Month: August 2014

Mindfulness at Wirreanda


Mindfulness at Wirreanda

We are extremely lucky and excited to be part of a research and trial in Mindfulness for year 8 students at Wirreanda Secondary School.
Catherine Johnson is a qualified mindfulness teacher, as well as being a physiotherapist with an honours degree in psychology and currently undertaking a psychology research PHD.

What is mindfulness? It is a scientific approach to increase mental resilience and happiness. Research over the past 30 years show benefits of mindfulness programmes for preventing and managing stress, anxiety, depression and chronic pain.

Catherine is facilitating a course with a group of year 8 students during Tuesday Pastoral Care time this term. Delivery involves short talks, discussion, games and short mindfulness practices, with encouragement to practice these skills at home. Mindfulness practice includes:
– Learning to be still and focus on breathing (a way to train attention and to self calm)
– Scanning different parts of the body, and learning how the body feels with emotions under stress.
– Performing every day activities ‘mindfully’ (e.g., really noticing smells, tastes and textures of eating, taking notice of sensations , breathing and sounds when walking) so we can savour the positive and notice unpleasant experiences in life with a sense of curiosity, rather than ‘avoiding’ behaviour.

Last week, our lesson focused on Mindfulness Eating. We paid attention to our thoughts, emotions and body sensations when eating certain foods. These included chocolate, lemon and chilli. It was a great experience, really focusing on how certain food smells, it’s texture and how we respond to it.

This week, our lesson reviewed what we have already learnt, and how we can transfer these skills to Mindfulness Walking.








We look forward to the next few weeks and continuing to share our learning and it’s benefits.

Kadri Auvaart – Counsellor/ Community Connections


Wear it Purple Day 2014

 photo 4WP15WP8

Wear It Purple is a youth-led organization that exists to support and empower rainbow (i.e. sexuality and gender diverse) young people. We are young people, working for young people.

Wear it Purple believes that every young person is unique, important and worthy of love. We believe no one should be subject to bullying, belittlement or invalidation: whoever you are.

We are working toward a world in which every young person can thrive; irrelevant of sexuality or gender identity. Our aim is for rainbow young people to be safe, supported and empowered in each of their environments.

photo 1photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 WP2 WP3 WP4 WP6 WP7  WP9 WP10 WP11WP12

A HUGE thank you to everyone who donated cupcakes , muffins , money , their time and most of all for supporting Wirreanda Wellbeing and our vision of Tolerance .

Thank you to Scott  , Em Parker , Student Voice , School Captains and Vice Captains  for assisting with badges and the organisation of today  .

I cannot thank Em , Dj Menzies and Camilla enough for all they have done with SV , their selfless efforts are appreciated .

I am proud to be part of such a beautiful community that enables each individual to be unique and valued .


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ATSI Education Update

Training and Work providers

We have been supported by various training and work providers to engage students in Workready programs run at WSS, and meet with various businesses, and traineeship / apprenticeship brokers. As a result we have 2 students successfully on track to start the traineeship’s.

Tutoring These last few weeks, we have been really intensely working on numeracy and literacy skills with all of junior students, including intensive programs that focus on using everyday life skills, games, and students interests to boost crucial skills. We can already see the benefits of this as we are receiving reports from teachers that students grades are improving. Congratulations to our tutors, staff, and particularly our students for all your hard work!

Visit from Ricardo DaSilva

O the 22 August we were lucky enough to be visited by Ricardo DaSilva ex Adelaide United soccer player and current captain for Adelaide West. Ricardo ran a number of sessions with both our peer support and ATSI students. Our students thoroughly enjoyed the experience as Ricardo taught them about basic soccer skills but also teamwork and leadership in a sport setting. Also, the peer support students will be able to take some of the skills they have learned, and activities they were shown, and apply them to the fantastic year 8 peer support program they are running.

Young women’s leadership conference

Two of the aboriginal students, Cara Rankine & Mel Hirschausen were awarded a place to take part in the 2014 National Young Women’s Leadership Conference held on Friday 22/8. There were international guest speakers, group work, mentoring and so much more, which will continue to assist these young women to become outstanding young leaders of both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people in our community

Deadly Start to High School

On 22 August Wirreanda secondary school held the Deadly Start to High School program. We were visited by 30 year 7 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander students from Southern Primary Schools. All involved had an amazing day as the students got a taste of high school, the mentors directed and guided the younger students, and staff were able to facilitate so all could share experiences.
The day started with some fun games and sports which then lead into some ‘get to know you’ games where students shared information about themselves and practiced public speaking. Following this we held a Kaurna language session where students learned slot about Kaurna culture. One fact is that in Kaurna culture each person in the community is so incredibly important which is shown in the Language there are different words for talking to one, two or three or more people:

 Nina marni means hello, how are you to one person
Niwa marni means hello, how are you to two person
naa marni means hello, how are you to three or more people
Students also meet new friends as a created a life-size meyunna or person, labelled with all the names of the body parts, and important Kaurna words and phrases.

Following this and students had a taste of our classes. Jamie Maneiro ran a fantastic session where students drew a self-portrait and traced over different surfaces and textures in our local environment to construct their portrait. Following this students were able to take part in the amazing and breathtaking Science Expo that was held in the learning hub. Primary school students held their breath as they tried chocolate covered crickets and mealworms while also learning about the foods we will be eating in the future, and just what goes into the foods we eat now.
Overall, all students had so much fun, while they explored their identity, observed how excited high school can be, and learnt so much. But don’t take our word for it, here is some Feedback from year 7 students.
“Crickets don’t actually taste that bad”
“This school is amazing, I want to come here now”
“I’m going into teach my little sister some Aboriginal words”
“Art was so cool”

Finally we would like to say, thank you to the primary students who attended, and the amazing staff who welcomed the year 7 students. Congratulations to the mentors who showed outstanding leadership skills as they supported the younger students. And we hope that all year 7’s had just as much of an amazing time as we did.


Welcome Dr Adey Burchard to the Wirreanda Learner Wellbeing Centre

Dr Addey

 We are excited to announce that Doctor Adrienne Burchard  MBBS, FRACGP, MPH, joins the Wirreanda Learner Wellbeing Centre .GP services will now be available on Wednesdays . All services are available to students and all staff .Please refer any paperwork and appointments to Christine Williams at the reception area of the LWC . Welcome Dr Adey !!!!

WSS – Part of Safe Schools Coalition Australia

How to respond to “That’s so gay” …

Change is coming.

It’s coming to schools. It’s coming to classrooms. It’s coming to school yards. And with a whole school approach, it will have a lasting effect on our community. Wirreanda is proud to be part of the Safe Schools Coalition and to further our community connections with SHINE SA . Our involvement links with our PERMA Wellbeing vision and site improvement plan but , most importantly ,  it supports young people who want to create positive change in our school.

Stand Out

Safe School poster

Safe School coalition

Omg Queer

OMG Friends guide

As the first national coalition dedicated to making schools safer and more inclusive for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse young people, we are creating change to ensure that every student and every teacher in every school has access to a safe and inclusive learning environment.

Safe Schools Coalition Australia builds on the highly successful Safe Schools Coalition Victoria model (funded by the Victorian Government) at Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, a program that has already worked with thousands of school staff and students to challenge homophobia and transphobia and positively support gender diversity and sexual diversity.

Now, nationally convened by FYA and federally funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, the coalition is going Australia-wide. SHINE SA is the provider of the Safe Schools Coalition in South Australia.

The vision of the nationally endorsed National Safe Schools Framework is to build safe school communities where diversity is valued, the risk from all types of harm is minimised and all members of the community feel respected, included and supported.

Restorative Practices

Wirreanda Secondary  School is moving towards implementing restorative practices within the school community. Restorative practices are designed to address a range of opportunities and needs in emphasising prevention and a whole school approach, while embracing the right blend of high control and support.

During 2014 all staff will gain an understanding of the philosophy and framework of restorative practices. Restorative processes create opportunities for those involved in a conflict to work together to understand, clarify and resolve the situation and work together towards repairing the harm caused. It encourages students to develop a sense of accountability and personal responsibility for their own behaviour.

At Wirreanda  we will aim to develop:

  • Quality relationships that consistently demonstrate behaviour that reflects the school values
  • The skilling of the school community in the successful resolution of conflict
  • The prevention of conflict and harm to relationships within the school community
  • Restorative skills in the way we interact with young people so as to use teachable moments to enhance

Wirreanda staff in term 2 underwent training in Restorative Practices . Staff have encouraged students to take full responsibility for their actions, both positive and negative. This is implemented via a Restorative Practices approach, including daily activities based on sharing, and restorative practices meetings to resolves student issues. Staff have effectively complimented this with group activities, a supportive classroom culture, clear expectations, and linking students with positive role models, to nurture student’s empathy and respect for others.Our aim is to provide students with the building blocks needed to exhibit initiative, self-esteem, resilience, resourcefulness, higher-order thinking and creativity while learning . 

The Wirreanda Secondary School Restorative Practice Working Party has chosen to develop our school community’s understanding of restorative language, restorative questioning & using affective statements as a focus for terms 3 & 4. As part of this focus, the working party has chosen posters which we will see in every classroom & common areas throughout the school. The aim of this strategy is to serve as a visual reminder to both staff and students of the importance of constantly reflecting and reviewing our practice to embed a restorative culture within WSS.

Finally – I’d like to thank the working party for their efforts, time and contributions thus far. I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to be part of a team of committed and highly skilled professionals, whose knowledge and passion for education is awe-inspiring.

Restorative Practice questions



Affective Statements

Description & Purpose:

Affective Statements:

  • Are central to all of the more formal restorative practices.
  • Are personal expressions of feeling in response to specific positive or negative behaviours of others.
  • Provide feedback on the impact and scope of intended or unintended harm resulting from negative behaviours.
  • Provide information that can be used to restore a good feeling between people when harm has been done to their relationship.
  • Humanize the person making them, immediately changing the dynamic between the people involved. This sharing of emotions or “getting real” is what makes it possible to improve relationships in a school community.
  • Have a significant and cumulative impact in a school community.

Characteristics of High Quality Affective Statements:

  • Are “I” statements that express a feeling.
  • Make people aware of either the positive or negative impact of their behaviour.
  • Provide a precise description of a student’s behaviours and the specific impact of those behaviours.
  • Do NOT protect students from the consequences of their behaviour.
  • Are strategically delivered in a time frame, place and manner most likely to maximize impact.
  • Are delivered in a personalized manner directly to the student who impacted others.
  • Focus on behaviour, not on the intrinsic worth of the person (separates the deed from the doer).
  • Are respectful in tone.
  • Encourage students to express feelings.

Emily Parker

Student Counsellor

Wirreanda Secondary School

Wear It Purple day 2014

Wear it purple badge 


Last year we pledged to build awareness in tolerance and acceptance towards all people no matter their sexuality.
As part of the Student Voice team at Wirreanda High School we believe we need to give a voice to all our students and “Wear it Purple Day” gave a vision to our students to show that our school supports the wellbeing and inclusion of all students regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender or religion.
It is our belief that all students be engaged in learning and that wellbeing plays an instrumental role with this.
This year at Wirreanda we are inviting special guests from ShineSA and the wider community to make “Wear it Purple Day” significant and engrains it into our annual wellbeing calendar.
Wear It Purple Day will be held on Friday of week 6 (29th of August). We will be encouraging students to wear purple to show their support for the LGBT community and to encourage equality. School uniform tops MUST be worn and a gold coin donation for Projects Abroad . Please promote this with home groups .

Thank you
Cara Rodgers
School Vice Captain- Student Voice

Anita from Tabor College



Anita Dunbar….Bachelor of Music; Graduate Certificate in Counselling; Masters in Counselling Practice (current)

My name is Anita Dunbar, and I am currently on a field placement in the Learner Wellbeing Centre from Tabor College.  I commenced my work at the beginning of this year, and have been really thankful for the warm welcome I have received from so many in the Wirreanda community.

In addition to enjoying a successful and very rewarding career in piano teaching, I have had a number of interesting musical jobs including working as an accompanist for the Adelaide Girls Choir, teaching piano in small groups for a company known as Future Music Australia, and working as the music director for the children’s television program Here’s Humphrey (some of the parents out there may remember this funny old fellow!)


Throughout my background in music education, and also in my journey as a mother of two beautiful daughters, I have long felt the desire to provide support to those struggling with life’s inevitable challenges.  It is this genuine passion for people and their stories that has directly led me to pursue a new career in counselling, in which I am dedicated to helping each individual reach their true potential.  

I have been trained in a number of areas including Narrative Therapy, working with addictions, Solution Focused Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and have a particular interest in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  Regardless of the modality I utilise, my aim is always to create a warm and understanding atmosphere for discussion as I encourage positivity in others.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far in the Learner Wellbeing Centre, and I look forward to continuing work and meeting many new people during the remainder of this year.  I am at Wirreanda every Tuesday and Wednesday:)

Cybersafety- parent session

SAASPC Conference 2014 Flyer

SA Association of School Parents Clubs (SAASPC) annual parent conference Keeping safe in cyberspace: what every parent should know will be held on Wednesday 27 August, 9.30am-4.00pm.  Susan McLean, Australia’s foremost expert on cybersafety, is the keynote speaker; other speakers will talk about DECD policies for schools, how one school has addressed this issue, and the Know before you load app review service. This is a free conference, with lunch provided, and open to any parent from a government school or preschool.  The registration form is attached. We would appreciate it if information could be included in your parent newsletter – you may like to cut and paste the paragraph below:

Keeping safe in cyberspace: what every parent should know is a free conference, with lunch provided, on Wednesday 27 August, 9.30am-4.00pm. All parents are welcome to attend.  Susan McLean, Australia’s foremost expert on cybersafety, is the keynote speaker; other speakers will talk about DECD policies for schools, how one school has addressed this issue, and the Know before you load app review service.  For more information and for the registration form see or call 1800 724 640