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There are always plenty of positive initiatives and news to focus on in my Muster addresses, but last Thursday I tackled a more challenging one. Domestic violence, a prevalent national issue, was the topic of my address. It is the distressing reality of men abusing, and in some cases, murdering women. It is an issue dominating our media headlines, and so it should. As a school for boys and young men this is an important issue for us. We need to have this dialogue and keep addressing it because violence against women is men’s business.

I highlighted to the boys that they are not to blame, but emphasised that collectively, all men are part of the preventative solution. While not all disrespect leads to violence against women, all violence against women begins with disrespect.

Rather than be defensive, we must try to engage with this issue. In our single sex education environment, one we value and embrace, we have the opportunity to normalise all the right behaviours. We need to normalise the eradication of disrespectful language and conduct toward women in our community. We need to normalise the calling out of disrespect toward women and girls. If we can achieve this goal, when our young men leave St Peter’s College they might just be able to help do the same in the wider community. We have to start here, at school, where we all play a part.

I do not deny that this is a really hard issue to discuss. And while we may not have an understanding or experience of domestic violence, together we have an opportunity to be part of the preventative solution. As part of our 2024 Rex J Lipman Fellows Program we have engaged David Kramer, a Behavioural Scientist and Violence Prevention Advocate to visit and engage with our Senior School students on this critical issue. Further details will be provided closer to the event.

I concluded my address by challenging our students to actively name and call out disrespect toward women in our conversations, in our group settings, in our social comms and all areas of our community and to respond positively to our peers when they rightly point out these occurrences to us. Our mothers, our aunties and our sisters and our girlfriends are counting on us to do so. It is a timely reminder that in all our actions we must strive to be both strong and lovely.

On a brighter note, it was wonderful to see the courts and fields filled with colour, camaraderie and competition for Saturday’s Community Day. Thank you to all families who attended to support their son from the sidelines before gathering to enjoy a communal lunch along The Avenues. I trust you enjoyed celebrating the wonderful spirit of our School community.

We were sorry to miss our school musicians who were in Mt Gambier competing in the Generations in Jazz (GiJ) Festival over the weekend. Considered one of the world’s best school-based music events, 4,000 aspiring musicians from across Australia competed at the festival. I am delighted to congratulate our Big Band 1 who took out the top award in the Stage Band Awards. This is the first time in the 37-year history of the event that St Peter’s College has been named Best Big Band in the country! This is an immense achievement and a credit to the culture of high performance and striving for continual improvement that has been a legacy created by our musicians and music staff over recent years. The excellent results achieved by our ensembles across the event reflect the hard work, determination and talent of our musicians and music staff. Well done. And thank you to our families for your partnership in music and support over the weekend.

It has been a busy and engaging start to the term in the Junior School. Monday’s House Cross Country event saw boys from Prep to Year 6 displaying great determination to complete the course. Our Year 5 students completed a four-day, three-night venture at Finniss participating in outdoor, cultural and sustainability activities. Years 5 and 6 students joined our Senior School students for a moving Anzac Memorial Service on the first day of term. I commend all students on their conduct – their time and place was impeccable. It was a special occasion for our community as we remembered all who gave of their lives for our freedom.

Thank you to all mothers and special guests for attending our Mother’s Day Breakfast. Whilst I could not attend this morning’s event, I extend Happy Mother’s Day wishes to all of our mums for Sunday. Thank you for all you do to support, nurture and champion our sons.

Tim Browning