From the Principal – Encouraging Courage

During my Address at the Senior School Parent Information Evening last Thursday, I spoke of the need to inspire young women to embrace the virtue of courage.

I was interested to read over the holidays of research conducted by the Australian Business Magazine, The Deal, in collaboration with Chief Executive Women (CEW). The CEW represents more than 400 of Australia’s most senior and distinguished female leaders. This includes past and present Board members of institutions such as Wesfarmers, Telstra, Sydney University, Macquarie Group, McKinsey and Co, ANU, Westpac and the ABC, to name but a few. The research was conducted in the form of a survey of 250 CEW members. It explored the views of women navigating the workplace, gender balance in the boardroom and issues juggling work/life balance. The survey revealed:

  • one third were unable to muster what it takes to ask for a pay rise;
  • half the women surveyed said they would need at least 40% of people in the room to be women before they would feel confident to be in the boardroom;
  • 40% lacked the confidence to apply for a role beyond their expertise, a prevailing sense that they need to have all the knowledge, skills and expertise before applying for a higher role; hence they refrained from applying for promotional positions;
  • the survey did, however, encouragingly confirm that women were supportive of each other, and celebrated the success of others.

The results reveal somewhat of a crisis of confidence for some of Australia’s most senior female executives in navigating their world of employment and a need for exhibiting greater courage in stepping up for new roles, finding their voice at the board table and, subsequently, an improved level of involvement at the decision making aspects of business. I have encouraged all girls this year in our Senior School to be courageous, to step outside their comfort zone, to simply never walk out of a class confused and silenced by a lack of courage to ask questions and to speak up. Young women must be able to negotiate, to speak, to express an opinion in a respectful and thoughtful manner and, above all else, to find their voice.


One of the most significant books on Leadership I have read remains the Seven Heavenly Virtues of Leadership. The seven virtues include: Humility, Courage, Integrity, Compassion, Humour, Passion and Wisdom. Last week, when I addressed our Year 12 cohort, it was the virtue of ‘courage’ that I would like them to take forward into the year. Perhaps a better word to describe this feature in a school context is bravery. This can be defined as the ability to keep going when challenged, to be hopeful and confident with one’s decision. Courage is caring enough about your values, that you uphold these and demonstrate this strength each and every day. I request of our parent community to support me in the ‘encouragement of courage’ with your daughters this year.

Our Head of ICT, Mr John Toulantas also addressed Senior School parents at the Information Evening last week. He urged our parent community to become familiar with the extensive resources and information available on the password protected mystcatherines portal site. Following some feedback received through the School Survey conducted in Term 3 last year, the ICT Department has improved the usability of mystcatherines this year. Parents who have forgotten their password may request to receive it again via their email account registered with the School or, our ITC staff are readily available over the phone to assist. The powerpoint slides for the Information Evening are available in the News section of mystcatherines here.

Staff Acknowledgements

Our Head of Humanities, Mrs Katrina Davey, has been invited by the Victorian History Teachers Association (HTAV) to present a workshop based on the VCE Unit 3 History Revolutions (France) examination last year to be delivered to an audience comprised of VCE teachers from across Victoria of this subject. Mrs Davey was one of only four teachers in Victoria invited to present – which proved to be a positive endorsement of her widely accredited expertise in this subject area.

Past Olympian, and current member of the Mathematics and Health and Physical Education Faculties, Ms Susan Hobson, has been invited to attend the World Cross Country Championship in Kampala, Uganda as the Team Manager of the Australian Cross Country Team. The Team will compete in March this year for eight days. The depth and talent of our very own athletes are the beneficiaries of Ms Hobson’s extensive involvement as both a coach and athlete at such an elite level. I look forward to hearing of her experience in Uganda upon her return.

Heyington Club – Boat Christening

On Monday evening of this week, our Rowing community celebrated Club Crew Presentations and the christening of two new boats purchased following the enthusiastic fundraising within the Heyington Club in 2016. The Rowing season has commenced with much passion this year with two very successful regattas on the Barwon River this Term. The Intermediate Crews won five out of six ‘A Final’ races on Saturday to win the Morongo Regatta and the previous weekend, the First VIII enjoyed a very convincing win in the School Girls ‘A Final’  of the 2017 Barwon Regatta.

The newly purchased Sykes Quad boat has been duly named the Paul Cross. This is a wonderful tribute to the tireless work of Mr Cross as a member of the Senior Leadership Team and as Deputy Principal for 10 years. During this time, he has provided considerable support to the Head of Rowing, Mr Dave Fraumano and championed the girls each and every season. It was a very humble and appreciative Mr Cross that smashed the champagne bottle above the boat on Monday evening.

The Senior Crews of 2016 were the inspiration for the naming of the new Empacher boat, purchased as a result of the significant support and motivation of our parents – who witnessed the benefits of Rowing first hand for their daughters. The 2016 Heyington Club President, Ms Louise Lampard, was instrumental in coordinating this fundraising effort last year. The newly named boat encapsulates the spirit and momentum of our Senior rowers who performed so brilliantly at the National Rowing Championships, winning the A Final of the School Girl VIII in the School’s 120 anniversary. Their success will be forever etched in our memories through the naming of the First VIII boat the St Catherine’s 120.

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Parents’ and Friends’ Association

Thank you to Mrs Nikki Begley, the 2017 PFA President and Committee members for hosting the New Parents’ Welcome event on Thursday evening. The School prides itself on fostering a culture of inclusiveness which encompasses new students and their families. Our parent community is encouraged to be actively involved in School events and volunteering to assist with a number of our co-curricular auxiliaries provides exemplary role models for your daughters. Parent Class Representatives are also currently organising Parent Social Evenings, generously hosted in the homes of our parents, so please check the School calendar for the specific Year level dates. Everyone is most welcome to attend.

Key dates to note for 2017 include:

Friday 19 May: Ruth Langley Luncheon, Leonda

Sunday 28 May: Yulendj Art Exhibition Opening, St Catherine’s School

Friday 1 September: Years 5-12 Gala Concert, Melbourne Recital Centre

Mrs Michelle Carroll, Principal