportunity for our community to gather as a prayerful community once a term. On Saturday week, 7 May, we will celebrate a Community Mass in the College Chapel at 5.30pm on Mothers’ Day eve and it would be wonderful to see as many families as possible join us.
One of the more confronting ongoing matters in Australia at the moment is the work of the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Whilst the reporting of the Royal Commission is confronting, at the same time it is a reminder of our ongoing need to ensure that every student is safe at Ambrose Treacy College. This reminder is, in part, driven by the recognition of the hurt caused to victims and our feelings of support for their plight. I recall very clearly the words of Dr Wayne Tinsey, Executive Director of Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA), when he stated that Catholic schools in the Edmund Rice tradition need to not only be compliant but beyond compliant and must seek the highest possible standards in the area of child protection and safety.
Consequently, Ambrose Treacy College staff take very seriously their responsibilities in this vital area. The College is committed to creating a school culture in which all who have the responsibility and care of students understand that student/child protection is every person’s responsibility. Today, all schools are required by legislation to ensure that procedures are followed and policies enacted that ensure the safety of students. To this end, EREA has developed a risk management strategy to assist schools in matters of compliance.
All our staff (both teaching and non-teaching) have been instructed in the EREA Code of Conduct for interacting with children and young people. Current staff have completed online training to update their knowledge of legislative requirements and we will continue to focus upon this area by sharing best practice in further professional development sessions. In the recruitment, selection and induction of staff, procedures are in place to enhance the safety and wellbeing of students. As part of this process all teachers have undergone registration procedures with the Queensland College of Teachers and all non-teaching and volunteer staff must have undergone screening to receive a Blue Card. In addition, we have clear policies and procedures for handling disclosures, or suspicions of harm, and for reporting them either to the Principal, the Police Service or the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.
Further to this, the College has a large number of Child Protection Contacts (CPC) from across the teaching and counselling staff. This list of contacts is published around the school. If a student was feeling uncomfortable about an incident of safety they are encouraged to see any of the following members of staff who are CPCs:
Mr Conor Finn, Mrs Gail Northcote, Ms Kate Nankivell, Mr Matt Ribeiro, Mr Matt Warr and Mr Michael Senior.
As a practical suggestion for parents, it would be useful for you to ask your son casually at the dinner table, or on the drive home, just who they would contact, or who they would talk to at school, or at home, if they were feeling unsafe. Discussions such as these give young people reassurance as well as a plan of action should an incident occur. Later this year, the school will be giving further profile to Child Protection Week in September as a means of raising awareness and educating all in our community.
The reality of life is that all of us will experience the sad loss of our loved ones at some time. I would ask all our community to please keep the following students in your thoughts and prayers – Rob White (5 Bodkin) and his family following the loss of his Great Grandmother and Ezra Mam (8 Bodkin) and his family following the passing of Ezra’s Grandfather, Uncle Steve Mam. Uncle Steve was a much respected elder of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. We pray that they find comfort in celebrating the wonderful gifts that they brought to their lives and in time the pain of their passing is healed.
May Eternal Rest Grant unto them oh Lord and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
with best wishes
Mr Michael Senior, Principal