Over the past two weeks, we have had external presenters discuss safety and wellbeing matters with some of our Senior School students. Australia’s leading presenter on Drugs and Alcohol, Paul Dillon, spent the day talking with Year 10, 11 and 12 students on matters relating to how they can keep themselves safe, and strategies to make informed decisions. One of the key messages that he gave was that those students who are not consuming alcohol or involved with illicit drugs are in the majority, contrary to the impression that is often given in the media. I believe this gives students the support to continue to say no when they find themselves in situations where they are required to make such decisions.
I asked Paul to come to Westminster about 10 years ago and I am confident that he has had an impact on the attitudes of our students. The Year 12 session was after lunch and all the students were seated in the Drama Theatre before Paul entered, and welcomed him with a round of applause – something he has not had before at any school he has previously visited.
Paul spoke to staff after school to update them on the latest trends, and then to parents to provide them with information around these matters and how they can support their children to make the appropriate decisions. I would encourage all parents to access his website to find information relating to alcohol, drugs and adolescents.
The Metropolitan Fire Service came to present their Road Awareness Program to the Year 11 students. Like Paul, Fire Officer Barnaby French focused on making the correct decisions when on or near roads, and to keep safe and also to encourage others to take the right action. With the use of video, recount of actual crashes and a person directly impacted by a car crash, I am sure the students are better prepared to act in a safe manner on the roads. This year Kym Inglis spoke to the students about how his life changed when his wife, two daughters and one of their friends were in a car that collided with another vehicle and, tragically, no one survived. His honest account of what happened that day and what he had to go through and how it still impacts on him today I am sure encouraged students and staff present to reflect on their driving habits. Using or being distracted by phones and other mobile technology while driving or crossing roads is becoming a major cause of deaths and serious injury.
The common message from both Paul and Barnaby is that we all have a choice as to what decisions we make but often we do not have a choice as to the consequences when things go wrong.
Highly acclaimed cybersafety presenter Susan McLean will be presenting both parent and student seminars. The staff and parent seminars are on Monday 17 June and student seminars will be held on Tuesday 18 June.
I would encourage all parents to attend the evening presentation to be better equipped in supporting your children to act in a safe and appropriate manner when using communication technology. It will also help to have conversations at home after the students have had their presentations the day after the evening session. Parents will have received an email inviting them to register their attendance for the seminar, with a link to the RSVP site.
This is an extract from Susan's website, CyberSafety Solutions:
‘Kids today have access to and are accessible by many millions of people worldwide via the vast array of websites, applications and online-games. The unprecedented amount of personal information available on these sites makes them a perfect place for people who would happily identify their victims and gain their trust. Other identified dangers include exposure to inappropriate content, cyber bullying and harassment, exchange of inappropriate images and identity theft. Teens are often not aware that their words and or photos, which may have been intended for a small audience, sometimes find their way to a larger one, often with both the unexpected and undesirable consequences.’
I encourage parents to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the digital world and understand the latest trends on how to keep your children safe. Please RSVP for this event by Friday 14 June.
Head of Senior School