Schools becoming part of our story

More schools are engaging with us to learn more about family violence and the link with homelessness, as well as to talk about respectful relationships, gender equality. In the first term of 2016, we have been speaking with students from many different year levels and schools, several established by the Sisters of Mercy.

According to Kaillee Dyke, community engagement officer, there has been a noticeable increase in the willingness of schools to broaden the student bodies’ understanding of sometimes confronting and complex issues.

“Many schools are using our awareness raising discussions as a way to raise funds for our work, using many different tactics including pyjama days, sporting and cultural events,” Kaillee said.

“The home groups are known as McAuley House , after Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, and some have chosen to support McAuley House, one of our services. McAuley House, which provides medium term accommodation, meals and intensive and individualised case management support to women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.”

In recent weeks McAuley staff has spoken at St Aloysius in North Melbourne, Padua College in Mornington, Mercy College Coburg (students pictured with Kaillee), Loyola College in Watsonia, Carey Baptist Grammar School in Kew, Melbourne Girls Grammar in South Yarra, among others.

“One of the events was Padua College’s retreat in Phillip Island where the students broke up into separate groups to brainstorm how they will raise funds for McAuley and awareness around family violence and homelessness. A female and male student offered to act as mentors for younger students and to run a lunch time seminar around discussing family violence.

Several of the schools are also running a High Tea in the first half of the year to support our organisation. MacRobertson Girls' High School will be promoting McAuley at a stall during a lunch time event on May 6 to get students involved with volunteering as well as raising awareness, while Carey Baptist Grammar junior school students will hold a stall in the lead up to Mother’s Day.

“The enthusiasm to learn more is infectious, and the deep questioning and reflection while we speak and engage with students is encouraging. The appetite to change attitudes and behaviour is evident,” Kaillee said.

Students and teachers are encouraged to email and book a speaking engagement and to register their high tea on