Acting Principal’s Message

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.

Mtt 25:35  

 

Our Catholic tradition of ‘welcoming a stranger’ applies directly to how we should treat refugees and asylum seekers. Combined with the principles of the 1951 UN Convention, it gives us solid foundation for just and fair responses on the treatment of refugees.

This week is Refugee Week and we at Loreto Normanhurst have joined in the national week of celebration of the contribution which refugees make and awareness raising of the challenges which they face. Students and staff have been led ably and beautifully by Social Justice Captain Rachel Parsons and I wish to thank her for her drive and relentless commitment to pursuing justice for those whose voice has been muted is inspiring.  At this week’s assembly I shared with the girls the following inspiring and thought-provoking words of Sr Libby Rogerson IBVM on the occasion of Refugee Week.

 

Refugee Week – celebration or lamentation?

A poignant post script to the recent announcement that that the five refugees sent from Manus Island to Cambodia had opted, despite fear of persecution,  to return to their home countries was the reference to the one remaining refugee – a Rohingya from Myanmar. Poignant because this lone man epitomises so much of what it is to be a refugee- stateless, poor and with no place to go. Rohingyas, a minority ethnic group in Myanmar, are persecuted for their Islamic religion, prevented from working, required to have government permission for almost every aspect of their lives, including marriage, and denied the most basic of human rights. Although they have lived in Myanmar for generations the government wants to send them “back” to Thailand, where their ancestors came from and Thailand won’t have them.

‘With Courage Let Us All Combine’, a line from Australia’s national anthem, is this year’s Refugee Week theme.  The rhetoric associated with the build-up to the election – keep our borders safe, turn back the boats, save our jobs and have regard to the cost of those who are illiterate, does not easily lead to “combining” but certainly requires courage on the part of asylum seekers and refugees.  It is a week when we are invited to celebrate diversity, richness of culture and the achievements of refugees.  Most Australians, delighting in the array of different foods, in the exoticism of ethnic shopping areas and the colourful cultural traditions of the more than 100 nationalities which grace our shores, have no difficulty in celebrating. But along with the celebrations is the question we cannot ignore: what is to happen to the 2000 people locked in a limbo of despair on Manus Island and Nauru? It is inconceivable that a prosperous country with a stable democracy and a well-developed rule of law continues to countenance the incarceration of men, women and children for years and years on impoverished off-shore islands with no prospect of freedom. Something has to give. Australians cannot remain impervious to the lip sewing, the poison taking, the self-immolating of desperate people driven mad by a toxic mix of uncertainty, mental illness, fear and boredom.

The issue is not simple and well-meaning but simplistic responses to the issue may well do more harm than good. But until Australia and the countries in the region sit down with UNHCR and map out a regional response to people-smuggling and the settlement of refugees there can be no solution. Until, with courage, the regional nations, “all combine” there will be no genuine celebration of the contribution refugees have made and continue to make to Australia.

Last week we heard first hand from Sulu, our Term Two Work and Welcome worker, of the impact which feeling welcomed into our workplace and community has had on her. Work and Welcome is a partnership program that seeks to place recently arrived refugees in short term job placements. Loreto Normanhurst is currently able to offer two terms of work to two candidates based on the generosity of staff who make financial contributions which cover the cost of the worker’s salary for the term. The short term job placements are designed to offer work experience in the Australian setting as well as on the job training and support, often seeing people then being successful in finding ongoing work. I encourage you to consider this program for your workplace or business. You can find more information on the Work and Welcome  website.  I also share with you here a thoughtful reflection from this morning’s Communion Service which I hope will provide you with nourishment.

This week we announced the Student Council for 2017. I wish to thank Year 11 students for their discernment throughout the process and Ms Elsa Vink and Ms Kerry McCullough for their leadership of the students.  I have great confidence in not only the incoming Student Council for 2017 but in all Year 11 students for their capacity to lead our community with compassion and joy.

There are leadership opportunities available across all year groups at Loreto Normanhurst. Today the Primary School Leaders for Semester 2 2016 were announced and I have no doubt that they will do an outstanding job leading  the Primary community.  We congratulate  these students on their newly elected roles. Please see the Primary School News page for full details.

This morning I farewelled the girls and staff taking part in the Drama and Visual Arts Tour of New York.  It was an early rise for them as it will be for others in the upcoming days as girls depart for various experiences that will enhance their engagement with the FACE curriculum.  Safe travels and best wishes to all students and staff taking part in the community service immersion in Yarrabah (Far North Queensland), the Cambodia Cycle Challenge for Project Futures (find out more about the work of Project Futures here ), the Diocese of Broken Bay Pilgrimage to Greece and World Youth Day in Poland, and the HASSE Space School International Study Program. This last experience is one we were invited to join as part of the Alliance of Girls Schools.  A small group of students in Years 8 and 9 will travel to Houston for a two-week study program which will immerse them in the rich STEM environment of space exploration and science.  We look forward to welcoming all home safely and to hearing about the stories and insights which will undoubtedly flow from these experiences.

I would like to wish all students and families many blessings for the student vacation period. May it be a time of rest and renewal for all students and staff. 

 

 Student Council 2017

School Captain

Annie Clarke

School Vice-Captain

Tatendaishe Mwanza

Boarding Captain

Abigail Downes      

Boarding Vice-Captain

Sophie Dent   

 

 

Extra-curricular Captains

 

Academic Activities

Niamh Condon

Communication/SRC    

Philippa Rich

Creative Arts  

Maddison Maguire

Liturgy

Marissa Hussein

Music

Grace Reid

Performing Arts

Kelsey Meharg

Social Justice

Cara Fagan

Sport

Emily Doyle

 

 

House Captains

 

Aston

Ysabel Say

Barry

Georgia Pauling

Kendall 

Kate Coffey

Kuring-gai

Madeline Viney

Maye

Elizabeth Anderson

Mornane

Sarah Playford

Mulhall

Abigail Jones

Ward

Meg Conlon

 

Compassionate God,

No one is a stranger to you
and no one is ever far from your loving care.
Watch over those who are separated
from their loved ones and homeland;
those who fear persecution
and hope for a better life in our community.
May we reach out in welcome
to all those who arrive as refugees,
embracing one another so that
together your hope O God
will be our future.
We make this prayer
through Christ our Lord.

Amen. 

 

 

Ms Marina Ugonotti

Acting Principal