March 14, 2023

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Principal's Message

IWD Reflection

Notices from the Deputy Principal

Year 9 Urban Experience

Year 7 Reflection Day

Library News

Year 7 Humanities - 'Water in the World'

Good bye from Viv

Project Compassion Easter Raffle

Webinar for Parents

Year 7 2025 - Applications for Enrolment

Important Dates

Principal's Message

International Women’s Day

It was a pleasure to host some of our Alumnae on International Women’s Day, and to celebrate the many more who shared their various post-school pathways with us.  These pathways are many and varied and include – Sports Management and Training, Pharmacy, Performing Arts, Journalism, Fashion Design, Pastoral Ministry, Executive Management, Allied Health, Business Ownership, Finance and Business Analysis, Accounting, Scientific and Medical Research, Law, Education, Human Resources, Medicine and Nursing, Media and Marketing, Environment and Sustainability, Writing, Aviation, Information Technology, Law Enforcement, and the list goes on.

Across every field you can imagine, women educated in the tradition of the Sisters of Charity and Mary Aikenhead Ministries, bring not only their knowledge and skills, but a heart that has been formed and attuned to service and vocation in God’s name. In my address at our IWD Assembly, I impressed upon our students the legacy they have inherited through their Mary Aikenhead Ministries education.

Let’s go back to the Sisters.  One author writes of the sisters in the 19th century “women who achieved much because they dared greatly. They were among the signal achievers of the nineteenth century. Feminist historians sometimes fail to see that the convent offered women of that time rare opportunities to head complex enterprises such as hospitals and schools. These women were among the great entrepreneurs of that day and their monuments survive to this day.”

We are the inheritors of the story and the legacy of an extraordinary group of Iconic women whose spirit lingers on in this place that nurtures and sustains us today.  All of us here follow in their footsteps.  All of us, you, have a responsibility to that legacy and to the generations of women who will come after us.  We have the resources and the access to education to find ourselves places in politics, policy, government, influence and advocacy where we can be the agitators for equity, and a voice of justice for all.

Pilgrimage to Hobart

On March 9 and 10, Lance Jilbert, Head of Faith and Mission, and myself, journeyed with pilgrims from other Mary Aikenhead Ministries to Hobart for two days to immerse ourselves in the story of the Sisters in Tasmania. This story is characterised by courage, endeavour, innovation, entrepreneurship, persistence and love. In the face of harsh conditions facing the female convicts, the Sisters brought hope, solace and comfort. They were there for the lost, lonely and unloved, and were fiercely determined to make difference. This is the legacy that we inherit as we accept the responsibility to continue our work in their name.  The following extract is from Ministry of Love, the story of the Sisters of Charity (Danielle Achikian, 2018).

Mary Aikenhead began her work, starting with a school and a women’s refuge, all the while visiting people who were sick and suffering in their homes. She was invited to Kilmainham Prison in Dublin to visit women prisoners including those sentenced to execution.

At the request of Bishop Polding in Australia, five Sisters of Charity volunteered to travel to the penal colony in 1838.  This was the first community to be established outside Ireland…

The history of the Religious Sisters of Charity is not without difficulty and challenge, conflict and struggles. It is a history that is very human…

Helping Girls Regain Their Confidence and Motivation

The following article appeared in my inbox on International Women’s Day. Andrew Fuller is a well-known and regarded adolescent psychologist, and in this article he highlights some specific ways that we, parents and educators, can help our girls recover from the effects of the pandemic and extended lockdowns.

Helping Girls Regain Their Confidence and Motivation

Andrew Fuller

While the pandemic years have challenged us all, the effects have been especially severe for girls and young women. They are the most likely to experience the ‘disorders of distress’- anxiety and depression and for some, self- harm, and body insecurity.

I want to combine the conversations I have been having in my therapy room with girls and young women with recent research to start a conversation about creating antidotes.

Of course, these issues can also affect boys and do not apply to all girls or to all young women. Nevertheless, discussing ways to help our girls and young women recover after a tough time is needed.


Extended lock downs disrupted the social networks and support of girls and young women. Replacing face to face interactions with an online version did not work for many. In our usual face to face, conversational world we are able to ‘read’ people more accurately and also use our interactions to soothe ourselves while calming each other’s fears and worries. Humans are built to co-regulate.

One antidote to this is have girls and young women ‘synch and link’ with one another. Learning how to re-regulate after times of dys-regulation is the basis of stress management and recovery. For many, the answer to high levels of stress is not individual support, it is social support and activities with others.

Conversational Impoverishment

During the pandemic years, gamers could discuss triumphs, strategies, and challenges. People who didn’t play computer games as much could discuss… er… Netflix?

Much of the conversational fodder for girls and young women is their shared experiences. Having felt/ done/ endured similar events, bonds and highlights the similarities between girls and young women. When there are less shared experiences, it leaves some girls and young women feeling isolated and unvalidated. This increases feelings of agitation and stress. Some feel abandoned and left out.

Distorted Reflections

Viewing your own image on screen during extended on-line sessions does not do many of us great favours. For young women, it has left many of them overly self-conscious and hyper- critical.  Levels of body image issues and nutritional restriction have escalated. If you restrict food intake too much, you increase cortisol, the stress hormone. This lessens the capacity for creativity and flexible thinking.

The enhanced degree of self-scrutiny has been worsened by negative comments about appearance from others. The formation of a deeper sense of identity is part of knowing yourself and knowing the contribution you can make. To assume that only your physical attractiveness counts, diminishes us all.

Perfectionism and Idealism

The internet lies to us all, but it reserves the most toxic lies for women. It allows for the fast sharing of information but with it comes the spreading of poisonous ideas. One of the most toxic ideas is that you are never ‘enough’.

One lie is that somewhere in the inaccessible world of social media exists the perfect life with the best boy or girlfriends who wear wonder- fully stylish fashion, are always glamourous and thin and always say or do exactly the right thing.

Happiness is not just about many times you smile or laugh each day. It is more about your feeling of appreciation and contentment with who you are, what you have, and the people around you. Social media annihilates this for many girls and young people and leaves them feeling imperfect, dissatisfied and on an endless pursuit for perfection.

Avoiding failure (at great cost).

The quest for perfection effects learning. For some young women the desire to attain the perfect score at school becomes a tyrannical quest. If you are clever enough or driven enough to attain high scores in one subject area, there is often a strong avoidance of other areas. This narrows rather than expands the learning of girls and young women.

In this regard, sadly, they are emulating the position sometimes taken by disengaged boys- it is better not to try than to try and fail.

What the Internet Steals from Us

If we consider the way most girls and young women calm and manage stress, it seems these are the very things that social media does not offer:

  • Shared decision making
  • Deepening & enrichment of conversations
  • Collaboration
  • Kindness
  • Effective support.

In short, our young women are being robbed by the very tools they seek support from.

Vaping Your Way to Calm??

The proliferation of fake I.D’s to obtain vapes and alcohol has never been higher. If you think home delivery services just apply to food, think again. There is a thriving business in dropping off supplies of substances to young women.

Let’s imagine you were feeling isolated and unaccepted. There is a substance that offers you social connectedness, stress reduction, potential skinniness and feels rebellious. As a teenager, would you? Vaping is the new norm. (I’m not saying that is a good thing). Hard to control in schools. Toilets are not a place most teachers wish to intrude upon, understandably.

Increasingly young women in co-ed schools are inviting male students into the girl’s toilets as ‘fellow’ vapers. This means even less privacy for young women. For those who have had unpleasant experiences with young men, a visit to the toilet can be fraught.

Regular vapers report lower levels of happiness than peers.

Girl Power

After a few years in which female empowerment had some much-needed gains, it feels as if the pandemic years have caused it to stumble. Careers with higher proportions of female staff have been among the least well supported. Support packages seem to have been directed mainly at careers where men predominate. Wage gaps remain alarmingly disparate.

Girls and young women are rightly shaken by the restriction of pathways to economic futures. While the belief in a traditional career pathway is lower, interest in entrepreneurial start-ups remains high.

Teach Self–Reliance.

We need to help our girls and young women to shift from narrow perfectionism to developing strong identities and create great lives.

Being timid or oblique about their capacities and strengths does them no favours. Let them know you think they are smart and can get even smarter. Everyone makes mistakes. Great people use their mistakes to get smarter and stronger.

You don’t overcome perfectionism by not making mistakes. You overcome perfectionism by making mistakes and learning how to use that knowledge to create different outcomes in the future. All great undertakings require overcoming adversity and setbacks.

Once girls know that you believe in them and like them, it is useful to move them from pleasing others to self-reliance. This is the development of courageous resilience. This is best done by coaching them towards strengthening a positive sense of their identity and extending their skills in an area of their choosing.

The way we do this, is called CARE coaching-





Create a non-judgemental environment in which they can take risks, make mistakes, and improve on their performance over time.

The desire that many girls and young women have to ‘get it right’ can quickly topple into anxiety and perfectionism. Perfectionist girls may constantly seek reassurance from you that they are doing the right thing. Discuss options with them and then teach them to trust their instincts and do what they think is right.

Most girls will do what is asked of them, but they may be less likely to realise that they have acquired a transferable skill. Instead of focusing on having pleased an adult, we want them to attribute their successes to their own skills and capabilities. This builds self-efficacy, self-awareness, and meta-cognition.

Help them to develop a resume of acquired skills. Teach them that everyone can get smarter and has learning strengths they can develop. Support them in trying out and learning new things. Encourage having a go and living by your wits.

Our girls and young women need us to be bold and to act as positive antidotes to the dreadful effects of the past few years.

IWD Reflection

We are very proud to include an excerpt of the speech written and delivered by our Liturgy Captain, Monique Davood, at our assembly this week, celebrating International Women’s Day.

As a Mary Aikenhead Ministries school, the legacy, spirit and history of Mary Aikenhead and the Sisters of Charity have deep religious meaning within our school community. We aspire to continue their work and to live their values every day, making them our role models throughout our lifelong journey as Catholics.

As a result, the College community has been using the phrase “Venerable Mary Aikenhead, pray for us” at the end of many prayers said at St Columba’s. Although many students and staff understand the general meaning of this phrase, the word “venerable” is unknown to many of us, which undermines the significance behind this statement and hinders our ability to connect with, and embody, our school’s patrons.

So what does “venerable” mean? It is a title of honour in the Catholic tradition, reserved for the holiest and the most virtuous of people in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Mary Aikenhead was one of the people who was given this title, meaning that she was on her way to becoming canonised and recognised as a saint. It is important to note that this title does not make Mary Aikenhead a saint, but it instead acknowledges her potential for sainthood.

From a young age, Mary devoted her life to the service of others and the work of the Catholic Church. These actions not only deepened her connection with her faith, Jesus Christ and God, but they also created a loving relationship between her and those whom she served. So by asking for her intercession in prayer, Catholics who admire her, like us, believe that Mary Aikenhead can pray on our behalf and advocate our prayers in a powerful way because of her close relationship with God.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Embracing Equity”, a concept that needs to be achieved on a global scale. As said by the International Women’s Day organisation, “…equity isn’t just nice-to-have, it’s a must-have”. The aim of this theme is to start a worldwide discussion about why there aren’t enough of the same opportunities for everyone, in every stage of life, not just why there aren’t the same number of men, women and others represented in certain places.

The amazing thing about this theme is that equity is something we all unconditionally believe in, meaning that it is possible to make a real difference, whether it is big or small, within our school community or beyond. However, the only way positive change can be made is through collective activism. No one can make a worthwhile change on their own. So let’s embrace equity together today, and always, by striking the ‘embracing equity pose’ so we can be part of the solution.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we come before you, O God, with heavy hearts, knowing that women around the world still face significant injustices because equity has not been achieved on a global scale.

We pray for equity in representation in the leadership of our country. We pray that the opportunities afforded to boys and men, and every step on the journey leading to leadership, are also afforded to girls and women so that they may shine as brightly.

Empower us to be advocates for those facing discrimination, violence or inequality in their homes. We ask for your guidance and wisdom as we work to build a world where women are valued, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential.

Guide us to support the women who are fighting for their employment rights in their places of work around the world. Give them strength and resilience in the face of adversity, and help them to find allies and supporters who will stand with them in solidarity.

Help us to create a world in which all women are able to freely attend school. May we work together to write a future where no woman is left behind in the education sector, and where every woman has the opportunity to thrive in their studies.

Show us how to best support women who are denied access to healthcare. We ask that you fill our hearts with love and the spirit of Mary Aikenhead and the Sisters of Charity so that we can be inspired to provide the necessary resources to overcome the challenges that threaten these women’s health.

Finally, we pray for the women who bring forth their children during the uncertain times of natural disasters, especially those residing in Turkey and Syria. Teach us how to see the truth of the circumstances these women live in so that we can walk with these women as allies in the example of your Son, Jesus Christ.

Please give us the wisdom to recognise the ways in which our own biases and prejudices may be contributing to these injustices, and give us the courage and strength to confront and overcome any obstacles that we may face in our journey to achieve equity. May our efforts towards creating a more just and equitable society be guided by your love, truth and grace.

Venerable Mary Aikenhead, pray for us.


Notices from the Deputy Principal

Mothers’ Day High Tea – Saturday 13 May

An invitation to our annual Mothers’ Day High Tea has been sent to families already. We have had a good response to date and are looking forward to celebrating the special women in our students’ lives. We have partnered with Taylor Made, so we can be sure that the food will be delicious. Tickets may be purchased up until Friday 14 April or until sold out.

International Women’s Day Assembly 

International women’s day is a significant annual event on the 8th of March, which highlights the achievements women have overcome socially, economically, culturally, and politically, whilst simultaneously raising awareness on what can be done to inspire even more change, and seek justice. Guided by this year’s theme of embracing equity, St Columba’s celebrated International Women’s Day, by hosting many events and activities, aimed to educate, and empower, our community.

To honour the day, Piashay and I were invited to attend the Alliance of Girls Schools International Women’s Day Breakfast at Parliament House, where we were able to hear from a variety of speakers in regards to the adversities present while working in male dominated industries. We were particularly struck by the keynote speaker Dr Angela Grant, who works as the Head of the Macroeconomic Conditions Division in the Australian Treasury, and has previously worked as a Director in the International Monetary Fund. We were able to hear about the strides she has taken herself to embrace equity, such as her involvement in advocating for equal pay in developing countries. Both Piashay and I were riveted by Dr Grant’s speech and learnt that although it does take courage for your voice to be heard, the value of a woman’s perspective is insurmountable in our society.

Now, as for IWD itself, the day started off with an assembly, where students learned about the history of International Women’s Day, and the difference between equality, equity and justice. The Student Executive also presented several videos, celebrating the women in our community. Firstly, we were able to present to students, ‘Alumni and their careers’, where we highlighted the diverse occupations former St Columba’s students have pursued, from owning a franchise of local cafes, to primary school teacher, to even a globally recognised singer! The overwhelming range of careers the St Columba’s alumni have followed showcased the undeniable power of women, and that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. In the assembly, we were also given the opportunity to celebrate the women we love, our mothers and mother figures! A big thank you to everyone who sent through their ‘Embracing Equity’ photos, it was certainly a memorable (and, for some, surprising) part of the assembly for the whole student body.

International Women’s Day was also celebrated throughout the day, with a ‘linking chains’ challenge in which O’Brian were the successors, earning them 10 house points! Students also had the opportunity to take a photo with our renowned school mascot, Lily the Lion, and participate in a lunch time quiz, hosted by the Sophia Library.

This year, international women’s day has taught me the importance of celebrating all women. Whether it’s someone famous in history, or a friend, it’s a day to acknowledge our achievements as women. However, I have also learnt that despite making historical strides towards equity, there is still a long way to go, and discrimination still exists. Hence, it is crucial we amplify the voices of women, and strive for fairness and justice for all individuals, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, and together, work towards a world where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive.

Sarah T – College Co-Captain

End of Term Easter Liturgy & College Assembly – Thursday 30 March

If you would like to attend our end of term assembly, please RSVP by Monday 27 March to so that we can allocate a seat for you. We look forward to seeing you there.

Year 7 Parent Meet & Greet

Year 7 parent and legal guardians are warmly invited to an evening at the College by our Parent Engagement Committee. This is an opportunity to get to know others who are also on this journey of transition into secondary school. Families have been sent an invite which includes a link to RSVP. Please RSVP for catering purposes. We have extended the RSVP date to Thursday 16 March.

We look forward to seeing you then.


Year 9 Urban Experience

Urban Experience – Our New Year 9 Program in Collaboration with St Bernard’s College

On 27 February 9.1 were the first St Columba’s students to embark on the new week-long Urban Experience. This new program gives us the opportunity to form bonds with our brother school St Bernard’s and work towards developing our 21st Century Learning and soft skills which will help us long after we leave Secondary School. Some of the skills which we were able to strengthen was the ability to be independent in the City of Melbourne, be focused and self-directed in our learning as well as develop our ability to work as a team.  

The week began with both the St Bernard’s and St Columba’s students meeting in Gayip Biik, where we met our group members, introduced ourselves and were given information on how the week would be run. We also took part in some workshops on teamwork and respectful relationships to prepare us for the week. Though we didn’t have much time until we were dropped in the deep end where we were forced to self navigate ourselves as a group for an Amazing Race style competition. This involved a lot of walking, running and public transport all over the city. We all very much enjoyed this independence as we were awarded with the ability to go out for lunch wherever we wanted for half an hour at a time of our choosing. By the end of the day we were exhausted but ready for an entire week’s worth of exciting activities. 

The next day the two schools worked independently, this gave us an opportunity to explore the story of The Sisters of Charity both on the streets of Melbourne and at St Vincent’s Hospital. We were also able to attend different tours that linked to the college values, one of them was with the company The Intersection which looked at “reading Melbourne”. This meant that we were asked to look into stories of taboo topics in Urban Victoria, like rough sleepers and graffiti artists. 

On Wednesday we met at the Catholic Theological College in East Melbourne where we were reunited with our groups from St Bernards. Here we got ready to begin our self guided activities, which we would be completing for the rest of the week. We were required to plan out a timetable for our groups and decide on the best modes of transport. Our group decided to go through with the most exhausting activities, which were mainly walking tours. By the time we had finished we realised that we could have saved time if we had only caught the tram! 

Some of the activities we completed were museums – such as the Hellenic Museum and the Chinese Museum where we had to answer related questions. Parliament House, which we coincidentally went to on the same day as our school captains, was my favourite because I was able to learn so much, in a practical way. We also explored art, historical sites, city gardens and went on an Indigenous walks. These activities allowed us to deepen our understanding of Melbourne, its people and see real world examples of our college values in action. 

In the end Urban Experience was a successful and exciting week away from traditional classes, where our city became our classroom. 

Emma F and Carla M

Below is some feedback from other students in 9.1:

My most favourite or most enjoyable part of the Urban Experience Program was meeting new people and getting to know my group because my relationships with them grew along the way and I made many new friends.

The skills I learnt during the Urban Experience Program were navigation and independence. We had to be very self-motivated as there were no teachers guiding us every step of the way.

I learnt that I am able to navigate my way around the city and build respectful relationships with other people.

Below is some feedback received from parents:

She was able to show her independence and confidence, and engage with the community as well as the boys that joined them.

I can sum up her experience, initially, she was so nervous & a bit apprehensive about how it would be but she LOVED IT, thank you for putting together this opportunity

Year 7 Reflection Day

On Monday 27th February, all Year 7s participated in their Reflection Day for the year with their teachers. The students explored the concept of “Journey” and wrote letters to their Year 12 future selves amidst playing cooperative games and a liturgy. A fun day was had by all and we look forward to continuing the reflections done on the day in our Religion classes for the year.

Library News

International Women’s Day in the Library

As well as displaying books by female authors and about prominent females the Sophia Library ran an International Women’s Day Kahoot. Students contested against each other to be in the winning for a number of prizes.

Congratulations to the girls who came First, Second and Third in the Library International Women’s Day Kahoot. We look forward to bringing you more theme day based activities at lunch.

Year 7 Humanities - 'Water in the World'

In Year 7 Humanities, we are learning about the importance of water in our world and how it is an example of a renewable environmental resource. We have been focusing on how we can reduce the water usage in school and how students and teachers use water throughout the day. This term, we completed a water audit of the school. We mapped the location of where water is used around the school and where there are water conservation measures.

I have also enjoyed learning about the droughts in the early 2000s through researching and talking to our families. They shared with us their memories of how they managed water during the droughts and how this has impacted how they use water now.

Good bye from Viv

Over the past year and a bit, I have had the pleasure of being employed as the first Youth Minister at St. Columba’s College. During my time at the school, I have had amazing opportunities to work closely with the Faith and Mission Team in planning and delivering formation experiences for all students through various College events. Some of which included, Year Level Reflection Days, Year 12 Retreat, Ministry Retreat, Caritas Project Compassion, Interfaith Dialogue Days, Vinnies Winter School Sleepout and Student Leadership Training. These days have been most memorable for me as they were opportunities for me to build meaningful connections and learn how this role should be shaped to best support the students at STCC.

I want to thank every student and staff member for welcoming me into the College community with open arms and being a part of my personal journey. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the families who have been so gracious with their support for this role. My last day at STCC was made extra special with International Women’s Day celebrations and activities. What a way to be farewelled than to be reminded of how special it has been to have journeyed with such kind, resilient and passionate young women.

Project Compassion Easter Raffle

Webinar for Parents

Upcoming webinar for parents – Using Technology and Beating Distractions

We’re excited to announce that on 15th March Elevate Education will be hosting another free webinar for parents.

Elevate Education works with our students, delivering high impact workshops on study skills, motivation, wellbeing, and exam preparation. By tuning into their webinar series you will learn how you can help better support your children at home through reinforcing the skills they learn at school:

Wednesday 15th March @ 6:30pm (AEDT)

Using Technology and Beating Distractions

Here’s what Elevate will be covering:

✅Technology addiction and how to reduce technology dependence

✅Practical strategies and apps to minimise procrastination

✅How to help your child use technology productively to enhance their learning

We hope to see you there!

Click here to register for free

Year 7 2025 - Applications for Enrolment

Do you have a daughter currently in Grade 5 and wish to enrol her at St Columba’s College? If so, please take note of the following enrolment dates for Year 7 2025:

  • Applications for Enrolment close Friday 18 August 2023
  • Offers of Enrolment will be mailed out Friday 20 October 2023
  • Offers of Enrolment to be accepted/declined by Friday 10 November 2023

Online applications are open for Year 7 2025 can be accessed here. Please ensure you submit an application form for your daughter even if you already have a daughter at the College.

Important Dates

Wednesday 15 March – Naplan begins

Monday 27 March: Year 10 Immunizations

Wednesday 29 March Athletics Carnival

Thursday 30 March – Easter Liturgy

Monday 3 – 5 April – Year 7 Camp

Wednesday 5 April – Last day of class for Term 1