Heathdale flower 26th October 2022

Created in God’s Image

At Heathdale, we are blessed to have such a wonderful multicultural community. Unfortunately, even in our diversity, racism is an injustice that still affects us. To make a difference, we must work together to educate students around racism and create an environment of safety, dignity and belonging.

Heathdale flower

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13)

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a parent if I could write in the newsletter about racism in schools. This is a big topic that deserves respect and correct, caring education.

Heathdale is a wonderful multicultural community, which is a source of pride to us. We have students here spanning from all parts of the globe. Every day, our children experience different cultures and nationalities and are enriched by the diversity of each other’s heritages. Cultural diversity increases every year at Heathdale, with new families bringing with them different languages, traditions, food, and customs.

One of the most effective ways to reduce racism is to help to create a vibrant and inclusive social and cultural environment that values people in all their diversity. Encouraging interaction between students through activities that bring people together is an important way to achieve this. Safety, dignity, and belonging are three core messages that are continually taught here. The Bible speaks often about God's acceptance of us and how we should be accepting of others. When Jesus walked on earth, He was our perfect example of accepting others.

In 2021, Heathdale’s student satisfaction survey showed that students in Years 5&6 said that racism rarely occurs at the College, giving a score of 8.49 for effectiveness, which was a whole point above the Independent Schools Victoria mean of 7.51.

While this is a great statistic for us, unfortunately there are still students who feel affected by racism. One student commented, "I feel sometimes like I'm different from the others because of my background and the other students don't want to play with me". This is heartbreaking for any parent or teacher to hear.

Teachers at the college are trained in how to manage non-inclusive behaviours, however, obviously they may not hear everything. Therefore, the onus is on all of us to partner together and educate students in this area.

In researching for this article, I found some excellent and helpful articles, written in language that is friendly to young people. I encourage you to explore the links below with your children.

It seems to me, after many years in education, that often words are thrown around by children with little concept of the damage they cause or the history they are diluting. This is where I always come back to Jesus and the Bible. God created us all in His image. This is one of the core messages we teach the students at school. It doesn't matter where you or your family were born, what you look like or your cultural upbringing - we are all equal at the foot of the cross and God loves us just the same.

Please join with us as we aim to educate our children in this important area.

Recommended websites to explore with your children:

Understanding racism and how to spot it

Racism in Schools