Dear Parents and Carers,
As a culture, we have made great strides when it comes to our understanding and acceptance of mental health. Even just a few decades ago, mental health was rarely mentioned during a student’s time at school, let alone dealt with in a constructive way. These days, it’s a common issue spoken about in classrooms around the country.
But, despite the progress we’ve made, there’s still a long way to go. In 2016, the Black Dog Institute found that just under one in four 15–19 year olds in Australia met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness. The top three issues of concern were coping with stress, school or study problems and depression. And, on top of that, suicide remains the leading cause of death among people aged 15–24.
We all have a part to play in making a serious change to the statistics. Something as simple as teaching students to check in on their friends can make all the difference in the world, but it’s a skill that many fail to master, through no fault of their own. As educators and parents, we have a responsibility to teach our students not just about their own mental health, but about how to look out for changes in those around them too.
So how can educators start to make a real difference? First, it’s essential that schools ensure the right training is in place for their staff. It’s naive to expect teachers to intuitively know how to broach the topic of mental health with students. Over the last three years, our qualified trainer Ms Tessa Prior (College Psychologist) has trained over 100 of our staff members in Mental Health First Aid, which is a fourteen-hour course. It is our intention to have every staff member at the College trained in this valuable space.
R U OK? Day
Today we celebrated R U OK? Day, which Waverley College has a strong connection with. The organisation’s founder, Mr Gavin Larkin, was a parent at the school – and his family still have strong ties to the College. We encourage open discussions about mental health because, in Gavin’s own words, “Getting connected and staying connected is the best thing anyone can do for themselves and for those who may be at risk.”
Gavin Larkin is the founder of R U OK? Day and his son Gus Larkin would have graduated with us in 2016, but sadly passed away from a brain tumour in 2013. Gus’s younger brother Van is in Year 9 and his Aunt Katrina King is on staff in the Junior School.
As part of today’s R U OK? Day events, three Old Boys – Lachlan Drew Morris, Patrick Cliffton, and Luca Moretti from Turn up the Talk – conducted a live podcast with Maryanne Larkin and Wendall Sailor (R U OK? ambassador), which was aired to all wellbeing groups.
Please watch and listen.
Today we also unveiled a new R U OK? billboard near the tuckshop on the senior campus, to remind boys of this important message and to embrace this year’s theme: ‘THERE’S MORE TO SAY AFTER “R U OK?”’
Thank you to Ms Cathy O’Sullivan (Head of Conlon House), Mr Simon Potter (Director of ICT, Campus & Innovation) and members of our Marketing team – Ms Jaimi Walker, Ms Venettia Miller, Mr Angus Macpherson, Ms Katie Porter – who all played a valuable part in assisting with R U OK?
The prefect and captain selection leadership process for 2021 has concluded. It is my pleasure to announce that the four College captains for Term 4 2020 and 2021 are:
- Peter Stamatelatos – Captain
- Charles Harris – Vice Captain
- Patrick Hogget – Vice Captain
- Byron Scott – Vice Captain
The House captains and prefects will be announced shortly.
Year 12 Graduation
The College has been communicating with schools across Sydney in an attempt to formulate the best possible farewell for our Year 12 students while still meeting the NSW Health regulations due to COVID-19. The final decision on what this will look like will be based on the Premier’s advice, which will be published tomorrow and communicated to Year 12 parents and students.
Further to our communication earlier in the week regarding the distressing reports of a video of a suicide circulating on social media, in particular through the hugely popular platform TikTok:
Please be aware that due to the way that TikTok presents content, if this video continues to be re-shared and viewed, unsuspecting users may be presented with it through their ‘For You’ page without actively seeking the video out.
Please exercise discretion in any communication regarding this incident with your son/s. In particular, avoid raising the issue with him if he is not aware of the video to avoid him actively seeking it out.
If he does bring it up with you, please report it to the social media platform that it was seen on, or to eSafety at www.esafety.gov.au/report/illegal-harmful-content.
If your son is presenting with signs of distress, please acknowledge it with him and reassure him that you will be seeking advice on how to support him via one of the College’s psychologists.
Please encourage anyone who may be at risk or experiencing emotional distress, including worried family and friends, to contact one of the following services:
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Phone support is there all day, every day. Online support is open from 8am-midnight every day (AEST).
Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467
Phone support all day, every day, and follow-up calls.
eHeadspace: 1800 650 890
Open 9am-1am daily (AEST).
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Phone support all day, every day. Online support 7pm-4am daily (AEST).
Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
Phone support all day, every day. Online support 3pm-midnight every day.
Archbishop’s Awards for Student Excellence
Last week, I attended the Archbishop’s Awards online with Ms Sue Walsh (Director of Identity & Student Formation), Waverley College’s 2020 Archbishop Award recipient, Joshua Conacher-Smith, and Ms Sherri Falkinder (Josh’s Wellbeing Mentor). Congratulations to Josh on this highly regarded award.
HSC Drama Students OnSTAGE
In this difficult year for the Year 12 Drama cohort, with radical changes to their usual course content due to COVID-19, I am more proud than ever of the boys who achieved a nomination for possible inclusion in the OnSTAGE exhibition.
They performed a monologue two weeks ago during their HSC practical exam to an audience of three NESA markers and their teacher only.
Congratulations to Riley Klotz for his performance of Captain Everything, Oscar Rowson for his performance of Europe and Daniel Townsend for his performance of Dracula.
Design & Technology
The Year 12 Design & Technology Major works have now successfully been handed in and our students have worked exceptionally hard to design, test and prototype these works.
For staff and students wishing to take a look, they will be on display next Monday and Tuesday in the lower level of TAS building. We will photograph and share online for parents shortly.
Congratulations to the following students on their fine work:
- Massimo Bucci – Viking Tackle Box
- Will Cooley – SailGP Wing Controller
- Lachlan Cunningham – Ocean Core Surfboard
- Jacob Fadel – Fulcrum Arm Brace
- Lachlan Foley – Luxury Briefcase
- Maksymilian Klimczak – Underwater Safety Device
- Aidan Korpar – Public Housing Redesign, Malabar
- Reid McNamara – Flexi Furniture
- Josh Preston – Eco Seating
- Sebastian Rayk – Remote Housing, Rhome
- Jasper Stern – Stern Agriculture Australia, Vertical Garden
- Sebastian Watson – Zero Emission Housing
- Valentius Wirjana – Solar Desalination Device