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Achieving an Equal Future

Today is International Women’s Day. Supporting and celebrating women’s rights is a year-round responsibility. But at its core, International Women’s Day serves an important purpose.

It forces conversations about women’s achievements and global gender inequality into the mainstream – and it invites people of all backgrounds, ages, and genders to consider what they can do to make the world a more equal place for everyone.

Sadly, the recent economic crisis due to COVID has impacted women hard and widened the gap of inequity. Women were more likely than men to lose their jobs, more likely to leave their jobs to care for children who had to learn at home, more likely to take up more unpaid care and domestic work, and less likely to get government support. Women now tend to earn even less, have fewer savings, and make up the majority of single parent households.

We still have a long way to go for women to have equal rights.

Last year, we held our inaugural, International Women’s Day morning tea for all female staff and had the pleasure of Ms Kaylene Perissinotto speaking with us on the 2020 theme. This year, our most senior female member of staff, Ms Lara Morgan, Dean of Learning, will address this forum and the student body on Tuesday about this important day, and the meaning of it and issues that are significant.

Equally, it is important that male voices articulate and highlight these issues and act on them. This is particularly imperative in an all boys’ school. I take this opportunity to recognise and celebrate the women on our staff both teaching and non-teaching. Their leadership, role modelling and example are invaluable in our community. We see this in and out of the classroom, across all systems of our community, in the playground, in sporting and cultural pursuits and most recently on camp and retreat.

One way in which we are highlighting this in 2021 is through a presentation Mr Keith Halpin, Senior School Counsellor will make on assembly tomorrow about Ms Michelle Kath, our Head of Pathways. Keith and Michelle are now colleagues but there was a time when Michelle was a key leader, teacher, and person of influence for Keith when he was a boy at school. In the story of Edmund Rice schools in Queensland, Michelle attained and excelled in senior leadership positions in an early phase of important change in our schools and I very much look forward to listening to Keith and Michelle share their story with the boys and staff.

There is always space for challenge, growth and improvement in teaching and forming our young men and male members of staff about equality and respectful relationships. This year’s motto of International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge, and it calls on us to stand up against gender bias. All of us, adults, and students, have a part to play in challenging unfair gender bias and choices and behaviour from males. This day especially highlights this and provides an opportunity for us to seek to act each and every day.

#ChooseToChallenge


Consent

Many parents and caregivers will have accessed the statements I shared and resource from SchoolTV through our College App on Friday afternoon. The topic of consent is a vital and urgent issue in our society, in schools and for our ATC boys. I encourage all parents and caregivers to access this information through our College App and to watch it with their son and discuss it. I offer another resource from Mr Adair Donaldson who is a lawyer who engages with numerous schools throughout Australia on the topic of consent and the related issues. In this brief video he outlines his 5 Top Tips about consent and the law. I encourage parents to watch this for their own information and to discuss with their sons if they feel it is appropriate.

On behalf of the Ambrose Treacy College community, I express our solidarity with the girls and young women who have come forward through the petition initiative. Even more so, the ones who haven’t and remain in silence. What has happened and is happening is wrong. I express our respect and gratitude for their courage in coming forward which is sparking a much-needed discourse across our nation, within our families, the education sector and within our community at ATC. We are committed to the principle and practice of mandatory reporting of all child protection matters to the Queensland Police and transparency with our students, parents and caregivers and other schools in our management of these issues.

Our Men of Courage formation framework explicitly emphasises values and actions relating to having the courage to be an upstander, having the courage to be respectful and having the courage to be accountable for your actions. I can attest to being witness to ATC students being true to these aspirations in a range of contexts including on the issue of consent. In this tragic and most serious and needed dialogue about consent, it is acknowledged that many young men understand and advocate for the rights and dignity of young women. However, it is absolutely true that some do not and make grave choices which impact on the lives of young women. It is imperative that our response to this issue not be short lived. To this end, while we affirm our present strategies and processes on this and related topics, there is more to review, renew and initiate. Ambrose Treacy College is committed to reflective practice, linking with, and partnering with schools for young women, expert advice, taking action and planning for longer term scoped and sequenced strategies that are responsive and formative for our times.

Camp Week

Quite simply, I am in awe of the community spirit on display throughout our annual Camp Week. From visiting Junior and Middle school camps through to witnessing parents and caregivers welcome their Year 12 son back from the Claddagh experience, it is inspirational to be present to the collaboration, goodwill, sense of fun, risk, trust and faith between student and student, student and staff, staff and staff, parent and staff and parent and student in making the week enjoyable, safe, challenging and formative. Everyone who participated in Camp Week 2021 will have slept deeply over the weekend and I hope had the opportunity to share story and reflect on a good experience. Thank you one and all.

Clean Up Australia Day

Well done to everyone who participated in ATC’s contribution to Clean Up Australia Day either at school or in your local community. It is always great to see ATC boys engaging in service and this commitment to the environment in such a practical way is pleasing.

Second phase Term 1

In all things ATC, Term 1 can be broadly described as BCW and ACW: before Camp Week and after Camp Week. With a month to go in the term, it is important that we settle back into school and work routine quickly. Students in Years 11 and 12 have concluded an intensive assessment period and now transition to new material and younger students have upcoming assessment. The rhythm of a term is different to past years where we built up to assessment time at the end. For our senior school students and staff, the term has a different pattern under the new model that commenced last year, and later term learning of new material is important as the ‘learn and dump’ assessment process has been replaced by a more continuous, rolling process of teaching, learning, and assessing that builds towards external exams in Term 4.

It has been an excellent first 6 weeks of 2021. I encourage everyone to settle back into routine for the next four weeks with plenty of teaching and learning to come.

Kick off Cocktails

The entire College Leadership Team is attending this Parents and Friends community event this Saturday night. We look forward to the occasion. It isn’t too late to purchase tickets and we look forward to your company.

Prayers

I would ask the community to please keep Jack Shanahan (5 Nolan) in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of his Grandfather. We hope that the passage of time will help heal the pain of his passing. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, may perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace. Amen.

God bless.

Chris Ryan