Home' Aurora : Aurora July 2013 Contents Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
to fast from
A recent Sydney Morning Herald article
claimed "Facebook is the living dead: the
most popular, least relevant social network
where teenagers and adults alike gather out
of fear of missing out on things that don't
even make them happy." ("Why Facebook
feels a lot like high school" by Amanda
Hess, SMH 28 May 2013).
Yet the same piece quoted statistics
indicating that "Ninety-four percent of US
teenagers maintain a Facebook profile", far
more than Tumblr, Twitter or Instagram.
It might seem so, but in fact, Facebook's
not compulsory, yet those who choose not
to sign up hardly make the headlines. In
light of regular stories about online bullying
and the prominent place of Facebook in
some demographics, Aurora is conducting
an experiment. Through our weekly
e-bulletin Diocesan Update, we have
sought 'Facebook families' willing to sign
up to 'fast from Facebook' for a fortnight.
One colleague asked if families had signed
up, perhaps feeling she should volunteer.
She was relieved to know that a number of
families had been in touch, saying, "I can't
think of anything worse than not being on
Facebook for two weeks!"
This month we introduce our generous --
and brave! -- Facebook families.
Gina Pringle and her daughter Hollie, 14
of Merewether are fasting from Facebook
for a fortnight, as are Marlene Tremain of
Edgeworth and her sister Alison Hutchison
of Palmerston (ACT) and Joyeth and Nikki
Dorado of Wallsend.
Gina admits, "Facebook is like my
newspaper, especially first thing in the
morning, so I will see how I go." Hollie, a
Year 8 student at St Pius X High School,
has mixed feelings. "I'm not sure I can do
the two weeks -- Facebook is how I know
what everyone's doing."
Joyeth and Nikki are from the Philippines
and Joyeth said, "We often use Facebook
to keep in touch with family back home."
Eight-year-old Matthew is too young for a
Facebook account but he enjoys seeing
photos of family and friends.
Next month we will be able to report on the
experience from the perspective of family
members of various ages and stages. Did
abstinence make their hearts grow fonder?
What did they miss? What did they gain?
Were there any surprises? Would they
recommend a 'Facebook fast' to others
who may be concerned by the impact of
social media on their lives?
After all, as Gina Pringle said, "It's only
To sign up to receive "Diocesan
Update", the diocese's weekly e-bulletin,
please visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/
Speaking to Indigenous elders,
representatives of most diocesan schools,
personnel from the Catholic Schools Office,
clergy and religious, and members of the
wider community, Director of Schools
Ray Collins invoked his experience as a
primary student of the 1950s and '60s. He
clearly remembered learning about the 'first
settlement' of Australia, a mere 225 years
ago. He recalled images of "Bennelong,
dressed in European garb...of Wylie, the
faithful guide who led John Eyre across the
Great Australian Bight, of Jacky Jacky who
served the explorer Edmund Kennedy".
Mr Collins was speaking at the colourful
ceremony to launch the Catholic Diocese
of Maitland-Newcastle's revised Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy
at the Hunter Wetlands Centre. The policy
was developed by a committee of the
Catholic Schools Office (CSO) using a
framework issued by the Government as
part of its 'Closing the Gap' initiative and
will now be adapted for implementation by
individual school communities.
Mr Collins continued, "The picture was of
a relationship where the Aboriginal people
were the servants, the helpers of the
Europeans, a subservient and amicable
relationship. It wasn't until much later...that
I read about the Myall Creek Massacre...
and wondered why my education was so
focused on the subservient relationship of
the Aboriginal to the white man and not on
the real history."
Of necessity, a policy must honour the
truths of the past, uncomfortable as that
may be, in order to herald a brighter future.
Bishop Bill Wright has written, "Reading this
Policy has been instructive in that it charts
the development of values and principles
relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Nowadays, it is freely acknowledged that
Indigenous students and their families'
experience of schooling may be different
but it is no less significant than that of
their non-Indigenous peers. Equally, a rich
educational experience must encompass
an understanding of the country's long
history, not only the last 225 years.
The CSO policy acknowledges the words
of Pope John Paul II during his visit to
Alice Springs in 1986. His address on that
occasion is celebrated for its acuity, coming
more than twenty years before the national
Apology in 2008. Pope John Paul said,
For thousands of years this culture of yours
was free to grow without interference by
people from other places. You lived your
lives in spiritual closeness to the land,
with its animals, birds, fishes, waterholes,
rivers, hills and mountains. Through your
closeness to the land you touched the
sacredness of the man's [sic] relationship
with God, for the land was proof of a power
in life greater than yourselves. You did not
spoil the land, use it up, exhaust it, and then
walk away from it. You realised that your
land was related to the source of life.
The policy will be readily implemented in
Catholic schools as it dovetails beautifully
with Religious Education programs, which
have long acknowledged the centrality of
the land to an Indigenous understanding
of self. Singer/songwriter Archie Roach is
Your story is not just your story but
everyone's story...It is connected through
the years...and from the oldest to the
youngest and from the seen and the
unseen....We want to feel not just loved
by the country we endear but we want
to endear all people to the land and how
much we love the land and those spirits
that live within.
That's a long way from Bennelong and
To read the policy in full and to see
photo gallery, please visit www.
Gina (left) and Hollie Pringle: together but elsewhere...
(far left) Teacher Tammy Wright (back,
l-r) students Ruby-Rose Bethan,
Monica Howlett (front, l-r) Gabrielle
Rigg, Megan Johnson and Ivania
Coluccio of St Mary's High School
Gateshead participated in the launch
of the policy.
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
A long way from Bennelong and Jacky Jacky
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