McAuley News

Term 4, Issue 16 - 25 October 2019


It is with great joy that I begin my journey at Catherine McAuley Westmead, as Principal. In the two weeks since I have started my work here, I have been touched by the welcome given to me by students, their families, staff and the Mercy Congregation. The Catherine McAuley community is one in which respect, integrity and a warm hospitality are evident, and the Mercy charism remains alive in the people who inhabit this school. This truly is a place where we ‘strive for higher things’.

I would like to thank everyone for this. These are values that keep our God in our midst and prioritise the relationships we have with one another.

Students in Year 12 began their HSC exams last week; for many, a number of exams are now complete, but for others, there are still a number to go. The students have approached this exam period with confidence and common sense, and things are going smoothly for them. We wish Year 12 students continued confidence and success as they complete the examination period and look forward to sharing news of their results in December. Students are invited to gather for afternoon tea on 18th December at 1:30pm to share their HSC successes.

This week the Year 11 Leaders, Ms Debbie Grigson, Ms Silvana Rossetti, and I attended a special morning tea at the Mercy Convent in Parramatta. Sr Margaret facilitated a tour of the site, including the beautiful chapel, and treated us to the stories that make up that place. For the Catherine McAuley students, this was a wonderful opportunity to deepen their understanding of the Mercy community of which they are a part. 

As students begin their studies in the final term of this year, I remind them that their commitment to their study is what enables them to make good choices about their futures. We live in a contemporary age in which education invites opportunities for young women to contribute to global social, political and economic agendas. The world of the sciences is expanding, and alongside that the world of the arts holds a significant place in helping us to express and understand our new ideas in this contemporary context. Our intention is for the young women of Catherine McAuley to be ready to greet this world with open arms and hearts at the conclusion of their school education.

The planning for the Westmead Catholic Community will provide a facility to enable rich and contemporary learning for the students of Catherine McAuley and others on our site. Planning for this continues, with the SSDA submission being prepared for March next year. Parents / caregivers who attended the information meeting on Tuesday evening were able to ask their questions about this proposed development. There will be other opportunities for parents / caregivers to find out information and ask further questions, and we will advise these as they are planned. If you would like to read the information already published, please follow this link to the website on the Westmead Catholic Community.

Mary Refalo


It seems hard to believe that the first two weeks of Term 4 are already over. During this time Year 12 have commenced their Higher School Certificate Examinations. After receiving valuable feedback from their yearly examinations Year 11 are reflecting upon their subject loads and if necessary are making slight adjustments. Students in Year 10 are preparing for their upcoming yearly examinations. Whatever year your daughter/s is in all teachers are encouraging students to finish the year well.

On Wednesday, 16th October I accompanied Year 10 students Angelina, Tamara, Celeste and Ann to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta for the Year 9 Social Justice Day. This day is an opportunity for students throughout the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta to come together to discuss their school’s Social Justice initiatives and gain new insights. Planning new initiatives are guided by the launch of the 2019-2020 Social Justice Statement 'Making it Real'. This statement is developed by the  Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC). The theme emphasises the need for genuine human encounter in our digital world. 

The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL unpacked the Social Justice Statement for students and Mr Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) addressed the students. 

Making it Real affirms the positive possibilities for encounter and solidarity offered by new digital media, while warning of those elements of our digital world that may be harmful. These include information overload; social isolation; marginalisation of the vulnerable; consumerism and fake news. 

The Statement reminds us that the new digital media cannot be seen as neutral or ‘unaffected by any moral considerations’. While many users do not realise it, the core business of social media platforms is to sell advertising and maximise profits. People’s personal lives may be reduced to data that is traded for profit or power, and it is used to target and influence us in ways previously unthinkable. Pushing users to more extreme positions and promoting fake news and conspiracy theories sells, but this is at odds with human solidarity. 

The Statement amplifies Pope Francis’ call to us to ‘boldly become citizens of the digital world’, with the image of the Good Samaritan as our inspiration. We are called not only to love our neighbour, but to bring the love of God to the new global neighbourhood. The Statement points out that we are called not just to be inhabitants of this new digital world, but active citizens shaping it. All of us – whether we are users, communities, industrial or political leaders – have a role to play in rejecting hatred, divisions and falsehoods. We have a duty to foster a neighbourhood that promotes those human attributes and social values that lend themselves to genuine human encounter – love, understanding, beauty, goodness, truth and trustworthiness, joy and hope.

At the conclusion of the day Angelina, Tamara, Celeste and Ann created some strategies to introduce at Catherine McAuley Westmead to continue our responsible usage of digital technology. We look forward to seeing these ideas come to fruition.

Ms Genevieve Banks
Religious Education Coordinator

Year 9 Social Justice Day

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. 
Help us to recognise the evil latent in a 
communication that does not build communion. 
Help us to remove the venom from our judgements. 
Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.

You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds 
of goodness for the world:

where there is shouting, let us practise listening; 
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony; 
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity; 
where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity; 
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety; 
where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions; 
where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust; 
where there is hostility, let us bring respect; 
where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.


A Prayer from Pope Francis, 2018
Message for the 52nd World Communications Day


Welcome back to Term 4. I hope that everyone had a wonderful break. I am looking forward to working with you all again during our last term of the year.

National Testing Report 2019

The National Assessment Program in Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) assesses students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. 

Parents of students in Years 7 and 9 would have received their daughter’s NAPLAN results in the mail. I am pleased to report that students at Catherine McAuley Westmead have performed extremely well. On average, 64.9% of Year 7 and 68.6% of Year 9 students have met or exceeded their expected growth across all areas of the test. 

Both Year 7 and Year 9 students achieved excellent results demonstrated by a higher mean result than other schools across NSW.  The writing section of the test was where our students performed most strongly with mean results of 30.8 and 50.9 marks above the state average for Years 7 and 9 respectively. 

The average growth results for our Year 9 students show improvement in their NAPLAN results from 2017 to those achieved in 2019. In 2019, these results reflect excellent growth (improvement) at or above expected levels, particularly in numeracy with 71.2% and reading with 72.7% growth . Notably, our students’ growth rate was higher than the state average in all areas.

The average growth results for our Year 7 students show steady growth from Year 5 to Year 7 NAPLAN performance, particularly in numeracy and reading with the percentage of students in Year 7 meeting or exceeding their expected growth,  being 79.7% and 66.0% respectively.

While these results are very encouraging, there is still work to be done. Catherine McAuley Westmead will identify areas for development for each class and develop strategies that can be implemented into the teaching programs for all subjects. 

If you have any questions concerning this report or your daughter’s NAPLAN report, you are encouraged to contact Ms Silvana Rossetti on 9849 9100.

The Unnecessary Pressure we Put on Ourselves in Year 12

During the holidays I came across this opinion article in the SMH written by Brandon Jack a writer and former Sydney Swan player. Whilst this is the opinion of one person, I thought it was a timely and relevant message to refer to as our Year 12 students currently sit their HSC exams. The overall message is summarised at the end of the article where Jack states “For kids doing their HSC this year, I'd say that who you are at 18 isn't who you have to be the rest of your lives, so don't feel crushed if you don't get the mark you want, or if you're still scratching your head over what to do. Don't see that your ATAR defines you, rather take the time to figure out what it is that you're interested in, and forge your own definition.”   At the conclusion of the article you will also find a short video explaining the process of moderation. 

Ms Silvana Rossetti
Assistant Principal (Learning and Teaching)

FROM THE ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL (Pastoral Care/Administration)

Study Skills Tips

GETTING MOTIVATED TO DO YOUR WORK (provided by  Dr Prue Salter)

If you are struggling to get motivated to do your schoolwork, sadly there is no magic solution. However, here are a few strategies you can try from the DEVELOPING MOTIVATION and OVERCOMING PROCRASTINATION units if motivation or procrastination is an issue for you:

  • REWARDS: Set yourself small specific tasks to do with a specific reward at the end of the task. For some people little rewards are enough to get them going.

  • CHUNK IT DOWN: If the work seems overwhelming or boring or unappealing, break it down into small bearable chunks and just do it one piece at a time.

  • FRIENDS: Work with a friend or else tell your friend what work you want to get done and then check in on each other at the end of the night. Help each other stay on track.

  • RULE OF 3: If you can’t get started, write down the 3 most important things you must get done before you go to bed, then don’t even look at any other tasks until these 3 are completed.

  • MOTIVATING IMAGES: Find slogans, or images that motivate you and put them near your workspace.  Some people are motivated by pain (thinking of the consequences if you don’t study) while others are motivated by pleasure (thinking of all the good outcomes that will happen if you do study).

Learn more at  Our school’s  subscription details are Username: mcauley  Password: 189results

Asthma Education - A Year 8 Initiative

Catherine McAuley is proud to support the Asthma Friendly Schools initiative.  Asthma affects a large number of Australians with triggers such as the environment, the weather, perfumes and aerosol can type sprays. Many of our students who have been diagnosed with asthma are impacted by students who spray deodorant when they are changing after sport. This spray triggers an asthma attack. To raise awareness around this issue a group of Year 8 students have designed posters and placed them in the change areas and bathrooms. 

Kiss n Drop / Kiss n Ride Zone

During the holidays new yellow lines were painted on the road to clearly mark the set down and pick up lane. In addition, short yellow lines were painted adjacent to where each vehicle should stop.  We encourage all drivers to move forward and stop your car in each bay so that the maximum number of students being picked up can occur at any one time. When dropping students off please be advised that students should not be going to the boot to collect bags as it is not safe practice. We suggest students travel the short distance to school with their school bag at their feet or on the lap ready to exit the vehicle at school. A reminder that this is a NO PARKING zone at all times in this area.

Ms Debbie Grigson
Assistant Principal (Pastoral Care/Administration)


McAuley’s Got Talent is Back!

The annual McAuley talent quest is back for 2019. Students can perform in one of the heats which will run throughout Weeks 2, 3 and 4 at lunchtimes in the Forum and the Morley Centre. Those not wanting to perform can enjoy watching the performances for the cost of a gold coin donation. All money raised will go to the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). The finals will be held on Friday of Week 5. This event is organised by Veritas, Caritas and Coolock Houses.


Welcome to Our New School Principal

The school community welcomed our new School Principal on the first day of Term 4 at a special assembly. Ms Mary Refalo was welcomed with a blessing and words of welcome delivered by our School Captains Josette and Holli. Ms Refalo is the 11th Principal of Catherine McAuley.

Parents were invited to meet Mary at an informal gathering this week on Tuesday, 22nd October at 5.30pm in the school library. Following this meet and greet parents heard from representatives from Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta to discuss the plans for the Westmead Catholic Community. 

Click on the link for more information about our new Principal Mary Refalo.

Student Leader's Retreat

Late last term (23rd & 24th September 2019) the 32 2019/2020 Student Leaders were given the unique opportunity to attend a Leadership Retreat. This was an experience for each person to bond with their leader, but also an opportunity to become unified as a team in setting goals that reflect our Mercy values for this upcoming year. 

The Student Leadership Team had the pleasure of being lead by Y-Lead. Y-Lead is an organisation that empowers young people to be their best-selves and make a positive difference. Through activities led by Y-Lead, the leadership team learned the importance of effective communication and goal setting. Y-Lead taught us that every action counts and how the smallest actions can make the biggest change. 

As a leadership team, Y-Lead inspired us to lead with the core Mercy values established by Catherine McAuley. With this core foundation, our leadership team was able to create an initiative for 2020 that we hope will leave a legacy. We would like this initiative to be an asset in inspiring our school to be the best version of themselves, and to make their mark in any way possible. 

The two days spent on this retreat were essential in allowing us to realise the responsibility each leader holds, and in addition, how to be a servant leader. Through this experience, each individual has created a bond with all of the 2019/2020 Leadership Team, characterised by our Mercy Values and our drive to make a difference. 

Hollis S.
Co School Captain

Afternoon Tea with Dr Geoff Lee MP

A small number of our Year 11 school leaders attended NSW Parliament last week as a guest of Dr Geoff Lee, Member for Parramatta. The students were able to observe Question Time followed by an afternoon tea where they were presented with a certificate in recognition of their services to leadership at school.

Year 11 Ancient History Students Examine Macquarie University Museum Collection

On Friday, 18th of October both Ancient History classes went to Macquarie University to start learning about the Year 12 core study on Pompeii and Herculaneum with Ms Van Domburg and Ms Aquino. 

Dr Dennis Mootz guided us through the museum collection with a specific focus on artefacts from Pompeii and Rome, while also getting a sneaky look at sources from other ancient civilisations like New Kingdom Egypt. We admired ceramic pots, oil lamps and tomb inscriptions from the ancient world. Using gloves, we were lucky enough to handle some artefacts such as bullets, strigils, coins and glass bottles used to hold olive oil. We viewed an informative presentation on the eruption of Vesuvius and gained valuable background information for the course. 

On behalf of the Year 11 Ancient classes, I'd like to express my thanks to Ms Van Domburg, Ms Aquino, Dr Dennis Mootz and the staff at Macquarie University for a memorable learning experience.

Ella B.
Year 11 Ancient History student

Year 8 Maths Enrichment Day

On Friday, 18th October, all Year 8 students participated in a Maths Enrichment Day. They participated in a workshop called ‘Problems, Patterns, Pictures, Puzzles’ run by the organisation Inquisitive Minds, a Maths Trail and a Maths Relay.   In Period 5, the Year 8 students entertained us all in the Maths X Factor Finals. For the X Factor, students created a song, rap or poem which informed us about things they learned in Maths. Thank you to the Year 10 students who helped on the day and did a wonderful job.

Some quotes from students about the day are below:

“I liked the workshop run by Inquisitive Minds because it involved teamwork in answering a variety of different questions. The staff were very friendly and explored lots of different methods of how to work the questions out”.

“I really liked the Inquisitive Minds activity because I enjoyed working with a partner to complete the questions. We were able to help and challenge each other to complete the task in the competitive environment of competing with other groups to win the prize”.

“The X Factor finals was an interesting way to view different ways of explaining maths in the form of a song. It was fun and engaging to watch. The performances that each class prepared were very well thought out. The vibe and feeling that was in the Forum was so enjoyable and memorable”.

“The Maths Trail not only taught you about mathematics, it also reminded and taught you about your surroundings which really made me fascinated”.

“I liked doing the problem solving questions in the Maths Relay and enjoyed the teamwork that was needed”.

Mrs Lorena Thill
Assistant Mathematics Coordinator

Dance Students Perform at Principals’ Masterclass Conference

Our Dance students were invited to perform a dance item at the Principals’ Masterclass Conference which was held over two days this week. This conference was attended by Principals within the Diocese.

The dance item was a modern Aboriginal dance piece. The group of dancers were students from the Junior Jazz Dance Troupe and some Indigenous students. They participated in two workshops with choreographer Jo Clancy to create the dance piece. 

Well done to all the students who did an amazing performance.

Captivate Event Thursday 24 October 2019

Well done to the McAuley students who performed at the Captivate event on Thursday this week. Our students were superstars and certainly ‘captivated’ the audience with their performances.


Mrs Suzanne Bain - Science Teacher

When did you commence teaching at McAuley? I commenced teaching in 2013.

How long have you been teaching for?  I have been teaching for 13 years. 

What other schools have you taught at or what other positions have you held? I've taught at a number of schools including Nagle College, St Andrews College, Mackillop Catholic College and Mercy Catholic College. Prior to teaching I worked in medical research and for a biotechnology company.

What are your qualifications? B App Sc (Biomedical) Dip Ed.

What do you enjoy about teaching at McAuley? The students are polite and friendly and the staff work very well together.

What do you like to do in your free time? I enjoy gardening, reading and bushwalking.

What advice would you give students in approaching their studies? Students should always aim for personal improvement. A little bit of work consistently reaps big rewards.

Simone L.
Year 8 Student Media Team


Year 7 Technology Mandatory Students Make French Toast

Year 7 Technology Mandatory students of Ms Catto this week made french toast as they completed the unit on Food and Agriculture.

Year 9 Design & Technology Make Timber Toys

Year 9 Design & Technology students of Ms Catto last term made children’s toys out of timber for their class assessment. The students were required to incorporate a simple mechanism to create movement in their design. Some of these toys are shown here.


MCCS Tennis Gala Day A Great Success for McAuley

17 students attended the MCCS Tennis Gala Day on Friday, 18th October at Barton Street Tennis Centre. It was a competition between eight schools which included Bethlehem, Nagle, Trinity, St John Paull II, St Patrick’s, Marist Sisters Woolwich and Domremy. Our students represented Catherine McAuley in both singles and doubles from 12 years to 17 years. 

We had three teams in the grand final for their respective age groups with two teams walking away champions.

It was a great day all round with the students enjoying themselves in a friendly and positive environment. This is the only opportunity our students get to represent our school in tennis.

Congratulations to all our players!

Ms Brooke Robson
Sports Coordinator

NSW All Schools Athletics Championships

The NSW All Schools Athletics Championships took place on the last Thursday of Term 3. We had a number of students participate and we congratulate them on making it through to this event.

Tasha R., Year 7, obtained a personal best in javelin and won 2nd Place. She also competed in the discus event.

Jacinta R., Year 10, came 1st in discus. Her throw was a personal best and Jacinta will now compete at the National Championships to be held in Perth in December.

Samantha T., Year 7, came 2nd in the 12 Years 3000 metre event with a personal best of 35 seconds.

Chelsey T., Year 8, came 5th in her 14 Years sprint event and was pleased with her result.

Clare G., Year 8, and Hannah H., Year 10, also competed at the Championships, although the school is unsure how they went.

Well done to all these students!



McAuley Students Take Part in All Schools Cricket Tournament

Grace P., Year 9 and Lily H., Year 10 both represented NSW in the Under 16s Cricket Team at a recent cricket tournament held in Queensland. Both Grace and Lily had a successful week with the NSW Team undefeated and winning both the T20 and Limited Overs Shields.


Monday 18 and Tuesday 29 OctoberNSWCCC Basketball Gala Days
Tuesday 29 OctoberYear 11 PDHPE First Aid Certificate 

Thursday 31 October

Captivate Music Festival

Friday 1 November

Year 7 Spirituality Day  

Year 12 2020 Society and Culture Excursion

Tuesday 5 NovemberYear 12 2020 Extension Science Excursion
Wednesday 6 NovemberNSWCCC Waterpolo Championships 
Thursday 7 NovemberYear 9 and 10 French Incursion
Tuesday 12 NovemberSchool Open Morning Tour
Tuesday 12 to Thursday 14 NovemberYear 10 Exams
Thursday 14 NovemberLOTE Performance Evening
Friday 15 November

Year 7 2020 Orientation Day

Year 12 2020 History Extension Excursion 

"McAuley's Got Talent" Quest

Tuesday 19 NovemberYear 7 Japanese Incursion
Thursday 21 to Friday 22 NovemberYear 12 2020 Geography Excursion to the South Coast


New Parents & Friends Committee Appointed

The Parents & Friends Annual General Meeting was held this week on Tuesday 22nd  October. At this meeting the P&F Committee for 2020 was elected. They are:

President Natasha Swan
Vice President Vesna Furjanic
SecretaryAndrew Millen
TreasurerLaila Nagawkar
PRC RepresentativeMichelle Williams
General CommitteeJulie Brownlow, Pauline Poumale,  Leanne Cash, Anna Chawa

The P&F Committee can be contacted via their email address:

Busways’ Western Sydney Buses are going cashless from 28th October

From Monday, 28th October, Busways’ western Sydney buses will no longer accept cash payments. 

Busways is promoting this change far and wide across our bus network, so passengers are well prepared. We’re installing bus stop signs, in-bus advertisements and handing out flyers to public transport users at key interchanges and bus stops.

It’s possible that students, parents and friends of the school may be impacted by the change.

  • Cash payments will not be accepted on Busways buses in western Sydney from 28 October 2019.

  • Students can use their School Opal card to get to and from their destination during the week. On the weekend, they will need to use their Child/Youth Opal card to pay for their journey.

  • Parents of the students and friends of the school can pay using their Opal card, credit card, debit card or linked device. Travel benefits apply to all when using the same card consistently.

  • Opal cards are available online and over the counter from retailers including most newsagents, post offices, convenience stores and supermarkets.

  • Remember to separate your cards so your preferred card is charged when tapping on and tapping off.

As a local community stakeholder, we would appreciate your help communicating this change.

For more information on cashless payments, please visit the Busways website

Position Vacant

Annual Pilgrims' Retreat

Reflection Day for Women