Headmaster's Weekly Address


I rarely miss a Heyington Assembly. Indeed, I can say I really enjoy Assembly at Heyington or Glendalough and Forum at Waterford. To see boys honoured, to listen to musical talent, to hear from student speakers and reporters, tells me so much about our College. Last Monday, while I was meeting with the Executive of EREA and fellow school leaders in the McCarthy Building, Mr Jones addressed Heyington Assembly in my place. At the trains, boys and staff told me of his fine words, expertly delivered. Mr Jones’ address appears below.

Enjoy the long weekend!

From the Director of Studies

Today is International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day has been celebrated in one form or another since 1911. For us in Australia, it is difficult to think that gender inequality might even exist. There remains in this country, however – our country that professes to be so equitable and inclusive – a national gender pay-gap of just over 15%, an under-representation of women in CEO positions, an under-representation of women in cabinet positions in the government, and a disproportionate number of women who are promoted in roles where men and women apply for the same roles in the workforce.

Gloria Steinem, the world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained that, “the story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to any one organisation, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."

Perhaps more significant than equality of pay for females or the roles women might be successful in earning in employment, is the rights of women in Australia and, more especially, across the world, that must be remedied. In Iran last year, females who removed their traditional hijabs, protesting their being banned from attending soccer matches, were jailed. We know that women and girls around the world are still married as children or trafficked into forced labour and sex slavery. They are refused access to education and political participation, and some are trapped in conflicts where rape is perpetrated as a weapon of war. In many parts of our world, deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are needlessly high, and women are prevented from making deeply personal choices in their private lives. How, in 2018, is it still the case that these atrocities and inequities continue to plague the global world of which we are all a part?

Women touch our lives daily: our mothers, our, grandmothers, our sisters, our wives, our girlfriends, our aunts and our cousins, all help to shape our identities and our values, attitudes and beliefs about the world. It is unimaginable to think that the women we know and love might be deprived of the human decencies and the human rights such as those that exist in other parts of the planet. I suppose, notwithstanding the gender inequalities that we do see around us in Australia, we take so much for granted in our relatively-egalitarian country. But, we ought never to be complacent – and we ought never to dismiss the plight of those women who live in countries and under regimes where injustices run rife, as being someone else’s problem or being too far from home. In 2018, we are a global community: the challenges that face women on the other side of the globe are our challenges, just as closing the gender pay-gap in Australia is our challenge to acknowledge and to rectify. Remember what Gloria Steinem said: it is a collective effort.

One of the most effective ways of making improvements to our world is through education. What a privileged position in which we find ourselves at a school such as this one! Our education gives us, not just the ability, but the responsibility, to effect change for the better. At our Academic Assembly two Mondays ago, we saw from, and heard of, the remarkable ways in which our Old Boys have worked to make the lives of the downtrodden fairer and better. It would be wonderful to think, when our current St Kevin’s fellows are leading our world not too far from now, that they will be part of a push to see global women’s equality and human rights in a far better place than it is in the present day. In the boys’ university studies, they might consider – as part of whatever degrees they are hoping to secure – gender studies, women’s development and human rights in their courses of study. In the fields of education, law, health and medicine, the arts, politics and the sciences, there is always the possibility of branching out into a range of ethical areas of study that will help to influence governments and decision-makers so that the disadvantaged can be lifted up, and valued as worthwhile members of our global community. When our young men are at university, or once they have become active members of the workforce, what part will they play in ensuring that women will never more be forced to suffer the dishonour and ignominy of torture, rape, slavery and other barbarities we see all-too-often in the current day?

At St Kevin’s, we are, all of us, extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such exceptional examples of womanhood. Our place would be all the poorer without the women with whom we interact on a daily basis. They are excellent teachers; they are excellent people; and, they are excellent models of strength and dedication for us all to follow and from whom we can all learn so much. I cannot imagine working in an all-boys’ school where there were fewer women on staff, or where there were fewer women in such important roles of influence, as there currently are.

Without wishing to diminish the significance of International Women’s Day, in my view, every day should be international women’s day. Certainly, the United Nations Women’s Organisation’s 2018 campaign will be running for the whole year – as it should – to promote women’s equality and to transform women’s lives around the world. On behalf of the men and the boys at St Kevin’s College, I would like to say thank-you to all of the women who work at our school. Let’s join with all of our female counterparts in celebrating International Women’s Day today and to remember the women who are integral to all of our lives and who help to make us better men because of who they are.

Kind regards

Stephen Russell

Foundation Annual Dinner

27 March 2018

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Teams of the Century Dinner

18 April 2018

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