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'Mail' Newspaper Articles

Focal Point (For publishing 13/08/02)


Last week I sat in a ground-breaking meeting which was convened to inform the Federal Minister Amanda Vanstone of the plight of many families in our Valley. Fran Bailey hosted the meeting so that we could get across our strong message of the desperate need for family support. Over thirty school and church leaders put the case for an hour. The Primary School Principals led the way by outlining the snowballing problems of truancy, fractured and dysfunctional families, behavioral problems and custody battles. They said that due to having to channel so many of their resources into social welfare, their teaching and learning resources were seriously depleted. Church Leaders spoke of an unprecedented interdenominational unity as they attempt to express their Christian values as servants of the community. Also represented at the meeting were the Principal and Chaplain of Worawa Aboriginal College and three Primary School Chaplains. Churches and schools were represented from both the Warburton Hwy and the Maroondah Hwy communities. The Minister was informed that to date we have Chaplains in Woori Yallock, Seville, Coldstream, Healesville and Millgrove Primary Schools and we are close to completing negotiations with Badger Creek and Wesburn. We also have Chaplains at the Upper Yarra Secondary College and Worawa Aboriginal College at Healesville. With the exception of Millgrove Primary, which has had an outstanding model working for three years, the other Chaplaincies are in the fledgling stages. The role of the Chaplain will vary from school to school, as the circumstances require. Some schools are looking for parental support, some for student welfare and most for that all round independent support. Not least of all the Principals are valuing the fact that their load is shared. Although our time with the Minister was limited, we are sure that she took our concerns seriously. We now look forward to tangible and significant support in line with the Government's own stated aims for family support.

Graeme Dawson.
Focal Point
0409 517273


Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009