For the most part people live by stories. Thank God, there are still Dominicans alive today so our story is not yet exhausted, completely told; there is still something to be said. Firstly, that a conclusive all round definition of Dominican spirituality cannot be given on a story that is still going strong. We can trace some of the main lines in a plot of the story, which has now been handed down for eight centuries in constantly different ways. The Dominican story begins with Dominic and his first companions and is a story which, at its heart, takes up the story of Jesus and brings it up to date in its own way. Dominican spirituality involves how we live out our story here and now, in our time; a living relationship with the present world. Dominican spirituality is a living reality which is to be realised among us now, in critical solidarity with the human world. The first basic premise of Dominican spirituality is the absolute primacy of God’s grace in any human action. This is the direction of the Dominican life and its action in relation to ethics, the world, society and the betterment of people. God gives an unexpected future of possibility to the limited meaning and scope of my own actions.
Edward Schillebeeckx OP
The result of this Dominican stance is trust and joy in the dynamic presence of God, with us and through us, for fullness of life. This spirit of joy was felt by all this week as we celebrated St Dominic’s Day, supported by Frs Kevin Toomey OP and Peter Murnane OP, and Sr Julianna Drobik OP representing the Dominican sisters. Such grace and blessings to us! Happy St Dominic’s Day to all in the Siena Community and to the Dominican family across Australia and internationally.
As we lean into this latest Melbourne lockdown, it was timely to be reminded of our wonderful Dominican spirit and the strengths we can draw upon as a community of care and connection. We are blessed to have the very best resources at our fingertips and the technical expertise of our staff and IT department to ensure continuity of learning for all. As always, our Wellbeing team are available at any time for those who require support and reassurance. Wishing our Siena community the very best over the coming week.
Celebrating St Dominic
Across the past weeks and months you’ll have seen many examples of how technology can bring communities together when they are unable to celebrate in the same space. It’s been my pleasure recently to work with our Student Leaders to create a Liturgy video for our celebration of Saint Dominic’s Day.
Yesterday our College community gathered across the campus in House Groups to participate in this special Dominican feast and to enjoy the opportunity to reflect on our 2021 theme Be Possibility.
Our College Chaplain, Fr Kevin Toomey OP, read from the Gospel of Matthew - Dominic is said to have carried this Gospel with him as he walked the landscapes that brought him into contact with those who were marginalised. As contemporary Dominicans we continue to carry on this tradition: going out and challenging the status quo by searching for truth. Being Dominican is about spreading the Gospel (good news) through words and actions to inspire change.
Timothy Radcliffe OP reflects here on the letter of Pope Francis - Preacher of Grace - sent to the global Dominican family to mark the 800th anniversary of Dominic’s death. It talks of Dominic’s ‘spacious family’ as being our ‘home’ during times of uncertainty as well as times of grace.
Support for the Kopanang Community Project – update
We were thrilled to receive photos from the Kopanang Community this week, with the women expressing deep gratitude for the grocery vouchers we had sent, purchased with funds raised from our Kenshi Candles. This fundraiser continues - if you wish to purchase one (or more!) of these life-changing candles please click here.
Thank you to all who participated in the recent Virtual Senior Pathways Information Evening. There were great questions and dialogue and we appreciate the numbers in attendance. The resources in our Subject Selection Tile have kept everyone abreast of the process and have been well utilised by students and parents. For those who were unable to attend, the recording and program of each room is available on the relevant subject page:
We please ask both students and parents to take a few minutes to provide feedback on the evening. A short survey can be accessed here.
Our Year 11 students have completed their Subject Selection Interviews and next week the Year 10 and Year 9 students will attend their interviews online. The final date for submission of Subject Selection Forms for 2021 is Friday,13 August. Many thanks to Mitchell Soon, our Subject Selection Coordinator and Timetabler, who has fielded questions and kept everyone on track. In early Term 4, Mitchell will contact any student who may have missed out on a subject choice due to timetable constraints and place them in their reserve choice. Students will be notified of their subjects in Term 4, to coincide with the release of the booklists.
Accelerated study applications are currently being processed, with students to be notified of the outcome next week. Those whose applications have been deferred will have the opportunity to reapply at the end of Semester 2. While every effort will be made to accommodate accelerated applications that meet the criteria, entry into the class is dependent upon a place being available and timetabling constraints. Those who are successful with their Semester 1 application are encouraged to maintain their results in Semester 2, otherwise approval may be withdrawn.
Unit 3 and 4 Trial Exams are currently scheduled to begin on Monday, 27 September running through until Friday, 1 October. This is an important opportunity for our Year 12 students and Year 11 accelerated students to prepare for their final exams. The Trial Exam Timetable and further details will be sent to parents and students in the coming week.
Keeping up with the constantly changing trends of social media platforms can be incredibly time consuming so I hope all parents will find our new Safety Online tile a useful resource. Located on Siena Central, this tile contains current information and advice for parents, with updates shared via News Digest.
As part of our ongoing student education around online responsibility, we have engaged leading eSafety educator Susan McLean to present to Year 7 and 8 students later this month. Susan has extensive experience in this space, from her first report of cyberbullying in 1994 to her training with the FBI, her visit to Facebook’s HQ and her work with elite sports clubs and other organisations. Susan will cover a range of issues such as:
The Online Safety Act was passed through Parliament on 27 July 2021. The Act sets out a modern fit-for-purpose regulatory framework for online safety in order to crack down on cyberbullying, toxic online abuse and the non-consensual sharing of images.
The Government's Online Safety Act provides new and strengthened powers for the eSafety Commissioner to keep Australians safe online. It also requires the online services industry to do more to make sure that Australians can use their services safely. Australia's eSafety Commissioner was the first dedicated online safety regulator to be established in the world and acts as a safety net for when online services fail to keep Australians safe online.
The Act includes a new adult cyber abuse scheme that would provide a pathway for the removal of seriously harmful online abuse when websites, social media or other online services don't remove it after a complaint. It also reduces the time in which online services must delete cyberbullying or image-based abuse material from 48 to 24 hours after receiving a notice from the eSafety Commissioner.
In addition, the eSafety Commissioner will be empowered to issue take-down notices to sites anywhere in the world if they host seriously harmful online content such as child sexual abuse material.
The Act provides the eSafety Commissioner the power to require that online services provide contact or identifying information for individuals using anonymous accounts to abuse, bully or share intimate images without consent.
The Government is also strengthening penalties for online abuse and harassment by increasing the maximum penalties in the Criminal Code, including from 3 to 5 years imprisonment for those using a service to menace, harass and cause offence. A link to the eSafety Commissioner website and fact sheet about this Act can be found here.
Relevant legislation will be shared with students in Wellness classes this term as part of our ongoing education of young people and their rights and responsibilities in an online world.
It is the busiest term of the year in the Siena Careers Office! I have enjoyed meeting many students in Years 9 to 11 to chat about subject selection and future career options. Year 12 students had a quick introduction to VTAC (Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre) and applying for university courses during Enrichment this week and they are encouraged to make individual appointments to further discuss their tertiary preferences and options post-Siena.
The Siena Careers Newsletter is a great resource to help students decide on the right subjects that will lead to particular careers. Many students I have seen find subject selection decisions challenging. Being informed about the options available is an important aspect of the decision making process as well as spending a little time on self reflection and working out who you are, your strengths, abilities, values, preferred work environment and what future job opportunities may be available.
In this edition of Siena Career News you will find:
We are thrilled to announce that Siena College has been selected as the pilot secondary school for the Oz Harvest FEAST program. Founded by Ronni Kahn AO in 2004 after noticing the huge volume of food going to waste, OzHarvest has quickly grown to become Australia’s leading food rescue organisation.
FEAST is a curriculum aligned education program, inspiring young people to eat healthy food, waste less and be change-makers in their local communities. The STEM project-based learning program will inform our Year 7 students about food waste, sustainability and nutrition using hands-on cooking and inquiry based learning.
Head of Justice Education, Bronwyn Ilott says, "This is a wonderful opportunity for Siena to educate our students about food waste as a global environmental and social justice issue. Importantly, in collaboration with OzHarvest, we will be empowering students to take action within their own homes to consider their household food choices with health, the environment and food waste in mind. This innovative program will run in the final week of Year 7, commencing 25 November. Parents of Year 7 students can expect to enjoy seasonal recipes prepared for them by their daughters over the summer!"