McAuley News

Term 4, Issue 11 -13 NOVEMBER 2020


Busy Day for Catherine McAuley

Today is a wonderful day for the Catherine McAuley community, where both the future and the finishing cohorts of students are being celebrated.

This morning we welcomed to the school grounds the incoming Year 7 students for 2021. Although we have had to adjust our program to comply with health restrictions, the students were able to enjoy the school environment, meet some other students and teachers and get a small taste of what school life will be like for them next year.

Our Mercy welcome was offered in abundance, and students enjoyed the day.

Tonight we wish a final farewell to the Year 12 2020 cohort as they celebrate their formal. This is a much anticipated event for the students, this year more than other years, and I am sure they will enjoy their evening together.

The Year 12 students have completed their HSC exams; they are to be congratulated on the consistent application they have made to their studies throughout the year and during the exam period. 

We wish Year 12 students all the very best as they move into a new phase of their lives.

Celebration of NAIDOC Week

In my Principal’s Address for this week’s school assembly, I spoke about the importance of NAIDOC week and the significance of the history of First Nations people for all Australians. The transcript of my address follows. 

This week is NAIDOC week.

It is an important week for every Australian because it is a celebration of our history and of the great people who walked this land first, our First Nations people.

The theme this year, Always Was, Always Will Be, reminds us of the deep and powerful history of Australia’s First Nations people; a history that is told through 

  • the story of 65,000 years on Australian soil

  • the story of a spirituality that runs deep through the land and the waters

  • the story of a spirit of survival that gave us the first farmers and botanists to cultivate the land

  • the story of the first explorers, navigators and engineers of this great nation

  • the story of the first artists, musicians and storytellers in this country

  • the story of the first environmentalists to offer stewardship to the land.

We know that the story of First Nations people has been marred by injustices done at the hands of people who arrived in Australia without an understanding of the peaceful, sustainable, organised way of life that already existed here. 

There are times in modern day Australia that some of those injustices still persist, and where the equality afforded to people in our country is compromised. We know not to accept this as our reality, and we know that we make choices that give dignity to every one of us.

Today, on Remembrance Day, we remember the many people united under the Australian flag, including the unrecognised First Nations men and women,  who fought in global wars to ensure a country in which justice defines our interactions with one another.

We are aware of the wonderful future that awaits all people in Australia when we listen and love.

As women of mercy, we respond to the call of Catholic leadership and our privilege of education to recognise and call out moments of injustice in our very own lives. We know that sometimes we need to draw on our courage. We cannot turn a blind eye to injustice in our school community, in our families, in our city, in our country. 

This week and over the next few weeks, the MAG leaders are preparing a resource for homerooms. They remind us about justice, and about the definition of justice - the ability to show deep respect to people. They are using the tagline, ‘McAuley says no to injustice’.

This week, in this marvellous celebration of the First Nations people, I invite you to listen to the stories of those who Always Was, Always Will Be. Listen to the stories told about the history of those alongside whom we walk; listen to the stories told in the dance, the music, the art of our companions, and celebrate with them their great history and culture.

I stand humbly before you today, thankful for the welcome from my Dharug sisters who stand proudly on their land. I am proud to stand alongside them today, and everyday.

January Holidays - message to those travelling overseas

Although there are still some weeks to go before the end of term, it is timely to remind families travelling overseas during the January holidays that the quarantine period on re-entering Australia is still two weeks from the time of arrival in Australia. This remains the advice from NSW Health at this time. Students who return from overseas in late January will need to comply with the two week quarantine period before attending school.

Mary Refalo


Looking to the Future - Student Learner Profile

The staff at Catherine McAuley have been engaging with a publication, Looking To The Future, which reviews senior secondary pathways into work, further education and training.

One of the key recommendations coming from this report is the need for students to develop a ‘Learner Profile’ which becomes the basis, beyond school, of an Education Passport.  There is a growing understanding that school leavers do not just need to be employable, they also need to be adaptable, flexible and confident. The purpose of a ‘Learner Profile’ is to allow schools, students and families to focus more on preparing the 'whole person' regardless of the pathway they choose to follow post school. 

The Learner Profile will identify not only academic achievement but also a student’s range of skills, knowledge and experiences both in and out of school. The skills developed through part-time jobs, volunteer work as well as engaging with Vocational Education Training (VET) courses will form an integral part of these profiles. I have included one possible example of a Learner Profile, taken from the publication, below.

Year 7 have begun preparing their own digital student portfolio which will assist them in developing their individual learner profile as well as reflect on their learning journey. At our end of year parent/student/teacher meetings, Year 7 will lead their meetings as they take their parents and teachers through their learning journey this year.

At Catherine McAuley, we are committed to continue to look at ways of providing opportunities for our students to develop the valuable skills and attributes that will assist them in achieving success beyond their school years and we encourage families to support their daughters in pursuing opportunities available both in and out of school. 

Peer Tutoring

Peer Tutoring takes place each week in the library on Monday and Friday lunchtime as well as Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after school from 3.30-4.30pm. Peer Tutoring is a free service available to all students allowing them to work with senior students on any aspect of their work they are finding difficult. Please encourage your daughter to make use of this valuable opportunity. 

Ms Silvana Rossetti
Assistant Principal (Learning and Teaching)

FROM THE ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL (Pastoral Care/Administration)

Student Leadership Initiative for 2020 / 2021

This is the script from the School Captain’s presentation at Assembly on Wednesday launching the 2020/2021 slogan.

School Captains Aimee and Akansha: 

Today we will be talking about something very exciting . We will be revealing our 2020-21 school initiative (2.0). The initiative is BUILD IT UP CMAC! We will break it down a little for the girls before we begin to build it up together. 

By introducing this initiative we are aiming to cement the sense of community here at McAuley. We want to develop appreciation for the little actions that all of you do on a daily basis, the actions which often seem unimportant and go without recognition! By doing this we hope to grow and persevere as one, where we acknowledge that all actions, whether big or small, have an impact within the community and work to Build It Up. We do this through, C for Courage, M for Motivation, A for Action and C for Compassion, because CMAC’s got that.

 I’m sure you all know how important it is for a builder to have the proper tools and equipment when on the job! In order for our school to ‘Build It Up’, we too need the correct tools.

In the context of our school, every single one of you contributes your unique expression, your strength which is your tool which ultimately allows us to ‘Build it Up’. This highlights how together, we are stronger and even more committed in achieving higher things. 

The student leadership team has prepared this video for you, so you can see what the initiative has in store for all of you.

(This Video was shown to the students).

Our logo for the initiative is the CMAC Construction Girl. 

Now, we want to leave you with something as a reminder to Build it Up everyday!

Our jingle for 2020/2021 is as follows:

CMAC, let’s build it up.

Compassion, a fact. 

Motivate, to act. 

Courage, Enact. 

And, CMAC’S got that!

How Does Your Memory Function

(from: Dr Prue Salter - The Study Skills Specialist)

When a student says that they have a bad memory, it usually means that actually they do not encode the information they are trying to remember into their memory in an effective way. Memory is really a ‘process’ as opposed to a ‘thing’ in your head that you are born with.

 Rather than ‘improving your memory’, you want to improve the process of memory creation to ensure memory retrieval goes smoothly! The reason why many students do not retain what they are learning is that the way they study only gets the information as far as their short term memory, and then before long it is forgotten instead of being encoded into long term memory.

The first stage for students in improving their retention of information is to try and find ways to make what they are learning interesting to themselves, emotional, enjoyable and if they can't do this then at least create the firm intention to remember the information. It is all about their approach to what they are learning.

The next step in memory creation is the encoding process. To improve in this area, students need to improve:

  • Concentration and Focus (making notes about what they are learning, studying using techniques that suit their learning style, studying when they are most alert)

  • Organisation of Material (making brain friendly notes: lists, highlighting, categories, grouping, graphics)

  • Making associations and links between the new material and previously learned material.

Next stage in the memory process is facilitating the storage of memories. Students can improve the way memories are stored by ensuring they break their study blocks up with at least a few minutes break every half hour (giving the brain a chance to encode and file that chunk of content) and chunk down the information to be learnt into manageable chunks.  Getting enough sleep is also essential as fundamental memory processes take place during sleep. The other thing that is really important in this stage is repetition and regular review. Each time a review takes place the brain fires all the neurons connected to that memory and the more often that happens the stronger the connections between the neurons and the more intense and powerful the memory that is created.

 So in summary, the top three things to improve the process of creating powerful memories are:

i)  focus, positive attitude and intention to remember are essential (reading something half-heartedly while bored pretty much guarantees it won’t be retained).

ii) an active approach to learning where students are ‘doing’ (making notes, testing themselves using a wide range of study techniques) rather than just ‘reading’.

iii) repetition and constant review of the material over a period of time.

 To learn more about the brain and memory and advanced memory techniques visit the Brain and Memory unit on (click on the For Students tab).

 Our school’s subscription details are -

Username: mcauley

Password: 189results

Ms Debbie Grigson
Assistant Principal (Pastoral Care/Administration)


This week from Ireland, on the 11th November, the anniversary of Venerable Catherine McAuley’s death, Sr Mary Wickham rsm has written a reflection about her experiences and observations of 2020. At the time of someone’s death and on their anniversaries, the living recall the achievements of that person’s life and the major events which shaped their lives. Throughout the world in 2020, there has been no shortage of major events and Sr Mary has highlighted a few of these key events:

….the year that saw growing and continuing social and political unrest in the USA; natural disasters of bushfires and floods and typhoons on a huge scale in Australia, the USA, and the Philippines; accidents on unprecedented scale such as the destruction of the port areas of Beirut; the barbaric attacks on innocent people in France and Vienna; a major earthquake in Turkey; the year the churches closed….

Not forgetting that no part of the world has been left untouched by the Covid 19 Pandemic. For those of us who have lived through the pandemic, our vocabulary is frequently sprinkled with the following words and phrases; social/physical distancing, sanitising, lockdown and self isolating. The question could be asked “how have we allowed 2020 to form us?”

Pope Francis’ latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti addresses the subject of Fraternity and Social Friendship.The first chapter is titled Dark Clouds over a Closed World but it could be said that this encyclical is a blueprint for how we move forward after the pandemic. Pope Francis reminds his readers of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). There is good in the world but more people need to have an open heart. Pope Francis encourages the development of a new culture through dialogue, friendship and a better kind of politics.

At Catherine McAuley Westmead, just as Sr Mary paused to reflect, it is now time for us to review the past year and accept not only Pope Francis’ challenge but Jesus’ invitation to put our blueprints into action.  

Ms Genevieve Banks
Religious Education Coordinator


Speak As Your Mind Directs and Always Act With Courage

On the afternoon of Wednesday, 11th November, the anniversary of Catherine McAuley's passing, 37 students participated in the Mercy 6 Leadership and Justice Forum conducted through Zoom. The theme for the event was ‘Speak as your mind directs and always act with courage’. 

During the forum we were fortunate enough to hear from a highly esteemed panel who shared their experiences of overcoming adversity in the pursuit of justice. The panel included The Hon Justice Julia Lonergan, Supreme Court of NSW, Amanda Farrugia, the inaugural AFLW GWS Giants Captain and Aminata Conteh-Biger, author of Rising Heart and former refugee who overcame trauma as a force for good to improve maternal health outcomes in Sierra Leone. 

Students after the event reflected on the empowering messages of these strong voices of strong female leaders with some the powerful takeaways below: 

"Your own self doubt is your worst enemy...think everyday what can I do? AND DO IT!".

"You have a duty to speak about injustice, things you see happening in the world...your opinion is as valuable as any other person."

"Celebrate each other's success and achievements, empower one another!"

"Positivity is not an option, make the choice everyday to be joyous and show gratitude."

Our leaders were inspired to be courageous voices in Mercy leadership to strive for justice each and everyday. 

Miss Kate Hogan
MAG Coordinator

Term 4 Fundraising for JRS

Caritas, Coolock and Veritas are fundraising this term for the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). JRS is an international Catholic organisation with the mission to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of people seeking asylum.

The House Leaders presented at the school assembly this week. In Week 7 Veritas will run a lolly stall and in Week 8 Caritas will run a Krispy Kreme donut stall and Coolock a zooper dooper stall. Remember to bring in some spare change!

Year 10 Mercy in Action Eco Retreat

Year 10 Mercy in Action student leaders repurposed t-shirts into bags as part of the Mercy 6 eco-retreat which took place last month on Friday, 23rd October. McAuley students were joined by students (via Zoom) from the other Mercy schools in Sydney. 

The theme of the day was 'Be Gentle, Live Simply'. Students had the opportunity to engage in activities to encourage environmental sustainability including the repurposing of t-shirts and pitching a presentation on how a ukulele case could be repurposed into a functional, practical and aesthetic product. 

The students were inspired to 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle' in their daily lives. It was an insightful and enjoyable day of learning, ingenuity and building relationships within the Mercy community.


McAuley Says No To Inequality

Year 8 MAG (Mercy In Action Group) leaders developed presentations to deliver to their Homerooms on Thursday this week, in our pursuit to better understand and live out our slogan, 'McAuley Says No to Inequality". 

Year 8 leaders spent several weeks creating a valuable and informative presentation to share with their Homerooms shaped around the mercy value of justice - providing a definition of justice and its importance, what we already are doing at Catherine McAuley to overcome injustice and inequality in our community, some of the injustices that we can be confronted with in our daily lives and suggested ways that we can pursue justice to create a more just, fair and equal society. 

The leaders finished the presentation with a powerful statement to their peers to, "Not be afraid to call out injustice, help the oppressed not the oppressor."

Miss Kate Hogan
MAG Coordinator

St Vincent De Paul Christmas Hampers

This Christmas, the Westmead St Vinnies Group (the Sacred Heart Conference) run by parishioners from Sacred Heart Parish in Westmead, hopes to distribute Christmas hampers to needy families and adults throughout our local areas.

Students and staff from Catherine McAuley are invited to help prepare Christmas hampers by donating food and gifts. The list for possible items is shown below. 

Baskets will be placed in Mercy Square for donations. Thank you for your generosity! The school will be collecting items until Monday, 14th December. 

Non-perishable food items

  • Tuna

  • Pasta sauce

  • Long-life milk

  • Fruit cups

  • Noodle Cups/2-minute noodles

  • Cereal

  • Biscuits

  • Crackers

  • Custard/custard powder

  • Christmas pudding

  • Chocolate and lollies

  • Tinned ham

  • Rice

  • Jelly

  • Jam and honey

  • Tinned fruit and vegetables

  • Tea, coffee and milo

  • Sugar 

Other general items:

  • Sanitary items 

  • Hygiene products (soap, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, combs/brushes)

  • Socks

  • Towels

  • Gifts for children - colouring in books, pencils, markers, toys

  • Enviro Bags to place hampers in

Food must have individual packaging


World Teachers’ Day - Friday, 30th October

Friday, 30th October was World Teachers’ Day! A day for teachers to celebrate and be proud of the work that they do. To honour this important day all Catherine McAuley teachers and staff were treated to a morning tea served by Hospitality students.

Many students gave a shout out to their teachers via this video - A Message To Teachers From McAuley Students.

McAuley Celebrates NAIDOC Week

Our school this week celebrated NAIDOC Week, a special week celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and recognising Indigenous Australians’ contributions to our country. The theme for this year is, ‘Always was, Always will be’.

Ms Fiona Stewart-Sandeman worked with The McAuley Strong Sisters Group, a small group of Aboriginal students, in organising the celebrations. 

During Homeroom each morning Indigenous music was played over the PA; at the school assembly on Wednesday, 11th November, the Strong Sisters presented on the theme for NAIDOC with Year 12 student Shanaya performing a traditional dance; a smoking ceremony was conducted by Shanaya at the conclusion of the assembly; and on Thursday some classes participated in ‘Deadly Moves’, an interactive event run by the CEDP Jarara Indigenous team or conducted their own dance lessons.

 Click here to view highlights from the smoking ceremony.

Remembrance Day Commemoration

The school community commemorated Remembrance Day on Wednesday, 11th November with a short ceremony held over the PA system. Students paused in class for the Last Post and to listen to a reflection read out by a number of Year 11 Modern History students. 

Year 12 Major Works

Major Textile Projects

A major component of the Textile course in Year 12 is the Major Textiles Project (MTP). Students are required to complete both a practical component and a portfolio which explains their inspiration and design process.

Here are some examples of the MTPs from this year.

Design and Technology Major Works

The Year 12 students studying Design and Technology are also required to complete a major work. Students are asked to identify a problem and then design a solution. Their major work consists of both a practical component and a portfolio with their portfolio having an emphasis on the design process.  

Visual Arts Major Works

Congratulations to our Year 12 Visual Arts students on their Body of Works (BOW) this year. There were some beautiful creations with some examples from Ms Finnerty’s class shown here.

Additional major work photos can be viewed on the school Instagram page or Facebook page.

Year 11 PDHPE Students Complete First Aid Certificate

Recently the Year 11 PDHPE classes participated in a practical workshop so as to complete their first aid certificate. Students had to demonstrate CPR on their mannequins, as well as show their skills in tying slings and applying bandages. All students successfully completed the course and now have their first aid certificate. Well done girls.

Miss Sharon Brincat
PDHPE Coordinator

WSU Youth Leadership Masterclass Competition

A small group of Year 10 students are currently participating in the Western Sydney University (WSU) Youth Leadership Masterclass competition. This competition is run by The Academy at WSU and uses project-based learning to empower students to think creatively and critically, and to become active members of their communities. The students are working on a pitch to tackle mental health and wellbeing. Good luck to the students involved!

Year 7 Science Excursion to Taronga Zoo

Year 7 students endured the wet weather on Monday for what was their first excursion in some time...a trip to Taronga Zoo! Students have been studying symbiosis, the term used to describe the relationship between organisms, and were also using their time at the zoo to look at the habitat and physical and behavioural adaptations of the animals.

In addition, students have been studying the classification of living organisms as part of their unit of study ‘Who Am I?’ and this zoo excursion complemented that nicely. 

Enjoy a minute and a half highlights reel here.


Year 7 Tech Mandatory ‘Sow and Grow’

What incredible talent we have in 7TM3! Miss Emanuel’s budding chefs cooked up a storm, and showcased skills beyond their years in their ‘Sow and Grow’ Food Technology practical lesson this week. Well done girls! View a 30 second clip.

Year 8 Religious Education Students Present To Class on Hinduism

Year 8 Religious Education students are currently presenting their assessment task on the topic, 'Religions of the World'. Small groups are teaching their classmates by delivering a 30 minute lesson on a selected world religion.

One group from Miss Hogan's 8RE2 class, taught an exciting and insightful lesson on Hinduism, including the use of some colourful traditional Indian clothing and delicious desserts. Another group taught the class a well planned and engaging lesson on many aspects of Christianity.

Year 8 Visual Arts Create Pop Art Sculptures

Students in Year 8 Visual Arts with Miss Breen and Ms Fernandes have been painting their hand built ceramic sculptures, inspired by their study of the Pop Art movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

 Students have explored how Pop artists were inspired by and made art directly from consumer goods, mass media and popular culture. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for photos of the artists themselves with their resolved artworks, and an exciting upcoming exhibition!


Friday, 20th NovemberYear 9 International Studies Excursion
Wednesday, 25th NovemberYear 9 Careers Day
Thursday, 26th - Friday, 27th NovemberYear 12 2021 Geography Fieldtrip
Friday, 27th NovemberYear 7 Reflection Day
Monday, 30th  NovemberYear 10 PASS Excursion
Friday, 4th December

Year 7 PDHPE Excursion

Year 9 Leadership Training


Year 11 Scholarships and Cadetships Workshop

Students in Year 11 experienced the first of a series of career development workshops in Week 5. There is so much to know about various opportunities and careers that are new or growing, so it is important for students to prioritise developing their understanding about the world of work beyond school. This workshop focused on scholarships and cadetships offered by a number of organisations.

The next workshop in Week 6 will be on graduate recruitment, networking and using LinkedIn, with more workshops planned for 2021. Watch this space!

ACU Campus at Blacktown

If you are interested in hearing about the new ACU campus opening in Blacktown in 2021, please register for this online event on 21st November. At this info session, students will be able to learn more about the degrees they’re interested in studying. Register now

Mrs Amanda Chahine
School Careers Advisor


Children’s Book Council Australia - Book Week Tie Day

The CBCA Book Week theme for 2020 was “Curious Creatures, Wild Minds”. The book of the year for young adults was ‘This is how we change the ending’ by Vikki Wakefield.

On Tuesday 20th October as part of the CBCA Book Week, Catherine McAuley students were invited to design a tie in the theme of their favourite book. Students chose a wide variety of books for their tie designs from the classics when they were children, like Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, to their last amazing read, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

Congratulations to our notable designers: 

  • Jazmyn A. - Year 10 - Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • Ameline B. - Year 8 - The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

  • Angelina M. - Year 10 - Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

If students are inspired to read a book from a friend’s tie there are many ways they can find the book:

  • search for it and now place a hold on the book through the new applications on the library catalogue.

  • find the eBook version or audiobook to read on the go - accessed through the “student eBook & audiobook link

  • pop into the library and ask any library staff member to help you track it down.


Reminder To Students and Parents

Second Hand Uniforms

Do You Have Any Second Hand Uniform Items for Sale? 

Do You Wish To Purchase Any Second Hand Uniform Items?

The school has had a number of requests regarding second hand uniforms and although our school uniform shop does not sell second hand items directly we have set up an area on the school website for parents to list their items for sale.

If you are interested in purchasing second hand uniform items perhaps you might like to check the school website under ‘Enrolments / Uniform Shop’ and see what items are listed. 

If you are a parent with an item to sell please email with your item details and photos. The school website under ‘Enrolments / Uniform Shop’ gives you more information.

Catherine McAuley Parent Business Directory

A reminder that the school has a Catherine McAuley Parent Business Directory. This directory is a collection of parent owned businesses and is something you might want to consulate when you are next looking for a particular item or service.

If you would like to be included in the directory please fill out this form.