June 17, 2022

One of the delights in my role as Principal is to visit our Early Learning Centre and see the children at work and play. Universally it is accepted that children love to play and the known benefits are life long. Children’s natural propensity to play may at first glance be seen as play just for the sake of enjoyment. However, educators worldwide have a broader view and consciously tap into children’s love of play to develop all of which is nascent and emergent within each child; abilities and personal characteristics waiting to flourish. Early education teachers committed to high quality outcomes embed play into their curricula to engage children and promote deep learning opportunities, being acutely aware of how capable and competent young children are as learners.

When I walk through our ELC I see children pursuing their interests using open-ended resources to imagine, investigate and inquire within indoor and outdoor play spaces which are inviting and aesthetically pleasing. Their play and work experiences have been carefully designed by the staff to achieve specific outcomes in the children’s learning. The materials offered for ‘play’ change regularly to provoke thinking, challenge problem solving, evoke creativity and provide extended time for shared conversations to develop friendships.

But equally noticeable is that the children are not working or playing alone.

Alongside individuals or small groups are the teachers, engaging children in insightful conversation, asking open-ended questions to encourage thinking in more abstract or sophisticated ways. They combine explicit teaching skills with questioning to scaffold individual or group understandings, with time and opportunity given for the children to reflect upon and evaluate their efforts. These rich interactions between children and staff take place within the environment which has been created to ensure the children feel supported, safe and secure.

All of our Senior and Junior school programs undergo regular review to ensure they reflect current pedagogies and the rigour to support and produce high quality education. This is true for our ELC as well. However in addition, as our ELC is an approved early education service, it undergoes assessment against seven standards every five years, as regulated by state and territory authorities.

For your interest the seven standards are:

> Educational program and practice

> Children’s health and safety

> Physical environment

> Staffing arrangements

> Relationships with children

> Collaborative partnerships with families and communities

> Governance and leadership

Each standard is rated individually and scaled according to whether services are meeting national standards, or are in fact exceeding expectations.

Recently our Early Learning Centre underwent their five year external assessment which involved the evaluation of extensive documentation of the Centre’s operations and policies. The review then culminated in a full day on-site appraisal by representatives of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

On receipt of our report from ACECQA we pleasingly and happily learned that our ELC received ‘Exceeding National Quality Standards’ in all seven areas.

In reading the report, the strengths of our Centre became obvious with superlatives used to describe the leadership of the Centre, the integration of the School’s mission, vision and values, the holistic education, health, safety and wellbeing programs, the commitment to and respect for each child’s identity and sense of belonging, together with provision for individual learning needs. The Centre was praised for their collaboration and engagement with families and the wider community, in powerful recognition that when home and school work together the best educational and personal development outcomes can be achieved. The staff received noteworthy recognition for their commitment to their own continuous learning, their vigorous interactions to discuss current educational philosophy and programs and their participation in external university research projects.

We are very proud that our Early Learning Centre ranks amongst the highest achieving educational and care services in Australia. Deservedly, we congratulate the ELC teachers, Neroli Bowyer-Smyth, Angela Follacchio, Effie Kitsiris, Jacqui Laird, Joanna Lee, Melinda Murphy and Ramila Sadikeen and CGGS specialist staff for their professionalism and dedication under the leadership of Head of Junior School, Paul Donohue and Early Learning Coordinator, Esther Wong.

So when all who see our ELC children ‘seemingly’ at play we should confidently know that the children are being catered for with staff who are excellent communicators, are creative and energetic, are authentically respectful of the children and their families and love learning just as much as the children in their care.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




June 3, 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The wellbeing and safety of all students in our care is our first priority.

Following on from the establishment of Child Safe Standards in 2016 and a further review in 2020, some changes will take effect from 1 July 2022.

Paula Kolivas, one of our student counsellors, outlines these changes below.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody

In 2016, the Victorian Government introduced Ministerial Order 870 – Child Safe Standards – Managing the Risk of Child Abuse in Schools. The Child Safe Standards (Standards) were part of the state government’s response to the 2013 Betrayal of Trust Inquiry which investigated the handling of child abuse in religious and other non-government institutions. The Order required all Victorian schools to embed a culture of no tolerance for child abuse and prescribed seven standards related to reducing the risk of abuse and ensuring the appropriate response and reporting of child abuse to authorities. Although it recognised that all children are vulnerable, the Order mandated a particular focus on students who are more vulnerable to risk due to their abilities, indigenous, cultural or linguistic background.

In 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services, now known as the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) completed a review of these Standards. It recommeneded a number of changes to align and support greater consistency with the National Princples for Child Safe Organisations, which were developed following the 2017 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault. The DFFH recommendations were accepted by the Victorian government and eleven new Standards were developed. In January 2022, the Victorian Education Minister mandated Ministerial Order 1359 – Child Safe Standards – Managing the Risk of Child Abuse in Schools and School Boarding Premises. These new Standards will commence on 1 July 2022, and will replace the Ministerial Order 870 Standards.

The eleven new Standards require:

1. Organisations establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued.

2. Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.

3. Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.

4. Families and communities are informed, and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.

5. Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.

6. People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.

7. Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused.

8. Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.

9. Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.

10. Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved.

11. Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

These Standards, and their associated compliance documents, provide greater clarity regarding the requirements on the governance, systems and processes of a school to reduce the risk of abuse and enhance student wellbeing. Key changes include a focus on managing the risk of child abuse in the online environment, empowering students and respecting their diverse needs, involving families and the community in keeping students safe and a greater focus on the safety of Aboriginal students.

Implementing the new Standards and complying with Minsterial Order 1359 is a complex process, requiring the review of all school policies and procedures. However, CGGS is well prepared to complete this process, as we already have established clear procedures for responding to allegations or suspected abuse, regularly update our school policies and HR procedures, review and adjust curriculum material and audit the school’s physical and social environment to ensure that our organisational culture reflects the CGGS commitment to zero tolerance of abuse. And where required, staff  report concerns to the relevant authorities – DFFH Child Protection Services, the Police and/or the Commission for Children and Young People. 

Relevant policies that parents/guardians may access via our school website include the:

> Child Safety Policy
> Child Safety Reporting Policy
> Code of Conduct Policies – staff and students
> Working With Children Check Policy

One of the most effective strategies in reducing the risk of child abuse, is educating all members of the community. At CGGS biannual training is mandatory for all teaching staff, professional service staff and maintenance staff to ensure that they develop their understanding and confidence to identify and appropriately respond to any suspicions or allegations of abuse, grooming or other misconduct. Also, all Senior School and Junior School students receive age-appropriate presentations by the School Counsellors regarding how to identify inappropriate behaviour and most importantly where to seek help and support.

All our students have a right to feel safe on and off campus. We want our students, families and community to feel confident that CGGS is an organisation committed to the physical, emotional and sexual safety of all students. If you have any concerns regarding your child’s safety or the safety of any other student in our community, we strongly encourage you to contact the Principal, Heads of School, or the Counsellors to discuss the matter. We will respond to any concerns in a sensitive, confidential and respectful manner.

Paula Kolivas
School Counsellor







May 20, 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

In planning for our Centenary celebrations, the opportunity to name our library and recognize the contribution of a significant person associated with our school was very exciting. Our library is a place of learning and of community; a place where the intellect and heart meet.

It quickly became evident to us that we had the ideal person to consider. In 1912 the Reverend Hubert Brooksbank was charged by his Archbishop, the Most Reverend Henry Lowther Clarke, to establish a new Parish in Camberwell. A clear directive was issued to Reverend Brooksbank about the project: he was to build a school hall before a church building. Land was purchased on the corner of Burke and Canterbury Roads, building commenced and the foundation stone of the St Mark’s Parish Hall was laid in 1914. It was to this emergent congregation that Reverend Brooksbank was inducted as their first Vicar and he oversaw the establishment of St Mark’s Church School, which opened in 1920 and today is known as Camberwell Girls Grammar School.

Reverend Brooksbank was committed to education, especially of girls at this time. He was visionary, wise and treated others with respect and affection. He also founded a school courageous to evolve and change, and to seek the future with creativity and hope. Our library, in being named Brooksbank Library, will live into its own power to spark each student’s commitment to a lifelong ‘becoming’ of their best selves.

On Wednesday 11 May 2022, after two years of waiting, the Chair of Council, Dr Nikita Weickhardt declared the naming of the Brooksbank Library followed by a Blessing of the library by our Chaplain, Reverend Helen Creed. 

Eleven members of the Brooksbank family attended this special occasion with Kate King, Reverend Brooksbank’s great grand-daughter unveiling his portrait. Dr Mary Brooksbank AM, grand-daughter of Reverend Brooksbank responded on behalf of the family and guests included Council Member, students, staff, parents and members of St Mark’s Church. Senior Music students sung the School Anthem written for the Centenary and a bound copy was presented to Anne Devenish to be kept in the Archives.

I have included a copy of part of my speech below, focused on Reverend Brooksbank and his contribution to our school.

Significant events such as this remind us of the important legacy left by those before us. It was their commitment to building a school that throughout the decades would continue to provide such a high quality and progressive education that enables us to continue their legacy for current and future generations.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




May 6, 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am pleased to share my first editorial for Term 2 with you as a video. In addition I have also added the link to our new Strategic Plan below for your convenience.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody

School Chaplain


School Chaplain

April 8, 2022

An Easter Message from the Chaplain

Some years ago now, I was lucky enough to visit the Convent of San Marco in Florence. The monks’ cells were spare and small, but within each one was a fresco, a different one in each cell, depicting an event in the life of Christ. They were created by the great Renaissance painter Fra Angelico, and it was a delight to go from cell to cell, exploring these exquisite paintings.

One of my favourites was “Christ the gardener”. It depicts Mary Magdalene on that first Easter morning, outside Jesus’ empty tomb. Mary cannot see through her tears, and her mind is full of questions about where the body of Jesus has been taken. She assumes the man near her is the gardener – notice Fra Angelico has drawn Jesus holding a hoe – and she says to him:  “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away!” But then Jesus says her name, “Mary”, and in that moment everything changes. I like to think that this is the very moment that Fra Angelico has portrayed in this fresco, with the hands of Mary and Jesus moving towards each other in recognition.

“ . . .  A sound behind her stirs

A scatter of bright birdsong through the air.

She turns, but cannot focus through her tears,

Or recognise the Gardener standing there.

She hardly hears his gentle question ‘Why,

Why are you weeping?’, or sees the play of light

that brightens as she chokes out her reply

‘They took my love away, my day is night’.

And then she hears her name, she hears Love say

the Word that turns her night, and ours, to Day.”

(from Malcolm Guite’s poem, Sonnet for Easter Dawn)

This is the story of the day when Mary Magdalene claimed her place in Christian history, as the first one to see the risen Jesus. She is the first apostle! The first to utter the astounding words, “I have seen the Lord!” It is also a story of Jesus doing what Jesus continues to do today: speaking to us in such a way that we know, deep in our hearts, that we are noticed, remembered, loved by the Lord of life . . . and that there is life beyond death.

Christ’s resurrection has not taken away death; it has not put a stop to all the ways that humans disfigure each other, but it is the strongest sign we have, that death and disfigurement are not the end of the human story. War, atrocity, personal tragedy, environmental destruction: the Christian hope, based on the resurrection of Jesus, is that these will not have the last word. When Jesus speaks to Mary in her bewilderment and despair we are given a glimpse of God’s commitment to us, the reality and power of the divine Love. So it is that every Easter, every Sunday, every day of our lives, God invites us to turn in hope towards the one who promises to “turn our night to Day.”

I wish you every blessing as we approach the Easter Season. My prayers during Holy Week will be especially for those who are living with grief or pain.

Helen Creed




March 25, 2022

Valuing cultural heritage and the benefits of learning languages

Our school celebrates diversity and the importance of understanding differing perspectives. We all have cultural heritages specific to, and reflecting our individual backgrounds. They emerge from the pure chance of being born in a particular country, locally embedded through families or are our identification with communities or places wherever we find ourselves growing, living, interacting and being.

This week our Head of Languages, Dr Jo Rittey and her team organised a very vibrant and celebratory program for our Languages and Cultural Festival week. You will read more about it in the school sections of CamNews.

At our Senior School Assembly on Tuesday, Dr Rittey introduced the week. Throughout her speech she highlighted the rich interconnection of language and culture through thoughtful staff vignettes. It was a very moving speech and I have a attached a copy for those who would like to read it.

The genesis of our school, just over one hundred years ago, reflected the predominantly white, British cultural history of a young Melbourne. Since then Camberwell Girls Grammar School has evolved to mirror our bustling multicultural community. At last count in 2021, the school’s demographic indicated that our community included Indigenous or international backgrounds from 54 different countries, each with their own cultural heritage.

Our individual and collective cultural heritages are not taken for granted, for these invoke values to unify and instill qualities from which communities gain meaning and provides the impetus to work towards a shared common good. Each of our heritages is worthy of respect, honour and preservation. 

At one level cultural heritages bear commonalities and similarities. The intangibilities of social values connect us in our present lives. While we may bring differences in beliefs, traditions, experiences and a collective knowledge handed down by past generations defining our personal cultural identity, when melded together we enjoy the uniqueness which ‘is’ our School community. We are a living ideal worthy of celebrating. It is when we include cherished elements from the past and look to the future that we can we can use our shared knowledge and experience to shape our future with creativity and imagination.

One of the idiosyncrasies about our multi-cultural Australia is that we are largely monolingual. The influx of multilingual immigrants since the late 1700s, and the slow recognition of First Nation languages after the arrival of the First Fleet, has largely not provoked our English speaking culture to grow towards one where are motivated to grasp other languages as a sign of interest, inclusiveness and acceptance. Historians and social commentators, of course, have identified at length many reasons for this, not least because of our historic British link and geographical distance from the other major continents. Nationally, change has advanced slowly, but this does not define communities such as our School as we seek to advocate diversity and the rich benefits of cultural inclusion.

During our Language and Cultural Festival Week, it is timely to reflect on the languages we teach, why this part of the curriculum is important and the benefits that a knowledge of, and being fluent in other languages, has for our students, be they First Nation, foreign, Auslan or other forms of communication.

In a recent Cambridge University study, which researched over 800 Year 11 students from five schools in south-east England the students were asked questions about their experiences of languages, including their first/native language(s), languages learned at school, languages used at home and other languages learned elsewhere. They also had to plot themselves on a scale from 0-100, where zero represented being monolingual and 100 represented being multilingual. The results were then compared with the exam marks in all the other subjects which each student studied. What became apparent was that for students who considered themselves to be multilingual, they scored a full grade higher compared with those who considered themselves monolingual.

In addition, the research identified that by students just having a positive perception and a self-belief that they were multilingual, this was enough to increase their exam results; it was not contingent on them only being exposed to a language other than English at home, but rather it reflected a mutually exclusive mindset.

Lead Cambridge University researcher, Dr Dee Rutgers, concluded that having the experience of other languages doesn’t automatically translate into a multilingual identity. More importantly, the experience of being multilingual must be valued by the student. Students who considered themselves to be multilingual, even if they only had a limited grasp of another language, were seen to experience a growth mindset, which in turn positively impacted their broader academic results.

The study concluded that by encouraging students to identify with languages and to value different styles of communication, including sign language and computer coding, helps them develop a mindset that supports overall academic progress. For students who lack confidence in learning different languages, they benefit from being taught that communication skills take different forms. Part of our role as educators is to increase students’ self-belief and attitudes so that they believe they can actually ‘do’ languages, thus providing a platform for the probability of increasing their academic results.

It is our responsibility to encourage and support all our students to embrace new languages, regardless of whether they consider themselves to be multilingual or not. Let us inspire them not only to aim for improved academic performances by learning new languages, but also to grasp sight of how encompassing languages develops their growth mindset.

This week as we focus on valuing cultures and the benefits of learning languages, we also use the opportunity to reflect on our individual cultural histories. We are consciously aware of each other’s cultural background, which when brought together and shared, will continue to add to the intangible yet knowable depth of the School’s diverse community.  

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody

2021 Parent Survey Feedback

Each year we conduct a parent survey to obtain value feedback from parents about a number of key areas at CGGS.  The confidential parent survey was conducted by MYP Corporation through their School Results Survey (SRS) from 29 November – 10 December 2021. The survey also enabled comparison of results with similar schools.

34.1% of parents participated in the survey (37.1% in 2020 and 20.2% in 2019).  Parents indicated that the 5 top reasons for choosing CGGS from highest to lowest were:  academic excellence, school reputation, values/culture, the size of school/classes and location.  The satisfaction rating is summarized in the table below.


Satisfaction Rating (out of 5.00):



Comparable Schools

All Schools


4.18 = 84.0% 4.11 = 82.2% 4.04 = 80.8%


4.27 = 85.0% 4.11 = 82.2% 4.04 = 80.8%


4.10 = 82.0% 4.04 = 80.8% 4.03 = 80.6%


The key areas in which feedback was sought were:

> Values & Culture      

> Leadership & Direction                   

> School Communication

> Curriculum               

> Co-curriculum                                  

> Learning & Extension

> Teaching Standards 

> Learning Environment                    

> Resources & Facilities

> Homework                

> Reporting                                          

> Pastoral Care/Wellbeing

> Student Transition   

> Student Engagement                        

> Parent Engagement                         


Of the 15 Key Areas surveyed, 13 received an excellent satisfaction rating and 2 received a good satisfaction rating  (Rating out of 5).  The rating of the highest 5 categories of satisfaction are listed below:




·     Learning Environment (4.37) ·      Learning Environment (4.44) ·      Learning

Environment (4.34)

·     Leadership and Direction (4.32) ·      Leadership and Direction (4.41) ·      Values and Culture (4.22)
·     Values and Culture (4.31) ·      Values and Culture (4.40) ·      Leadership and Direction (4.22)
·     School Communication (4.28) ·      School Communication (4.33) ·      Resources and

Facilities (4.19)

·     Resources and Facilities (4.25) ·      Resources and Facilities (4.32) ·      Co-curriculum (4.16)


The lowest 5 categories of satisfaction from least satisfied to more satisfied were:




·     Learning and Extension (3.95) ·      Homework (4.04) Learning and

Extension (3.82)

·     Homework (3.96) ·      Learning and Extension (4.09) ·      Homework (3.89)
·     Reporting (4.03) ·      Reporting (4.13) ·      Reporting (4.01)
·     Student Transition (4.09) ·      Co-curriculum (4.17) Teaching Standards (4.04)
·     Curriculum (4.10) ·      Curriculum (4.18) ·      Pastoral Care / Wellbeing (4.05)


Informed by the survey including individual responses, the following will be areas of focus for the school in 2022:

> Re-engaging with sport and physical activity

> Communication to parents on student progress, reporting

> Extension programs

> Homework and project management

> Technology platforms and devices

> Developing hybrid learning opportunities and opportunities for parents to share in school virtually


I would like to take this opportunity to thank parents for their valuable feedback and look forward to our continued work in partnership.

Debbie Dunwoody




March 11, 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As President of Women’s Sport Australia and CEO of Table Tennis Australia, Gen Dohrmann (Simmons) from the Class of 2006 spoke eloquently at our Senior School International Women’s Day (IWD) Assembly about this year’s IWD theme, #BreakTheBias from a sporting perspective.

Since graduating from CGGS, Gen has completed a Bachelor of Communications from RMIT and has held a number of roles at Gymnastics Victoria including Communications Manager, General Manager – Marketing and Communications and General Manager – Marketing and Industry. 

Women’s Sport Australia is a national advocacy body for women in sport. In her role as President, Gen supports a team of volunteers whose priorities include:

> Gender pay equity and a living wage for female athletes

> Equal access to sporting facilities and amenities for all women and girls, on and off the field

> Equal media time for women’s sports and female athletes

> Celebrating and championing female leaders and role models.

In her presentation to our students, Gen also emphasised the valuable role that male champions of change play in this area to make a difference.

IWD was first observed in 1908 in New York in response to garment workers’ strike in New York over terrible working conditions. The movement to advance women’s rights soon widened to demand the right to vote, to hold public office, to receive training at work and to end discrimination against women in general. In 1911 the first IWD was observed throughout Europe and by 1913, March 8 was set aside as the day for observances. Three colours were chosen to represent IWD:

> purple to represent dignity and respect

> green to represent hope and new life, and

> white to represent purity in public and private life.

At CGGS in addition to this assembly, we celebrated 2022 IWD through a variety of activities at lunchtime and through some senior students attending functions offsite. We also held our annual workshop with representatives from the international organisation Days for Girls in our MakerSpace. Throughout the course of the day hundreds of menstrual kits were compiled and sewn for young women in developing countries to enable them to attend school whilst menstruating. For the last five years this has been a key activity on IWD forming part of our Service Learning Program.

The theme of breaking biases is ultimately about building a world that is more equitable and inclusive by removing discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices against women. 

The 2020 Mission Australia Youth Survey of 25,800 young people aged 15-19 years revealed that students at girls’ schools obtained higher scores than the female average in key areas such as physical and mental health, overall life satisfaction and educational and career aspirations. Findings included that students at girls’ schools engaged more in sport (74%) compared with all females (69%), had less mental health concerns (37% compared to the female average of 43%) and were less concerned about bullying (9.6% compared to the female average of 15.1%).

At CGGS, all of our students have equal access to a wide range of curricular and co-curricular programs including, sport, STEM programs, technical activities and leadership roles. This is their norm.

The International Women’s Day website encourages us to:

Imagine a gender equal world.
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women’s equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

We want our students to be inspired by learning and opportunities that are meaningful and truly engage them and not be limited by stereotypes, prejudice or discrimination. Real choice and opportunity will build confidence in individuals and assist them to live lives that are purposeful and fulfilling now, and into the future.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




February 25, 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Thank you to members of our community who provided feedback on our Draft Strategic Plan as advertised in the last edition of CamNews. I also had the opportunity to present the draft plan to last week’s Parents & Friends Association meeting. All of the feedback is now being considered and we are planning to release the plan before the end of Term 1.

Paul Dillon Workshops and Vaping

As many families would know, each year Paul Dillon from the Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Centre (DARTA), conducts workshops for our students in Years 10,11 and 12. At these workshops he shares current research and practical strategies that support young people to make healthy, safe and informed decisions regarding drugs and alcohol. On alternate years Paul also presents to staff and to parents.

In recent years our society has seen a rapid rise in the use of e-cigarettes in what is termed ‘vaping’, particularly with young people. Manufacturers have developed a number of products (for example flavoured products) that are directed at young people to entice them into vaping. A number of parents have asked us for further information to assist them to understand more about vaping, so I have asked Kath Woolcock (Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing) to write about this and provide further resources for parents. Kath’s article can be found below and the DARTA website,, also provides useful resources.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody


The use of e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’ as it is more commonly known, is of significant concern and has been on the agenda of educators, health care workers and policy makers as the law has struggled to keep up with its recent popularity. The rise in vaping use is dramatic, particularly amoungst teenagers, and according to the Australian Drug Foundation’s 2021 publication on vaping in Australia:

> Approximately 14% of 12 to 17-year-olds have tried an e-cigarette, with around 32% of these students having used one in the past month.

> Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of people who had ever used e-cigarettes rose from 9% to 11%.

> Students who had vaped most commonly reported getting the last e-cigarette they had used from friends (63%), siblings (8%) or parents (7%). Around 12% of students reported buying an e-cigarette themselves.

A vape, or ‘e-cigarette’ is a device that simulates smoking by producing a vapour. It is a battery-operated device that vaporises a liquid solution, many of which contain nicotine and taste like chocolate, fruit or other sweet flavours. While most solutions contain nicotine or flavour only, some do contain TCH oil which is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. Invented in 2003, vaping is still a relatively new practice, and as such, there is little evidence that exists around the long-term harms associated (Australian Government Department of Health, 2019). Early studies have shown that repeated exposure to the vapour can pose a significant risk of long-term disease and damage including lung disease (Australian Government Department of Health, 2019) and evidence also exists to suggest the second and third hand vapour can be extremely harmful. There have also been instances where the devices have exploded while being used, and as a result, young people have been left with significant injuries and facial deformities (Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia, 2020).  

At CGGS drug and alcohol education, including safe choices and harm minimisation, is embedded within our health curriculum across Year 7 – 10 and our wellbeing curriculum at Year 11 and 12. As part of this, we have a long-standing relationship with Paul Dillon from the Drug and Alcohol Research and Training centre where he has been working for over 25 years. Each year, we invite Paul to speak to our staff and students in Years 10, 11 and 12, to share his contemporary research and perspectives on supporting young people to make healthy, safe and informed decisions regarding drugs and alcohol, including vaping. Paul’s strength is in his ability to carefully craft his message using humour, story-telling and real statistics to engage his audience. Throughout the three years, our students learn many life changing and life saving strategies including how to ensure personal safety, the safety of peers and most importantly, being aware of the dangers and risks.

As parents and as teachers, it is important that we too are informed and regularly engage in conversations with young people about the latest ‘fads’ and ‘trends’ in drug and alcohol use, including vaping. In March 2022, Paul will be speaking as part of our Parent Education Seminar series about the key role that parents play in reducing drug and alcohol use in teens and this presentation will include a specific focus on vaping. Paul Dillon provides a range of resources dedicated to parents on his website under the resource section:, and within this you will find a vaping Factsheet for Parents which can also be accessed directly by clicking HERE

Further to this, The Partnership to End Addiction, an organisation based in the US, has developed useful resources to support parents to engage in discussions with their teenagers, by providing information on vaping slang, the potential signs of vaping and strategies for having the conversation. A summary of some of the key messages have been provided below and the full resource can be accessed by clicking HERE

Vaping Slang

Term Explanation
Atty Refers to the atomizer or the heating element that vaporises the e-liquid
Juul or Juuling The most popular brand of vaporiser which is shaped like a USB flash drive and is rechargeable.
Getting Nicked Refers to the euphoria experiences with high doses of nicotine.
Nic sick Refers to the heart palpitations, nausea/vomiting or light headedness associated with overuse of nicotine vapes.
Sauce Refers to the e-juice or chemical inhaled.

Potential signs of vaping

> Possession of vaping equipment or packaging.

> A smell or scent such as chocolate, cake, berries or bubble gum without explanation.

> Increased thirst or increased nosebleeds due to e-juices drying out the mouth and nose.

> Decreased caffeine use as vaping can lead to an increased sensitivity to caffeine.

> References to vaping on social media.

> Changes in appearance or behaviour such as anxiety, irritability, loss of appetite, lack of concentration, dry mouth and increased thirst.

> Physical symptoms such as sore throat, cough, dizziness, headaches, respiratory difficulties.

Strategies for having the conversation

> Look for opportunities to discuss vaping authentically.

> Remain calm and reasonable.

> Be ready to listen.

> Focus on health and safety rather than threats and punishment.

> Avoid open ended questions such as “what do you think about vaping?”.

> Assist children to make informed decisions and weigh up the risks with perceived benefits.

> Answer questions honestly and accurately.

> Have conversations regularly, at age-appropriate times, before children try vaping.

(Partnership to End Addiction, 2020)

It can, at times, be difficult to navigate the world that our young people live in and together and in partnership, teachers and parents provide the best resource and support to help nurture and encourage healthy and safe choices. We encourage parents to use this article as a starting point to engage in conversation authentically and early, and before issues arise. We know that when communication lines are open and these types of conversations occur regularly, we are more likely to have a positive impact on our young people’s decision making.

If you have any questions or require support, please contact the relevant Year Level Coordinator or Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing, Kath Woolcock.


Australian Drug Foundation. 2021. Vaping in Australia.

Department of Health (Australian Government). 2019. E-cigarettes linked to severe lung disease.

Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia. 2020. Information for Teachers – E-cigarettes and vaping.

Partnership to End Addiction. 2020. Vaping. What Families Need to Know to Help Protect Children, Teens and Young Adults.




February 11, 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I warmly welcome you all to the 2022 school year at Camberwell Girls Grammar School! 

This year we are delighted to welcome 135 new students to CGGS and I hope they enjoy getting to know our community when settling into the school year. In the second half of Term 1 we are hoping to hold a number of welcome events where we can meet again in person.

Across the school our students have settled in well. Each day it is very energising to hear happy voices and see smiling eyes above the masks. A number of co-curricular programs will commence in the coming weeks, and it will be satisfying to see more student opportunities.

In Senior School our School Captains led by Teagan Diep, Issy D’Souza and Charli Lincke have been planning a number of events and we are looking forward next week to the Valentine’s Day activities as we raise money to support the Heart Foundation.

New Staff
This year we have welcomed a number of new staff to Camberwell Girls and I would like to introduce them to you:

Early Learning Centre (ELC)

> Ms Esther Wong (ELC Coordinator and Teacher)
Esther is a highly experienced classroom teacher who has designed, implemented and evaluated classroom and community programs. She joins us most recently from The University of Melbourne ELC where she was a team leader. This year she will be one of the EL3 teachers.

> Mrs Jacqui Laird (EL Teacher)
Jacqui is a teacher and former EL Director who brings a wealth of experience and has a keen interest in the natural environment. She comes to us from Strathcona and Nature Play Learning. Jacqui will share the teaching of EL3 with Esther Wong.

> Ms Melinda Murphy (EL Assistant)
Melinda is an experienced EL Assistant and teacher who has previously taught in a number of independent schools including Tintern, Genazzano, Melbourne Girls and Fintona. She has also previously had a career in media, working for Channel 10.

Senior School

> Ms Hannah Brooksbank (Art)
Hannah is a practising artist and has a strong interest in promoting student voice and designing programs that encourage students to make a positive impact on the community. She has also taught and run Arts and Culture projects in community centres.

> Ms Andrea Carter (Mathematics)
Andrea is a very experienced Mathematics teacher and leader and previously taught at CGGS, leaving us at the end of 2005. She has since taught and led Mathematics at a regional school, led Mathematics and was leader of the Innovation and Pedagogy team at Korowa and most recently was leader of Pedagogy at Siena College.

> Dr Vicky Ellis (Chemistry, Science and MakerSpace)
Vicky has taught Chemistry in both the VCE and International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs (at standard and high level in the IB). She has a particular interest and strength in eLearning and STEM technologies in her classroom. Vicky is a VCAA Assessor for Chemistry and comes to us from Ivanhoe Grammar School.

> Miss Emma Ford (Psychology and English)
In addition to teaching Psychology and English, Emma is a very experienced Debating Coordinator. She is also a workshop presenter and tutor for The University of Melbourne in the Master of Teaching Program. Emma joins us from Korowa.

> Ms Georgia Holland (Legal Studies, Commerce and Geography)
Georgia comes to us from Melbourne Girls Grammar School as a Humanities leader and Legal Studies teacher. In June 2021 she also completed an externship in the Commonwealth Parliament.

> Ms Despina Lyristis (Mathematics)
As a very experienced teacher of Mathematics, Despina has taught at all year levels and is a Mathematical Methods and Specialist Mathematics teacher. She comes to us from Huntingtower where she also held the position of Head of Mathematics.

> Ms Erin McEwan (Accounting and Commerce)
In her most recent position at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar, Erin was a subject coordinator for VCE Accounting. Prior to teaching she worked as an Accountant in the Business Services Division of Deloitte. Erin has completed two professional learning programs from Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

> Mr Matthew Rock (Chemistry, Science and Mathematics)
A versatile teacher, in addition to the subjects he is teaching this year at CGGS, Matthew is also a qualified Psychology teacher. He comes to us from Trinity Grammar where part of his teaching load was in the Trinity/Ruyton VCE Program. Matthew has also coordinated leadership programs, camps and has been an active member of the ‘Respectful Relationships’ committee.

> Ms Georgie Kerr and Mr Alex Jenkin are our new Deakin Associate Teachers for 2022. Both were educated at Carey and have held positions in their sports programs. Georgie has also worked as a Disability Support Worker and Alex has also supported events in rural communities.

> Ms Emma Harrison (Education Support Assistant)
Emma returns to CGGS after working with VCE students with learning needs and as a learning support officer at PLC.

> Ms Rachel Wu (Art and MakerSpace Technician)
Rachel previously held the role of Head of Information Curriculum at CGS and has now completed certification in Visual Arts and is a practising artist. We are very excited about the wealth of experience that she will bring to support the development of our Art and MakerSpace programs.

We are also delighted to welcome back Ms Scarlett Zhang and Ms El Wood from parental leave.

I am very excited about the calibre of our teaching team and the extensive programs and opportunities being offered this year at Camberwell Girls.

Thank you to all families who have been assisting their children to use the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) twice a week. These checks enable us to keep our community as safe as possible. It has been helpful that we have had only a small number of cases reported each day, and I ask that if your child is showing any symptoms or is unwell that they stay at home, take a RAT and report it to the school and Department of Health if you receive a positive result.

This year again promises to be a very exciting year at CGGS. If you have any queries at all, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or Head of School.

With very best wishes for the year ahead.

Debbie Dunwoody

Strategic Plan 2022-2025

For over 100 years, Camberwell Girls Grammar School (CGGS) has been a dedicated leader and innovator in the education of girls. 

In this time of change, with our students at the centre of all we do, a CGGS education is focussed on designing and creating learning that will prepare our students for opportunities and challenges now, and into the future. 

Our Strategic Plan defines our direction and priorities, and I am pleased to let you know that a Draft Strategic Plan 2022-2025 has been completed and we invite interested parents to provide feedback before the plan is finalised.

If you are interested in viewing the draft plan and would like to provide feedback (by Monday 21 February 2022), please contact my Personal Assistant, Melissa Madge ( and she will provide you with a copy.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




December 7, 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

It is hard to believe that I am writing my final 2021 editorial for CamNews – time has passed very quickly this year! As we have spent recent weeks celebrating our community and acknowledging the achievements of our students, we again recognise that we have spent significant time in 2021 together, and apart.

The vision and values of our School continued to guide our community as we worked closely together for a second year in a global pandemic to ensure continuous and engaging education for our students. Many have shared their reflections on this year and have focussed predominantly not on loss, but what has been learnt or gained. These responses speak strongly of their character and how times of challenge can be powerful catalysts for deep learning and personal growth.

I would like to thank you, our parents, for your support and partnership. We don’t underestimate your work behind the scenes, particularly during remote learning, in helping to keep learning on track for your daughters. I am sure that this term has provided you with some relief as they have returned to school, and for us, this time has provided much joy!

Our leaders, teachers and professional services staff have again worked with great flexibility and commitment to ensure seamless transitions from face-to-face to remote learning and vice versa throughout the year. The significant demands on our staff in recent years highlights their dedication to their students and to the School and I thank them most sincerely for their work.

Thank you to our Parents and Friends Association, including Year Level Representatives who have ensured that groups of parents have remained connected. They have also generously supported the school again with key events and purchases of outdoor education equipment and a new kiln.

To our School Council chaired by Dr Nikita Weickhardt and members of our Council Sub-Committees, I thank you for your support and work in ensuring that we are able to continue to provide the best learning opportunities and environment for our students. Whilst we have worked through some challenging times recently, our vision is to the future and how we can continue to create and leverage new opportunities.

Finally, I would like to wish you and your loved ones the gifts of the Christmas season – peace, joy, love and hope. May the holidays provide a time of rest and recuperation and I look forward to welcoming you back, ready to share an exciting 2022 with the hope and promise that it brings.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody