May 17, 2019

< All Issues


Principal's Message


Year 9 & 11 2020 Scholarships

Alumnae News

Careers News

Social Justice & Faith News

Social Media: Safety Strategies

Senior Pathways

VCE Survey

;Mission Australia Youth Survey

Student Achievement

Principal's Message

Mothers’ Day High Tea

It was wonderful to celebrate Mothers’ Day with all the mums and their daughters who joined us for High Tea on Saturday, 11 May.  After a moving liturgy prepared by Mr Shane Taylor and delivered by our students, we were treated to a delicious menu of savouries and sweets in a celebration of motherhood and womanhood.  It was an opportunity for different families to come together for a catch-up as well a chance for mums and their daughters to spend some special time together. I’d like to acknowledge the work of Ms Brigitte McDonald and Ms Donna Kellett for their planning and organisation of the event.



Congratulations to our student representatives at the annual combined KickArts Festival, which is a showcase of the amazing talent shared across the three wonderful secondary schools in our local area – Ave Maria College, St Bernard’s College, and of course, St Columba’s College.  This is a student led and run event and members of our Year 12 Student Executive showed great leadership skills in working with the student leaders from the other Colleges to facilitate the event. Thanks to Arts Captain – Belinda Barichello, College Co-Captains – Faye Shee-Durnion and Lianna Scalise, Liturgy Captain – Katrina Tu and the Student Executive for all of their hard work.  A special mention to Gabrielle Hanley-Leonard, Caitlin Hanley-Smith and Dominique Hanley-Smith who were awarded first prize in the dance category, and to Carla Vinci who won the People’s Choice Award.  As always, thanks to our Performing Arts staff for their unwavering support and complete confidence in the abilities of our students and Tim Huf for his support of the Student Executive.


World Day of Vocations

Sunday, 12 May was the annual World Day of Vocations.  This year’s message from Pope Francis really struck a chord with me.  Essentially his message is one that encourages each of us to find our vocation, that thing which really drives us to be connected to what it is we choose to do, and to always do it with Grace, to the best of what we have to offer.  An excerpt from his reflection is below:

“Two pairs of brothers – Simon and Andrew, and James and John – are going about their daily tasks as fishermen.  In this demanding work, they had learned the laws of nature, yet at times, when the winds were adverse and waves shook their boats, they had to defy the elements.  On some days, the catch of fish amply repaid their efforts, but on others, an entire night’s work was not sufficient to fill their nets, and they had to return to shore weary and disappointed.

Much of life is like that.  Each of us tries to realise his or her deepest desires; we engage in activities that we hope will prove enriching, and we put out on a “sea” of possibilities in the hope of steering the right course, one that will satisfy our thirst for happiness.  Sometimes we enjoy a good catch, while at others, we need courage to keep our boat from being tossed by the waves, or we are frustrated at seeing our nets come up empty.

God in fact desires that our lives not become banal and predictable, imprisoned by daily routine, or unresponsive before decisions that could give it meaning.  The Lord does not want us to live from day to day, thinking that nothing is worth fighting for, slowly losing our desire to set out on new and exciting paths. If at times he makes us experience a “miraculous catch”, it is because he wants us to discover that each of us is called – in a variety of ways – to something grand, and that our lives should not grow entangled in the nets of an ennui that dulls the heart.  Every vocation is a summons not to stand on the shore, nets in hand, but to follow Jesus on the path he has marked out for us, for our own happiness and for the good of those around us.”



As resurrection people, celebrating Christ risen from the dead until the great feast of Pentecost, we pray:


Draw Us Forth

Draw us forth, God of all creation.

Draw us forward and away from limited certainty

into the immense world of your love.

Give us the capacity to even for a moment

taste the richness of the feast you give us.

Give us the peace to live with uncertainty,

with questions,

with doubts.

Help us to experience the resurrection anew

with open wonder and an increasing ability

to see you in the people of Easter.


Year 9 & 11 2020 Scholarships

Year 7 2021 Enrolment

A reminder to parents if you currently have a daughter in Grade 5 and you wish to enrol her at St Columba’s College, please ensure that you have submitted an Application for Enrolment Form. Application forms can be downloaded from the website or you may collect one from Reception.


Applications for Year 7 2021 close on Friday 23 August 2019.


Academic Excellence Scholarships

St Columba’s College is offering Academic Excellence Scholarships for students entering Year 7 2021 as well as Year 9 and Year 11 in 2020. Details and online registration are available on the College website.


Registration closing date is Wednesday 5 June 2019

Scholarship testing date is Saturday 15 June 2019

Alumnae News

We would like to acknowledge Mary Galea and Heather Gridley (pictured below), Alumnae from the Class of 1968, who were recently honoured with Order of Australia Awards.


Mary is a research professor in physiotherapy, and Heather is a psychologist who has played a prominent role in the Australian Society of Psychologists.


Congratulations Mary and Heather!



Careers News

The latest Careers Newsletter is available for download below. It contains information on the UCAT for students interested in pursuing a degree in selected medicine, dentistry and health science degrees, University Open Days and information sessions.


Careers Newsletter – May 17 2019


Social Justice & Faith News

St Vincent de Paul ‘College Conference Day’ 2019

Bella and Tiana volunteered to attend the St Vincent de Paul “College Conference Day 2019.” Over 20 schools from across Victoria meet at Abbotsford Convent for a day of learning and sharing ideas about faith. The conference involved guest speakers who shared their thoughts about “faith in action” and what we can do to make a difference in our world. The workshops encouraged students to engage in discussion about what is happening at each school and what possibilities are available for us at STCC.  


Everyone who spoke or lead activities offered thoughts about what we can do as individuals to work with others. It became obvious throughout the day that our ability to make a difference is not so much about helping other people but being a companion and making time to sit with others and listen to people’s stories.


We should all be proud of the work being done in our community, the support of each House Charity partnership, Caritas, and the Sisters of Charity Foundation. Our house reps who have volunteered to work on the Social Justice portfolio are looking into organising a Junior Just Act group/Junior Vinnies group at St Columba’s who will work on special projects throughout the year. If you are in year 7 or 8 and interested in joining us please contact Ms Fleeton:


Remember that “faith in action” begins with a conversation and has endless possibilities . . .  


Community Outreach – St Vincent’s Soup Van

Once a term our students have to opportunity to walk with others, in assisting the volunteers of Society of St Vincent de Paul Soup Vans. There are 14 vans across Melbourne, providing support, companionship, food, socks, clothes and toiletries every night of the year. They support those sleeping rough or who are experiencing disadvantage. Here is student Sienna’s reflection of the activity:


On Wednesday 1 May, the five of us (Olivia Gale, Annie Ho, Kate Bacak, Sienna Porter and Genevieve Devers) support by Mrs Luciani and Mr Rowland, participated in Soup Van. Offering soup was merely a small portion of the night. Instead, we held meaningful conversations and handed out donations that were brought in by some of our wonderful Year 11 peers. We felt that the best part of our night was being able to experience their appreciation first hand. Going into the night knowing that even a warm smile can be the best part of their day made us all put in a conscious effort to show each person that they are human and are respected regardless of circumstance. I would encourage all of you to step out into our community and do your part in moving forward into a world where those in need aren’t marginalised and ignored in everyday society. The outcomes are rewarding for all. – Sienna Porter



Palm Sunday Refugee Rally

During the middle weekend of the school holidays Sienna Porter, Joyce Fogarty and their families joined Mr Taylor, Ms Grima and myself at the Palm Sunday Refugee Rally. Thousands turned out demanding our government address justice for refugees as a campaign issue during the current election.


Meeting at St Patrick’s Cathedral, we were led in prayer by Bishop Mark Edwards before joining the main rally at the State Library. Here we heard from a number of key people who work in the area of justice including Richard Flanagan who encouraged the crowd telling us “change is coming. You can feel it, you sense it. It is coming and it will not be denied.” A powerful message was also relayed via phone from Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish refugee who was being held at Manus Island. He wrote ‘No friend but the Mountains’ by text message from inside the detention centre. At this rally, we were able to bear witness to his testimony and walked in solidarity for better treatment of others.


Walking in solidarity with other colleges, organisations and religious groups from a number of denominations was a special experience. The blessing of being held on Palm Sunday provided a moment to reflect on Jesus entering Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.


Bahay Tuluyan Bike Ride

Another year, another fantastic display of faith in action. 40 students applied to participate in the 40 km ride to Williamstown and back to STC, raising money for Bahay Tuluyan in the Philippines. Bahay Tuluyan is a non-government organization that provides a variety of programs and services aimed at preventing and responding to abuse and exploitation of children in the Philippines. They work in Manila, Laguna and Quezon, delivering social services and programs on the street and in communities.


Clare Scerri from Bahay Tuluyan Philippines Australia was with us on the day, supporting the girls as they rode.  She explained the money raised is going towards the goal of educating students over the next 10 years. Knowing the importance of their actions the girls dug deep riding through some strong headwinds on the way home. Special thanks must go to the staff who generously give of their time to ride with the students, Mr Bramham, Mr Finger, Mrs Robinson and Ms King.


Fr Rob Galea Concert

On Sunday, 14 July, Fr Rob Galea will be performing at the Clocktower Centre in Moonee Ponds. Fr Rob is an ordained Catholic Priest who was selected to perform and write the official 2019 World Youth Day song, ‘Here I Am, The Servant of The Lord’ in January 2019. For further information, please click here.  


Photo gallery below of our students at Soup Van, the Palm Sunday Refugee Rally and the Bahay Tuluyan Bike Ride 


Social Media: Safety Strategies

Social media is an important part of the way young people engage with the world around them. Current research aims to understand the role that social media plays in relation to mental health and wellbeing and encourages us to think about how to reduce potential harms and maximise the opportunities it can present.  Research shows that there is a link between spending more time on social media platforms or engaging with more appearance-related content (e.g. images) on social media and greater body image concerns and disordered eating among young men and women (Holland & Tiggemann, 2016).


There is a trend on social media (particularly on Instagram) to post fitspiration images, which are designed to motivate people to exercise and eat healthily. Although these images may motivate people towards a healthier lifestyle, viewing these images can also increase women’s body dissatisfaction, particularly when women compare their body to the thin and lean bodies in these images. Read the following article for a snapshot of the experience of some of our young women:


Excerpt from: Billi FitzSimons: A young woman’s life on social media from 13 to 19. by Billi FitzSimons, September 21, 2017

I wake up in the morning, rub my eyes, taste my morning breath with regret and then, of course, grab my phone. I check Instagram even before I know what the time is.

I look at the ‘likes’ I received on the photo I posted last night. ‘Thank God it got over 100’ I think. It’s so nice when you feel so much acceptance from your followers. I make sure I get back to the comments people left, tag them all and give them a love heart. I then go through my feed. I scroll, and scroll, and scroll.

I see photos of girls with perfectly-structured-and-ridiculously-in-proportion bodies.

‘Wow she is incredible,’ I think. ‘Damn I wish my body looked like that,’ I compare. ‘How can I make myself look like that?’ I contemplate.

A good 30 minutes goes by without me even noticing.


It’s a self-obsessed, self-destructive ritual. And one that I, and many other young women of my generation, know all too well. We were guinea pigs for growing up with social media. I created my Instagram account when the app was launched back in 2010, and have maintained my profile ever since – I’m now 19.

Being teenage girls, our insecurities are as high as our confidence can be low. You’re learning about yourself in every way: appreciating where your strengths lie and conceding your weaknesses. Puberty arrives, you’re growing taller (or not), getting pimples (or not), growing boobs (or not), experiencing your first kiss (or not).

It is a teenage rite of passage, and you don’t know any better than to look around and compare yourself to others. And where is the worst place in the world for comparing yourself? Social media.


Parent Information for Safe Social Media Use

Because young people spend so much time on social media, it is important that we find ways to reduce potentially harmful influences that it may have on their wellbeing. Social media is so ingrained in our society that it may not be effective to suggest that people stop using social media altogether (although spending less time on these platforms may be helpful).


Media literacy programs to educate our young women on appropriate social media use and to increase awareness aim to develop critical thinking skills in our students which can be applied in their everyday lives, including their engagement with social media. Managing cyberbullying, being aware of triggering versus inspiring content and appearance comparisons are other important topics covered in our programs. Other initiatives that may be of interest to parents of young women include:

eSafety: this website provides teenagers, parents, and teachers with educational materials and resources related to social media use and cyberbullying. This site also provides information on the policy and privacy functions embedded within frequently used social media platforms and apps to encourage and guide user safety. Direct links to policies and guidelines on reporting content, managing privacy settings and contacting social media support centres are included.

Stay Smart Online: a government initiative providing advice on how to use social media safely.


Strategies for students for Safe Social Media Use

Unfollow pages that may be triggering or encouraging comparisons. It may be helpful to trial this for a few days and monitor your feelings, thoughts and attitudes to see if they start to shift and be less critical.

If you come across a post including content that may be triggering or harmful to yourself or others, report the post. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have an option to report individual posts and space to provide reasoning for this. The links included in ‘Did You Know?’ will help guide you.

If you come across triggering media articles (magazines, news, advertising) being shared on social media, report this to Sane Australia via Stigma Watch.

References: Holland, G., & Tiggemann, M. (2016). A systematic review of the impact of the use of social networking sites on body image and disordered eating outcomes. Body Image, 17, 100-110. Image: Getty


Senior Pathways

How can you support your daughter through her senior years and beyond secondary school?


With so many sources of information, a host of confusing acronyms, and a huge range of new terminology navigating the final years of school and what happens thereafter can be overwhelming and confusing for both you and your daughter. Let the Pathways Team help you on this journey!


Put these dates in your Calendar: Universities often have free, organised information sessions during the school holidays or in the evenings for families to attend.


20 May:  there is  TIS seminar and expo sessions provide an opportunity for students to research their tertiary study options; discuss careers and course content with tertiary representatives and collect course information from all the major Victorian universities and local TAFE institutes. The link for parents to attend:

From now until August, Monash Uni have sessions at 6.30pm called ‘Inside Monash’ Go to

16 July: there will be a Senior Careers Expo at St Columba’s College, open to Yr 9 to VCE students and parents; an opportunity for you to hear from universities, the VCE, VET, VCAL and Pathway Coordinator, the Head of Learning and alumni students. Stay tuned for further details.

27-28 July: the Melbourne Exhibition Centre for the Melbourne Career Expo. For more info go to

13 August: the Pathways Team at St Columba’s College invite you to discuss the best options for your daughter. This conversation is based on the career-wise assessment completed, current academic reports and questions to the student about interests, skills, likes, achievements, values and goals. Stay tuned for further details.

Whilst waiting for 13 August to arrive create a list of questions to have ready. What do you want to know?

Here are some ideas:

  • Would the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) be best or would the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) be more appropriate?
  • Is University, TAFE or VCAL the best option for my daughter?
  • What subjects are needed (pre-requisites) for university options?
  • Are Vocational Education and Training in schools (VETis) subjects offered? If so, which ones?
  • What University or TAFE is offering what is needed after year 12?
  • How to apply for an apprenticeship?
  • How do we choose what subjects to study?
  • How can my child be successful in their potential field of interest?


What do we do if my child has no clue about what to do in the future


In August/September most Tertiary providers in Victoria have open days. This is where you get a real sense about what is on offer. Accommodation, travel time, amenities, courses, majors, outcomes, work integrated learning options and exchange programs. Check their websites for details.


Do some research on reliable websites:

  • This is the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) where students apply to University and TAFE courses. All pre-requisite subjects are listed for each year. The Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). Available courses. Scaling reports. ATAR to Aggregate tables. Information on Tertiary providers.
  • This is the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (VCAA). Look after everything to do with the VCE. Exams, subjects, study scores, VCE Certificate etc. This is a free Vic Govt website around occupations, apprenticeships, training providers. There is a great page for parents there too.
  • WIRL. This is a great website to do research on occupations, future prospects, related courses, salaries and also a quick career quiz. Your daughter has the passcode.


Have conversations with your daughter. Here are some ideas to get the conversation started.


  • ‘What do you really enjoy doing?’
  • ‘What engages you the most at school? Why? What subject do you dislike the most? Why?’
  • ‘What do you see yourself doing at the end of secondary school?’
  • ‘If you could solve a problem what would you solve?’’
  • ‘If you could wave a magic wand and do whatever you want, what would you do?’
  • ‘What do you think you are really good at?’
  • ‘When are you happiest/most relaxed/most productive?’
  • Let’s go to an expo and ask some questions or find out what is out there’


VCE Survey

Dear VCE parents and students,


The VCAA is committed to maintaining strong relationships with its clients and stakeholders and to providing them with high-quality and timely information and communications.


To better understand perceptions of VCAA and identify ways in which VCAA’s information provision and communications could be improved, VCAA is undertaking a stakeholder survey.


Education professionals, school administrative staff, senior secondary students and parents of school students are invited to provide us with valuable feedback using the relevant link below to complete our survey.


The survey takes up to 10 minutes to complete.


The survey closes on Monday 20 May 2019


We thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback.


;Mission Australia Youth Survey

Mission Australia Youth Survey – 31 May in Extended House Group for Years 10-12


What is the Mission Australia Youth Survey?

Now in its 18th year, the Mission Australia Youth Survey is Australia’s largest annual survey of young people of its kind. With over 28,000 respondents in 2018, the Youth Survey offers important insights into the lives of young Australians and an understanding of their values, concerns, challenges and ambitions. It is an authoritative source of information that helps to equip schools, community organisations, governments and NGOs with evidence to support programs for young people in their transition into adulthood.


Why is my child being asked to take part and what they being asked to do?

The survey seeks to gather a range of insights into the lives of young people aged 15 to 19 across Australia (Year 10 and 11). Your child is invited to complete an online questionnaire that will ask about some personal characteristics, some of their education, work, and social activities, as well as their experiences in social groups. There are a number of questions that ask about their personal wellbeing, as well as issues they might be personally concerned about or see as important in Australia. The study will involve the completion of an online questionnaire that takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. The majority of questions require young people to check a box to indicate their response (such as yes/no questions or scales that rate the response from 1 to 5). There are a small number of questions that allow for free-text responses.


Will my child be identifiable by being involved in this study?

All information that you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. The survey is conducted through SurveyGizmo, which is a survey tool based in the USA. Data provided through this survey is encrypted and transferred to SurveyGizmo’s server in the USA. By completing this survey, participants agree to this transfer. All data will be stored securely on a password protected drive at Mission Australia, accessible only to the Research team. Your child will not be identified in any reports resulting from the research. However, Mission Australia has a duty of care to the young people who take part in this study.


If their response to the wellbeing question (Q24) indicates probable serious mental distress, or if other responses indicate signs of abuse or neglect, we are ethically obliged by the ACT, NSW, NT, SA, TAS and VIC Departments of Education and Training and the Catholic Education Offices to report identifiable information back to your school’s principal. They may then wish to identify the student to offer you support. No other information about participants or their responses will be shared with the school principal.


Student Achievement

Congratulations to Year 11 student Jessica Nguyen, who was awarded a place in the Top 7 ‘Long-List’ of the 2019 Queenscliffe Literary Festival Secondary School Writing Competition for her lyric poem “A Midnight Scene” (below). Written in Year 9, Jessica’s poem has won her a performance poetry workshop with world-renowned performance poet Emilie Zoey Baker later this month. Congratulations Jessica!


A Midnight Scene


What inspires me?

It is the brush of colour on colour

The darkness of the water

The luminescence of the moon upon the waves

Gleaming on them arbitrarily like a mirror

Casting brilliant rays of myths and legends

Of the people before

The nighttime expanse

It is the bridge that separates water and land

Holding the chaos and calm apart

The subdued clearing in the woods

It is that blue box

Intriguing and endearing

Enticing you in

That sits overlooking the ocean

That blue box, with so much hope filled inside

The light asserting itself from the panelled windows

Igniting the dreams of children

It is the gleam of white against twilight

It is what pervades my reveries

It is a scene upon midnight


(Pictured: Jessica with her winning poem)