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RUOK? Day and Ideas for Screen-Free Time

Deputy Principal - Student & Staff Wellbeing, Mr Patrick Brennan

Mr Patrick Brennan, Deputy Principal - Student & Staff Wellbeing

Waverley College’s long association with RUOK? Day continued this week as we celebrated this important day with an assembly and wellbeing activities led by Conlon House who have RUOK? Day as their charity.

Across Australia and the world, people are facing an unprecedented situation as our health authorities and governments act to manage the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). There has been no greater time for our students to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to navigate such challenging times.

The coronavirus pandemic comes as many Australians are still feeling the impact of recent bushfires, floods and drought. It’s very normal to not feel OK at times such as these. Watching and listening to media and Social Media coverage and commentary can be confronting and confusing. However, at a time when we’re being asked to physically distance ourselves from one another, students are being encouraged to make use of freed up time and their digital devices to stay connected. 

It is now even more important that we promote a sense of community, reach out and ask our friends, family and colleagues, “Are you OK?”

Over the past few weeks, our staff have been reaching out to families to check in and to see how our students have been going with online learning. At this week’s RUOK? Day assembly, I congratulated the vast majority of students who have demonstrated amazing levels of resilience and determination during these challenging times.

At our assembly, our own RUOK? Ambassador, Mr Kevin Heath spoke about the importance of the four steps of the charity; Ask, Listen, Encourage Action & Check-In.

This year, RUOK launched “Are they really OK? Ask them today”, as this year’s call to arms. This comes in response to new research which found 22 per cent of Australians aren’t reaching out to ask “are you OK?” because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help.

Are They Really Ok?

Plans for RUOK? Day in 2021 for the College which usually turns ‘yellow’ are a little different with the current lockdown restrictions, meaning no mass participation events, but plans are afoot to stay connected and check on those in our community.

Things may look a little different for RUOK? Day for us this year, in the physical sense, but the message remains the same. Our aim is to encourage everyone to consider how the people in their world are really going.

In wellbeing groups, mentors have been using resources and activities from the RUOK? website that provide resources and tools on how our students can share the message in our community. Importantly, this day should provide us with capacity to acknowledge and combat mental illness throughout the year.

Our wellbeing framework tracks and develops the entire student across five wellbeing foundations. Our vertical House system cultivates positive relationships across the year groups supported by Mentors and Heads of House. At the acute end, the College employs four counsellors and works closely with external agencies such as Headspace and Beyond Blue. The majority of staff (teaching and non-teaching) at the College are accredited mental health first aiders making Waverley College the gold standard in terms of student mental health.

Screen-Free Days – Thursday 16 – Friday 17 September

Unplug to recharge! All students are invited to enjoy two screen-free days next week to turn off their devices in favour of connection, reflection, and quality time during online learning and social distancing.

As teachers, parents and students, we are more dependent on digital technologies than ever. Families across Sydney have had to loosen their screen time rules just to get through the week. 

A screen-free end to the term is a tool for us to take the time we need to prioritise our families, friends and wellbeing. They offer a sanctuary: a space in stressful times for us to be present. It is hoped these two days will provide us with a chance to play, explore, and rediscover the joys of life beyond our screens. And they are great for our mental and physical health to boot!

So well done to everyone on a great term of online learning. The finish line looks in sight with our vaccination rates increasing at a record pace. We can’t wait to see everyone hopefully back on campus during Term Four.

Some Ideas for Screen-Free Time

Ideas for non screen time


Mr Patrick Brennan

Deputy Principal (Staff and Student Wellbeing)