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    Personal Story


    Catherine Scheffer
    Year 12 Siena College, Camberwell

    Along with six other Siena students and two teachers, I embarked on an immersion to South Africa for two weeks last year, living with a host family while learning of the history and culture of the country. 

    I noticed that despite all the hardships of the women of Kopanang, they were some of the happiest people I had ever met. The children stood out in particular for me; happy over the slightest of things. 

    For example, the other students and I brought balloons, pencils and stickers, which had them ecstatic for days on end. 

    This ability to draw happiness from poverty and quite often, hunger and pain, motivated me to produce a series of drawings under the title Happy Sadness which will be featured in the 2015 Visual Arts Display during Catholic Education Week. 

    A young boy named Tyron, who was a member of my host family, personally inspired me as he was always happy despite the conditions he lived in. I grew very close to Tyron, as well as having a strong connection to other children I encountered.

    It was after my time at Kopanang that I realised how much we take for granted; food, water, safety, education and much more. 

    Without knowing the children it is impossible to depict their current state of poverty. These children’s facial expressions show us that money is not the key to happiness. 

    It is my duty to tell my Siena school community that ‘happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’  

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    Student Learning Needs

    Student Learning Needs encompasses the following areas:


    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education

    General Overview

    Key priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Education include:

    • providing cultural and educational support
    • improving attendance, retention and participation rates
    • involving parents in their children’s education
    • professional learning activities.

    Cultural safety, mentor support, parent support and community connections featured highly as key factors that have led to successful outcomes. 

    2014 Student Data:

    • primary: 253 students
    • secondary: 256 students
    • total: 509 students
    • thirty-four students completed Year 12
    • twenty-eight students completed Year 6.

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    Main Activities

    The following is a list of key student engagement initiatives:

    • Toy-et program for Year 6 Students
    • Watta Watnanda Education & Cultural Day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Catholic secondary schools
    • Worlds of Work (WoW) Week for Year 10 students
    • Year 12 Graduation Dinner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.


    Moorina Bonini and Courtney Glass from Genazzano FCJ College, Kew, with school principal, Patricia Cowling, and support teacher, Marea Lanke, in attendance. 

    Toy-et Program for Year 6 Students:

    Students workshopped together with their families on practical ways to deal with changes during their first year in secondary school. They were also introduced to the CEOM Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education team, who will support them throughout Year 7 in 2015.

    Watta Watnanda Education & Cultural Day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Catholic secondary schools:

    The focus of the day, ‘Honouring the Contribution of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Servicemen and Women’ was in line with the national NAIDOC theme of ‘Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond’.



    Students in an activity from Watta Watnanda Secondary Students day at the Korin Gamadji Institute, Richmond Football Club. 

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    Worlds of Work (WoW) Week for Year 10 students:

    Twenty-three students participated in this year’s residential program in Melbourne. Students visited workplaces to visit a number of workplaces and take part in workshops that were designed to build on their strengths, communication skills and broaden their working aspirations. In addition to the day program a range of cultural activities were organised to compliment and support the program. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvVAwcWnHr8&feature=youtu.be.

    Year 12 Graduation Dinner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students:

    One hundred and twenty people, including Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Colin Hunter, VAEAI representatives, families and school staff, were invited to see 34 students from 22 schools celebrate the end of their formal years of schooling surrounded by culture. The CEOM is contributing in a small way to the encouraging 2014 growth in Year 12 retention rates through its student engagement activities that begin in Year 6.  These activities are culture-based and underpin successful student learning.


    Cecily Atkinson celebrated with pride her daughter Jedda’s graduation along with Sr Glenys Dellamarta, Katrina Mock and Karen Rivalland from Santa Maria College, Northcote. Principal Deborah Barker was also present for the gathering. 

    Koorie Education Workers

    The following is a list of Koorie Education Workers (KEWs) and their schools:

    • Helen Christensen – cluster based at St Anthony’s School, Lara.
    • Susan Collins – cluster based at St Joseph’s College, Newtown.
    • Kelly Koumalatsos – cluster based at St Ignatius College Geelong, Drysdale.
    • Jayden Lillyst – school based at St Joseph’s College, Ferntree Gully.
    • Jessica Maitland-Smith – school based at Santa Maria College, Northcote.
    • Dusty Nicholson – cluster based at St Francis de Sales School, Oak Park.
    • Margaret Work – school based at St Augustine’s School, Frankston South.

    The professional learning programs offered targeted the high-needs areas of trauma and behaviour management. KEWs were also given the opportunity to explore the Apple online educational resources.

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    Other Initiatives:

    Professional Learning Activity Number of Participants
    Teacher Network for Eastern Melbourne held at Avila College, Mount Waverley 10
    Teacher Network for Western Melbourne held at MacKillop Catholic Regional College, Werribee 12
    School-based: Staff Development:  
            Thomas Carr College, Tarneit – Staff PD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 25
            St Martin de Porres, Avondale Heights – Staff PD – Aboriginal Spirituality   25
            St Anthony’s School, Melton South – Staff PD – Cross Curriculum Priorities 15
            Salesian College, Sunbury – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective for Year 9  8
            Resurrection School, Keysborough – Koorie perspectives (AusVels, Curriculum Priorities, RE). 35
    Other Aboriginal Perspectives professional learning programs were conducted for:  
            teachers at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, with CEOM placed teacher, Gwen Mincher 40
            teachers working with Caritas Australia at Cardinal Knox Centre, East Melbourne 30
            Brigidine school students Social Justice day at the Holy Cross Centre, Templestowe 22
            specialist staff and community people with Darebin Best Start Aboriginal Early Years Forum at Aborigines Advancement League, Thornbury 100
            teachers with Janine McCoy at Healesville Sanctuary, Healesville. 15
    Total 307

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