Parent Update, 28 May 2020

Welcome to my Week 7 Update.

National Reconciliation Week

Desperate people in desperate need.

Graphic television footage confronts us all regularly with the stark reality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities filled with people in desperate need of help. Statistics on their health, housing, school attendance rates, incarceration rates and violence, particularly of children, confirm the sorry story.

Blessed with more affluent lives in the big cities, we drive through some of these settlements on our way to more glamorous holiday destinations and feel despair, anger or indifference. Some have given up, feeling it is all too hard. In the long run, our collective apathy is no better than the crass rantings of the Aussie rednecks of all persuasions. Despite well-intentioned government initiatives, sometimes precious funds are often misdirected in a deadening bureaucracy or wasted through incompetence and widespread corruption.

It is a gloomy scene. But there is hope. Success stories lift our spirits.

Kevin Rudd, as the Australian Prime Minster in 2008, has been deservedly congratulated for his sensitive handling of the formal apology on behalf of the Australian people for the Stolen Generation. Words are great, but actions speak louder. Great action is required in independent schools, and particularly privileged schools like Melbourne Grammar School. If we are genuine in our claim at Melbourne Grammar of being a leading Australian independent school which takes learning and leadership seriously, then we have a responsibility and an obligation to ensure our future leaders understand the challenges and respect Indigenous culture and aspirations. Education leads to greater understanding. Education is also the ladder by which people from all over the world can climb out of poverty and embrace opportunity.

Since 2008 much has been achieved at Melbourne Grammar. Indigenous history, culture and art are firmly embedded into the School’s curriculum. We acknowledge our traditional owners prior to important school events and on plaques around each campus. My Headmaster Commissioning Service held in February commenced with an Indigenous dance in which our Indigenous students displayed their culture with pride and passion. Yesterday I joined an annual Melbourne Grammar School tradition in which our Indigenous student leaders gave short and meaningful speeches (which you can read here) and the Aboriginal flag was raised to the top of the Witherby Tower flagpole. The Indigenous Round is now embedded into the annual APS winter sport calendar.

At Melbourne Grammar School we currently have 13 Indigenous boys enrolled from all over Australia. We demand and expect the best, inside and outside the classroom. Almost all will complete Year 12 and enter tertiary study. Our School community gives generously to provide means tested bursaries and scholarships to support a diverse student body, which includes Indigenous students.

More details on this program and how you might be able to support it can be obtained from our Indigenous Program Manager Robbie Ahmat, or the Director of Advancement and Admissions, Andrew Boyd

The Indigenous recipients of our program receive a great education, are provided with many opportunities, are highly engaged, respected and valued and will become future leaders. But just as important, our school community is enriched by their presence and we get far more from them than we give.

In this video, recorded in the early stages of off-campus learning, I highlight the contribution Indigenous students bring to the School and provide a brief snapshot of our aspects of our Indigenous program.

Return to on-campus learning

We were thrilled to welcome students in Prep, and Years 1,2,11 and 12, and all staff, back onto campus this week. 240 out of 247 (97%) Grimwade students returned and 96% of Years 11 and 12 returned.

Some students are not able to return to on-campus learning due to border, travel or quarantine restrictions and severely curtailed airline schedules. These include students located overseas, a few of our Indigenous students and a few students residing interstate. Our staff will continue to support the educational and pastoral needs of these students via regular contact using Canvas, emails and WebEx meetings.

We will ensure when these students return to School they will receive our warmest welcome and additional support is provided.

As included in last week’s Update, a reminder that detailed information for the arrangements relating to the return to on-campus learning is available here. myMGS credentials will be required to access this information. I ask all parents to read these documents thoroughly please, if you haven’t done so already.

Book reading

This week’s story is set in the Australian outback, where one dry day follows another, and everyone struggles to stay cool.

I hope you enjoy my reading of Big Rain Coming by Katrina Germein.

The password to view this video was provided in the Update emailed to parents and staff on 28 May.

With my warmest wishes,

Philip Grutzner