Celebrating National Boarding Week at Illawarra

St Catherine’s School is one of the 190 boarding schools in Australia that are the members of the Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA). The Association exists to “promote the interests of boarding schools in Australasia by enhancing the wellbeing of boarders, facilitating the professional development of staff and advancing best practice among schools” (ABSA Mission Statement).

One of the exciting events on the ABSA calendar is National Boarding Week which is celebrated in every state in Australia. This year, National Boarding Week was celebrated between 13 to 17 May. In early May, I discussed with the boarders how they would like to celebrate National Boarding Week. The girls said that they are often asked by the ‘day girls’ what it is like to be a boarder, thus it would be wonderful to talk about their experiences at the Senior School Assembly. This was arranged and our Boarding Captains decided to also make a video highlighting boarding and how 53 girls get to school each day on time. This video has received 149 likes on the School’s Instagram page.

As a boarding community, we also took part in Boarders Walk Australia which is in its third year. There are nearly 21,000 boarders in Australia and if each boarder walks or runs for one kilometre then we almost circumnavigate the perimeter of Australia. This event links all boarders and we were thrilled to be a part of this annual event.

Thank you to our school caterers, Chartwells, for joining in the spirit of the week. Each day the boarders had an additional ‘treat’ in the café. The boarders also made celebratory cupcakes and enjoyed a special dinner together.

As part of National Boarding Week, we also acknowledge and thank all our boarding staff who support me in looking after our boarders.

Below are some reflections from the girls about what they like about boarding at St Catherine’s:

“You are never lonely, there are always friends around.” – Year 7 boarder.

“I love the Sunday afternoon activities – especially ice-skating and visiting Chinatown.” – Year 7 boarder.

“It is like living with 52 sisters.” – Year 9 boarder.

“I like the set homework time and the tutors.” – Year 9 boarder.

“Big support group.” – Year 9 boarder.

“I always feel safe and supported at Illawarra.” – Year 10 boarder.

This week at Illawarra, we have celebrated ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ week. This is an annual event held the week before the mid year examination period. Each boarder receives a secret name in an envelope. By the end of the week she must undertake an act of kindness for her boarder. Over the years, the girls have come up with some wonderful ways to show kindness to one another.


Mrs Sue Collister, Director of Boarding Services and National Board Member (ABSA)