Executive Director – Welcome to Term Four

23 October 2019

Welcome back to staff and students wherever you are across the State.

During the holidays it was Mental Health Week, and Catholic Education Western Australia had the opportunity to support special programming on regional radio. Some of you may have heard staff members from our Psychology and Child Safe teams in interviews, alongside Siobhan Allen, Executive Director of Catholic School Parents WA. They did an excellent job speaking on the importance of mental health and wellbeing, providing some tips for parents, and highlighting the importance of the school community and learning in the mental wellbeing of our students. 

Our ongoing support of the 7 News Young Achiever Awards is another important partnership for CEWA. The CEWA Young Leadership category has been part of the Awards in WA since they were first presented in 2016, and has consistently received a great number of nominations and some incredibly inspiring finalists and winners. Nominations for the upcoming Awards are open until 11 December, for young people up to the age of 29; I hope that many young people from the Catholic education community will be nominated or nominate themselves, whether current or past students, or young teachers doing great things. Please take a look at the Awards website and consider nominating an outstanding young leader you know! 

The Aboriginal Teachers Assistant (ATA) Conference is underway this week, with delegates from each of the four WA Dioceses taking part over four days in Leederville. The ATA Conference, which this year shares the Plenary Council theme of ‘Listen to What the Spirit is Saying’, takes place every two years, and is intended to enable ATAs in their work supporting Aboriginal students across the State. ATAs play a crucial role in our system’s efforts of realising our Transforming Lives Strategy goals. They have been joined at the Conference by Principals, Aboriginal Perspectives Key Teachers, system leaders and some wonderful guest presenters. 

Some of you may have read the recent update on incorporation from Peter Yensch, CEWA Deputy Executive Director. Having discussed incorporation in-depth with school board representatives late last term, we have formal meetings coming up with Primary and Secondary Principals in Term Four. Incorporation will change little in the day-to-day operation of schools, but I am excited about the improved efficiency, clarity and transparency it will bring to the governance and administration of Catholic Education. More information on incorporation is available via CEWA Connect. 

World Teachers’ Day is celebrated later in Australia than much of the world thanks to holidays, this year falling on Friday, 25 October. World Teachers’ Day was established in 1994, and aims to help communities acknowledge the importance of the work of teachers everywhere, their immense responsibility, and their right to good working conditions, initial training and further learning. This year the theme of World Teachers’ Day focuses on the bright future of teaching – both the potential of young teachers starting out in their careers, and the impact they will have on the future through what, who and how they teach. I would like to thank all of our teachers for their tireless efforts tending to the learning and wellbeing of our students. I hope World Teachers’ Day sees many of you celebrated by your students, and please remember to support your teaching colleagues – only other teachers truly understand the challenges and rewards of your role!

As fourth term continues, we keep in mind the extra support we need to provide to our senior students who will be taking exams, and particularly those in Year 12 who are so close to finishing their schooling. This can be a stressful time, but it is important we strike a balance between letting these students know we believe they can achieve great things, and reminding them that these exams and grades are not the final say in their education; it is a great time to remind them that they can continue as life-long learners and the world is full of opportunity for them. 

Right at the end of the school year, over 8 – 10 December, the Australian Catholic Youth Festival will be held in Perth. The Festival is set to be a terrific experience for participants and is expected to bring thousands of young people together in the largest gathering of the Church anywhere in Australia. It will enable young people to explore their faith and discuss vocations, social action, prayer and Catholic music, and meet other young Catholics from across Australia. I encourage you to look at how you can support the Festival as a school community and support your students to participate. 

I would like to leave you with an encouragement from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation to young people, Christus Vivit (meaning “Christ is Alive”): 

  1. The love of God and our relationship with the living Christ do not hold us back from dreaming; they do not require us to narrow our horizons. On the contrary, that love elevates us, encourages us and inspires us to a better and more beautiful life.

All the best for the term ahead! 

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