Raising the BARR – Week ending 15 December 2017

Courage and Tragedy brings down Institutional Abuse

As we head toward Christmas, a particularly holy time in the Christian calendar, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is winding up.  I am sure that we have all been shocked, saddened and left in despair at some of the stories that have finally come to light.  Poor helpless children, for decades, abused by the very people, in institutions, that should have been there to care for them and to protect them.  But as we now know, it was the monsters themselves that were trusted with the children, and those monsters imposed unspeakable harm on the innocent and the young.

This Christmas, take some time to reflect on the lives that were destroyed and lost.  It wasn’t just the victims; it was also their families and loved ones who have spent their entire lives wondering what they should have done differently, living a life of internal torment.  Including the affected victims, families and other loved ones, there are tens of thousands of people affected.  But first and foremost, so many of the victims have been unable to ever recover and build a fruitful life full of trust, love and hope.  So many of the victims have taken their own lives, by their hand or by drug and substance abuse and they have not lived to see this momentous Royal Commission.  We must never let anything like this happen again.

Teachers and their Endless Volunteering

Quite possibly, most people would not realise that a school teacher gets no extra pay or reward (other than satisfaction) for taking on extra duties that are the fabric of our schools.  As I sat through a number of wonderful school presentations over recent weeks, I was left to wonder about how many millions, yes millions, of hours school teachers donate to their students.  A school teacher that takes a cricket team or netball team or some other sporting group, gets no extra pay – instead they get a whole bunch of additional responsibility and paperwork and many hours preparing for the day and many hours spent catching up on the missed teaching day.  It is far far far easier to not take the team.  Ditto a school teacher that prepares a school dance ensemble, or a school production or a school choir or a school musical group.  Ditto a school teacher that takes away a school excursion or goes on a school camp.  Ditto a school teacher that leads the debating team or runs art festivals.

All of the extra-curricular (not normal classroom work) activities that happen in our schools happens because school teachers donate their time and emotional energy – they do not get paid for this work.  If you have been involved with a school recently, think about what that school spirit would be like if there were no school excursions, or camps, or choir, or musical group or sporting teams.  Think about how less rounded our students would be if they were not exposed to a life that is much bigger than the classroom.  And think about how many of our life pursuits, hobbies and interests are sparked not by what happens in the classroom, but rather by what happens in the rest of our life.  It is our generous and energetic school teachers that make it all happen.  And quite frankly, if they withdrew their generosity, and worked only to the letter of their job requirement and what they get paid for, the Education system would fall over.  Hoorah to our teachers and the school support staff in every school!