I joined people throughout Australia in watching Four Corners last Monday evening and was distressed and saddened for the young men, their families and friends whose lives have been significantly impacted by the events explored in the program. On behalf of the extended Ambrose Treacy College community, I send our prayers of support for these courageous young people and their families. May their suffering be soothed by the support of many. I also extend our prayers of support to the broader community of St Kevin’s College which has been so deeply hurt and continues their journey towards restoration and healing and all people who are supporting this community.
This signpost moment is an impactful opportunity to remind us all of our shared responsibility in guarding the safety and well-being of the boys and young men in our care. It is an awesome and privileged ongoing responsibility and one that all staff, both teaching and non-teaching, casual and volunteer share with the parents and caregivers of our students.
I confirm my commitment as College Principal to the paramount importance of creating, promoting and nurturing a culture where the safety and well-being of the child is at the centre of our community. The staff of Ambrose Treacy College share in this commitment and through regular training, reflection and professional dialogue, are empowered to know and understand the importance of safe behaviours and practices and the non-negotiable of mandatory reporting when concerned about a child’s safety and well-being.
At our College we have a team of Child Safety Officers. This trained team meets regularly and is chaired by Mr Conor Finn, our Dean of Formation and he is joined by me and Mr Matt Warr, Dean of Faith of Mission on the team. Our three College Counsellors, Ms Siobhan Brophy, Ms Jane Ellice and Mr Keith Halpin are key members of this team in supporting our students, parents and staff when we are managing a child protection issue and educating our community. Mr Matt Ribeiro and Ms Danika Ehlers also play an important role in the team as staff representatives and Mrs Michelle Pearl, our Compliance Officer leads our team in the management of policy documentation, staff training and confidential record keeping. I thank this team for their commitment to this responsibility. If someone from this team can support any member of our community, please never hesitate to be in touch with one of us and be assured of our care and actioning of policy and process.
I invite parents and caregivers to click here to view our Child Protection information on our website which is, of course, publicly available.
Again, I remind all members of our extended community who so generously volunteer at the College across so many contexts of their requirement to click here to complete our Child Safety volunteer process and key messages for volunteers.
I offer two external agency contacts that may be of support to our parents and caregivers directly. Click here to access Regional Intake Services – Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women. Click here to access Lifeline Australia.
Another aspect of contemporary life is the online information cycle of news which can be saddening, confronting and angering. Click here to access a resource that a member of staff shared that offers help for both adults and young people in managing this aspect of our lives called ‘How to Cope with Traumatic News.’
Our Formation Team is charged with the responsibility of the pastoral care of our student body. They share in this privilege with the entire staff body. Our Junior School Head of Formation, Year Level Coordinators, Heads of Year and Assistants and Heads of House are key figures in working in partnership with parents and caregivers through pastoral challenges. These roles have a special responsibility in creating an atmosphere of care that is supported by clear rules and guidelines, structure and consequences that help boys and young men feel safe as despite their sometimes pretending they don’t, male students like to know what the rules are and where the boundaries lie. We let boys and young men down if we don’t challenge them as well as support them -this is quality pastoral care.
In my first article this year I highlighted our MEN of COURAGE formation framework. Constructs of masculinity are a topic of key importance in schools such as ours. Role modelling by significant women and men in the lives of boys and young men is central to animating our framework. While this year we are particularly focusing on the values and actions of compassion and optimism, let us not forget the values and actions of boys and young men (and adults) who are UPSTANDERS, RESPECTFUL and ACCOUNTABLE. These aspirations serve as key tools in speaking with and modelling to our students and sons about what it is to be a healthy, participative and balanced young men.
At Friday’s Leadership Assembly, I told our Year 7 to 12 students that Leadership needs be strong and gentle, that to be gentle is strong, to be caring is strong, to be vulnerable is strong, to be an upstander is strong and to ask for help is strong. I also emphasised the importance for respect for women as equals, leaders and in all roles women play in our lives. Boys are crying out for help in how to be the best version of themselves. Our role as educators and carers is to role model and journey with them as upstanders, people of respect and people who are held to account and hold others to account to our values and the values we share with our families.
It is vital that our ATCommunity commits to action which promotes the safety and well-being of children as our number one priority. We can have all of the documents, frameworks and procedures in the world in place, and that is important as they are invaluable guides and resources, but it is our actions and decision making for the individual and for the common good that define us.
This work will never be something that is finished or complete. It is an ongoing responsibility to which we must all commit. It is sacred work in our context as we support and empower young people to “have life and have it to the full”. May we continue to work together with compassion and optimism to never diminish but to empower this mission of our College.
On Friday the formal Blessing and Opening of the Waterford West Building took place in the Senior School precinct. The ritual and ceremony is a significant signpost in the journey of Ambrose Treacy College as it marks the conclusion of the establishment of the full community footprint. Another pleasing dimension of this afternoon was the blessing of the Emmaus Way along the path near Montessori House which signifies each year level and our retreat program for that group and the scriptural focus for the program. Each signpost leads us to the beautiful Cross in the Year 12 area which was gifted by the seniors of 2019. I thank our special guests, staff and ATC families who joined us in making this such a memorable occasion.