Spotlight on Schools, 3
This is the next in a series of profiles of schools started in the educational tradition of Edmund Rice and his Brothers. Geelong is south-west of Melbourne, Australia.
St Joseph’s College, Geelong, is a secondary school based in the second largest city of Victoria, Australia. It is a boys’ school with a current enrolment of 1440, all day students ranging from Year 7 to Year 12. The catchment area of the school includes the western suburbs of Melbourne, farms and small communities north and west of Geelong, right down to coastal communities on the Great Ocean Road. The College was established in 1935 on the same site as the St Augustine’s Orphanage, which eventually moved to a different part of Geelong. Where once there were eight for-boys-only schools in Geelong, St Joseph’s is now the only school in the district that provides this option for parents.
Like many Catholic schools in Australia in the twenty-first century, St Joseph’s faces the challenge of spreading the Gospel message to a student population that is mostly disengaged from the institutional Church and the local parishes. They are, however, keen to express their Catholic identity through action, and the school provides numerous opportunities for the students to do this both during school time and after hours. All students are required to commit to a community service program each year, which can involve such activities as:
Extra-curricular activities include:
Staff members at the school also do their bit, with one day per year committed to all staff participating in community service around the city.
St Joseph’s is also committed to walking alongside the indigenous people of Australia. The school has an exchange program with St Brendan’s College, Yeppoon, a school in Queensland with a high indigenous enrolment. This program involves students exchanging their stories and lifestyles with other students from an entirely different background. Students also have the opportunity to spend a week in an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory to learn about traditional culture and spirituality. The school is well aware that our country’s story did not begin when European settlers arrived, but has a rich and important 40,000 year history; it is a history and culture that all students are exposed to in some way during their time at St Joseph’s.
St Joseph’s is an accredited Restorative Justice school. It seeks to provide real justice to students and staff members when things go wrong, not just punitive measures that leave feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction. All staff and students are trained in the philosophies and practices of restorative justice, which are used as the first action when wrong-doings require addressing.
Again, like most EREA schools in Australia (Edmund Rice Education Australia), St Joseph’s College is examining ways that boys from all socio-economic backgrounds can access the school. The Catholic population has risen from its years of poverty to be the middle-class of our country, yet there is obviously a real need that exists in sections of the community to be able to access a school such as St Joseph’s, with its modern facilities and programs. The challenge is to find a way that can meet the needs of both the Catholic population of the district as well as those in most need.
For more information, please visit the school’s website at www.sjc.vic.edu.au
Director of Mission - St Joseph’s College Geelong
published June 2011