St Andrew's Cathedral School

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Incident support

for parents and students

After the tragic events of 25 October 2023, our priority is to provide access to counselling and support services for our students, parents and the wider St Andrew’s Cathedral School community. Please see a list of support services below.

  • Tutors or class teachers: A student’s Year Advisor, Head of House or Grade Leader is often the most familiar first point of contact and they can direct students to additional pastoral supports. 
  • Anglicare have offered free counselling support to all staff, students, and families of St Andrew’s Cathedral School & Gawura on 1300 651 728
  • Headspace have made additional counselling spaces immediately available for our school families at their Bondi Junction and Camperdown centres. Headspace is a government counselling service for young people, aged 12-25 years, and their families across Australia.  Please contact the centres directly and identify yourself as a St Andrew’s Cathedral School or Gawura family or contact Mrs Wake on to assist in arranging access to this service. 
  • Headspace online session Headspace National have hosted free mental health education webinars for St Andrew’s Cathedral School parents and carers.

    • Session 1: Supporting young people impacted by grief and loss
      • The session aims to:
        • Provide information regarding young people’s mental health.
        • Increase awareness of how to support young people impacted by grief and loss.
        • Explore the conversational approach to talking to your young person about grief, loss and their own mental health.
        • Build awareness of local, state and national support services available to young people and carers.
        • Grow skills and strategies to encourage help-seeking and self-care.

    • Session 2: Opening the Conversation – Grief and loss for parents, carers and young people
      • Parents and children are encouraged to watch together.
      • A copy of the video and digital resource pack can be found here.

Ongoing conversation suggestions:

Provide reassurance that they are safe. All children, from toddlers to teens, will benefit from your reassuring words and touch — extra hugs or just a re-assuring pat on the back. It gives them a feeling of security, which is so important in the aftermath of an upsetting event.

If children have follow up questions then share age-appropriate information about what happened: Age-appropriate truth, transparency and consistency from a safe, trusted adult is important. Be brief and honest and allow children to ask questions.

  • Some words which may be helpful are: “That is an important question. I can’t answer it right now but I will when I can”. Don’t presume children are worrying about the same things as adults.

Act calm. Children look to adults for reassurance after traumatic events have occurred. Do not discuss your worries with your children, or when they are around, and be aware of the tone of your voice, as children quickly pick up on worry.

  • Some words which may be helpful are: “It can be really sad when we hear about these type of things, but we know that we are all safe and we have our family, friends and teachers to care for us.

Maintain routines as much as possible. Amid changes, routines reassure children that life will be okay again. Try to have regular mealtimes and bedtimes. And stick with the same family rules, such as ones about good behaviour.

  • Some words which may be helpful are: “I know it can be strange having no school today, but we still need to get to bed on time so we can rest well.”

Help children enjoy themselves. Encourage kids to do activities and play with others. The distraction is good for them and gives them a sense of normalcy.

  • Some words which may be helpful are: “Hey, you’ve been home a little while, why don’t you go out and (jump on the trampoline/ kick a ball/ walk the dog).”

Supporting our children in difficult times

Based on Michael Grose “Parenting Ideas”

In this difficult circumstance it can be a challenge to know how to support our students to understand and process what they see and hear. There are no easy answers but be assured that your child will benefit from talking to you. These ideas may be helpful:

Be available: Let your child know that it is okay to talk with you. Listen to what they think and feel. By listening, you can find out if they have misunderstandings, and you can learn more about the support that they need. You do not need to explain more than they are ready to hear but be willing to answer their questions.

Manage access to the news – as is age-appropriate: It is also helpful to take particular care about your child’s exposure to news events. The consistency and frequency of news cycle images can be frightening for young children who don’t understand the notion of distance and have difficulty distinguishing between reality and fiction.

Listen to emotions: The difficult recent events may raise many emotions for children and young people including grief and anxiety. Take your cues from your children and follow the threads that emerge. Demonstrate that you understand how they may be upset and clarify their emotions if possible.

Keep to a normal routine: Maintaining the same sleeping, eating and daily routines can help to restore a sense of control over our daily lives.

Remind them of hope: As a community we experience this grief together, and we find hope in our faith and in our friends and family.

Further advice

Pick good times to talk. Look for natural openings to have a discussion.

Understand that children cope in different ways. Some might want to spend extra time with friends and relatives. Others may prefer time alone.  

Listen well. It is important to understand how your child views the situation, and what is confusing or troubling to them. Do not lecture — just be understanding. Let kids know it is okay to tell you how they are feeling at any time.

Acknowledge what your child is feeling. If a child admits to a concern simply confirm what you are hearing: Yes, I can see that you are worried.”

Know that it’s okay to answer, “I don’t know.” What children need most is someone whom they trust to listen to their questions, accept their feelings and be there for them. Don’t worry about knowing exactly the right thing to say — after all, there is no answer that will make everything okay.

Realise the questions may persist. Let them know you are ready to talk at any time. Children need to digest information on their own timetable, and questions might come out of nowhere.

Online resources

for Junior School aged children

– for Secondary School aged children

– information packs