I am sure that like me, many of you this week have followed the progress of the Religious Discrimination Bill as it has been debated in parliament. The debate surrounding the Bill in the House of Representatives has generated much discussion about the role that schools play in being a place in which students, particularly those from faith backgrounds or those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, feel safe. Whatever your view on the particular proposed legislation, there is no denying that issues of inclusion and child safety are well and truly on the agenda for schools. In July, new Child Safe Standards will come into effect in Victoria which set out the ways in which the physical, emotional and psychological safety of young people is to be promoted in educational environments. At Lowther Hall we began the year with all staff undertaking training in these updated standards, which increase the onus on schools to ensure a safe environment for students from a diversity of backgrounds and particularly for those of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent. In an assembly for students in Years 9 to 12 on Tuesday, Ms Healy and I reminded the girls of their rights and responsibilities as part of a school community promoting child safety and explained where they could go to for support in the event that they felt unsafe or had a friend who disclosed a problem.

I am incredibly proud of the culture we seek to create at Lowther Hall; a culture in which girls know they have a voice, feel confident to speak up when there is an issue, can articulate the values of inclusion and tolerance which we promote and where girls and staff take seriously their shared goal of making our school a place where girls can express themselves within a context of respectful relationships. I take this opportunity to remind all members of our community that as adults, we are required to report to police any instances of sexual assault or grooming in relation to children and young people. Should you have any questions or concerns about any issues pertaining to the safety of our girls, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me or the appropriate Head of School.

Ms Elisabeth Rhodes