The mission of Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong is to create vibrant Catholic school communities where every student finds meaning and purpose in life through continual growth in faith and improvement in learning. This purpose can only be achieved when students feel safe, supported and valued for who they are.
Our Catholic schools prioritise the safety and wellbeing of the children and young people in our care. This includes providing opportunities for students to develop a deep understanding of the dignity of the human person and what it means to respect and care for others, as well as fostering an environment in which students feel safe to communicate their needs and concerns to their teachers and school leaders.
Last year, following two years of development, we launched a new framework designed to strengthen the culture of respectful relationships within our schools. Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions prevented us from providing all members of our Catholic school communities the opportunity to understand the framework, its background, and the scope and nature of its content.
The Life to the Full framework is focused on respectful relationships, child safety and human sexuality education in a Catholic context, and was created as part of our proactive and holistic response to the risks presented by peer-to-peer sexualised behaviour and inappropriate use of social media and the internet by students.
While development of the framework began several years ago, a recent focus in the media on the issues of consent, and inappropriate sexual behaviour by both young people and adults, is a timely reminder of the need for our schools to maintain a constant focus on fostering respectful relationships and delivering sexuality education that is informed by our Catholic worldview. The framework provides supportive opportunities for students to engage with the Church’s vision of mature, life-giving human sexuality as the expression of love and fidelity.
Life to the Full was developed by the Catholic Education Office in consultation with schools, the Office of the Bishop, and a number of moral theologians who ensured the framework and its resources aligned to our Catholic ethos. The design of the framework was also informed by:
- The publication of a new Personal Development Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) Curriculum; and
- The recommendations arising from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse;
- An increase of peer-to-peer sexualised behaviour amongst young people, including students in Australian primary and secondary schools; and,
- Requests for support to enable educators to respond to these complicated and sensitive issues in an authentically Catholic way.
This framework, with its high-quality resources and extensive ongoing personal and professional learning development for teachers, is a timely response to these issues. Along with other frameworks and resources being introduced in school communities across our diocese, Life to the Full will continue to advance our shared mission by:
- Enhancing the understanding that all people are made in the image and likeness of God;
- Demonstrating what respectful relationships look like within Catholic school communities and building students’ understanding of how they can maintain respectful relationships; and
- Developing students’ positive outlook and self-image and increasing their enjoyment of, and appreciation for, the gift of life.
We commend this framework and its resources to you. If you would like to learn more about Life to the Full please speak with your school principal or contact the Catholic Education Office on (02) 4253 0800.
Most Rev Brian G Mascord DD
Bishop of Wollongong
Diocese of Wollongong