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Dear Parents and Guardians,

Yesterday, I attended a lunch with our School Captains and counterparts from six other Anglican Girls’ Schools in Melbourne. The purpose of the lunch was to build our girls’ school network through discussions on a range of current social issues.

At the beginning of the session, each participant was asked what they liked about their school.  Our Captains spoke strongly about our connected community and the positive interactions between students of varying age groups. With this in place, many great things can and do happen.

As Principal, one of my key priorities is to ensure a culture and environment where students, staff and families feel welcomed, connected and supported by our School. When our students feel that sense of belonging, they are able to optimise their learning. I believe that culture shapes community, so to hear such positive accolades from our Captains was very reassuring.

At our Anglican Schools Australia Conference in 2023, Professor Donna Cross, an internationally renowned Australian academic who has led research addressing school-based wellbeing issues spoke about the important focus on wellbeing in schools.  She highlighted that high levels of mental wellbeing is associated with:

  • Better learning, creativity and productivity
  • Better relationships and prosocial behaviours
  • Better adoption of healthy behaviours and physical health.

Professor Cross also highlighted the importance of connection in wellbeing. Research has demonstrated that this is the most significant contributor to wellbeing, followed by being active, taking notice, learning and giving. These are all important components of a well-rounded Camberwell girls’ education!

As you are aware we designed our own bespoke wellbeing framework called 3600 of Being that outlines our program from Early Learning through to Year 12. You can find a copy of it here. This framework enables us to address a range of topics and programs under the five research-informed domains of:

  • Cognitive Engagement
  • Health and Connection
  • Respectful Relationships
  • Environmental Appreciation
  • Positive Education.

In addition, we track our students’ experiences through our Student Wellbeing Survey that is conducted annually with students from Year 5 through to Year 12. In 2023, 91% of students across these year levels responded.

In 2023 our students’ perception of key areas that were going well included:

  • Self-care
  • Relationships
  • School Engagement
  • Academic Purpose
  • Sense of Community.

The areas that they indicated that they would like to focus on either personally or through programs were:

  • Sleep
  • Stress
  • Work-life Balance
  • Digital Wellbeing
  • Program Design

Overall, students placed a high value on self-care; however, they sometimes found it difficult to prioritise time to ensure that they were practising it. One area of concern was sleep, where they identified the most common causes of sleep disruption as stress, an overactive mind or external factors, particularly digital distractions. 

Digital wellbeing was highlighted through concerns from students about their own social media use.  According to Australian statistics from Roy Morgan research, girls aged 12-24 spend on average 822 minutes on social media each week (about 2 hrs/day).

Research shared with us this week by clinical psychologists Dr Judith Locke and Dr Danielle Einstein (specialists in programs to treat and prevent anxiety), highlighted the concern that across Australia, 75% of adolescents who own phones sleep with them beside their beds and can find themselves scrolling or checking social media when they should be sleeping.  This is worrying when we know the strong correlation between sleep, emotions and ability to focus.

Our students indicated strong engagement with academic and co-curricular activities.  They also rate highly their sense of support, safety, inclusion and community at Camberwell Girls.  This information continues to inform the development of our programs.

To assist your thinking, protective factors for youth mental health include:

  • Social support and inclusion
  • Strong cultural identity and pride
  • The ability to face adversity and utilise problem-solving skills
  • Ability to cope with stressful situations
  • Emotional regulation
  • High levels of physical activity
  • Academic achievement and intellectual development
  • Engagement and connections in two or more of the following contexts: school, with peers, in sport, employment, culture, religion.

The annual Mission Australia Survey is also aimed at young people aged 15 to 19 in Australia and asks them to share their challenges, concerns and experiences.  In 2023 the students indicated that the most important issues (they could choose multiple) to them were:

  • The environment (44%)
  • Equity and discrimination (31%)
  • The economy and financial matters (31%)
  • Mental health (30%)

We know that young people are seeing more of the world’s problems than they have in the past. They also have access to content that is developed by people their own age, so it is not surprising to hear about the complexity of some of the issues that they are more focussed on.  This makes the need for sleep and balance in our lives even more important.

At Camberwell Girls, our programs, academic, wellbeing and co-curricular are intentionally designed to engage our students.  We embrace the privilege to innovate.

We also focus on culture so that connectedness and care remain a priority and respectful relationships between students and students, as well as students, staff and parents, are nurtured and role-modelled. 

If you would like further advice on how to support your child, please contact their class teacher or Year Level Coordinator.

With best wishes

Debbie Dunwoody


Today, Mrs. Dunwoody interviews Helena, Laura, and Charlotte, the masterminds behind the Secondary School Production artwork.

Secondary School

This week, we are reflecting on National Reconciliation Week, a time when stories, culture, and knowledge are shared.

Junior School

The Junior School Winter Warmth Appeal for 2024 has officially begun!

Connected Community

The PFA Trivia Night was a fantastic success, with parents and staff enjoying a colourful night.

Create Your Tomorrow