Dear Parents and Guardians,
Thank you for your support through a difficult week. If you are unaware as to why it was a difficult week then please ignore the next couple of paragraphs. For those that are aware I think it is important to clarify why the College chose to respond in this way. The first step was to ensure that everyone across the community understood that the behaviour on the bus was not acceptable. It is illegal, it is not acceptable and does not resonate with our Mercy values, the values of the Diocese, or our codes of conduct. There is not a workplace that would tolerate that behaviour. The initial response was to ensure everyone understood that it is not acceptable behaviour for a Catherine McAuley College student.
The measure taken from the outset was to invite the media to come and talk. Any contact was given a response. We did not want to hide from what had taken place, deny any association or be defensive. The other important step was the ensure the safety of the students who were captured by the footage. Some people do not understand that the footage was posted by one of our students who was on the bus and it was publicly posted on Snapchat. As it was public, it was fair game for anyone trawling and the media had few limitations around circulating the material as long as people could not be identified.
The important response for our community is to learn from the experience and vigilantly investigate and further explore whether there are issues that need to be challenged. Through various forums and mediums, all members will be asked to provide feedback and detail. Once that detail has been generated the response will be coordinated across the curriculum and through a range of programs and activities that will target and form members of our community. If people are, or have been, feeling vulnerable we need to provide avenues for them to seek support and feel safe. We are working at what that facility might look like with the students.
The final point on the matter to note is that the student was never suspended or expelled. The College has been actively supporting all involved. The party was a private party and very well managed. The bus ride home was not a private space. When we enter any bus, even one that is chartered, it becomes a public space. The event took place on a Saturday night, the students were not in uniform. That is not excusing the behaviour but clarifying the relationship to the College. Although the rights of the College are limited in this situation, the reflection on the College and attention that these situations draw has been extensive across Australia and beyond. The point to remember is that once something is public it impacts reputations, existing associations and memberships and possibly future opportunities. The solution is to be savvier and alert around use of communications technology. The solution is not to act that way and realise how others are impacted.
Through last week there have been conversations with various cohorts about the matter. This will continue to happen as we monitor the impact. We need to reflect and ensure we respond through the values of the College. We know this does not define us, but we also must reflect, contemplate and respond. To ignore that behaviour would be naïve.
Mercy Principals Gathering in Bendigo
On Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February, Sacred Heart College Kyneton and Catherine McAuley College hosted staff from Mercy Education Limited and the Principals from Mercy Education schools and affiliates from across the Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia. Our guests were presented with information around the recent developments as we transitioned to Catherine McAuley College and the partnerships that are so valuable to our present and future growth. The opportunity to present and reflect was a worthwhile exercise as we can sometimes forget how much we have achieved.
AMSSA Conference coming to CMC
Looking ahead, the College will be hosting the Australian Mercy Secondary Schools Association conference in Bendigo from 30 September to 3 October. Students will be attending from New Zealand, Oceania, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and across Australia. Their theme for the Conference is our College theme, ‘Mercy for a Common Home’. The focus of the event is sustainability in a changing world. There will be guest speakers from across Australia and several activities and events across the conference. The College Student Representative Council members have already volunteered their support.
Have a good week
Mr Brian Turner, Principal