By Amanda Murthy
Parents from across Western Australia have last month gathered for the annual Parents and Friends Federation WA (PFFWA) State Conference.
Commencing with an awards ceremony on Friday 25 May at Crown Perth, the conference continued on Saturday 26 May at St Brigid’s College, Lesmurdie.
The Awards of Excellence in Building Positive Catholic School Communities 2018 look at those within WA school communities, who, through their hard work and commitment, demonstrate positive outcomes for students, families and the wider school community.
Five awards were presented to parents and school principals during the awards ceremony, in the categories of Parent Group, Individual Parents, Parish and Principal.
More than 20 nominations were received, and the winners included;
- Parent Group – Narrogin’s St Matthew’s School P&F;
- Parent – Claire Bevan from Derby Parish, Holy Rosary Church;
- Parish – Mandurah Parish, Our Lady of Assumption Church and
- Principal – Coby Rhatigan from St Mary’s College, Broome.
Director of Community Relations Annamaria Cream from St Brigid’s College in Lesmurdie also won an award in the added Special Award category.
The next day, conference attendees sat through a packed day of events.
Senior Researcher from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Dr Tim Moore headed a talk on the subject, ‘The role and nature of relationships and how this relates to authentic engagement’.
In his talk, Dr Moore focused on parental engagement at a personal level, and explored what such relationships involve, as well as what is known about the nature of effective relationship-based partnerships.
Channel 9 parenting expert, Claire Orange also led the panel discussion on ‘Bullying – what we need to know and what we need to do’.
Providing those present with practical advice and tools in relation to combating the challenges of when confronted with the issue of bullying, Ms Orange also touched on the topic of cyber safety and what parents can do to open up the channels of communications with their children to help them tackle the issues faced.
Panel members included parent Joe Monterosso, principal Helen O Toole, Drug Education Consultant from School Drugs Education and Road Awareness (SDERA) Susanne Lines, Catholic Schools Network Social Worker Christine Pittman and two student representatives from St Brigid’s College.
The panel members were presented with scenarios around face-to-face bullying and cyber bullying, and then asked to contribute their opinions on each scenario.
Study skills provider Elevate Education were also present at the conference to share practical tips for parents to support good homework or study at home.
PFFWA Executive Director Siobhan Allen told The eRecord that the conference theme ‘We’re all in this together’ was chosen to reflect the shared role that parents, teachers, students and the church have in bringing about positive outcomes in Catholic Education.
Ms Allen said she felt encouraged by the discussions and events that took place.
“The talk by Dr Moore was insightful, and demonstrated how true and authentic relationships actually have a very real impact on the brain and behaviour,” she said.
“It was also an eye-opener to have a panel of everyday people speak about bullying from various perspectives.
“It was particularly helpful to have a principal speak from the viewpoint of the school and to share the ways schools try to address bullying, both for the bully and the bullied.
“It was interesting to hear how the response and behaviour of parents plays a role in the overall impact, either in modelling positive behaviour to children or in the way parents deal with difficult situations,” she added.
Ms Allen added that one of the events that stood out for her was when the students revealed that they would not necessarily speak to a parent directly if they were being bullied, which is something that all parents either hope or assume would be the case – although the students did mention they would approach an alternative person if they need advice.
“The students gave the example that an older sister would be more understanding and less quick to jump in and deal with the issue in a way that might enflame the situation or embarrass the person involved.
“Therefore, I thought that this was a great lesson, and indicates that parents should not only continue to build a stronger relationship with their kids, but also perhaps encourage their children to identify other appropriate and trusted adults to raise issues with if they don’t feel they can speak to their own parents.”