FEATURING PAST STUDENT AND FORMER PARLIAMENTARIAN, GERRY WOOD CULTURE AND COMMUNITY
CREDITS All correspondence and editorial content please address to: Development and Marketing Office Salesian College Chadstone 10 Bosco Street Chadstone, VIC 3148 firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Team: Nikita Rodrigues Suzie McErvale Proofreader: Dr Mavis Ford La Trobe University Front Cover: Patrina Malone Graphic Design and Printing: DMC Group Editorial Contributions: Robert Brennan Fr Greg Chambers sdb Noel Kennedy Suzie McErvale Nikita Rodrigues Scott Fisher Mark Schembri Darren Asuncion Tom Fagan Lawrence Tann Donna Ward
Photographic Contributions: Patrina Malone Associated Catholic Colleges (ACC) Suzie McErvale Mark Schembri Darren Asuncion Sacred Heart Mission Gerry Wood Justin Kennedy Dr Jodi Richardson Professor Shanton Chang Tom Fagan Lawrence Tann Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre John Nolan Malwina Dwyer Sam Bentley Sarah Roberts Mary Menz
ON THE COVER Featuring past student and former parliamentarian, Gerry Wood (Class of 1967)
SHARE A STORY
We seek out past and present students who inspire and encourage us to strengthen our Salesian community. Whether they have impacted thousands of people or just those nearby, what unites them are their foundations and values. If you have a story to share, or know someone who does, we want to hear from you.
GRIFFIN Summer 2020
IN THIS ISSUE
As our society continues to shift technological and social gears in response to COVID-19, we reflect on a year that has elicited much change. We notice that a growth mindset isn’t just for within the classroom; it’s a reality that has been lived out in action by each person who commits to supporting students and their families. In this Culture and Community Edition of the Griffin, we explore how hope and resilience have been strengthened, and why a commitment to trying has been crucial in ensuring that Salesian boys feel connected.
From the Principal Page 6
From the Rector Page 7
From the Business Manager Page 8
Community Connection Page 10
Staying Resilient in 2020 Page 11
Everyday Heroes: Mark Schembri (Class of 1985) and Darren Asuncion (Class of 1998, pictured) Page 12
2020 Legacy Event Page 14
Committed to the Cause Page 20
Supporting Students and Families: Expert Advice Page 21
Where Are They Now? Tom Fagan (Graduated in 1978, Year 9) Page 22
Where Are They Now: Lawrence Tann (Class of 2009) Congratulations, Mark Dawson (Class of 1992) Page 23
Community Announcements, Reunions and Hall of Fame Updates
In his final Principal’s address to the community following his nine-year term, Rob Brennan reflects, “We enjoy the connection that we do, because our values are lived.” We are different to others because “we don’t allow these values to become token, written down and forgotten. This legacy or charism of the great St John Bosco has been respectfully handed down through the ages by the Salesians of Don Bosco, and when lived, these values enable the community to develop, to be nimble and to adjust to difficult situations.” As lockdown lifts and life transitions to a new COVID-19 normal, we hear from longest-serving Independent Northern Territory Parliamentarian and Class of 1967 past student Gerry Wood, who enters retirement after his 19 years serving the people of Nelson. “To listen and to lead” has been at the core of Gerry’s direct approach to life, authentically connecting to often challenging community topics. Holding space for an opposing opinion and standing up against a popularist view when needed is at the core of his belief system. For fifty years Gerry has been at one with the land. His connection to the people and community of the Territory is authentic and tangible. Involved in some of the NT’s biggest political moments, he at times was seen as the Parliament’s ‘kingmaker’. When the Paul Henderson Labor Government became the minority after the resignation of MLA Alison Anderson in 2009, Gerry’s vote meant that the government could remain in power. But it’s never been about status or power for Gerry, but rather, good governance. “What is the most responsible thing I can do in this legislative assembly?” has been the objective of his honourable, unwavering commitment, a life lesson that he references learning 55 years ago in Form Four. As life at the College resumes for students, Academic Captain Scott Fisher optimistically reflects on the lessons COVID-19 has taught about the learning needs of a student. “Now, more than ever, I understand how I truly learn.” The year has been vastly different from what the students expected. However, “If each of us is to take one thing away from this year, it is that the unity and dynamism of our staff and students have been the driving factors of our success.” Suzie McErvale Head of Development and Marketing
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â€œWhat makes Salesian College Chadstone different?...The simple answer is the sense of community that exists here at the College.â€?
FROM THE PRINCIPAL Rob Brennan Principal
Sitting down to write what will be my final article for the Griffin, I couldnâ€™t help but get a little nostalgic, reflecting on my time here at Salesian College Chadstone. It has been an emotional experience as I look back with great fondness on what have been the best nine years of my teaching career. So, rather than writing a soppy or emotional piece, I thought I would use this article to answer to the best of my ability a question that I am often asked. The question has come in many forms, but fundamentally what people want to know is what makes Salesian College Chadstone different? Why is it a special place? What enables this institution to roll along relatively unchanged, regardless of who walks in and out of its doors, including Principals? The simple answer is the sense of 4
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community that exists here at the College. Now this answer is not complete. It tells us very little. It requires further explanation of why this community connection is so strong, and what is the essence that endures change over time. Staff changes, social changes, changes in education and even pandemics appear to have minimal impact. Whilst I do not have a definitive answer or proof, I would argue that there is an essence that is passed on from staff to staff, staff to student, student to student and finally from family to family. At the core of this essence are the College values of Integrity, Respect, Belonging, Joy and Dynamism. Now I have been in many communities which also have written values, some very similar to ours, but for some reason they do not enjoy the same connection as they do at Salesian College Chadstone.
The simple reason that I believe we enjoy the connection that we do is that our values are lived. They are not allowed to become a token written on a document. The source of our values provides the living essence or charism. We have a strong connection to our Christian tradition and, most importantly, further illumination provided for us through the life of Saint John Bosco. The Salesian charism is contagious. Once you encounter it, you cannot help but embrace it and live it. It becomes part of you. The realness of Saint John Bosco fosters a level of authenticity that is comforting to people. They know what they are going to get. The preventative method as espoused by St John Bosco all those years ago ensures that Reason, Religion and Loving Kindness remain pillars of the education offered today. We are committed to accompanying the
APPOINTMENT OF ACTING PRINCIPAL Salesian College Chadstone congratulates Mr Robert Brennan on his appointment as the Principal of Caroline Chisholm Catholic College from the beginning of 2021. We thank Rob for leading the College with strong vision and commitment to our values over the past nine years. To allow for a thorough process of consultation, advertising and selection of a new Principal, Mr Neil Carter has been appointed as Acting Principal for Terms 1 and 2, 2021. A member of staff for over twenty years, Neil joined the College Leadership Team in 1997 as Curriculum Coordinator, and then served as Deputy Principal from 2000 to 2019. Neil has been instrumental in developing the Collegeâ€™s new curriculum pedagogy, the Learning Matrix. We thank Neil for his ongoing commitment to the Salesian College Chadstone community.
boys through their education, making sure that they are not only loved, but that they know they are loved. This provides the boys with a sense of belonging to a school that is home for them, where they can learn, play and explore their faith with a real sense of joy. This, too, offers great comfort to their parents, who entrust their boys to our care and encourage them to be active in this learning community. This legacy or charism of the great St John Bosco has been respectfully handed down through the ages by the Salesians of Don Bosco. This legacy has been taken up by lay people in recent times, staying true to Don Bosco while continuing the Preventative method of education. When lived, these values enable the community to develop the characteristics we enjoy and the ability to be nimble and
to adjust to difficult situations. In this respect, we have done so well this year as we have taken everything the global pandemic has thrown at us, and adapted and thrived. The ability of staff to adapt and provide a quality remote learning experience and the resilience our boys have exhibited are possible because of their sense of belonging to our school. Each member of our community can be confident that they will receive support, knowing that in a dynamic environment people will adjust quickly to continue to provide them with everything they need. In what has been the most difficult of years, a sense of joy has prevailed, seen throughout Don Boscoâ€™s Oratory Week. In the interactions of the boys and the teachers, we were still able to get a glimpse of joy.
old Collegians, the Salesian community and, most of all, the boys and their warmth, friendliness and willingness to adopt the College values and truly embrace becoming a Chaddy boy. These are the things that will see this College continue to grow and thrive and provide its boys with a brilliant educational experience for many years to come. So as my time at the College draws to an end, I bid you farewell and thank you for a wonderful nine-year journey. God Bless.
It is all these things I am going to miss: the genuine relationships, the families, the 5
FROM THE RECTOR Fr Greg Chambers sdb Rector
My fellow Don Bosco Past Pupils, Warm greetings to you all as we come to the end of 2020, possibly the most extraordinary and challenging year of our lives because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its worldwide effects. In this respect, I am not just speaking of the large number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths caused by the virus, nor of the massive impact it has had upon us and our dear ones in regard to our physical and mental wellbeing and our social and cultural welfare. I am also referring to the significant strategies and restrictions that had to be introduced to combat this virus and to contain its deadly spread within our Australian and Victorian society. Whether these strategies were in the form of major lockdowns or restrictions; closure of international ports, airports and state borders; shutting down of businesses and commercial outlets, churches and places of worship, kindergartens, schools and universities; or disruption of community or professional sport and culture, they had a debilitating effect on our national psyche and left us open to many forms of loneliness, depression, desperation and loss of direction, identity and even hope. During the worst of these times, I deliberately set out to put before the members of our Salesian College community some practical models of great courage and perseverance to strengthen and inspire them. Among these were Mary, Mother of Jesus; St John Bosco, Founder of the Salesians; St Mary MacKillop, Australia’s First Saint; Blessed Carlo Acutis, Patron of the Internet; and Lennie and Ginger Mick, the young boy and his horse who travelled from Leongatha to Sydney during the Great Depression to be present at the Opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. I had also been planning to share with you the inspirational story of Charles Schultz, the creator of ‘Charlie Brown’ and the ‘Peanuts’ characters, but that will have to wait for a future edition of the ‘Griffin’. What cannot wait, however, is this most relevant quote from Schultz which is so meaningful in our present situation: 6
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Frank Davis (2007 HOF), John Stretch (2010 HOF), Fr John Papworth (former Rector), David Pignolet (2008 HOF) and Carl Egan (long-standing staff member).
‘We all face difficulty and discouragement from time to time, but we also have a choice in how we handle it. If we’re persistent, if we hold fast to our faith, if we discover and develop the unique talents that each one of us have, then there is no limit to our potential. In the end there are no losers. Some winners just take longer to develop.’ On a personal note, in 1978 I was ordained a Salesian Priest alongside two other past students of Salesian College Chadstone, namely Brendan Murphy and the late Dennis Handley. I will always remember that great day, as I will always remember Dennis and the inscription he chose for his ordination card. The quotation was from the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest, scientist and philosopher, and I now pass these words onto you in the hope that they may give you renewed strength and courage both now and in times to come: ‘Give me to recognise in other people, Lord God, the radiance of your own face. The invisible light of your eyes, shining in the face of things has already driven me into undertaking the work I had to do and into facing the difficulties I had to overcome… May the Risen Christ keep me young for God’s greater glory – young, that is, optimistic, active, smiling, perceptive.’ Finally, I take this opportunity to formally
farewell our current Principal, Mr Robert Brennan, who is leaving Salesian College after nine years as the first Lay Principal at Chadstone in order to become Principal of Caroline Chisholm Catholic College, Braybrook. As I wrote in my recent letter of Announcement to the College Community, Robert has led Salesian College ‘with energy, vision, honesty and integrity, and has made a significant impact in the key areas of teaching and learning, staff development and student leadership, involvement of parents and families, and provision of modern educational and administrative facilities.’ However, in the light of my comments earlier in this article, I believe that Robert Brennan is also a person of remarkable persistence and resolve, of courage and determination, and of firm belief in himself, in his family, in his school community, in Don Bosco, and in his God, that led him to attempt and then achieve great things for Salesian College in a relatively short period of time. Above all, I believe that Robert always strived to live out, just as Fr Dennis Handley did, the prayer of Teilhard de Chardin mentioned above: ‘May the Risen Christ keep me young for God’s greater glory – young, that is, optimistic, active, smiling, perceptive.’ Good luck, Rob!
FROM THE BUSINESS MANAGER Noel Kennedy Business Manager
I started at Salesian College in February, hoping that 20 years’ experience in Catholic education would place me in a good position to contribute to the College. This year hasn’t panned out as anyone expected. However, although many experiences have been virtual, the Salesian College community has been most welcoming. Staff have adapted amazingly, the parent community has been most understanding and our students seem to have made the most of difficult circumstances. In 2020 we continued to plan for our new governance structure that will commence on 1 January 2021. Since its inception, the College has been conducted by the Salesians. From 1 January, ownership of the College will remain with the Salesians but the College will be conducted by a company with a board of directors. A number of our current Advisory Council members have generously agreed to remain as directors and assist with the transition. Although new arrangements will provide a more ‘robust’ governance structure, the new constitution recognises the College’s history and protects the Salesian charism, traditions and philosophy of education that are most important to us. The College’s name will remain Salesian College Chadstone. This year, our Administration team’s attention was largely directed at
supporting staff engaged in delivering teaching and wellbeing programs to our students. Our Development and Marketing Department created materials that communicated our teaching and learning programs, developed virtual events focused on maintaining connection and commenced preparation of a plan to guide future marketing efforts. Our Information Technology Department assisted in developing options for the delivery of remote learning and supported staff and students whenever difficulties were encountered. Our Facilities team kept the College site maintained, managed essential maintenance and assisted with implementing COVID safe plans and approaches. Other Administration staff continued to support their departments with remote learning and student wellbeing, monitored changes in requirements and kept essential administrative functions moving. In addition to successfully delivering outcomes over the year, the willingness of staff to contribute in unfamiliar areas was most pleasing. The College implemented a new program to assist families who, often for the first time, found themselves in strained financial circumstances. The COVID-19 concession program sought to minimise information required for approval of assistance in an attempt to secure faster approvals and avoid additional,
unnecessary stress to families. As uncertainty prevailed for most of the year, the program was adjusted as circumstances changed. While physical improvements to the College site over 2020 were restricted, it was decided that the College should revisit its masterplan to guide future developments so that work can commence as restrictions ease. The College’s finances are healthy, and the 2021 budget (and fees) will be mindful of the fact that many members of our community are recovering from extraordinary circumstances. In 2021, the College aims to embed our new governance structure, finalise our marketing plan and complete a masterplan to guide future developments. I look forward to the opportunities that 2021 brings.
COMMUNITY CONNECTION “Although 2020 has been unusual for anyone starting in a new role, Salesian College has been a welcoming community. The Leadership Team and staff have been most supportive, parents and carers understanding and students respectful and willing to make the most of these difficult circumstances.” - Noel Kennedy, Business Manager
“I’m sure there were no lesson plans for a pandemic. There was no reference point, nothing to draw on. However, by consistently communicating the healing message of ‘You’re not alone’, the Salesian community has demonstrated empathy that has helped to guide us throughout the year. In a year that no one could imagine, a strong community spirit has been evident in the way the teachers and staff at the College have supported the boys and their families. On the other side of the storm is the strength of having navigated through it. Hopefully, we will also take the lesson of appreciating some of the things that we may have taken for granted the company of others, the mateship, joyful conversations and the strong hugs.” - Tracy Stone, PA President
“COVID-19 has changed the way that we live. One small positive that we can take out of this experience is that we have all taken the time to slow down and remind ourselves of what is important. Rather than spending time devoted to our usual busy routines, we have been given an opportunity to reflect. Remote learning has reminded me of the value that we have in our Salesian College community. It is every member of our Salesian community, which is comprised of so many diverse cultural backgrounds, that makes Salesian College such a unique and special place.” - Kim Beurs, Dean of Students (Senior)
“While there were times when I was frustrated by the thought of losing a true Year 12 experience, I learnt to put things into perspective and to be more grateful for the things that I still have. I struggled with being restricted from my grandparents and extended family. As a social learner, sometimes it was hard to study from my desk at home, but I commend our teachers and staff on their persistence in helping me in any way possible. This went a long way in helping me in my studies, and providing me with comfort and reassurance. COVID-19 has showcased just how powerful the Salesian brotherhood is, as my connections with my classmates are now stronger than ever.” - Robert Amendola, College Captain
“I feel I have been privileged during the COVID-19 pandemic, having the opportunity to live away from Melbourne. I’ve been able to bike ride on almost deserted roads through the mountains, play golf and do plenty of manual work around the property. However, my wife and myself have missed seeing our children since March. Our eleventh grandchild was born last week, and we have been unable to see him or provide any help. Two close friends have died during this time, and it has been hard not being able to attend their funerals. The pandemic has brought home to us the importance of respecting the natural world and the urgency of tackling the looming disaster of climate change.” - Michael Wood (Class of 1957)
GRIFFIN Summer 2020
“When I reflect on the changes we have had to make as a family this year, the most important was learning to let go of the ‘normal’ expectations of productivity. We learnt to welcome independent learning, which allowed my son to determine how he could achieve the desired learning outcomes while creating his own daily rhythms. I found I was discussing my work with my son too, when he popped into the spare room to see how my day was going (or to ask for yet another snack). Having the opportunity to develop this communication style was priceless. Hopefully this experience sets us up for the rest of the Year 7 school year and beyond.” - Nicola Howard, current parent
“Over the course of this academic year and in general, it’s safe to say that everyone within our College community has experienced a spate of adversity, both independently and collectively. Personally, I’ve taken this opportunity to continue my personal growth. In this sense, the time in isolation was positive, allowing me an alternative channel to work on my personal skill set, especially organisation and responsibility, elements that will be sure to put me in good stead for next year and the years to come. Above all, I commend our College community for banding together, especially during 2020. I look forward to 2021 on the horizon.” - Steven Tran, Year 11 student
“The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt intensely by us all. Physical separation from my sons and my grandchildren has had a great impact on my life. Nanna needs a hug! However, I feel blessed to have my Salesian family to keep me balanced and positive. The community connection I felt through Salesian celebrations such as our virtual Mothers’ Day is testament to this amazing place. During the long dark winter of isolation, the empty school yard, the loss of the familiar sound of the bells and minimal staff on site, we all kept going in the knowledge that what we do here is always for our boys. We knew that when they returned to us, life would be better again. And it is!” - Mary Menz (Principal’s PA, Class of 1976) “It was difficult not being able to socialise with my friends face to face. Although this can still be done online, it’s not quite the same. As a creature of habit, having to adapt many aspects of my life to a ‘COVID normal’ was a challenge, but something that I knew was necessary. Amongst all the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, community connection has been a really positive highlight. To see local communities coming together to support each other, especially those struggling or vulnerable, was heart-warming and made me proud. I look forward to seeing what continued community connection will look like in life after COVID-19, and the difference that this will make.” - Peter Pamouktsis (Class of 2017)
“This year, I felt as if time had slowed down and we were stuck in one place. But over time, I decided to look at things differently. Teenagers and adults often become aware that time moves so quickly. We don’t always have time to appreciate the little things. For me, this was spending more time with my family, despite our usually busy schedules, or being able to enjoy a family dinner with everyone at the table. The illusion of time standing still slowly faded, but I still appreciate every precious moment I got to spend with my family. Despite all the negative aspects of this year, it is important that everyone appreciates the little things and focuses on the positives in such a hard time.” - Xavier Adams, Year 10 student
“COVID-19 was a completely new experience for me. We went into lockdown, and all students had to start learning from home. I couldn’t go out to see my friends or have them come over. But if the challenges of 2020 have taught me anything, it is that if we work hard, we can achieve anything, no matter the obstacle. This year it has been more important than ever to talk to friends and family. While it was good to speak to them virtually, it’s not as good as seeing them in person. The year 2020 won’t be easily forgotten, but it has also taught me many lessons that will always stay with me.” - Anthony Saraullo, Year 8 student
“COVID-19 impacted my life this year in many different ways. It made learning and communicating with my friends difficult. The lack of interaction made me forget what it was like to talk to someone in person who wasn’t a family member. 2020 has taught me to be strong and to be resilient. These skills will help me later in life to tackle the challenges and problems that may come my way. Staying connected to my classmates at Salesian was tough at first. The only interaction I had with my friends was through email and on MS Teams. But in the two weeks after the first lockdown, and before the second lockdown, I was able to get their phone numbers and communicate with them more.” - Matthew Linden, Year 7 student
“In the context of the current global threat that we are facing, human or earthly measures may simply not be enough. Instead, maybe we need to turn to our God and ‘bring him into the picture’, and come to him in heartfelt prayer and ask him for his help and protection in the present worldwide health crisis. In fact, prayer to our God, our Creator and Preserver, could be just the answer in a situation in which the normal answers and solutions may not be completely effective. In this respect, the great British poet Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote in his famous poem, ‘Morte D’Arthur’ (‘The Death of Arthur’): ‘More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.’ ” - Fr Greg Chambers sdb, Rector
“This year has been a crazy one! Although there has been so much pain, we are slowly and surely making it through this pandemic. There were times when I was completely unmotivated and felt that anything I did, didn’t matter. There were other times when I was ready to do all my work, and it was great. This year has taught me that life isn’t always easy. I know that might be cheesy! COVID-19 showed me on a grand scale what happens when one small event escalates into a worldwide crisis. Although this experience has been rough, it was helpful for me to look back on everything I’ve accomplished, and look forward to the years to come.” - Gabriel Kapaklis, Year 9 student
STAYING RESILIENT IN 2020 Scott Fisher Academic Ambassador
â€œNow, more than ever, I understand how I truly learn. This is a skill which for many people surfaces much later in life, and something that the graduates of this year should cherishâ€Śâ€? Without question, this year has been unforeseeably difficult for students across the nation, and especially for the 2020 Year 12 cohort. The global pandemic has tested the limits of many students. As we all navigate this time of great uncertainty, adaptability has been an important factor, allowing myself and other students to stay focused throughout the year. A strong foundation of study techniques and strategies has played an important role in the success of many students across the Year 12 cohort. During the pandemic, I personally changed my mindset to look beyond the uncontrollable information communicated by the media, to eliminate distractions from my studies. I set myself a strict study schedule to increase the number of hours I spent revising before SACs and exams. I developed some creative study techniques, such as poster making and white board use, in order to stay engaged with content. 10
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Finally, I ensured that I took adequate breaks while studying to maximise my focus and memory retention abilities. COVID-19 has ultimately taught me about myself and my needs as a student. Now, more than ever, I understand how I truly learn. This is a skill which for many people surfaces much later in life, and something that the graduates of this year should cherish, and employ beyond Year 12 as they continue to grow. Understanding how you learn as an individual is a fabulous skill that will assist you in tackling potential challenges in your future endeavours. Alongside other students, I have learnt about the importance of self-motivation, as we were all required to take responsibility for our own studies during remote learning. The motivation to wake up early for each class, submit work on time and participate during class discussions are all factors which demonstrate the hard work and resilience of each and every Year 12 student. Like a peacock, those who were able to stay focused
and continue working at a high intensity during remote learning were able to flourish and spread their trains, leaving others in awe. This year has taught us all what resilience truly looks like, as we approach our final set of exams. The pandemic has tested the limits of many students. This year, resilience has been found in the hearts of all students as they adapt to the new conditions which have the potential to influence their studies. The adaptability of each and every student is what has equipped them with the tools to stay resilient. This year has looked vastly different from what the students of Salesian College predicted. However, if each of us is to take one thing away from this year, it is that the unity and dynamism of our staff and students have been the driving factors of our success.
EVERYDAY HEROES How has the development of the COVID-19 vaccine impacted life at UQ? The UQ vaccine is being developed by a team of researchers in my department, making it an exciting time to be at the cutting edge of microbiology research. Significantly, the value of this research has never been in the spotlight the way it is now. It’s a reminder that scientists will discover and deliver solutions to the current pandemic.
Professor Mark Schembri
Class of 1985 Deputy Director, Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre The University of Queensland (UQ) What is your position at UQ? I am a Professor of Microbiology. I run a research team studying how antibiotic resistant superbugs cause human urinary tract and bloodstream infections.
How does the UQ vaccine work and how are the trials progressing? The UQ COVID-19 vaccine uses patented molecular clamp technology to stabilise the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in the same conformation as it is presented on the virus surface. This means that the protein can be used as a vaccine antigen to generate specific antibodies against the virus. The UQ team is currently undertaking a Phase 1 clinical trial to assess safety and the immune response generated in healthy volunteers. So far, from what we know, the vaccine is safe, well tolerated and induces the right immune response
financial consequences of the pandemic while ensuring that our staff and patients are always safe and protected. It has been fatiguing to navigate the daily changes to government guidelines whilst putting ourselves and our families at risk as front-line workers. 2020 has also been painfully isolating. It has been difficult not to travel or to see my family and friends celebrate significant birthdays, weddings, baptisms and other milestones.
Dr Darren Asuncion
Class of 1998 Principal General Practitioner, Surrey Street Family Clinic How has COVID-19 impacted your experience of 2020? 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year, both personally and professionally. Our practice has had to adjust ‘on-thefly’ and adapt strict infection control procedures. From installing screens at reception to overhauling our PPE and screening protocols, we’ve endured the
What have you most valued about working in a medical profession during this challenging time? My journey in medicine has always been about helping people, and I feel privileged to be in a position to promote health and safety in such difficult times. The support of the local community has been incredible. I feel blessed every day to be surrounded by such a caring and selfless team. Reflecting on 2020, what have been your most significant learnings? 2020 has reinforced the need for us to appreciate the present and to be grateful for the many blessings God
required for protection. If all goes to plan, when is the vaccine projected to be ready for the market? The next stage of testing scheduled for late this year is a Phase II/III clinical trial, which evaluates dosing, safety and protection in humans. Deployment of the vaccine is a topic of much debate, but most experts predict it is most likely to occur around mid 2021, probably initially to at risk health care workers and people at greatest risk of severe disease. The government has announced significant financial support for the vaccine, and manufacturing is already in progress, enabling the process to be fast tracked. How did your time at Salesian prepare you for a career as a scientist? I followed a Maths-Science learning pathway, which led me to study a Bachelor of Science and PhD at Monash University. I have fond memories of studying Chemistry at Salesian with Mr Hofmann, Maths and Physics with Mr Byrne, and Biology with Mr Krizos.
bestows upon us. Nothing in life can be taken for granted, including our freedoms, our health and our families. Home schooling has taught me to become more involved in my child’s learning. This year has also emphasised the value of communication, of reaching out and checking in with our loved ones, and of how much I miss the power of touch, hugs and personal contact. Looking back on your time at Salesian, what are your standout memories? I will always cherish the life-long friendships I gained, the sporting and academic trials and successes, the passionate staff and, for some reason, the tuck-shop food! What is your advice to our students, in navigating this pandemic? Care for one another. These are unprecedented times, when many people will feel unsupported, withdrawn, lost and alone. Although we must physically distance, we must not socially distance. We need to be more patient and supportive than ever before.
2020 LEGACY EVENT Nikita Rodrigues Publications and Communications Officer
As we adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, community connection has never been more valuable. A Don Bosco’s Oratory Week tradition, our 2020 Legacy Event celebrated what it means to belong to the Salesian College Chadstone community. Our legacy begins with our founder, Don Bosco. In a virtual conversation with College Captain Robert Amendola, Principal Rob Brennan reflected on Don Bosco’s lasting impact at Chadstone today. “If we go back to the beginnings of the Salesians, to Don Bosco himself, I think we can really cherish what he brought to education. He had a sense of fun and joy in the way that he went about things. This tradition has been carried through to the contemporary Salesians, to us today,” acknowledged Rob.
We are proud of our past students who continue to live out our values in the community. In our Legacy video, Gerry Rodrigues (Class of 1975) shared how Integrity and Respect have underpinned his career at the Australian Border Force, and as a diplomat at the Australian Embassy at Brussels. “To me, upholding the values of integrity and respect is really important because these are fundamental principles of our faith and community spirit. This is the way I was brought up by my parents. Salesian taught me to do in your heart what is right, and call out what is wrong, even though it may not be popular.” 12
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As Priest of Sacred Heart and St Columba’s Parish in St Kilda, Fr John Petrulis (Class of 1975) understands well the value of Belonging. “Our parish and Sacred Heart Mission are focused on helping people who are homeless to come home. Eradicating homelessness is not just about finding immediate shelter for a person. It’s about the long term journey of making that shelter a home, a place of belonging where people can flourish and begin again in a community.”
Having returned to the College as a teacher, past student Dylan Chow (Class of 2013) reflects on his experience of our Salesian values of Joy and Dynamism. “So much of the teaching profession is about being joyful and dynamic. Joy is found in all the everyday interactions between our staff members and students. Being dynamic has never been more relevant in 2020, in adapting to and embracing change and engaging students [in their learning].”
2019 Legacy Breakfast
Artwork by Year 11 student Mark Skopakow
Year 10 student Maiki Giannakopoulos reflected on what it means to belong to the Salesian community in our ‘Legacy Poem’.
Salesian College Legacy Poem Salesian College is a place that we call home. Over 60 years it’s been a place for young minds to roam. 2019 Legacy Breakfast
From our past brothers to our newly welcomed Our community has been filled with enthusiasm. The education that shapes our future men, All inspired by a man from Turin, A man who was compassionate and always caring, These traits embedded in the uniforms we are wearing. So, we stand tall and proud with all our integrity To leave behind a great history and legacy. This is 2020, and what a year it’s been. We’ve come by hardships yet we still remained keen. We banded together to work through the struggle. Like pieces we tried to mend the puzzle.
2019 Legacy Breakfast
In our 2020 Legacy Video, we took the time to recognise the legacies of all our past pupils who have sons currently attending the College. We look forward to seeing the legacies of all families continue to enrich our Salesian community. To watch our 2020 Legacy Video, visit https://youtu.be/bpGRc9UCRMs
We adapted to and were forced to change. These new conditions many of us found strange. So to all my brothers both present and past Create memories for yourself that will forever last. Maiki Giannakopoulos Year 10 Student 13
ALUMNUS Feature Story
COMMITTED TO THE CAUSE Suzie McErvale Head of Development and Marketing
Community aligned, intrinsically driven and quick witted, longest-serving Independent Northern Territory Parliamentarian and Class of 1967 past student Gerry Wood enters retirement after his 19 years serving the people of Nelson. “To listen and to lead” has been at the core of Gerry’s direct approach to life, authentically connecting to often challenging community topics. Holding space for an opposing opinion and standing up against a popularist view when needed is at the core of his belief system. For fifty years Gerry has been at one with the land. His connection to the people and community of the Territory is authentic and tangible. Involved in some of the NT’s biggest political moments, he at times was seen as the Parliament’s ‘kingmaker’. When the Paul Henderson Labor Government became the minority after the resignation of MLA Alison Anderson in 2009, Gerry’s vote meant that the government could remain in power. But it’s never been about status or power for Gerry, but rather, good governance. “What is the most responsible thing I can do in this legislative assembly?” has been the objective of his honourable, unwavering commitment, a life lesson that he references learning 55 years ago in Form Four. Firstly, I want to start by asking, it’s two months in, how has it been adjusting to life post politics? Very difficult, actually. I’m used to going to work early in the morning and having a long day in the office or in the community or in Parliament. Parliament just started this week, so it seems strange not being part of the process any more. But I’ll get used to it. I’ve got plenty of work. I’m on two committees at the moment, the Football Umpiring Association and a committee for John Hargreaves — the doctor who worked in the Northern Territory for a long time with people with leprosy, and in East Timor, doing facial reconstruction. I’m helping out there, but I’ve got plenty of work at home. My dear wife’s at home, and that’s one reason I gave up politics. I’m going to spend more time with her as well.
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arm which was affected. I had polio in my legs, but was told to run, which I did around the Camberwell Football Ground. Mum was a woman of great faith, and she prayed and poured litres of Holy Water over my hand for many years. I eventually had an operation, which was ground breaking at the time, that allowed me to use my thumb, which up till then had no tendon. So Mum’s prayers were answered.
Gerry and wife Imelda with daughters Joanne, Angela and Caroline, 1970s
It’s a significant transition for you, so it’s understandable that it has been quite an adjustment. I have to look in the mirror sometimes to realise I’m not quite as young as I think. Ha! There came a time when I had to say, “My wife comes first, because she has dementia. My job is to spend more time at home.” Most of my days were filled up with politics and community events. I still have a few of those. The local Athletics Club invited me to their presentation night. The netball, the soccer and the cricket clubs all invited me to their presentation nights. I still want to keep those contacts, because I’m still living in the community. I am terribly sorry to hear about Imelda’s health. Oh, she’s going well. She’s playing cards on the computer at the moment. Solitaire. Ha! I’ve got a couple of dogs out here keeping me company. They’ve been chasing the neighbours’ dogs up and down the fence, to keep them fit. There! You hear a bark now. [laughs] Yes, I can hear them! Born 5th April 1950, as one of six and the youngest of the three Wood brothers, you attended Salesian between 1961-1966. What were your most significant life lessons that you learnt during your time at Chadstone? That’s correct. I have three sisters and two brothers: Mary, Patricia, Anne, Bob and Michael. They sometimes reckon I was the favoured one, but it may have had more to do with the fact that I had polio when I was two, so Mum of course spent a lot of time with me. She took me to hospital regularly to get casts made for my right hand and exercises for my 16
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I’ll always remember Bosco Street as Chaddy. It wasn’t anything else. I used to walk from Chadstone Shopping Centre to get there. As I remember, we had many people who were committed to our learning, particularly the Salesians. We were probably one of the first schools in Victoria to go to Ayers Rock, or Uluru, by bus, in 1964. The bus did fall apart by the time we got to Alice Springs! It was a suburban bus and it didn’t stand corrugated roads. It was welded back together in Alice Springs. I always remember that trip. I loved my time at school. I wasn’t always the keenest student. I didn’t always like studying. That’s why I failed Form Four, the equivalent of today’s Year 10. Because I failed, I stayed back with the previous class – how humiliating! In those days you didn’t go forward until you passed. I promised myself I wouldn’t fail ever again. I still had connections later on with the Salesians who came to the Territory. Father Gerry Remie was the first priest at Humpty Doo and Fr Cooper went to Melville Island and Katherine. After your Year 11 finishing year, you studied a three-year Diploma of Horticultural Science at Burnley Horticultural College. In 1970 you made the decision to move 4,000km north to Daly River, where you farmed fruit and vegetables, and you also looked after boys near cattle stations who were boarding at the mission. What led to making this life changing move? It’s always been a little bit hard to know. At the same time as I was studying horticulture I was umpiring football. Mum didn’t want me to play football because of my crook arm, but eventually I got so fit being a boundary umpire that I played for South Camberwell YCW. I played tennis for St Cecilia’s Tennis Club. Loved my tennis. And I had lots of friends. But most people looked like the partying kind. You know, go out to party, take girlfriends out and all this sort of stuff. It just didn’t seem to
sit well with me for some reason. I used to read about missions in the Northern Territory, or missions in the north of Australia, especially the Josephites. Maybe that was a little seed that was sown. And I probably had some utopian mindset which said, “Maybe I should use my qualifications that I got from Horticultural College to do some good.” I must admit, when I think back, that I was very naïve in many ways. Here’s me, a 19 year old white kid in Melbourne, who thinks he knows all about growing vegetables, going to help Aboriginal people whom he’s never met in his life. Was I in for a shock! My parish priest, Bernard O’Connor, said that they needed a gardener at Daly River. Within a few weeks I was on a train to Sydney, a ship to Darwin, and a four-wheel drive, a battered up old Toyota, with Fr Leary driving on the one side, Sr Bernadetta sitting on the other side, and me in the middle sitting on top of the hot gearbox, all heading down to Daly River. If we fast track to 8 September 1973, you married your now wife Imelda, later having three girls, Angela, Caroline and Joanne. How did raising a family in rural Australia compare to your childhood in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne? Oh, I think living in the bush keeps you in touch with reality. It’s a far better life than in the city. We only had radio communications in those days – no phones. Even later on, when I went to Bathurst Island, we still only had radio communications. Phones came later. And things like faxes… we couldn’t believe things came over the air and out on paper with something written on it. We were a bit behind the times. Television came to Darwin in 1971. Before that, there was only ABC radio and one commercial station. I was not only the gardener at Daly but I also looked after around 30 boys from nearby cattle stations who boarded there. Look, it was a good life. After I was married I left the mission and started working on a farm further down the river. Even though I was living on the Daly, my first daughter was born in the old Darwin Hospital as that was the norm for the first born. In ‘74, we got flooded out and moved to Bathurst Island. I was the works supervisor, the Town Clerk, and when I got sick of that job I went back to growing vegetables and looking after chooks. We had a chicken farm there. There was a young fella from Melbourne who happened to drop into the community.
It wasn’t a mission any more then, it was a council. It was just like any other community. There was a bloke called Marcus Rathsman. He now owns Mt Ringwood station. His father was a poultry farmer in Melbourne. He dropped in and said, “Why don’t you build a poultry farm?” So we got a poultry shed and that supplied eggs for the community. The chooks supplied chook manure for the farm. And I umpired Aussie Rules. That’s the most dangerous job in the world, umpiring the Tiwi Islanders. They love their football. They are fanatics. They run incredibly fast.
Boys who Gerry took care of in Daly, 1970s bit of a mixed life.
Two of my children were born on Bathurst Island, Caroline and Joanne. After nearly 8 years on Bathurst Island I spent another 3 years back at the Daly. Raising a family in these communities was certainly a very different way of life than what I knew growing up in Melbourne. In 1984 I then had to make a choice, like a lot of people out bush have to make. Do you send your children to boarding school, or do you move? I couldn’t stand sending them to boarding school. I’d be broken hearted, so we decided to pack up and move to Howard Springs, a rural area south of Darwin. And that’s where I am today. In Howard Springs in rural Darwin, you continued to farm fruit and vegetables, raised chickens, turned your hand to rural contracting and worked in the local hardware store for 16 years. How did this local knowledge help you to serve the people of Nelson? I worked at the hardware store for nearly sixteen years, but it wasn’t always full time. In the meantime, I grew vegetables for Coles and Woollies. Free range eggs also. And I used to spray people’s blocks for weeds, slash firebreaks and do gardening and all that. So a
These experiences give you a good understanding of who the community is. You get to know people. I was on the local council for thirteen years, and for five years I was President. I used to be involved in all the sport. I was still umpiring footy. I couldn’t get enough time to practise because of my work, so I didn’t get to A Grade. All of my daughters and three of my grandchildren have been goal umpires. Litchfield Shire Council, which is the shire I was President of, is quite a big area. It’s three and a half thousand square kilometres. Most people live in the south east and the rest is a cattle station, Defence or Crown land. There are people living on suburban blocks and people living on 2 hectare and 8 hectare blocks. They grow mangoes, have horses, raise a few chooks or they just live in the bush. It’s very rural. People really love it because it’s a good lifestyle for raising families. And look, I have Imelda. A lot of that work I couldn’t do without her. She had a job in the local Sacred Heart Primary School as an Aboriginal Assistant Teacher. She wasn’t a teacher as such, but she looked after the Aboriginal kids. She went round with the bus sometimes when they hadn’t turned up to school. She used to make egg sandwiches. We’d be packing eggs every night, and eggs would get cracked. All the cracked eggs were cooked and turned into sandwiches for the kids at breakfast. She did that for seven years. Without her working we probably would have been struggling to survive. Yeah, I got to know a lot of people, got to know a lot of the issues, and yeah, it was a full-on life. You don’t realise it’s full-on until you try and stop; you just think it’s normal.
Gerry, Robert and Michael Wood at Salesian College Chadstone, 1961
It’s never been about status or power for you, but rather good governance. “What is the most responsible thing I can do in this legislative assembly?” is a sentence you
often reflected on. Why has this always been at the core of your mission? You know it probably goes back, would you believe, to Form Four in Salesian College. I remember classes about theology, most of which went well over my head. What I learnt from some of those discussions is that God is with us all the time, but you can’t always use God in your reasoning, especially when you are talking to people who don’t believe in God. We have been given the gift of reason. He/ She’s given us reasoning so that we can work things out for ourselves, so that we don’t have to rely on just faith. You have your faith, but it’s not a blind faith. It’s a bit like that saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” You don’t go relying on Him all the time do you — or She, but She/He is always there ready to help and to forgive your mistakes, and I’ve made a few. We can look at life and say, “Well, does that make good sense? Is that really the way we should be living?” I look to our natural environment for inspiration too. In today’s society, populism is often chosen over reasoning. Just because something sounds good and looks good, doesn’t mean it’s the best option to choose. It sounds like there was an element of agency in that experience for you? Yeah, I also have that little saying, “You have to lead and listen.” Basically what that’s saying is that you have to listen to what people have to say, but you also have to lead. I always had that as my motto. I remember something similar said by the long lost President of the Labor Party, Barry Jones, who used to be a very proficient quizmaster on the TV, a Member of Parliament and a very deep thinker. I say that people are relying on you to be a sensible person who will look at difficult issues,
give them plenty of thought, then decide. There are things that I’ve spoken about over the years, some of which I mentioned in my Valedictory Speech, that I know some would vehemently disagree with me about. But the point is, they would expect that if I had that different point of view I would not be afraid to say so, but also give good reasons for it. I had the job as an Independent Representative for nineteen years. People said to me, “We didn’t always agree with you, but we thought you did a good job as our local member. You were doing what we expected of you.” I wouldn’t expect everyone to agree with me. It’d be a pretty terrible job if that happened. It’d be a bit boring. No one to argue with, ha! Leading and listening is really important. I do hear politicians get up and say, “Oh, I represent the people and this is what they think.” I’m saying that that’s an easy path to go down, the easy way. With political parties, that’s fantastic. That’s a nice way to do things, but I couldn’t be in a political party for that reason. I couldn’t be told what I’ve got to do, otherwise I might as well be a computer.
It’s a great point that you raise, to hold space for someone to have an opposing view and be respectful enough to listen to that. How does today’s society adopt more of that philosophy? It’s getting harder. The bottom line for me is that if we as a society decide that you cannot discuss issues, controversial issues, sometimes very difficult subjects, in a mature, sensible, logical way, without the fear of being told to shut up by means of legislation because someone will be offended, then I think our society is becoming more, you might say …well in some ways, communistic, with a small ‘c’.
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The other thing is the media, which feeds ‘populism’. If you know you’re going to get hammered through social media, if you know the media is going to put you down, if you know you’re going to be asked for an interview, as has sometimes happened with me, and then they ridicule your view, why bother? People get scared to stand up for what they believe in. Of course you should be able to put forward a point of view without insulting people. That’s the key. Some people would define insulting as having a different point of view. I’m saying, no, you should be able to have a different point of view, but it’s the manner in which you express that view that matters. You respect the other person, but you don’t agree with what they say. Not always easy today. What have your most challenging times taught you? And how has your faith given you strength? I took an oath in Parliament to do what I think is the best for Territorians. That’s one thing. I’m also a believer in the Holy Spirit. I don’t go and brag all about that, but I’ve always believed that he/she is there, and I’ll give you an example. It’s funny how things happen in your life. Many years ago, when euthanasia was being introduced into the Northern Territory, before I was in politics — I was in local government — we had a vigil outside Parliament the night it was being debated. We stood there and said prayers. The Bishop of Darwin and quite a few people were there, and they asked me to say something. Now I wasn’t ready to say something, but I’ll always remember to this day that whatever came out of my mouth wasn’t what I thought. Words came out of my mouth, and they sounded quite sensible, but I always felt there was somebody else speaking through me. When I can, I ask for help when I’m giving a difficult speech, or when I’m writing something up, because the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom. It might sound silly, but I might even ask for help before umpiring a game of footy to make the right decisions. Wisdom is definitely needed. Tell that to the spectators! I read “Proof of Heaven” by a bloke called Eban Alexander. I don’t know if you know about it. Yes, I know the one.
Independent Gerry Wood attends the first parliament of the year at the Northern Territory Parliament Building in Darwin, Northern Territory, 2019. It’s a fantastic book about a neurosurgeon who went into a coma for a week. He describes how he went up into this space … I give the book to any young person, and say, “Well, here’s a scientist who didn’t believe. He only believed in Christmas and Easter. He’s an Anglican, and he believes he came back from a major brain disease, which most people don’t survive. He came back to tell the tale.” That’s a book I read some years ago. It’s a wonderful book to read. When you stand up in Parliament, and you know there’s a big heap of people around you who don’t all support you, it’s difficult. At the end of the day, when you’re sitting there nearly by yourself, maybe one or two other people, and people cheer for what you think is just a terrible mistake, it is hard. You wonder where we are going as a society. Is this about populism? Is this the way people think today? Is it the right thing to do? The right thing to do is really the key to a lot of these issues. Integrating a healthy dose of humour has always been part of your Gerry Wood trademark. How has that worked for you over your 19 years in office? Well I started off a long time ago, before I stood for Parliament. I was President of our local council, which is like a Mayor, and part of Darwin Harbour was in our council area. The Government wanted to put up a methanol plant. A gas plant. This plant didn’t have to go near the water. So I did some work on how high the towers would be, and what it would look like in the middle of the harbour. I made a few public statements that this project was silly, that it was going to ruin the look of the harbour. When he heard me whinging about it, the NT Chief Minister got up in Parliament and said, “Gerry Wood is a failed and ill-informed chicken farmer.” So along came the election. People knew me as a chicken farmer, so I used the chicken
as part of my election campaign. The first chicken poster looked like Lord Nelson, because my electorate was the electorate of Nelson. I dressed up a chicken as Lord Nelson. It had one leg, one eye, and it walked like an admiral. The chicken won that election. The first lady who came to work for me was a cartoonist. She’s now quite a successful author. I thought to myself, “What am I going to use as my little motto and logo?” I said to her, “Can you draw me a picture of a chicken hatching?” You will have seen the chicken with a little bit of shell on its head. I wanted an insignia, like a coat of arms underneath the chicken. I thought, “It has to be in Latin if it’s going to be a motto. It’s got to sound pretty good.” I found out that Fr McDonald was still around. He used to be the Latin teacher at Chaddy. I sent him off what I wanted, and he sent me back about four or five written versions. Cessi gallinarum sed surgo, was the one I finally picked, which meant, “I was a failed chicken farmer, but have risen.” That then went on all my press releases. Five years of having a chicken on posters, instead of my photo, has won me five elections. The idea was to try and make politics a little less serious. A chicken was pretty good for that. It cheered people up. It represented the area where I lived. It was rural. Kids loved it. On my last day at Francis of Assisi at Humpty Doo, all the kids cut out that chicken, all around the corners, stuck them on icy pole sticks, and waved them to me as I went by. Now, that was a bit hard to stop the tears. You have been quoted saying, “If your feet move away from your community then you’ve got trouble”. What’s your advice to past and present students wanting to remain grounded and connected to their culture and communities? It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack up and go look somewhere else in the world for something to do. I’ve travelled, on my own generally, all over the world. I never believed I could do that. I mean, I’d never been overseas until I was fifty-one, but wherever I went I talked to the people on the ground. There are two ways of looking at that. One is from a local perspective. As a politician, you need to keep your feet on the ground. You need to know your community, and you need not get so highfalutin that you don’t understand those people. I know we’ve been
talking about serious subjects in politics, but the main reason I’ve enjoyed politics — and I put “enjoyment” in inverted commas as it’s not always enjoyment — is to help people locally, especially with all those issues (big or small) they come to your office for. Whether it’s signing letters, whether they just want to talk to someone, they’re lonely, (we get lonely people, especially men), whether they’re having trouble with a government department, or there’s something happening in their street, or this or that, they’re the issues to me that count the most. Other issues are important, but helping people on the ground is important. When I say, make sure you keep your feet on the ground, it’s more a personal thing to say. Make sure you don’t get big headed. Make sure you remember who you are representing and care for those people. Always have them in mind. You’ve got to keep your feet on the ground and work hard for people, especially if you feel there’s an injustice. My desk was in the front office, so people could walk in any time. What do you want your legacy to look like? Ah well, I haven’t died yet, ha. They are going to name the cricket oval after me, but I also said, “I’m not dead yet.” Local people know me for what I’ve done, others through the media. But twelve months down the track if you asked, “Do you remember such and such?” you’d be surprised how many people would say, “Who?” I don’t see myself as someone remembered for evermore. Look, I think, for me, it was just bringing the community together and standing up for them on issues that affected them. A lot of people, some I didn’t even know, said to me, “We don’t want you to go. We’d like you to stay.” I say, “Well, I’ve got to go. It’s come the time when I have to say goodbye.” I didn’t realise that people cared so much. It was humbling, and made it even harder to say goodbye. The other thing is that I hope I was a person who put the community first. I think people felt comfortable, from the point of view that they could come and see me. They knew me as a friendly, accepting person. I like meeting people. I like going to meetings of the garden club etc. I like sitting down with those people. I enjoy that. I was very much part of the community.
in certain things and stuck by those beliefs, regardless of whether people agreed with me or not. You can’t hide your light under a bushel. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a show off. Put it this way. For me it wasn’t about votes, it was about going out and doing the job. If people supported you, well that was good. If they didn’t support you, well that’s just life. Obviously, something must have been right. With the help of the hatched chicken, I won five elections as an Independent. I dare say it might have been more than just the chicken that got you through, [laughs]. The use of a chicken on my posters was fun, and it probably reflected something else I loved, theatre. I also love singing. In 2000 a group of theatre companies in Darwin got together to form a company and put on musicals. The first show for me was Les Misérables. I thought, “I wouldn’t mind getting a job in the chorus somewhere.” But after auditioning, to my surprise, I was given the role of Monsieur Thénardier, the Innkeeper, the Master of the House, one of the main characters. I was the butcher in Fiddler on the Roof, I was Harry the Horse in Guys and Dolls, and I was the butler in The Sound of Music. I did a couple of other plays, one or two serious ones, but mainly musicals. It was a wonderful time. You have a bit of talent there, too! Oh, I’m not sure, but we had eight performances of Les Misérables, which is big for Darwin, and they all drew standing ovations. We had a great producer, who was the Arts teacher at St Philip’s College in Alice Springs. He was wonderful. Yeah, that’s the other side of life that I enjoyed. I always say to kids at school assemblies when giving out awards, “If you want to get a natural high, get into theatre or get into sport. That’s the best kind of high.” Best wishes to you on this next life chapter, Gerry, and congratulations on a remarkable 19 years of leading the people of Nelson.
Visiting new nuclear power plant under construction in France
I think that’s very much what it’s about. If there’s anything, I suppose, that people will remember me by, it’s that they knew I believe 19
SUPPORTING STUDENTS AND FAMILIES Expert Advice As students adjust to their return to school following an extended period of remote learning, some may be feeling a sense of anxiety. In a conversation with Byron Chen (Salesian College Chadstone Dean of Students), wellbeing educator Dr Jodi Richardson equips us with an understanding of how to best support students experiencing anxiety. “I would start by normalising [those feelings of] anxiety. Talk to your kids about what they’re feeling. As parents, share with your kids your own thoughts and feelings about returning to your workplaces…to generate discussions about feelings of nervousness, anticipation and anxiety. Let kids know that it is understandable that they are feeling anxious. This alone will help them,” explains Jodi.
Dr Jodi Richardson Educator, author & professional speaker
“Equip them with a few strategies that they can use if they feel their anxiety build to an overwhelming point. Help them to identify that first port of call at school that they can go to if they are feeling anxious, such as a close friend or one of their teachers.” “Listening, empathising and validating
[their feelings] shows children that they are heard. It’s a natural thing to do, to say “Just calm down” and to tell someone all the reasons why there’s no need to worry, but if someone is worried, what they need to hear is ‘I see that this is really hard for you’.” “I would also encourage parents to carve out some time to manage their own stress. Exercise is a critical part of managing stress and anxiety. Manage your own stress with strategies that work for you, such as walking and talking with a friend. Find ways that help you release the pressure valve.” Watch our full ‘Understanding Anxiety: Building Family Relationships’ educational video via https://youtu.be/kbsw0YLtZhQ
While the unique challenge of remote learning has provided students with the opportunity to develop valuable independent study skills, some may benefit from guidance on navigating the online world. In our ‘Digital Journeys of Young People: Online Safety, Behaviour and Impacts’ educational video, Associate Professor Shanton Chang shares his advice on supporting our children to find a balance in the digital space. “There is incredible diversity in the ways in which people engage with technology. I think it’s important to recognise that everyone has different attention spans, preferences, ways of engaging with technology and study habits. It’s really important for each student to find the way [of engaging with technology] that works best for them. The sooner they figure this out, the greater their lives are going to be, in terms of helping them to balance time for relaxation, interaction, peer support and getting their work done. Some people like to work for six hours non-stop, and then not worry about it. Other people need to have short breaks. Parents can support students in determining what works best for them. Finding optimal engagement with 20
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technology is important,” acknowledges Shanton. On equipping parents with helpful resources, Shanton says, “We’re lucky in Australia because our eSafety commission is very well supported by research. eSafety.gov.au has some great information. The Foundation for the Youth of Australia (FYA) is another organisation that provides fantastic resources on the digital skills that are important and how we can better integrate technology into our lives.” To watch Mr Byron Chen’s full conversation with Associate Professor Shanton Chang, visit https://youtu.be/LGqw-CgwLQU
Associate Professor Shanton Chang Research and teaching academic at The School of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Tom Fagan Graduated in 1978 (Year 9)
Tom Fagan’s career as a landscaper has taken him all over Australia. In Western Australia, Tom worked in “extremely dangerous conditions”, landscaping the Home Valley Station. Tom credits the positive impact he has had on the lives of clients, and his rapport with Aboriginal culture, as what he most values. Looking back on your career as a landscaper of over three decades, what project are you most proud of? Projects where I have included the clients to the point that they have become part of the project, and it has positively changed their lives, would be the outcomes that I am most proud of. There have been some projects that have generated a lot of interest in the community and have been highlighted in glossy magazines. One in particular was the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show exhibition garden I created in 2002. It won Gold. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was my best garden, but it was one that many people could relate to. What aspect of your job provides you with the most fulfilment? I love to teach people trade skills that will help them through their lives and hopefully guide them to have an affinity with natural design. In Western Australia, you worked on
landscaping the Home Valley Station. Tell us about this project. It was a hard, laborious project in extremely dangerous conditions, with crocodiles. The work was not that fulfilling, but the opportunity to work alongside Aboriginal people was incredibly rewarding. I was lucky to be there on ‘Sorry Day’ and to share the day with members of the Stolen Generation. I was amazed at their ability to forgive what had happened. How has your Irish heritage guided you in relating to Aboriginal culture? I have assisted with other Aboriginal projects since Home Valley, and always feel a sense of belonging and understanding when I am around Aboriginal people. It’s not just me understanding them, but also being understood. I believe the Irish have an affinity with the Aboriginal people. Their worlds have been very similar. What is your advice to our students who may be considering a career in landscaping?
Find part-time work to explore this career path, even if it is mowing lawns on weekends. You will learn a basic work ethic to start with, and will find out if you are suited to this type of career. Then fall in love with the beauty of gardens and landscaping. Let your passion lead your pathway. Don’t choose the career that makes the most money. Choose the one that brings you the most joy. Money will come. You mentioned that you have fond memories of Br Joe Ellul, who is still a member of our Salesian community at Chadstone today. What were your most significant learnings from Br Joe? Brother Joe taught me music. He introduced me to Pink Floyd and taught me to deeply appreciate music. He was the Brother who knew how to tame the wild in us and to transform that energy into something creative. Thank you, Brother Joe. 21
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Professor Mark Dawson (Class of 1992)
Congratulations, Professor Mark Dawson (Class of 1992) Congratulations to past student Professor Mark Dawson (Class of 1992) on being awarded the prestigious Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year. Mark is the Peter MacCallum Centre’s Associate Director of Research Translation. Over the past decade he has made pioneering discoveries in the field of epigenetics, revolutionising the treatment of blood cancers. His research has laid the foundation for more than 30 clinical trials across more than 20 countries. Mark was recognised at the 2020 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science virtual ceremony, where he was acknowledged as a “pioneer in the field of epigenetics, and its regulation in human health and disease.” On receiving the award, Mark acknowledged, “Our scientific research aims to understand how cancers develop, how they perpetuate and how they evade the most effective therapies we currently have. Ultimately, my goal as a clinician-scientist is to develop novel drugs that improve the outcomes of patients with cancer.”
Lawrence Tann (Class of 2009) Founder of 2tor
What led to your decision to found 2tor? Our founding principle is, “If money were no objective, what would you be doing?” We believe that everyone should be able to find a sustainable way of living by doing what they love. During my time at Salesian, I had a circle of friends who would breakdance together. This hobby continued into my University studies, and after graduating I wanted to build something for the dance community, to allow dancers to be able to keep practising their craft whilst earning a living. This notion of sharing knowledge became our focus, which led to us creating the 2tor platform. What are your goals for your business? We want to grow a society where everyone is able to meaningfully share their knowledge and passions with one another, to further each other’s desire to learn. We help individual professionals who have spent years mastering their area of expertise to easily host and conduct private one on one tutorials with members of the public. Our goal is to connect the student who needs help with casual homework, the university graduate who requires assistance in obtaining a professional accreditation, or the mature aged student who is in the process of switching industries with a tutor or industry expert who can genuinely help them. What advice would you give to
GRIFFIN Summer 2020
students who may be interested in starting a business? Know that you are not alone. You can build a product, service or business with your friends and family. It’s important to form connections and friendships with people with whom you get along. When you and your friends work on something together, you have unconditional trust in each other, which is the most important and difficult quality to find. Today I am working with connections and friends I made when I attended Salesian College. Peter Sawan (Class of 2009) manages and operates School4Soccer. Michael Nguyen (Class of 2008) became 2tor’s technical cofounder. The people you sit next to during assembly or the person you walk past in school tomorrow may become a colleague, a friend or a business partner in the future. How do the values you learnt at Salesian influence your life today? The value that has influenced me the most is to do the little things extraordinarily well. The area where I apply this value on a daily basis is communication. During a conversation I ask questions when I do not fully comprehend something. I also repeat what the other person has told me, in my own words, to verify that I understood them. I keep everyone who is involved with a task or subject matter updated, no matter how trivial the piece of information may appear. I do all this because, in my experience, it is the little things in communication that make all the difference.
COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS 1.
Teachers Malwina and Lachlan Dwyer welcomed their first child, Oskar John Dwyer on 3 September 2020.
Teacher Sam Bentley and his partner Natalie welcomed their first child, Matilda Bentley on 21 September 2020.
Anthony ‘Keith’ Glenford Rapson Salesian College Chadstone was saddened to learn of the passing of Anthony ‘Keith’ Glenford Rapson on 13 July 2020, after a five year battle with Leukaemia. Keith worked at Salesian College Chadstone as the Chief VCAA exam supervisor and volunteered as a mock interviewer, supporting Year 10 students preparing for their future career pathways. Keith’s daughter and current Salesian teacher Sarah Roberts reflects, “Dad and I often spoke about how friendly and welcoming Salesian’s staff and students are.” Our thoughts and prayers are with Keith’s wife Kimberly, his children Sarah, Matthew (Class of 2001) and Daniel (Class of 2005) and grandchildren Edith, Ryan and Nathaniel during this difficult time. Rest in peace, Keith.
FORMER SALESIAN TEACHER BECOMES PUBLISHED AUTHOR Former Salesian College Chadstone teacher (1985 – 1997) Grace Nolan is releasing a series of three educational counting books for pre-school and early primary school aged children, entitled the ‘One to Ten and Back Again Series’. The series aims to help children learn the first steps in counting with an introduction to addition and subtraction. The first book in the series, ‘Ten Naughty Numbats’ is due to be released on 3 February 2021, with ‘Ten Bush Babies’ and ‘Ten Lively Lorikeets’ to be released in April 2021. The series has been endorsed by Australian Geographic and features illustrations of Australian flora and fauna. Find out more via www.gracenolanauthor.com
Edward (Ted) Perkins We pay tribute to past student Edward (Ted) Perkins, who passed away on 3 July 2020. During his time at the College, Ted (Class of 1978) was involved in sporting teams, was a Class Captain, a member of the College Committee and starred in the College Production. Inspired by his teacher Mr William Bunting, Ted became a draftsman and later ran a successful engineering company. “Ted was an amazing person. Everything he did was for someone else – his family, colleagues, employees and mates. Even in his battle over the past few years, it was never about him. He bravely kept going until the end, while maintaining his unique sense of humour. I will miss Ted forever, but will treasure the memories and the part of him that will always live on in me”, reflects Ted’s sister Mary Menz (Class of 1976). Our thoughts and prayers are with Ted’s wife Diane (Mazzeo, Class of 1978) and his three children Daniel, Joel and Amelia. Rest in peace, Ted.
2021 HALL OF FAME
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government advice, Reunions have been affected in 2020. Join us in 2021 as we combine 2020 and 2021 graduating year reunions.
SAVE THE DATE – FRIDAY 19 MARCH 2021
Is your graduating year celebrating: 5 years – Class of 2015 and 2016? 10 years – Class of 2010 and 2011? 20 years – Class of 2000 and 2001? 40 years – Class of 1980 and 1981? Join us on Saturday 13 November 2021 at our Past Pupil’s Reunion Day. Book via trybooking.com/BNACQ or contact us via email@example.com for more information. Join us for our Class of 2019 Reunion on Thursday 25 February 2021. Book via trybooking.com/BNAWQ Our Class of 2020 Reunion will be held on Thursday 4 November 2021. Book via trybooking.com/BNAWU
On Friday 19 March 2021 we will formally recognise and celebrate the contributions of Salesian College Chadstone alumni who have achieved significant success in their chosen fields of service, and who act as positive role models for current and future students.
BOOK YOUR TABLE Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government advice, the 2020 Hall of Fame did not run. Get together your Chaddy classmates and join us in 2021 as we formally recognise and celebrate the contributions of alumni who have achieved significant success in their chosen fields of service, and who act as positive role models for current and future students. Book via trybooking.com/BNABJ 23
As lockdown lifts and life transitions to a new COVID-19 normal, in our 2020 Summer Griffin we hear from longest-serving Independent Norther...
Published on Nov 30, 2020
As lockdown lifts and life transitions to a new COVID-19 normal, in our 2020 Summer Griffin we hear from longest-serving Independent Norther...