Did your daughter wear funky colourful socks to school today?

Have you been aware of women around town wearing purple today, or maybe even white or green?

Have you wondered about the significance of International Women’s Day?

This morning we commenced International Women’s Day with an inaugural celebratory breakfast, attended by council members, staff, students, parents and old grammarians. Our special guests were four inspirational old grammarians who embraced the school’s mission to make the world a better place, by working to give hope and extend the hand of friendship to young immigrants through the power of music.

So why the colourful socks… and why is International Women’s Day associated with the colour purple ?

International Women’s Day had its inception over a century ago, when the first National Woman’s Day was observed, not instituted as a glamorous celebration by women who seemingly ‘had it all’, but in support of 15,000 women who had protested against their horrendous working conditions during the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York. The movement to advance women’s rights soon caught on and widened to demand the rights to vote, to hold public office, to receive training at work and to end discrimination against women, in general.

So in 1911 the first International Women’s Day was observed throughout Europe and by 1913, March 8 was been set aside as the day for observances. Three colours were chosen, with purple being predominant to represent dignity and self-respect. Green was chosen to represent hope and new life, while white represented purity in public and private life.

The United Nations declared 1975 to be International Women’s Year and celebrated International Women’s Day for the first time. Ever since, a theme has been assigned each year to act as a platform to unify women worldwide and advance equality for all. To enable women to realise their potential, to secure better futures for the sisterhood, while at the same time celebrating the achievements of women, whether they be social, cultural, economic or political.

This year’s International Women’s Day’s theme is #BalanceForBetter. As a school in our response to this provocation, we are already unconditionally committed to a gender equal world and understand our responsibility to support or develop social innovations that can provide the best opportunities for women and girls.

We are also mindful of the ten values that guide International Women’s Day and which meld perfectly with the school’s motto, ‘Utilis In Ministerium’. Through our service learning programs, chapel services and assemblies we revisit them frequently:

  • Justice
  • Dignity
  • Hope
  • Equality
  • Collaboration
  • Tenacity
  • Appreciation
  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Forgiveness

While being cognisant of the overarching #BalanceForBetter theme and weaving the ideal into our 2019 programs, we have adopted one of the International Women’s Day values in particular: Hope.

This morning, those attending the inaugural International Women’s Day breakfast were privileged to listen to four of our 1993 graduates speak of their innovative initiative, Piano Project. Georgina Imberger, who laid the foundations for the enterprise, inspired her friends Amie Herdman, Christine Willshire and Cate Robertson (Vaultier) to join her. Their mission being to help young immigrants to settle into Australia at a time when their families are adjusting to cultural changes and finding homes and work. Their charity sponsors piano lessons free of charge, with funds raised through classical music recitals. Through the hand of friendship, with music as the channel, the children learn to trust, to believe and to hope that all will be well.

On International Women’s Day our MakerSpace hums to the sound of sewing machines and girls enjoying each other’s company, while they stitch and assemble sanitary packs for worldwide distribution to girls for whom monthly periods come at great cost, especially to their education. Volunteering for Camberwell’s Days For Girls group is hugely popular, particularly with the Year 10s. It is considered a privilege to take part, as everyone can empathise with girls who are forbidden to attend school on the days when they are menstruating. The impact of girls having their education interrupted one week in every month resonates with our students. Without question they embrace the responsibility and desire to make the lives of girls who are less fortunate easier and more equitable. Their commitment brings hope to others so girls can achieve their potential at school. Our aim is that all girls can ultimately contribute to the successes of their own community, as do our young women, rather than leaving school to get married and have children at an early age, thereby perpetuating an injustice.

The celebration of  women who worked for NASA and fought for justice and equality in the 1960s was the theme of Junior School’s assembly this week. The Year 5 girls recounted the women’s courage and belief in themselves during a time of heightened racial and gender inequalities. Through sheer tenacity, resilience and the utter determination to be respected for their academic acumen and professional abilities, they achieved the seemingly impossible by being included on male-dominated teams to help solve complex problems.  In so doing, they became international symbols of hope, and today their courage teaches young women that they too can speak out for a balanced world, to achieve the best outcomes when women and men work together.

At the conclusion of today’s breakfast celebration, the School Wellbeing Captain, Isobel Arnot, invited everyone to stand and raise their arms in a gesture for #balanceforbetter, signalling the need for more gender balance in the world. As a school, through our mission, values and service learning programs, we aim to think globally and act locally. We strive to play our part to bring about a balanced world. The challenge for us is to make everyday an international women’s day, by living in hope and celebrating our own milestones and achievements as a school and those of significant women along the way.

Summer Spectacular

Blessed with amazing weather, excited student stallholders, continuous entertainment, plenty of food including dumplings, spring rolls and cakes made with a lot of love and care, amazing stalls, exciting rides and an enthusiastic community, we all enjoyed a magnificent Summer Spectacular two weeks ago.

Following the weekend, flowers were sent to the Ormiston reception on Monday morning with a note:

Dear CGGS Staff

Thank you for a lovely day on Saturday.  We recognise that putting on the Summer Spectacular requires a huge commitment of your time.

Warm regards

A grateful family.

Many emails, notes and compliments have been received and I know that many prospective families ‘felt’ the sense of community as they explored our campus on the day. Thank you to all members of our community who assisted with the events or participated on the day.

I would particularly like to thank the organising team for such a fantastic effort.  Led by Kate Daffy from our Foundation Office, the fair was so well set out enabling people to engage with each other readily. Kate was ably assisted by the Foundation Team, Maintenance Team, Marketing Team, Finance Team, AV Team and staff.

Also making a significant contribution were our Parents and Friends Association and Old Grammarians. In particular, our parent teams were phenomenal. Some groups met on weekends to plan their stall, food was carefully prepared and many parents spent several hours at school assisting with the set up and pack down.  Thank you to Linda Black, John Downes and Cara Davey for their support and leadership of these groups.

Whilst we are still finalising the amount of money raised, it will be in the vicinity of approximately $16,000. The money this year will be allocated to the Music Department to purchase equipment and master class experiences that will be accessed by both Junior and Senior School students. The purchases will facilitate deeper learning, engagement with real world contexts and provide creative inspiration within our curricular and co-curricular programs.  The purchases will include:

  • 3 Yamaha YFL222ID Flutes – Year 7 Instrumental Program
  • Year Level Masterclass incursions ­– Years 5 – 7
  • Vocal PA System for the Rock Band and other small ensembles
  • Electric Keyboard for Mountfield House
  • Small sized string instruments for the Year 2 Super Strings Program
  • Pro Tools Full Version recording software – Record, edit and mix audio recordings of CGGS ensembles
  • Mac Book Pro Laptop for mobile recording purposes and use of Pro Tools software

Whilst these purchases are highly valued in the program, I also want to highlight that Summer Spectacular was a wonderful community event. Many students, parents, staff and friends of the School have all indicated how proud they felt on the day to be a member of this fantastic community. In the end, that is what really matters.


With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody