- Welcome to Parent Talk
- Around the Dioceses
- Madonna King and Jon Rouse: Saving Our Kids Event and Book Giveaway
- 2023 Roger O’Sullivan Award for Family, School and Community Partnerships for Learning
- NESA Survey: 7-10 Syllabuses
- Transitioning to Secondary School
- Indigenous Literacy Day - 6 September 2023
- National Trend of School Refusal and Related Matters Senate Report
- CSPA News
- esafety Webinar for Parents and Carers: Getting Started on Social Media
- Neurodiversity, Learning Strengths and Gifted Students
- Parenting Tips: Parenting with Comfort
- New Round of Service NSW Vouchers
- Sharing and Signing up to Parent Talk
A Message from the Executive Director
Dear Parents and Carers
Welcome to Issue 6 2023 of Parent Talk.
This month, Wayne Davie, Chair CCSP, and I have continued meeting with directors of dioceses about the data received in the recent Catholic School Parents Australia Student Wellbeing and Learning survey, talking them through the feedback provided and highlighting any issues that were identified.
We have also finalised our Annual Report 2022, which you can read on our website here.
Much of the Secretariat’s time the last few weeks was spent organising our annual combined meeting with the invaluable help of two of our congregational schools Councillors, Anne Fehon and Olwyn Connelly. This meeting was held on 31 August and 1 September, and brought together members of the CCSP Council and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee.
The meeting was hosted by Headmaster Michael Blake at St Joseph’s College Hunters Hill and was attended by special guests and speakers including the Apostolic Nuncio for Holy See, Archbishop Charles Balvo, who addressed the meeting on Thursday 31 August, and celebrated Mass afterwards.
'The theme of our meeting, Connecting for Growth, was indicative of our aim to reach all parents and families in our Catholic schools in NSW and the ACT. We were proud to hold our annual combined meeting at a congregational school, which was a first for CCSP, and we welcomed leaders in education including from ACU, CSNSW and the Federation of Religious Institute and Ministerial PJP Catholic School Authorities in NSW and ACT,' said CCSP Chair Wayne Davie.
We sincerely thank all those who attended. This meeting was an opportunity for the CCSP Council and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee to gather and affirm our commitment to Catholic education, parents and carers as well as the leaders and staff from CSNSW to each diocese and school across NSW and the ACT.
Around our dioceses, schools gathered with parents to continue to develop relationships and involve parents and carers in the life of the school. Have a look at some beautiful photographs from Armidale and Canberra and Goulburn dioceses in the article Around the Dioceses.
We remind you that the 2023 Roger O’Sullivan Award is open for entries from Catholic schools. CCSP provides this annual grant of $5000 to a school to continue a school-parent partnership project. Find out more here. We can’t wait to see your entries and find out how your school has bridged the gap between home and school, and enhanced student outcomes in faith development, learning and wellbeing of students.
The next eSafety/CCSP webinar on Thursday 9 November at 7.30pm is an important one for primary school parents to attend, as it’s all about social media. Find out how to register here. We look forward to seeing you online.
I was delighted to attend a P & F Association meeting at Holy Cross Catholic School, Kincumber in Diocese of Broken Bay. It was wonderful to meet the many parents and carers who attended the meeting, the lovely community feel that enveloped the meeting and the strong sense of a supportive community where all are welcomed. I presented on the work of the CCSP, parents as first educators of their children, and the importance of appropriate parent engagement.
Lastly, we send thoughts and prayers to all HSC students and their families who are preparing for exams. You can download key HSC dates here.
Take care and God bless.
Executive Director CCSP
Around our dioceses, schools gathered with parents to continue to develop relationships and involve parents and carers in the life of the school.
Diocese of Armidale
St Joseph's Primary School, Walgett – Official Opening of the Aboriginal Language and Culture Memorial Garden
Distinguished guests, past and present families of Elders and Indigenous language teachers, parents, staff and students gathered for a very special opening and acknowledgment of the Aboriginal Language and Culture Memorial Garden.
The local Gamilaraay/Yuwaalaraay Language and Culture Garden is in memory of Uncle Ted Fields(Snr) and other community language educators for teaching the traditional ways about the land and for teaching local dreamtime stories through reviving the Gamilaraay/Yuwaalaraay language.
Aunty Fay Green with Ted Fields (Jnr) opening the Memorial Garden.
St Joseph’s Walgett Principal – Donna Fiechtner, Karen Tighe – Armidale Diocese Indigenous Education K–12, Sharon Pitt – AEA St Joseph's Walgett, John Brown – St Joseph’s Yuwaaalaaraay Language Teacher, Aunty Fay Green – St Joseph's Elder in Residence, Sharon Cooke – CSNSW Aboriginal Education State Manager, Hanne Pedersen – Armidale Diocese – Wii Gaay Facilitator and Justin Matthews – Armidale Diocese School Performance Leader.
Diocese of Broken Bay
World Youth Day 2023
On 21 July 2023, our first World Youth Day group headed off to Lisbon, Portugal. Close to 170 people; youth, young adults, leaders, teachers, clergy, religious, together with Bishop Anthony travelled together on pilgrimage– all on a life-making journey to the great gathering of young people from around the world in Portugal.
Our young people were excited, enthusiastic and on fire with the spirit of the Gospel as they began their pilgrimage. In Italy we visited the homes of many of our saints before joining the Holy Father and young people from around the world, sharing our culture, interests, ambitions, and faith as Christ’s living witnesses.
One of the pilgrim group leaders reflected on the experience as being, “A deepening of her own personal faith, which was a spiritual awakening”. Sharing this experience in the company of Bishop Anthony made the experience even richer.
Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn
Family Culture Day
The inaugural Southside Corroboree Family Culture Day provided Indigenous students and their families with the opportunity to develop connection and relationships through games, activities, cultural learning and socialisation.
Guests enjoyed activities such as weaving/string making, dancing, sport, art, craft and writing workshops. There were even special appearances by the GWS Giants, Canberra Chill, Canberra Raiders, Canberra Brave and the ACT Brumbies.
This wonderful Family Culture Day was coordinated by Jeremy Margosis from MacKillop College and Sharee Thomas from St Francis of Assisi Primary school
Former CECG student Stewart Barton, Rebecca van Aalst with daughter Jessie, CECG Director Ross Fox, CECG Aboriginal Education Officer Katrina Cambridge, and Jason Hall with daughter Olivia.
Diocese of Lismore
Father's Day at St Joseph's Maclean
With funding from the Parent Assembly and Parent Forum, the Father's Day event was held on Monday 4th September.
All the wonderful dads, grandfathers, and significant men were celebrated during the Father's Day Liturgy. They stayed and shared a BBQ lunch with the staff and students. All families received prayer cards to take home to continue to pray for their fathers, that the Lord showers them with his blessings and fills their hearts with love, joy, and peace.
This was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the significant men in the students' lives and build community amongst the school families. The students and staff loved having all the dads at school and sent the message that they were all welcome back anytime.
CCSP and St Joseph’s College Hunters Hill were pleased to host journalist Madonna King and Detective Inspector Jon Rouse to speak to parents and carers about cybercrime and sextortion on 7 September 2023.
Anne Fehon, CCSP Council Member, said of the night that “Madonna King and Detective Inspector Jon Rouse were fantastic! Their approach to this sensitive topic was wonderful. The audience, comprising families from many different schools, were very engaged and listened intently to the information beign presented."
Increasing numbers of children and teens are finding themselves caught in an evil web of networked manipulators, and King and Rouse spoke to parents and carers about how we can all protect the children in our lives from cybercrime and sextortion.
Saving Our Kids BOOK GIVEAWAY
We have two copies of Madonna King's book, Saving Our Kids, to give away to the first two people who email 'Save our Kids' to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and mobile so we can post the book to you.
Apply for the Council of Catholic School Parents NSW/ACT 2023 Roger O’Sullivan Award for the opportunity to receive a $5000 grant for your school!
The yarning circle at St Joseph's Primary School, Coraki, last year's recipients of the Roger O'Sullivan Award. The school’s submission was for their collaborative project between the school, families, students and the wider Coraki community. The school used their Roger O’Sullivan award grant to complete a mural and nature garden designed to improve the visual appeal of the school.
Entries are open for the 2023 Roger O’Sullivan Award for Family, School and Community Partnerships for Learning
- Has your school community implemented an initiative that focuses on family, school and community collaboration?
- Does your initiative focus on faith formation, the school curriculum, student wellbeing, or any combination of the three?
- Has your initiative made a real difference for the students, staff and families in your community?
The Roger O’Sullivan Award for Family, School and Community Partnership is CCSP's annual grant for a school community that demonstrates exemplary practice bridging the gap between home and school to enhance the faith development, learning and wellbeing of students through family, school and community partnerships.
Parent bodies and leaders from eligible Catholic school communities are invited to apply for the Roger O’Sullivan Award by demonstrating how a partnership-focused initiative has enhanced student learning outcomes. The initiative must be an authentic parent engagement project. Ideally, it will have been parent-initiated, but this is not essential so long as parents have been collaborative partners and authentically engaged throughout the life of the project.
How to Apply
- Use the QR code above or go to the CCSP website to download the 2023 ROS Award Submission Form.
- Complete the Submission Form by responding to six criteria about your school’s initiative.
- Complete the online web form and declarations and upload your Submission Form and supporting files
Building partnerships between home and school to enhance the learning outcomes of students
Applications close at 3pm on Wednesday 11 October 2023Read Less
The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) invites all stakeholders, including parents and carers, to view and comment on the new 7–10 draft syllabuses during the ‘Have your say’ period.
NESA values all feedback and will like people to complete online surveys to share opinions on the draft syllabuses.
Extensive feedback from teachers, parents and the community during a first round of public consultations in 2022 has informed the updated syllabuses.
All feedback in this ‘Have your say’ period will be used to inform the development of the final syllabuses.
Up-to-date Curriculum Reform information is now available on nsw.gov.au/NESA.
Curriculum Reform Team
NSW Education Standards Authority
Transitioning from primary to secondary school is an exciting but often nerve-wracking experience for students and their families.
Merici College in Canberra has a unique and practical way to assist students to feel less nervous about starting Year 7. The college invites all students enrolled in Year 7 to join an Oztag team over the summer break, starting in October of Year 6 and ending in February of Year 7.
Teams are arranged to mix small groups of girls from each primary school so that there are both familiar and new faces in each team. The Oztag summer program is a great way to help relieve some of the anxiety around meeting new people at secondary school because when Year 7 starts the students have already formed friendships and know other girls. Those friendships continue to develop during Year 7 as the Oztag season continues.
Grace was a happy participant in this program and says, 'Oztag was a great way to get to know a wider group of girls from different primary schools, and to help make the first days of school far less daunting, knowing I could find people I already knew.'
Here are practical ways that parents and carers can assist with preparing their Year 6 student for secondary school:
share helpful family stories about change (moving schools, new job, new lifestyle), particularly where there are examples of feeling nervous, making mistakes, and asking for help.
practise travelling to the new school together during the holidays, so students feel confident doing it on their own when the school year begins.
look at the high school’s website and social media pages together to see what sort of information you can find. Follow up with the school if you or your child have questions.
check in with your new school about what orientation activities might be planned. And talk to your existing school: do they have any transition activities?
importantly, talk with your young person about how they and their classmates are feeling about the move to secondary school. What are their challenges? What could help?
A helpful guide for parents and carers who have a child moving into Year 7 is Starting Secondary School by renowned psychologist and author Michael Carr-Gregg and Sharon Witt.
This invaluable resource for Australian families provides all the tools and information parents and carers need for facing this major milestone in their child's life, with the latest advice on:
· Choosing the right school
· Settling into secondary school
· Homework, study tips and tricks
· Coping with stress, anxiety and depression
· Social issues such as bullying and friendships
· Health and wellbeing, including the importance of sleep and diet
· Latest advice on mobile phones and technology
Published by Penguin Books, available from all major book retailers.
Celebrating Stories, Cultures and Languages
Indigenous Literacy Day on 6 September was a wonderful day to listen to Corey Tutt read from his award-winning book The First Scientists.
Corey is a Kamilaroi man from Nowra on the New South Wales south coast who founded Deadly Science, a not-for-profit organisation that gathers donations of science resources and sends them to remote schools around Australia. In 2022 Corey was awarded an Order of Australia medal in recognition of his service to Indigenous STEM education.
His book The First Scientists is written for kids aged 7 to 12, and is designed to ‘nourish the reader's love of science and develop their respect for Indigenous knowledge at the same time’.
Visit the CCSP website to watch Corey read from his book, and find some great home reading tips for helping your child's literacy skills: https://www.ccsp.catholic.edu.au/home-reading-tips-
School refusal Senate report recommendations good news for parents and families
In October 2022 the Greens called for a Senate inquiry into the rise in school refusal, also known as school can't, school phobia, school avoidance, attendance anxiety, and/or emotionally based school avoidance.
The final report was released on 10 August this year, and makes 14 recommendations to address this concerning situation, which schools and families are struggling with, including research, a national action plan, subsidised student mental health appointments and embedding of school refusal training into relevant tertiary education courses.
The Committee proposed that the following are all needed to assist schools and families to ensure school attendance for all students:
- Improving awareness and understanding of school refusal
- Early identification of school refusal and evidence-based interventions
- A national approach to school refusal
- Increasing the focus on student wellbeing in schools
- Improving cross-sector collaboration
- Improving support for parents
Meeting with the Education Minister
Members of Catholic School Parents Australia (CSPA), which includes two delegates from CCSP NSW/ACT, had a productive meeting with Education Minister Jason Clare on 24 August 2023. The meeting focused on crucial matters related to the important role that families have in the learning and wellbeing of our children and young people and its impact on education in Australia.
The CSPA delegation took the opportunity to provide an overview of their ongoing efforts in parent engagement, including projects and surveys aimed at ensuring a parent voice on critical topics such as student wellbeing and learning, the effects of classroom disruption on learning, and the current positive Home and School communication project.
One highlight of the meeting was CSPA's proposal for a National Parent Engagement Roundtable to develop a national policy so that all schools were committed to engaging families in their children and young people’s learning and wellbeing. This roundtable would also discuss establishing a national repository to bring together all the current resources and research being done in Australia in Parent Engagement. This would be a central point for families, schools and early childhood to access the best information possible to better engage all families. Minister Clare exhibited keen interest in this initiative and initially CSPA will work with the Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO) around developing a plan for the roundtable to present to him.
'In our pursuit to advocate for parents, we recognise that one in five children in Australia receives their education in Catholic schools. This statistic underscores the immense responsibility we bear in ensuring their educational journey is nurtured through strong family-school partnerships. Our ongoing collaboration with Minister Clare cements our commitment to strengthening education by empowering parents to actively engage in their children's learning,' said Andrea Obeyesekere, CSPA National Chair.
CSPA 10-Year Anniversary
Catholic School Parents Australia (CPSA) celebrated 10 years of advocacy and engagement since it was founded as the national coordinating voice of Catholic parents at a special event in Sydney at CCSP's offices in August.
Past and present council members, partners and well-wishers came together to commemorate CSPA’s journey including Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney Danny Meagher, national Catholic education executive director Jacinta Collins, ACARA chief executive officer David de Carvalho, and the inaugural chair of CSPA Tony O’Byrne.
Jacinta Collins said CSPA had made a remarkable contribution to Catholic education, empowering parents to take an active role in the education of their children and by encouraging family engagement with their child’s school.
The CSPA council also took time to meet to reflect and collaborate on its continuing journey as an important partner in education in Australia.
This included discussion of advocacy initiatives and parent engagement projects such as fostering positive home-school communication, student health and wellbeing, addressing vaping concerns, nurturing respectful relationships, navigating the impact of artificial intelligence, and managing mobile phone usage in schools.
Getting started with social media: TikTok, YouTube, Instagram
Thursday 9 November
7.30pm - 8pm
Our Term 4 30-minute webinar is designed for parents and carers of young people in primary school. It includes practical tech tips, conversation starters and digital parenting advice.
It will cover:
- creating a positive digital identity
- privacy and sharing online
- managing what you see online
- good practices in group chats
Registration link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/3292210919773643020
In this article, renowned clinical psychologist, author and speaker Andrew Fuller discusses helping gifted kids - who are rarely neurotypical – find their learning strengths, and includes a section on how parents can help students.
‘Young people and children who have been identified as gifted, benefit greatly from knowing their learning strengths and how their brain works and learns. This knowledge provides a basis for navigating life successfully.’
Download the article: Learning_Strengths_Gifted_by_Andrew_Fuller.pdf.
Don't forget to grab your $50 Active Kids, Creative Kids and First Lap vouchers.
Active Kids vouchers are valued at $50 and can be used towards sport and recreation activities for school-enrolled children. These expire 31 January 2024.
Creative Kids vouchers are also worth $50 and can be put toward art, drama, dance, design, music or even coding. You may be eligible if you haven’t used a $100 Creative Kids voucher this year. Expiry is 31 January 2024.
A brand new Active and Creative Kids voucher program will start in early 2024.
First Lap vouchers allow you to put $50 towards swimming lessons for children aged 3 to 6 who aren't enrolled in school. Valid for 12 months, they expire 30 June 2024.
To find out where you can use these vouchers, go to Vouchers | Service NSW.