Term One draws to a close and it has been extremely busy (as term one always is) although it appears to have gone very quickly – probably due to the busyness and to the relief that we managed (nearly the whole term) without further extended lockdowns.
As I write this, we are looking forward to the Easter break, an easing of COVID restrictions and no active cases in Victoria. However, we are also seeing an outbreak in Queensland which is closing borders and I imagine putting holiday travel plans in disarray for many. It is also a timely reminder that we are not clear of the virus and cannot be complacent, nor relax our vigilance as we are only one infection away from further lockdowns and restrictions. Until the vaccination program is firmly embedded, we need to continue to be cautious.
The Victorian Government has further relaxed its COVIDSafe settings from 6pm on Friday 26 March 2021. Changes to the COVIDSafe settings include allowing more visitors in the home, changes to mask wearing in some settings and updates to density limits in some settings. There are limited operational changes for schools.
Visitors continue to be welcomed at our school, however face masks must be carried by individuals 12 years and over at all times and worn when physical distancing of 1.5 metres cannot be maintained.
Individuals aged 12 years and over must continue to wear a face mask when on public transport, school buses and when in taxis or ride share vehicles – unless they have a lawful exemption.
We have removed some of the circulation changes and restrictions at the school, but most “normal” activities have resumed, and I look forward to welcoming our students and families back to more school events in Term 2.
Thank you for your understanding and support throughout this term as we continue to implement COVIDSafe practices at our school.
For more information visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covidsafe-settings
Sexual consent, disclosures, and school obligations
As expected, the Victorian Government has announced that from Term 2 the teaching of consent in an age-appropriate way will be mandatory in all government schools.
The Victorian Curriculum requires schools to teach the focus areas of relationships, sexuality, and safety. Mandating the teaching of consent will bring focus to this critical issue.
Nossal has been rolling out The Respectful Relationships initiative which supports schools to promote and model respect, positive attitudes and behaviours and teaches students how to build healthy relationships, resilience and confidence.
The whole school approach to Respectful Relationships helps to embed a culture of respect and gender equality across the entire school community.
Respectful Relationships education is a key resource for the delivery of the Victorian Curriculum and aims to build students’ social, emotional, and positive relationship skills. At Nossal this will be delivered mainly through our Health and PE program, but elements of the approach also underpin our Nossal Time and pastoral programs.
Issues of consent, sexual assault, and gender inequality are critically important. Our school in partnership with parents, has an important role to play in addressing this significant social issue.
We stand against gendered violence. The testimonies provided by current and former school students across the country reinforce the need to support students to build and manage safe and respectful relationships.
Respectful relationships education focuses on building students’ social and emotional skills by supporting them to recognise and regulate emotions, develop empathy for others and build and manage safe and respectful relationships (including understanding consent). Our school provides sexuality education as part of the Health and Physical Education curriculum.
Our school takes sexual assault allegations very seriously. We respond to any disclosures in an appropriate and supportive manner. Any allegations are acted upon quickly by following our procedures for responding to allegations of abuse and assault. We report allegations of sexual assault to Victoria Police, and Child Protection and the Department of Education and Training as required.
We will provide support to any students who are victim-survivors of sexual assault. Students can receive support from the school wellbeing team and in-house counsellors or outside agencies as appropriate.
Following the recent publicity around this issue we have identified some areas of concern around attitudes and behaviours within our own school community and are currently addressing this directly with some individuals and more generally with some larger cohorts. I commend those community members who are making us aware of such concerns and encourage others to speak out or alert us if they witness any inappropriate or unacceptable behaviours and attitudes.
If you have any questions or concerns, or wish to discuss something that has happened, please contact a trusted teacher, Head of House, or Ms Mackin or myself directly.
Students can also make an anonymous report via the Report a Concern function on TEAMs if they have any concerns about themselves or their peers.
As a parent or carer, if you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault and needs support, please contact
1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.
External support services and resources
- 1800 Respect provides family violence and sexual assault counselling and is available via telephone or online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Sexual assault support services centres against sexual assault provide 24-hour crisis support and can be accessed without first reporting to police.
- Kids Helpline provides counselling support service for young people aged 5–25 years old and for parents, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Parentline Victoria provides parenting counselling support service 8am to midnight, seven days a week, including support for parents experiencing family violence.
- Headspace provides tailored and holistic mental health support from 9am–1am, seven days a week, to young people aged 12–25 years old. The website also provides resources and a local directory for headspace centres.
Camps and Pathways Week
I commend Ms Mackin in particular for her exceptional organisation of the Camps and Pathways week and for all staff who took part and went well over and above to support the students in a diverse range of activities and experiences. It was an interesting and challenging, and greatly enjoyable week for all involved and I was delighted to be able to make a brief visit to the Year 12 Camp at Somers, and to spend the following night at Roses Gap with the Year 9 cohort. Feedback from the camp managers at both camps was (as always) highly positive and for them the Nossal camps are always a very positive experience, and we always receive glowing reports about the demeanour, application, and enthusiasm of our students.
I was a little bemused to hear one of our senior students describe the Community Service activity at Puffing Billy being a bit disappointing as they just went and spent the day working. We did explain that this was exactly what community service was – assisting others and the community – perhaps we did not make it clear enough that this was not to be a trip on Puffing Billy but rather a chance to assist a voluntary organisation with some maintenance works and labour. The Puffing Billy organisation were very complimentary about the work that our students performed, and we are one of the few schools that they allow to participate in such a way. For me, the only sour note during this week was that a number of students in Year 11 decided attendance on Friday was optional (in spite of my requests to parents and the students in previous newsletters). We will be following up directly with the individuals involved, but I am very disappointed that we have to do so, and that the planning and thought that had gone into the structure of the program was not appreciated or supported by some.
We have a new canteen operator this year and two fulltime chefs working in our new canteen. The company is seeking feedback from the staff and students about what they are offering and trying to ensure that they best meet the needs and provide a positive experience. They are of course trying to ensure that they also have a viable business, and it is in both our interests for them to be successful in that. We are currently seeking feedback about the menu, variety, quality, price, and service which I will pass to them. If parents have any advice or feedback for us – please let me know directly. I encourage our students to patronise the school canteen and to support the business so that they are able to provide the service our community desires.
Students may have noticed the poles being installed on the grassed area behind the music building and on the edge of the oval. These are to support large shade sails which are the result of a long-term application process by Mr Butler and Mr Jason Bell and will provide shade spaces for outdoor classes and recreation. We hope to have them completed fully by the beginning of term 2, and then hope to do some work to improve access and viewing spaces/seating along the edge of the hard courts and the oval. We have a number of large capital works projects planned, but they were all put on hold last year due to the restrictions and we are now in the process of reactivating them.
Farewell to Mr Rupinder Sidhu
I thank Mr Sidhu for joining us this term to replace Ms Mandeltort; he has been a valuable member of the Science team.
From Term 2 Ms Marion Campagna will take on this position permanently. Ms Campagna is highly experienced and has taught at Nossal previously, so we welcome her back. Mr Sidhu is taking up a position at Alkira SC so he will remain in our neighbourhood and we wish him well in the new position.
A Couple of Warnings and Complaints......
I ask that students be mindful of their surroundings when walking to and from school – in particularly if they are transiting through carparks at the university of in MacDonalds or the station area. I have had some complaints that students have headphones in and are oblivious to traffic and there have been some near misses and subsequent complaints from drivers.
A reminder that mobile phones are banned at school unless there is an exemption for a particular class activity that I have formally approved through Compass. The ban means that students are not permitted to use their phones to pay for food at the canteen, and I have asked the canteen to ensure this does not occur in future.
The Heads of House have been checking student uniforms and we are generally happy that most students are wearing the appropriate uniform in an acceptable manner. However, some are wearing their PE uniform when they are not permitted to do so (i.e., not when they have PE) This is a difficult rule for us to monitor and enforce so we rely on the students to comply with our stated policy. If students continue to breach this rule the simplest response we have is to remove the option of wearing PE uniform to school and return to our original structure where students would have to bring their PE uniform and change before and after PE classes. I ask that students assist us to make this work – or I will change the rules to resolve the issue, and it would be a shame to penalise the greater number if a minority continue to break the rules.
Please note that Winter Uniform is required from the start of Term 2 – blazers, ties, winter dress. PSW has ample supplies if you have yet to purchase some of these items and the school uniform shop has a good number of items available as well. Please check that your child is dressed appropriately and wearing their uniform as required and with pride. Please remember that hoodies, sleeves, leggings and non Nossal hats should not be worn with the school uniform and the blazer or spray jacket should be worn when travelling to and from school.
I thank all members of our school community for their work, support, and assistance this term – from where I sit – it has been a productive and successful start to the year, and a great relief and improvement over 2020.
If you are having a break – I wish you a peaceful and refreshing holiday and a Happy Easter if celebrating this weekend – or later.
As always, I exhort students to take some time for rest and recreation and a break from their studies (that is why we have the holidays) so they can return refreshed and more productive next term.
The school will be closed from Friday April 2 until Monday April 19 when Term 2 resumes.