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Strength of the Week – Fairness

 “Fair go, mate. Fair shake of the sauce bottle. Fair crack of the whip.”

Some of these sayings might be familiar. They’re often associated with the stereotypical Australian.

The Department for Home Affairs affirms that “Australian society values respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual, freedom of religion, commitment to the rule of law, Parliamentary democracy, equality of men and women and a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good”. Our national anthem implores us to Advance Australia Fair!

Fairness as a character strength, is definitely valued by our culture. It is also a strength we aspire to, both singularly and in our community, where we wish to be known, valued and cared for, and all have equal opportunity to explore our curiosities!

Several years ago, I recall being held up in the traffic of protesters in the city. Whilst this was inconvenient in that moment, I felt grateful for the shawl of freedom that surrounds the country in which we live. It reminded me of a scene in one of my favourite films to teach Looking for Alibrandi– you might know the scene. Jacob Coote, a young man who is a little rough around the edges, speaks about his pride at living in a country where we can peacefully make our feelings about public policy known, without fearing the consequence of death. His speech sees the whole arena applaud thunderously, because they know it’s true. We are very lucky in so many ways.

Fairness is clearly very much a part of the Australian culture, but this doesn’t mean that everything is fair. It does, however, mean that we can find our voice and express an opinion when we feel it is not. We can, aspire to, and work towards making life fairer for everyone. It’s what we encourage in our young people as the leaders and learners of the world.

Our College Vision and Mission aspires to creating stronger fairness and belonging for all. Our Pastoral Curriculum works towards it. As a community that is completely invested in the flourishing of our young people, we are informed by a range of data- national, state and local, and work towards proactive strategies that will positively impact on the belonging of each member of our community. One of those spaces is the area of body image. We are aware that Australian young people describe body image as one of their top five personal concerns. We understand that having a positive body image helps our young people feel good about themselves and supports their wellbeing and consequently we seek to be proactive in our Pastoral Care programs which are supported by outstanding evidence-based approaches and presenters in this space. Our faith foundations tell us that we are all made in the image of God, and that each and every one of us is unique and matters, absolutely.

In my email to students and staff this week I invited them to think about how we can all develop stronger fairness. I encouraged these strategies:

  • Seeing things from the perspective of other people and appreciating their feelings or point of view.
  • Being aware of the upset that comparison can cause us and avoiding it.
  • Looking out for people or things we can help in some way and offering to help. The environment qualifies here too.. what can we do to help and safeguard it- maybe pick up any rubbish you see around you or join Eco Squad in their great work?
  • Checking our own thinking to see if we view other people or cultures stereotypically or based on gossip, rather than as unique people.
  • Avoiding gossip and thinking many times before we post or upload anything.  Are we creating a positive digital footprint?
  • Thinking about the mistakes we make and checking to see if we are taking responsibility and trying to use them as learning opportunities, rather than blaming others.
  • Thinking about other people’s feelings when we are speaking or acting, rather than just our own thoughts and needs.
  • Taking up an active role in the College or another social justice group.
  • Reading about an event in the world where human rights are threatened and looking for ways to promote social justice on the issue.  Charities Week just celebrated was a great opportunity to think, participate and act.
  • Reflecting on the life of St John Baptist de La Salle or reading a biography or watching a clip about others who are strong examples of social justice, such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa…and thinking about how these people can inspire us to lead with fairness.
  • Making sure that in all that we do, we are lifting people up around us, not pushing them down by our actions or our words.

This week we also celebrate De La Salle Day, a day that honours our founder in his quest for fairness in education, bringing us to where we are today!

Wishing you all a fair go this week! Enjoy the sunshine in all its forms during the break ahead.

Tonia Carfora, Year 7-9 Wellbeing Initiatives Leader