Update, 13 August

Suffering in silence

Whenever I walk through the foyer of The Old Melburnians War Memorial Hall, I look at the Honour Rolls containing the names of Old Melburnians who served in WWI and consider the high number that did not come home. Many served at Gallipoli, and then endured the living nightmare of the cold, mud, stench and death in the trenches of the Western Front in Europe.

They returned home with gratitude and hope, but only a few months later, their families and their country were to be severely impacted by the world pandemic, Spanish Influenza, and a world economic recession. Very few spoke openly at that time, or since, about their pain, whether it be due to societal pressure, protecting their families, or what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress syndrome.

Fortunately, we are not living in the shadows of a recent World War, but we are living with some enormously difficult times with COVID-19. We are distressed by the daily infection numbers and death rates, seeing our health workers under strain and wondering will there be enough Personal Protective Equipment and will it work, and will our hospitals cope. We worry about the severe impact on business, jobs and the economy. We are concerned about the social isolation, dislocation and anxiety levels.

Then there is the pain behind the closed doors of families as they cope with the pressure of working from home, supervising children, limiting exercise to one hour within 5km of the home and managing all the other challenges of lockdown 2.0.

We all feel loss for the cancelled holidays, School activities such as sport, music, camps, and the social interaction and activities that have abruptly ended.

Some of us feel guilty because we are not suffering as many others are, and we are amongst the most fortunate people on the planet, before, during and after COVID-19.

At times we feel powerless; so what can be done?

Firstly, acknowledge the COVID-19 challenges and pain.

Secondly, try not to lose hope, because we can be grateful for what we have and can look forward to. We have a world-class health system, safety nets for the vulnerable, a great spirit of community support and widespread commitment to flatten the curve and support each other. We live with great hope for the many scientific teams around the world as they rush to make a COVID-19 vaccine.  

In recent days we are pleased to see the reduction in COVID-19 infection rates and our hope rises for the return of school, employment and the lifestyle we are seeing in interstate.

Thirdly this school, our school, is a wonderfully supportive one. We are blessed with phenomenal staff, reliable IT systems and a commitment to make it work. We have a caring culture. So, if you are in pain or need help, reach out whether it be other mates, family members, staff or professional help. Feel free to contact the many kind and committed people in our School such as class and subject teachers, tutors, Heads of House, Counsellors, Chaplains, or Heads of Campus. Remember they too will be under pressure, so a word of thanks goes a long way. You can find other useful resources, including contact details for related services, here.

For those suffering financially, means-tested fee assistance is available via an application from the Director of Finance and Administration, John Jesson at jhjesson@mgs.vic.edu.au

You may also wish to visit the Melbourne Grammar COVD-19 Resource Hub. This week I share my Top 5 Family Lockdown Activities which you can view here.

I welcome your ideas about activities that can be added to my Top 5 Family Lockdown Activities. Please contact us here to provide your thoughts. Can you help make my Top 5 into a Top 100?

Rev’d Hans Christiansen, Senior Chaplain, has also contributed 11 Lockdown Ideas to Lighten up the Day and these are available here.

Just like the WWI generation survivors, I hope you too can live with gratitude and hope, and not suffer in silence.

Sport update

It will come as no surprise to many that, in line with direction from the Victorian Government, the APS Winter Sport Season has been cancelled. This impacts on students from Year 5 to Year 12. We are currently exploring training and competition options for the Spring and Summer 2020/21 seasons, which may commence next term depending on the restrictions in place at that time.

In addition, the Cordner Eggleston Cup is a highlight of the Senior School calendar each year. Unfortunately, we will not be able to hold a football match to celebrate this important School milestone this year. We had planned to hold an alternative sporting event late this Term, but the upgrading of restrictions in Victoria have also meant that this cannot proceed.

Campus yearbooks

Please be assured that we are proceeding with publishing our traditional 2020 Campus yearbooks this year – that is, Open House for Grimwade House, The Domain for Wadhurst and The Melburnian for Senior School.

The publications may be a little slimmer than they have been in the past, but we still hope to showcase the people – staff, students and other School community members – and activities that make up the fabric of our School.

At this stage, we are planning on distributing the publications at the end of the year.

Thank you

Each week I offer a heartfelt note of thanks to you for your continued care, kindness and understanding. Rather than diminishing over time, my appreciation for all you are doing grows all the time. Thank you once again.

Best wishes,

Philip Grutzner