Spotlight On: Girls for Girls

20 November 2018

This article first appeared in Queenwood News Weekly 16 November 2018.

One of the greatest gifts we give our children is the ability to be empathetic towards others. The first step to creating a more harmonious world is to practise empathy and to connect with the beauty, challenges and agency that create another person’s story. Teaching empathy is challenging. It requires our students to acknowledge that both privilege and discrimination exist. This is particularly confronting within our own country. As a school, the most effective way to teach empathy is to develop sustainable relationships with other communities in our nation. This helps us to practise empathy and allow creative solutions to evolve and service opportunities to grow naturally.

Our ongoing relationship with Macleay Vocational College (MVC) – also known as our Girls for Girls program - allows the MVC and Queenwood communities to connect, creating a mutual framework for learning about different world-views organically. Through our Year 11 trips to MVC and regular visits to Queenwood by the members of the MVC community, the trust, connections and relationships have deepened. MVC caters for some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged students in Australia and each year we ask the Principal, Mark Morrison (whom the Queenwood Year 11 girls describe as an “Absolute Legend”) how we might best help the community. Mr Morrison is deeply connected with the Aboriginal groups in the Dunghutti nation (Kempsey) and consults with the Elders in his community about how we can best support their vision for their community.

Click here to hear Mr Morrison explain how Queenwood can support his students in 2019.

What is our Girls for Girls focus for this year?

At our Senior School Assembly this week, Mr Morrison spoke to the girls about MVC and the specific needs of the community. As a result, this year our Girls for Girls Fundraiser will focus on a key barrier to educational equality. This is the problem: at Queenwood, a girl who has learning difficulties will be assessed by a professional – usually an educational psychologist – and if she has a recognised disability, supportive measures will be put in place which ensure that she can make the most of her schooling. This is a routine process for girls who need it. At MVC, however, students can’t afford to pay for a professional assessment. Yet without it, learning is compromised because teachers can’t fully understand their needs and, even worse, they can’t prove to the government that the disability exists. So not only does the student miss out on the necessary learning support, the College itself misses out on tens of thousands of dollars of government funding for students with disabilities. In light of the recent call for needs-based funding for schools, this is a shocking administrative roadblock for students who have some of the greatest needs.

We are therefore aiming to raise funds for an Educational Psychologist for a period of three months to work intensively at MVC, assessing students and completing the appropriate testing. The first benefit is that teachers can adjust their teaching to meet the needs of their students; but even more significantly, it will unlock access to government funding for years to come for students with specific needs.

What is the goal?

Our goal is to raise $30,000 to fund an educational psychologist at MVC for three months. Some generous Queenwood parents have agreed to match every dollar raised to a maximum of $15,000. Thanks to these committed partners, we will reach our goal if we can raise $30 from each Senior Student. Not only will every dollar be doubled through funds-matching, it will then be multiplied many times over as it unlocks government funding for the students of MVC for the remainder of their schooling. In this way, every donation will make a real impact.

We have set an ambitious goal because we believe in the importance of this project. It highlights so clearly the difference between the typical school experiences of our own girls and those of their peers only a few hours’ drive away. We hope the girls will support this cause, especially if we can encourage them to make this donation from their own savings or earnings.

How can we help?

We ask members of the Queenwood community and beyond to give generously to support this Girls for Girls campaign. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made here.

The Senior School girls will also have a fundraising event on Friday, 23 November. They can purchase tickets here for the events in which they would like to be involved. The options include wearing mufti, having a pizza lunch and watching or participating in a Just Dance competition at lunch with the teachers. 

Alongside the Girls for Girls fundraiser, we are once again collecting Christmas gifts from Queenwood families for the children in the MVC community. The Junior School will take the lead on collecting Christmas gifts and we encourage you to talk with your daughters about the experiences of other children who may never have received a gift before. 

Whether or not you can support this campaign financially, we strongly encourage you to use this opportunity to open a discussion on why we are raising money for MVC so your daughters can continue to develop an understanding and empathy for others. Being invited into another person’s world is one of the most precious gifts we can receive. Our partnership with MVC is deeply valued and one we are delighted to see growing each year. I would also like take this opportunity to thank the many parents who contact us throughout the year offering to help MVC directly with specific needs or services they can provide. Thank you for your generous spirit.

Mrs Paola Tamberlin
Indigenous Project Coordinator