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In this issue

Message Stick – Term 3, Week 6
Gawura – our School within our School, something we can all be proud of
Heart Mind Life Awards
Annual Ashura Procession
Library News
Parenting Tips
Sport News
Coffee in the Hub
Exam Support Volunteers
Message from Registrar
Sustainable School Shop
School Elevator Rules and Etiquette - St Andrew’s House
Parents Prayer Meeting
The Great Book Swap - Indigenous Literacy Day
Spirit of Sport Winter Dinner
P&F presents Coeducation
Family Fun Day at the NSW Parliament October School Holidays
Code Camp Spring School Holidays
Gawura Doctor - Dr Shuo Zhao

Message Stick – Term 3, Week 6


Last Thursday 22 August Gawura had the pleasure of hosting The Hon Minister Nanaia Mahuta MP Minister for Maori Development and Local Government from New Zealand. Minister Mahuta has a passion for Indigenous education in her own country and came to see Gawura to visit best practice and gain insights and ideas into our unique teaching model for Indigenous Australian students. The Hon Minister Mahuta was wonderful and engaged with our students in an authentic manner. We shared successful practices and ideas from across the Tasman the Minister was very keen to have an ongoing professional relationship with our Gawura School.

On Wednesday 22 August we took over 50 students on a cultural excursion to the State Library of NSW and walked through the Living Language Exhibition. This was an amazing exhibition which engaged with Elders from all around NSW who celebrated and shared stories from their different nations. Our own Kailan, Mariah and Kayliah saw their Aunty Maureen within the exhibition who spoke about Wiradjuri language. We also saw Aunty Esme Timberey who is the mum of our very own  Gawura bus driver Uncle Bill Russel. The Living Language Exhibition is truly fascinating and runs til May next year in 2020. I will be visiting again with my own family in the coming months.

Gawura would like to thank ex Junior School parent Svetlana Sidochuk who generously brought her production to our school and performed a play titled The Velveteen Rabbit which was a story about a toy which comes to life. Our K-4 students were very impressed with the storyline and actors who performed in this production and we thank Svetlana again for providing this wonderful opportunity for our students to see a live drama production.

Last Friday 23 August the JSGS held the annual Book Parade with this year’s theme being ‘Reading Is My Secret Weapon’. Thank you to all the parents who put together a variety of costumes for our students. Congratulations to all of our students who had a ball. Even Clark Kent and Superman were in the same room on this occasion!

Finally I would like to wish all of our amazing Gawura athletes Talaara, Kailan, Jenarose, Mariah, Toni and Stanley who will be participating in the ASISSA Athletics carnival this coming Thursday 29 August. This is a wonderful effort to get to the next level. Well done!

Thank you for your ongoing support and we look forward to seeing you at the many events that will occur again throughout this term.

Have a safe and enjoyable fortnight ahead.

Mr John Ralph
Head of Gawura


Dates for your calendar

Tuesday 27 August: Cocurricular Photographs

Tuesday 27 August: ICAS Digital Technologies

Wednesday 28 August: Year 5 and 6 Author Visit Jack Heath

Thursday 29 August: ASISSA Athletics Carnival

Friday 30 August: Yar 4 Blue Mountains Excursion

Wednesday 4 September: Indigenous Literacy Day and Great Book Swap – fundraiser

Thursday 5 Spetember: Coffee in the Hub Kindergarten to Year 6 8.00am Level 4 Main school Building Community Hub

Friday 6 September: Science Expo Kindergarten - Year 2

Tuesday 10 September: ICAS Writing

Tuesday 10 September: Ashura Procession (public event see below)

Wednesday 11 September: ICAS Spelling

Thursday 12 September: Year 5 Chowder Bay Excursion

Friday 13 September: Year 5 Chowder Bay Excursion

Friday 13 September: Kindergarten - Alexandra's Outing - Botanical Gardens Excursion


Gawura – our School within our School, something we can all be proud of


How much do you know about our Gawura School, our school within our school? Our Gawura School is thriving, thanks to the inspiration and dedication of so many people. Gawura was founded just 12 years ago by Dr Collier’s predecessor, Mr. Philip Heath and two wonderful Aboriginal Elders; Pastor Ray Minniecon and Mrs. Sharon Minniecon, who wanted to do something to help address the inequity of opportunities for children in their community.  St Andrew’s Cathedral School, under the leadership of Mr. Heath, chose to commit to the Gawura School as a Christian social justice response, in recognition of the systemic underachievement and the clear disparity in educational outcomes existing between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

When Dr Collier started here as Head of School in 2010, Gawura had already commenced and was beginning to establish itself as a unique model of education that would meet the needs of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Under Dr Collier’s leadership and also, the leadership of Mr. North and then Mr. John Ralph, the Gawura School has flourished, so much so, that it is being recognised widely as an exemplar model, sparking the interest of interstate and even international educational and political authorities. Last week we received a visit from some dignitaries from across the Tasman Sea, The Hon. Minister Nanaia Mahuta, MP New Zealand Minister for Māori Development and Local Government as well as the New Zealand Consul-General, Mr. Bill Dobbie, both of whom were very impressed with our unique Gawura School.  We are also due to receive the NSW Minister for Education, the Hon. Sarah Mitchell, followed by a visit from another Minister from the Northern Territory in the coming weeks.

Our Gawura School and our Junior School have featured recently on the ABC, SBS, and in Educational Journals such as the Education Review. All interest has been on what a success story our Gawura model has been and the immense benefits to the students in not only Gawura, but for the students in the regular St Andrew’s Cathedral School. Some of the true benefits of this model, is the fact that we offer a day school, rather than the traditional boarding model which has been criticized for removing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and land, it is also unique in that it is enrols from Kindergarten, which means we are not having to close any gap, we are preventing it from starting with early intervention. We are also unique in that the school has now 9 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff employed, and we have another, the founder, Pastor Ray Minniecon on the School Council. This is indeed an outstanding achievement considering the current statistics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trained teachers in NSW is sadly only 1.39% of all teachers. Another unique feature of our Gawura School is because it operates within our whole school, the Gawura students can access specific targeted Literacy and Numeracy lessons, as well as cultural lessons within their own school structure, but join their friends in the whole St Andrew’s School for other curricular and extra-curricular lessons and opportunities. The students are a part of two schools and benefit from the structures of both.

How is it funded? Gawura is funded separately to the main school of St. Andrew’s Cathedral School which is reliant on a parent fee structure and some Government Funding. Gawura is funded almost totally by the Federal Government, as it is a 100% Indigenous School. It is also subsidised through the generous donations and sponsorships received from many fine local organizations, some of which a number of our St. Andrew’s Cathedral School families are associated with.

The Gawura School is more than meeting educational outcomes, achieving well above national averages in NAPLAN for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and even against national means for non-indigenous children. Our model means that not only are they receiving a high-quality education, which includes learning about their Aboriginal Culture and learning an Aboriginal Language, but all the children in the Junior School are also benefitting from learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture as well as learning the Wiradjuri language. The Gawura students and the Junior School students work and play beside each other for the benefit of all. It is indeed a special school and something that everyone associated with St Andrew’s Cathedral School should be immensely proud of.

Mrs Rhonda Robson Deputy Head of School (Primary),
Director of Primary Education and Head of Junior School.


Heart Mind Life Awards

Zavier Reid Year 1 For his participation and active presence in class
Mariah Keegan Year 6 For her caring attitude towards others

Annual Ashura Procession


Large public event at Town Hall Square, Tuesday 10 September from 8am

On 10 September at 8.30am, the Annual Sydney Ashura Procession is being held at Town Hall Square. The Procession, which marks the martyrdom of a significant Islamic figure Imam Hussain, has been held every year since 2004 and is a peaceful, well-organised but large gathering of people.

The Procession begins at Town Hall Square and walks through the city. It can be confronting for children as it involves large crowds, banners and many people chanting.

Access to school remains unchanged, and our security and teaching staff will be on duty to assist students, parents and visitors arriving between 8-8.30am.

For more information, visit their website.


Library News


Premier’s Reading Challenge 2019

There are only weeks to go until the 2019 challenge closes (August 30), so get your reading records completed and join the more than 140 students who are already eligible for certificates at the end of the year.

Congratulations to the following students who have completed their challenge:

BJ Carr, Eleanor-Rose Hammond, Bryden Walker, Latrell Mcgrath, Ethan Poon, Nyarla Gordon, Djani Haynes, Maya Hughes, Lizzy Ray Ingram, Graham Jackson, Anthony Lees, Zavier Reid, Kallarah Silva, Mizpah-Ann Klink, Jakayla Reid, La Quaelah Roberts-Carr, Talaara Simpson, Tilly Bray, William Edwards, Sonny Rossiter, Dylan McFadyen, Parker Edwards, Esther Shang, Oscar Xu, Max Boustani, Sarah Baines, Thomas Gordon, Daniel Mackay, Isobel O'Brien, Damian Briffa, Jamie Tan, Eli Gajewski, Ruby Keeton, Charles Squire and Blake Harvey

For more information and the booklists visit the PRC website

*If you attended a different school and completed the PRC there, please come and see me so I can request that your records be merged. Otherwise this will be your first PRC year. This is especially important if you are eligible for your gold or platinum certificates this year and if you are looking at earning your Premier’s medal.

Book Draw

Finished the PRC for 2019? Well don’t stop reading!

Congratulations to Cydney Sadler who was our lucky first winner this term.

1 more draw will happen this term, so keep reading and go into the draw to win a book of your choice.

Parent / Teacher Challenge 2019
Congratulations to the following extraordinary reading role model:

Ms Way

Join her by: Reading any 6 titles (in any language) and emailing me your titles at and I’ll add you to our wall of wonderful reading role models.

Book Week has been booktastic!
We have shared in some truly super fun this week.
Students made superhero masks, worked in small teams to dress each other as a superhero from what they got given to them in a box, made super frames and put their photos into them, played superhero bingo and enjoyed a mini minion movie marathon with popcorn.

They shared who their real heroes are, posed in front of the book angel wings and the superhero cape, guessed how many super items were in the box, spent the week decoding the library’s secret power, colouring in and reading the shortlisted books.
If that wasn’t enough they have also been challenged to enter their class competitions as well.  Infants have decorated superhero bookmarks, stage 2 have been asked to submit a photo or drawing of their favourite reading place and stage 3, a reading or superhero haiku.  These are due by Wednesday 28 August.

Thank you everyone for getting involved in some way and making this the best book week at SACS ever.

Zanni Louise came to SACS
Author of very popular titles like “Errol” and “Tiggy and the magic paintbrush” came to talk to our K-4 students on Wednesday.  She helped year 3 and 4 develop their own creative writing skills by teaching them how to scaffold a picture book of their own.  She shared a dance and a recreation of “Errol” with infants.  What a privilege it was to share the morning with such a talented writer.

Stage 3 to enjoy author Jack Heath on Wednesday 28 August!

Book Week Parade
Thank you to all the parents, staff and of course students who got involved in the Annual Book Week Parade.  You’re never too old to celebrate that you are a reader and the parade is a testament to your commitment to share with our community who your book character superheros are.

“16.8 million children have been helped through donations to Room to Read.  Thank you for your contributions this Book Week.” – To find out more

Svetlana Paul
Information and Digital Literacy Coordinator JS and GS


Parenting Tips


We have all been there haven't we?...

Our kids wearing us down with constant requests..and yes we have  given in many times!! In the March edition of Parenting Ideas, this interesting article caught my eye.

“ Kids of all ages are excellent at wearing down the resistance of a parent who denies permission for them to go somewhere due to lack of safety or suitability concerns." Unfortunately many kids use annoying methods such as:

  • repetition (Can I go? Can I go? Can I go?);
  • questioning (Why can’t I go?);
  • guilt (You never let me go anywhere!);
  • nagging (Can I, can I, can I go, pleeease!) and
  • whining (Ahhh! Whyyy Caaan’t I gooo!)
  • Often we are so tired that we give just to gain some peace, which makes pester power a useful strategy as kids achieve what they want.” My hand is up here for sure!!!!
  • One way to avoid this obnoxious pestering is to ask them to convince you that they are responsible enough, old (read mature) enough or aware enough to be allowed to go somewhere.

Here’s an example:
“Amelia, I’m not sure that I should allow you to take the train into the city with friends. I’m worried that it might not be safe. Convince me that you can do so safely.”

This response puts the onus back on the child or young person to think to counter your concerns. Listen carefully to their response as it will indicate whether they really have considered your concerns and are aware of the depth or range of potential difficulties.

Simplistic responses don’t cut it.
If they respond with simplistic comments such as; “I’ll be okay”, “we’ll stick together” and “I won’t do anything stupid” then they are probably unaware or unprepared for contingencies that may arise.

However if they provide a response with more depth, they may demonstrate their readiness. An example for this might be “I know you are worried that we might get picked on by older kids on the train. That worries me too. We’ll make sure we pick a carriage with plenty of adults and if kids hop on that look like they’ll give us a hard time, we’ll get off at the next station.”

Minimising risk

Answers such as the above show they understand your concerns and also that they have some strategies in mind to minimise risk. As a parent we’d like to remove risk from our kids’ lives but this is unrealistic. As kids grow up their world rapidly expands taking them further away from the safe confines of home, and exposing them to new and potentially risky situations and people. Our hope is that our kids are able to avoid or counter the risk as much as humanly possible. One way of assessing this is asking them to convince you that they are responsible, old enough and possess sufficient awareness to go into new situations and places.

“Convince me!” may well be the smartest two words you’ll ever use as a parent. It may stop pester-power in its tracks and at the same time induce your child or young person to think ahead and better prepare for spreading their wings when you don’t feel they are quite ready.

I’m happy to try this! Maybe even in the classroom!

Joy Rohrlach
Stage 3 Leader.


Sport News


Athletics Carnival Years 3-6

Congratulations to Oliver Duggan who has bee competing at the NSW Interschool Snowsports Championships and won his divisional time trial. This is an outstanding achievement and particularly impressive considering the location of our school!

Good luck to all athletes who have qualified for the upcoming ASISSA Athletics Carnival on Thursday 29 August. We have 35 students entered into 74 events, who will no doubt do the school very proud. I look forward to seeing them in action this week!

Tony Dunseath
Coordinator of Sport and Cocurricular K-6, PDHPE Teacher


Coffee in the Hub


Strategies for success at home

Meet other Junior School and Gawura School parents and hear from Mrs Kate Robertson about enabling good music practice and perseverance.

Event details
Date: Thursday 5 September, 8am – 9am
Venue: Community Hub, Level 4, St Andrew’s Cathedral School.
Cost: Free Event


Exam Support Volunteers


Thank You!

As we head into a busy term with HSC TRIALS, ASSESSMENTS and YEAR 11 exams, there is an amazing small army of parents who contribute behind the scenes as volunteer readers and writers at SACS for our Senior College exams and assessments, and for the past two weeks they were out in force supporting our Year 12 Students through their HSC Trials. Many of them volunteering over many days, each one of them volunteering their precious time and stepping in at a time of emergency. We are extremely fortunate to have this very special group of ladies who have now become firm friends. On behalf of the SACs community we would like to acknowledge the wonderful work you do throughout the year supporting our students with their exams and assessments.

Thank you to the following ladies for their great support in the recent HSC TRIALS, we couldn't have done it without you!

Kirsty Archer, Judy Adamson, Louise Bersten, Nicola Burridge, Sarah Cairns, Lily Chek, Julie Ann Culton, Katie Firth, Tania Hayes, Elizabeth Hegedus, Helen Jones, Dimi Koutis, Kayla Koutis, Kate Lidbetter, Ellie Luff, Juliana Lung, Amy, Marsden, Christine Patton, Kate Richardson,Efi Richter, Rhondda Shaw, Ann Charlotte Stent, Johanna Ward, Cindy Williams, Lisa Williams and Jean York.

If you would like to become part of this amazing team please contact Annie Grennell at we would love to hear from you.

Annie Grennell
Specialised Learning Administration Aide


Message from Registrar



This is a timely reminder to please inform the school if your children will not be continuing at SACS for 2020 due to family relocation etc.

The school does require ten school weeks’ notice of withdrawal so we do need to know well before the end of Term 3.
Please email the registrar, Bruce Perry, at

Bruce Perry
Registrar/Mathematics Teacher


Sustainable School Shop



The P&F has purchased a membership for all SACS parents and families to allow them access to the very popular Sustainable School Shop. allows you to buy and sell school equipment such as textbooks, musical instruments, sports equipment, outdoor education items and lots more.  SACS textbook and equipment requirement lists will be loaded onto the website to allow accurate ad matching for parents when using the website.  To utilise this service go to and get started by filling in your details and entering St Andrews Cathedral School as your school choice.

The buying and selling of second hand uniforms will still be managed by our school uniform store and can be accessed through 

The sustainable school shop membership is an exciting, much anticipated and long researched initiative by the P&F and one we hope that many parents will take advantage of.
It’s very easy and should mean an end to that pile of discarded school textbooks and other items that drives us all mad.




Reading Program Volunteers

Gawura is desperate for reading volunteers on a Friday.

Reading with our Gawura students is the best way to start the day.  Volunteers read with our students from 8.05am to 8.40am every day but this term we are short of helpers on a Friday. If you have 30 minutes to spare we would love to have your help. Reading is so critical to everything our students do. All the you need is a Working with Children Check and a happy smile.

Please contact Sandra or Catherine –


School Elevator Rules and Etiquette - St Andrew’s House


Elevator Rules

Student Elevator Rules for St Andrew’s House
All students may use the elevators to access the building, unless otherwise instructed.

All students should board the elevators through the Entrance Foyer (off Sydney Square) at Ground Level.

Only Junior School and Year 12 students are to use the lifts to exit the building.

All other students should use the north fire stairs to exit the building between 8:30am and 3:45pm.

Elevator Rules
The Junior School and Gawura students have recently been reminding ourselves of the elevator rules and etiquette – a few good thoughts for all of us to consider, as we of the lifts to make our lives easier!
The three ideas we want the students to keep in mind are:

1. Waiting to the side of the lifts and remaining there when the doors first open to let people out.

2. Where possible, to allow adults (both teachers and parents) to enter the lift first. Similarly to let adults out of the lift first. Sometimes students are asked to enter or exit a lift first, which is fine, and sometimes the adult is at the back of the lift, which means students getting out first is also reasonable.

3. Remaining quiet in the lifts. It’s a small space, and a short journey! Conversations can wait until you’ve left the lift.
There are other aspects of elevator usage to discuss, but we will continue to add those in due time. Starting with these fundamentals will help everyone use the lifts well.


Parents Prayer Meeting


Be encouraged and come together to pray for our school community at our Breakfast Meeting OR Lunchtime Meeting in the Community Hub, Level 4 SAH.

  • Thursday 12 September 7.30-8.15am / 1-2pm

Muffins will be provided in the morning and BYO lunch for the afternoon meeting. Tea and coffee will also be available.

Contact: Felicity Brazel 0425 329 432


The Great Book Swap - Indigenous Literacy Day


Wednesday 4 September 2019

Wednesday 4 September is Indigenous Literacy Day, a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy. It is also a day to reflect on how we can partner with Indigenous communities to improve access to Literacy resources.

The Great Book Swap is a fantastic way to celebrate reading and raise funds to support the work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. As well as supplying culturally appropriate books to remote communities that need them, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has published 88 books written by Indigenous communities, many in their first languages. Now is a good time to prepare for the Great Book Swap by looking through your shelves for books which have been enjoyed but are no longer needed. Donations of pre-loved books can be brought to the Junior School Library in the week leading up to Indigenous Literacy Day. On the day of the Great Book Swap, students choose a book for each gold coin donated.

Svetlana Paul
Information and Digital Literacy Coordinator JS and GS


Spirit of Sport Winter Dinner


All are welcome to come along to The Spirit of Sport Winter Dinner, celebrating the achievements of our secondary sports teams, coaches and individuals.

Our guest speaker is RAAF combat fighter pilot Matt Hall, who is Australia’s only Red Bull Air Race pilot and has had three podium finishes at the world championships.

  • Date: Friday 30 August, 6pm
  • Location: Dockside, Balcony Level, Cockle Bay
  • Tickets: $95 per person (three-course meal)

Matt is a highly regarded motivational speaker who will share stories of his success and how his dreams, goal-setting, and approach to risk and time management enabled him to “aim higher” and become one of the most accomplished pilots in the world.

Students must wear full school uniform.


Book your tickets here


P&F presents Coeducation


Join the P&F on Tuesday 10 September as they present a panel on Coeducation at SACS as their special guests at the June P&F meeting.

All are welcome to attend this Q&A with a Coeducational panel who cover all areas of coeducation at SACS including the history and past reasoning, the lived experience by students and graduates, and current coeducation at SACS. The panel members will join Dr Collier to give our community the opportunity to ask any questions on the topic.

Panel includes:

  • Brad Swibel - Deputy Head of School
  • Lyn Jarvis - Director of Community Engagement
  • Corinna Bailey - Director of Innovation and Enterprise
  • Elizabeth Skipsey - Acting Girls Coordinator Middle School, SS Teacher
  • Harriet O’Donnell - Old Andrean and JS Teacher
  • Keziah Bailey - Year 11 student and Ultimate Andrean

Event details
Date: Tuesday 10 September
Time: 6pm
Location: Community Hub, Level 4, St Andrew's House.


Family Fun Day at the NSW Parliament October School Holidays


Code Camp Spring School Holidays


These Spring holidays Code Camp are returning to St Andrew's Cathedral School to teach your child to code, or to help them continue on their coding adventure!

Code Camp has already taught more than 50,000 students in Australia and is a great way to spend time over the holidays as kids have lots of fun with friends while learning important new skills including logic, creativity, problem-solving, app development and game building. It’s fun and engaging, and gets them prepared to take on the digital world of the future.

This season from Wednesday the 2nd - Friday the 4th of October, St Andrew's Cathedral School will be hosting Little Heroes, Spark, 2D Game Makers and 3D World Builders.And from Tuesday the 8th- Thursday the 10th of October, they will be hosting Little Heroes, Spark, 2D Game Makers and Web Hackers.

Bookings can be made via this link:

Code Camp has also been working with Service NSW and we are proud to announce that we are one of the first approved providers eligible for the $100 Creative Kids rebate! Just enter booking to receive $100 back on you enrolment.

Please click on the following link for more information:


Gawura Doctor - Dr Shuo Zhao


Wednesday and Friday Appointments Available.

I would like to advise you that we have secured the services of a very generous doctor in the city who is willing to see our Gawura students and their families free of charge (he will bulk bill through Medicare) if the need arises. Dr Shuo (Shore) Zhao is located at Level 1, 70 Pitt St, Sydney. You can book an appointment with him on any Wednesday and Friday morning between 8am – 12pm.The number of the practice is 02 9233 3399.

We understand that many parents already have their own doctor that they use, possibly even through the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) in Redfern but this is just another option for you to use if you choose to do so and one that is located in the city, near our school.


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