A guiding principle

Our College has a fundamental moral purpose to ensure that together we create fine young men. This statement is more than an advertising slogan for attracting future students.

It is a guiding principle as we seek to create an intellectual home, a spiritual home and a psychologically ready place for growth, for all in our community. Pope Francis reminds us ‘an education in the fullness of humanity should be the defining feature of Catholic schools’.

We are constantly reminded of our responsibility to furnish these aspirational goals when faced with news of sexual misconduct by men in positions of power. The ‘Me Too’ movement exposed widespread sexual harassment and abuse, and gave people a voice and a sense of the magnitude of the problem. The numerous allegations of sexual abuse against a former High Court judge turned the gravity of abuse towards our own institutions of power. The alleged rape of a former staffer in the Defence Minister’s office and last weekend’s report of an historical rape allegation by a current Cabinet Minister, with victims too frightened to report, further exposed a disturbing culture close to home. Adolescent boys have not been spared following the shocking online testimonies of sexual assault experiences by many former schoolgirls. These disturbing incidents remind us of our collective responsibility, at home and at school, for open and honest conversations with teenagers concerning respectful sexual relationships and consent. 

The word responsibility implies the ability to respond. Education is certainly an essential part of this response. Last year, the College formed a partnership with the Australian Catholic University to undertake a research study investigating programs promoting respectful relations with women, understanding of gender identity, matters of inclusion and cultural diversity. The College is part of a study, through the International Boys’ Coalition, exploring current research related to sexual citizenship and digital responsibility in boys’ schools. Our 2021 student leaders elected to strengthen our approach in ensuring ‘respectful relationships’ and adopted this as their theme for the year in promoting responsible behaviour that aligns with the values of the College.  

In addition to requirements in the Stage 3, 4 and 5 PDHPE syllabus, the College implements numerous age appropriate programs addressing issues of sexual assault, consent, power imbalance and control, personal safety, pornography and responsible decision making. Guest speakers, parent education evenings, partnerships with girl schools and discussions with pastoral care leaders are part of our ongoing commitment in developing an understanding of respectful relationships. There is, of course, always more to be done both inside and outside schools.

Sadly, there are no guarantees such extensive programs will put an end to the deeply shocking behaviour of sexual harassment and abuse we witness all too frequently. Essentially everything returns to our core values, in partnership with families, in journeying alongside boys and moulding them into great men. At the risk of being provocative, we do not want our boys to act in a decent and caring, respectful and responsible fashion. What we do want is for our boys is to be decent, caring, respectful and responsible. We all understand the difference between acting and reality. The former is completely without substance, while the latter allows our boys to stand like a tree; to be strong, to make choices for the dignity of others, to respect women as equal and also as magnificent. Mary’s place as a model in Marist spirituality helps shape a way for relating to others and particularly women, built on values of respect, dignity and equality. These underpin our Marist mission and our Catholic social teaching on the human dignity of each person grounded in the person of Jesus.

Let us not forget, there is a lovely tenderness in boys, we witness this every day. All involved in raising boys know this.

Click here to view a video which has been prepared by SchoolTV for parents on consent and sexual assault, which features renowned child and adolescent psychologist and author, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg.