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In this issue

Message Stick, Term 2 Week 8 2020
From the Deputy Head of School (Primary)
Gawura Kindergarten Enrolments
Dates for your Calendar
Message from our Wellbeing Co-ordinator
Library News
Sports News
Parenting Tips
Online safety resources
Andrean Writer, Artist and Composer (new) of the Year Competition
Gawura Doctor - Dr Shuo Zhao
Code Camp
Vacation Care
Resources for COVID-19

Message Stick, Term 2 Week 8 2020


Our Gawura School was delighted to see Mrs Alice Peel visit on Monday 15th June. Alice left  Gawura at the end of 2016 to start her own student wellbeing program called Grow Your Mind, which is now presented across 300 primary schools throughout Australia. Her podcasts are created by children for children. Our Stage 3 Gawura class was very happy to see her and help answer some questions she had for an upcoming topic.

During the past fortnight our Gawura and Junior Schools  participated in the annual National Reconciliation Week which this year was run from Wednesday 27 May to Wednesday 3 June. The theme is titled ‘In This Together’ which is very appropriate. I just wanted to share with you some of these Indigenous and non Indigenous students statements in regards to what reconciliation means to them:

‘Reconciliation is important to me because people get to come together and talk’.

‘To me reconciliation means that we can acknowledge our past mistakes and apologise for them. It means we can start anew where we are all friends and can trust each other’.

These statements and others were written in circles and stuck on our Stage 3 Open Area wall in the shape of Australia. It is very heartening to see that our non Indigenous students have such views and that we are in good hands for a hopeful and prosperous future together.

Reconciliation occurs across both our Gawura School and St Andrew’s Cathedral Junior School, not just for one week a year but constantly across every week throughout the year.

Our Indigenous secondary students began a course with Macquarie University this term and we held the second lesson here at school during the high school tutorial time just last week. This is an innovative program facilitated by Walanga Muru – Macquarie University. The program aims to inspire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in year 7 to 10 to develop their cultural understanding and knowledge, aspire for tertiary education and to be proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young leaders.

As further restrictions continue to be eased we are excited that interschool sport will recommence from the beginning of next term. There will still be no indoor excursions allowed and some other restrictions will remain in place. Still it is a helpful reminder that, If your child is presenting with any cough or cold, flu like symptoms please keep them at home and see a doctor. All the students at school are highly aware of the safe hygiene practices that will help keep coronavirus out of our school. We are ‘in this together’ and together we can get through these unprecedented times.

Our last day of school this term will be Friday 26 June with school returning on Wednesday 22 July.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday period ahead.


John Ralph 

Head of Gawura 


From the Deputy Head of School (Primary)


While the world has reeled over the death of George Floyd and the subsequent attention it has brought to racism around the world, including here in Australia, it is not surprising that so many people have reacted strongly to the injustices that continue to haunt us in a world that is far from what we believe it should be, or could be. As we work together to address such inequities in our world, it is crucial that our children are taught to respect and honour all of humanity, to build positive and respectful relationships and to practice values such as kindness, tolerance, humility, patience and love. Such learnings offer hope for a future which will surely help to build the national wellbeing for all.

I am heartened that our students are learning about our Nation’s First People within the curriculum, learning facts that I was not taught as a child growing up in this country. Facts about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their culture, their history and even one of their languages, Wiradjuri. I am proud of our Gawura School, a school within our school, and the opportunity it has given to our students to learn about our First Nation People, alongside their Gawura peers and friends, a natural and just unity experienced daily within our classrooms and playground. We also treasure our 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members across our school, we are learning so much from them, and the more we learn the more we realise there is so much more to learn.

The Gawura teachers have led all our students in understanding the importance of National Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week. Our students participated in activities designed to appreciate and understand the theme of Reconciliation Week “In this Together”, which was such an apt message for this year. Some of the quotes offered from our Year 5 students included “Aboriginal people are the same as us, but we have not always been treating them like it. What happened to them was certainly unfair”. “I am sorry for the fact that we stole the most important thing to you: your beliefs, your rights, your children and your freedom.” “Australia is sorry for taking the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people’s children and thinking that raising them in a different way is a good thing, it is clearly a horrible thing to do”.

Our Kindergarten students, Gawura and Junior School, acknowledged Reconciliation Week with beautiful artworks that symbolized Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians travelling along different paths to the same meeting place. The shapes and lines represented the different levels of knowledge and the many ways we are connected. All our students participated in such learning opportunities, sharing in stories and gaining understanding of how to respect differences, acknowledge wrongs and work together for a more united future.

Last week some teachers and students in Year 5 and Year 6 chose to gather in a minute’s silence to acknowledge the effects of racism, in Australia and around the world. We prayed the following prayer:

"Dear Lord, we pray for those who have suffered the effects of racism and for an end to the civil unrest in America. We know that one of your greatest commandments is to love our neighbours as ourselves. We pray that communities and governments in Australia and around the world stop racism in all areas of society. Amen."

I am encouraged that our students are being offered the opportunity to understand the need for social justice and that the errors of previous generations are being acknowledged within classrooms across Australia and as such a genuine hope exists for a better future for all.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" - John 12:34

Rhonda Robson
Deputy Head of School (K-6), Director of Primary Education, Head of Junior School


In This Together

To celebrate National Reconciliation Week all classes participated in activities to honour this year's theme of "in this together". There was also a Chapel service with the message of tolerance, understanding, respect and kindness radiated throughout the Junior School. Samples of the beautiful artworks on display are shown below.


Gawura Kindergarten Enrolments


Enrolments process for Gawura Kindy 2021 will start in June

Please ensure you have applications in for any of your younger children, and also please spread the word to anyone you know who has Kindy 2021 age children.

Application forms are available from our school website or from

Mr John Ralph
or Mr Bruce Perry

Please take a look at the Scholarship Brochure at the end of this newsletter


Dates for your Calendar


Wednesday 17 June: Mathematical Olympiad

Friday 26 June: Last Day Term 2: Gala Day and SACS' 135th Birthday

Wednesday 22 July: Term 3 commences K-12


Message from our Wellbeing Co-ordinator


Grow your Mind

You may have heard your child come home from school talking about the animals in their brain and wondered about what we may be teaching them! Across the Junior School in years 1-6, we have been using 4 animal friends to learn a little about what happens inside our brains in different situations.

Last term we used the Zones of Regulation to help students understand that their feelings change across different situations and this term we are looking at what happens inside of us when these changes in emotions occur. The 4 animal friends who are helping us to understand what happens in our brains are the guard dog, the wise owl, the elephant, and the bird. The Wise Owl helps us with problem solving and higher order thinking and represents the pre-frontal cortex. The Guard Dog wants to protect us but it can’t always tell the difference between a real and imagined threat and represents the amygdala. The Elephant represents the hippocampus and helps us to remember and the Bird helps us to focus representing the RAS system.

Everything is going smoothly when the animals are talking to each other. The wise owl can make good decisions; the guard dog can keep us safe; the elephant is helping us to remember things; and the sifting sooty bird is helping to keep us focused. But what happens when our guard dog takes over and starts barking at the other animals? These are the conversations we are having in our junior school classrooms to support our students in growing to better understanding themselves and others. Perhaps you can continue the conversation in your home.

If you would like to find out more, start by watching

Bronwyn Wake
Junior School Wellbeing Co-ordinator


Library News


For all of our SACS families who are already wondering about and making preparations for this year’s Book Week, you will be pleased to know that Book Week will still be happening in Term 3. In light of the unpredictability of these recent months, the Children’s Book Council of Australia made a call to postpone the official dates for Book Week to October in Term 4. However, at SACS, we have decided to stick with the original dates and have our Book Week events and celebrations as usual in Week 5 of Term 3, 17-21 August. The Book Week Parade will be held on the Friday of that week. This year’s theme is 'Curious Creatures, Wild Minds' and we are very excited about the ways we will be able to design our costumes, decorations and activities around the imaginary creatures and mind-blowing information contained in some of the books we love. Be sure to save the date!

For the joy of reading,

Nicole Cotter
Junior School and Gawura School Teacher Librarian


Sports News


Co-curricular program

In exciting sport news we’ve been able to get out and about doing lessons and games over the past couple of weeks! We’ve had to make a few modifications to what we normally do due to continuing restrictions, but it’s been pleasing to see the students getting involved and moving again. When we come back in Term 3 we’ll be all systems go with Saturday competitions, full sport lessons and carnival going ahead as planned – very exciting!

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


Parenting Tips


Maintaining Kids’ Mental Health during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

By Michael Grose

We have all heard advice during this period in our lives about how to “survive”, haven’t we?
It has been a hard time and we all know of friends or family that have had or are still having a tough time.
Michael Grose has written this blog in May with some tips for our children…and quite possibly us as well, for keeping our mental health in check. It is worth a read.

Build the foundations for good health:

Eat a healthy diet
“The ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ mantra that we grew up with needs to be updated to ‘healthy gut, healthy brain’. Recent research has revealed the links between a child’s gut health and good mental health. Kids who experience anxiety and depression typically have imbalances of adrenaline (which keeps the brain alert) and GABA (which calms the brain down), that can be rectified with good gut health.
A framework for healthy eating includes eating real rather than processed foods, consuming small and regular meals, starting each day with protein and complex carbs, drinking plenty of water and keeping kids away from caffeinated drinks.

Get plenty of exercise
Exercise not only promotes good mental health, it’s also a tool that kids can use to manage their mental states. Exercise and movement send endorphins through their bodies improving mood and relieving tension and stress. Exercise and movement relaxes the muscles and reduces feelings of anxiety that build up over time.
A framework for exercise includes starting the day with some movement, taking regular movement and game breaks, finishing the school day with movement that gets their limbs moving and hearts pumping.

Maintain good sleep patterns
The benefits of good sleep patterns are immense and far-reaching, impacting kids’ learning, memory and emotional stability. Sleep restores the brain to optimum conditions and rejuvenates the body, allowing hormone levels elevated during the day to return to normal. Consequently, sleep-deprived kids experience greater anxiety doing routine tasks and have a propensity for pessimistic thinking, which is associated with anxiety and depression.
A framework for good sleep patterns includes finding an optimum bedtime; creating a regular, relaxing routine, eating and exercising at the right time, creating a sleep sanctuary and getting up at regular times each day.

Add the pillars of good mental health:

Maintain social connection
As social beings we long for connection to others and a sense of belonging to groups. While time alone can be restorative, sharing experiences, thoughts and stories with others is absolutely essential to your child’s happiness and wellbeing.
A framework for social connection includes one-on-one time with family members and other loved ones, having shared family experiences to confirm a sense of belonging, having shared time and experiences with peers from school and the neighbourhood, and a connection with the broader community through shared experience, cause or goal.

Stay in the present
The human mind is restless, taking us all over the place. It can make us feel happy recalling memories of loved ones or happy times and it can also drive insecurity connecting us to events in the past or future that fill us with dread, and make us feel anxious. Kids wandering minds need to take a rest and settle in the present, stopping their mental chatter, giving them the chance to relax.

Enjoy yourself at play
The term ‘child’s play’ is demeaning to children and dismissive of the place of play in our lives. Play is absolutely critical to our happiness and wellbeing. Borrowing from the work of Dr. Brene Brown, play is defined as any activity that’s fun (therefore highly anticipated), free (that is, self-directed) and involves flow (we don’t want it to stop). Play helps kids manage anxiety and depression as it lifts their mood and is therapeutic by nature.
A play framework includes space and time for play, child-initiated activities, a mix of lone play and group activity, some social or physical risk may be involved.

Spend time in nature
Recent studies highlight what we already knew – that time spent in natural environments benefits our happiness, our sense of wellbeing and reduces stress and tension. The rejuvenating benefits of time spent in the bush or by the sea may be difficult to acquire during times of physical isolation but walks to the park, spending time under a favourite tree or even bringing some green shrubs inside have proven to be just as beneficial to children’s mental health.
A time in nature framework includes management and reduction of screen time, exposure to natural environments in the neighbourhood, bringing the outdoors inside, and spending some time each day outdoors.

Practise protective behaviours:

Keep foundation behaviours
Routine behaviours such as waking at the same time, having breakfast, exercising, showering and dressing get us ready for the day ahead. They underpin productivity, learning and wellbeing. Remove the structure provided by these foundation behaviours and many children and young people struggle, particularly those who are prone to anxiety and depression.
A foundation behaviour framework includes morning routines and rituals to prepare for the day, after school and evening wind down routines, and routines that prepare children for sleep.

Practise deep breathing
Recognition of the benefits of deep breathing dates back to ancient Roman and Greek times when deep belly breathing was used to rid the body of impurities. Modern science informs us that deep breathing instantly engages our capacity to relax and stay calm. When a child becomes anxious or fearful, their breathing becomes shallow. Taking deep, slow breaths when they become overwhelmed by anxiety is the quickest way to return to a calm state. Deep breathing has great preventative powers helping the mind stay in a state of focus and calm.
A deep breathing framework includes practising deep breathing spontaneously throughout the day, combining deep breathing with mindfulness practice, using deep breathing to restore energy when tired, and breathing deeply during an anxious moment.

Check in on feelings
If children and young people are not tuning into their emotions they are missing a rich vein of information that will assist decision-making, learning and importantly, their wellbeing. It’s relatively easy to tune to into behaviour and our thoughts, but much harder to detect our emotions. The skill of emotionally checking in, developed by Prof. Marc Brackett from the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence, helps children and young people to identify how they are feeling at any given time. It requires kids to stand still, close their eyes, take some deep breaths, identify and give a name to their feeling. This simple habit of checking, once practised and learned is a wonderful life skill to acquire.

Joy Rohrlach
Year 5 Leader


Online safety resources


Over the last few months many of us have found our usual day to day activities and interactions transitioning to being based online. At the start of the year I’m sure there were many people who were unfamiliar with the app Zoom who now use it regularly for a variety of purposes. Included in this transition to online activities are children. While there has been a necessity for children to spend an increased amount of time online due to remote learning and other groups meeting online, for many, there has also been an increase in the amount of recreational time spent online by their children.

We know that technology, like all things, is good and useful, but that it can also been misused. So, it is important that we as parents and carers seek to keep children safe online. For many of us growing up we had one family device which was usually located in a common area that required sharing between family members. But now, with the prevalence of internet connected devices we can often feel detached to what our children are viewing and who they’re interacting with. While we don’t usually have the one family device these days, it is still valuable to have children located in a central location to allow you to supervise and regularly monitor your children’s online activities. On top of this, it is best if devices are charged out of the bedroom at night to avoid notifications disrupting sleep patterns. It is also helpful to familiarise yourself with the online activities your children engage in. Similar to how you may ask questions about what they’ve done throughout the day, ask them what they’ve been up to online and who they’ve interacted with. It is also important to be empowering them to use the internet safely and to educate your children on internet safety. Part of this comes from demonstrating a healthy use of devices yourself and having conversations around what to do if they ever feel uncomfortable in an online situation. If you are looking to do some further reading on the topic here are some great online safety resources to help further your own understanding and to help equip your children.

Tim Ryman
Technology Coordinator JS & GS


Andrean Writer, Artist and Composer (new) of the Year Competition


We are proud to announce this year’s K-12 creative competition theme is – SYDNEY. Our school is located in the middle of the best city in the world. Sydney is part of SACS DNA and we are keen to see how students will creatively represent it. This year we have a NEW category - music composer of the year – can you compose a song/music about Sydney?

Thoughts to get you started:

  • Explore Sydney’s past, present, or future
  • Explore Sydney’s setting (eg city) for your story, artwork, music
  • Explore Sydney’s culture – diversity, multicultural, aboriginal
  • Explore Sydney’s vibe – positive, future focused, busy, modern
  • Explore Sydney’s beautiful natural setting – harbour, parks, headlands, towns, architecture
  • Explore Sydney’s people – homeless, business, students, shoppers

Click here for 2020 entry details and winners from past competitions.

Entries close Monday 19 October (Term 4 Week 2).


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.


Code Camp


Vacation Care


TheirCare at St Andrew's

Upcoming School Holiday Program

Click Here For Program Details


Resources for COVID-19


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