I wrote the Safe Schools LGBTI program, Tony Abbott. It’s vital and it changes lives – Chris Bush

Photo credit: Carol Cho/AAP (from the Guardian article)

Chris Bush is an Economics/Accounting/English teacher at Melbourne High School, and he is also involved in MHS rowing. He is one of the authors of the Safe Schools LGBTI program. Recently he was in the audience for the #QandA program: Safe Schools, Sniping and Senators .

Chris wrote this article for The Guardian.

Tony Abbott says the Safe Schools program is not an anti-bullying program and should be de-funded, but it’s crucial to LGBTI kids, and to an inclusive Australia.

When I hear Tony Abbott say that the Safe Schools program is not an anti-bullying program, I am astounded. When I hear him say it’s “social engineering” I am incredulous. When I hear him say the funding for it should be terminated, I am so dismayed.

I was one of the authors of the program and I know exactly what it is. I also know how vital it is to the lives of young LGBTI students; if it had been around when I was at school it would have changed my life.

Three years ago when I was undertaking my teacher training I was approached to work on a new project. Teachers and principals were constantly asking the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria for a resource that would help them combat homophobia and support LGBTI kids in their schools. All the existing resources were old and out of date and most told stories that were bleak. They needed an anti-bullying program – yes, an anti-bullying program – that stopped what they felt they were currently unable to do.

The resource’s front page clearly states that All of Us is a “health and physical education resource for understanding gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex topics for Years 7 and 8 and the program aims are explicit.

  1. Increase respect and inclusion of LGBTI people by challenging stereotypes and increasing empathy through exploring relatable real life stories.
  2. Reduce homophobic and transphobic behavior and discrimination in schools and the wider community by increasing understanding of the impact of the behaviour and discrimination on people’s health and wellbeing.
  3. Provide practical strategies and skills to enable students to create a school environment that recognises and celebrates the diversity of each person’s unique sexuality, gender identity or intersex status.

Read the rest of Chris’ article here.

Photo source: The Guardian

Winding up for the end of the year

So it’s a curious time of year when the regular pace and routine are disrupted by wonderful messy projects such as the year 9 city scavenger hunt, the year 9 city project (research/documentary), for the first time the year 10 Innovation Project which gives students the opportunity to make significant changes in the school, presenting to a panel of professionals to be shortlisted for the successful three teams – and lots of singing in between (LOTS of singing!)

I wanted to share some photos of this busy, happy time.

Year 9s waiting to watch the winning Melbourne documentaries.

The winners receiving their accolades.

In between all of this the library is a hub of old fashioned activity.


Games for people with tiny fingers.


Board games


Next Monday the library assistants and Writing Interest Group (WIG – formerly Competition Writing) are joining for a big party, The Madhatter’s Tea Party, to be precise.

And of course, there are always BOOKS!


Where’s Wally? literally

Some of our students spent a considerable period of time painstakingly putting together our Where’s Wally? puzzle.

But Where’s Wally? Literally. If you have seen the Wally puzzle piece of accidentally picked it up in your sleeve, could you please return him so that said students are able to feel the satisfaction of completing the puzzle.

Thank  you. After all, what is a Where’s Wally puzzle without Wally?

ANZAC commemoration @MHS

“Two days after being introduced to the trenches, we are quite used to the work and noise … If a shell strikes your portion of the trench you are lucky to get off, but you keep on with your job and hope that the next will not be so near.” These words were written by then Captain Langley who would survive Gallipoli and go on to be principal of Melbourne High School. (Source: The Leader) Melbourne High School old boy, Alan Gregory, has edited Langley’s ANZAC Letters, a complimentary copy of which our students have received today. The book includes letters George Langley wrote to his family about his experience at ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli (as stated in the blurb). Catherine Morton captured these beautiful photos of the ANZAC day march. Last week a few students demonstrated how Two-Up works – don’t worry, no gambling, only homemade Anzac biscuits as sustenance.

Looking back at our blog for 2014 – it’s been a very good year!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

2014 Dromkeen Librarian’s Award – Pam Saunders


Recently our head of library, Pam Saunders, was awarded the Dromkeen Librarian’s Award which

is presented to a teacher, a teacher librarian or a children’s librarian, working within or outside the education system, in recognition of the important role played by this person in introducing young people to literature and encouraging an enjoyment and love of reading.

The award is presented to a person who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to children’s literature.

Pam’s experience in libraries and schools is broad: she has worked in a variety of settings – primary and secondary schools, public libraries and the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria. She has worked with babies in arms, with their parents, with young and older children and teenagers.

At the centre of Pam’s passion for libraries and their patrons is her love of reading.

Books are a place of pleasure and a beautiful way to de-stress. I also believe books and stories are the best way to walk in someone’s shoes.

The empathy a reader fosters from reading is invaluable; reading is much more than decoding of words.

 I asked Pam to share some of her observations of the reading culture at Melbourne High School since she took up the position of head of library at the beginning of the year.

Here at Melbourne High School many of our boys read. Science Fiction and Fantasy are continually popular and need little promotion. Many of the boys also read and enjoy the classics, and there is an expectation within the school community that reading the classics is ‘a good thing’. As the students progress into higher levels of study, reading for pleasure  can fall but we work hard to make sure they still find time to de-stress with a book, matching the right title to the right student. Somewhere in amongst all the academic rigour I hope that the joy for reading remains.

To what does she attribute her passion for reading?

I was fortunate to have become a reader on the lap of my father as he read to me. I  remember walking as a very young child to the shop to buy the new magazine Playhour and then my father reading it to me, especially the comics. This was further fostered by a dynamic school librarian, Mrs Cecilia Stubbs, who ran the library at Burnie High School in the 1970s. She encouraged students to use the library, to be involved and, best of all, she challenged my reading, pushing me to read titles which I would not have discovered myself. Titles like Black like me by John Griffin. I hope I have emulated her as a librarian.

We congratulate Pam on her prestigious award, and we are proud to have her nurture our reading culture at Melbourne High School.

The Dromkeen Medal and Dromkeen Librarian’s Award have a distinguished history of over 32 years, with previous Medal recipients including well-known children’s book illustrators and authors such as Shaun Tan, Bronwyn Bancroft, Roland Harvey, Ruth Park and Graeme Base (MHS Old Boy!) Similarly distinguished names grace the list of past winners of the Librarian’s Award.

Library Allsorts – update on recent library happenings

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What’s been happening in our library? Like many other school libraries, we’ve been signing students up for a few Melbourne Writers’ Festival workshops, including the one by Arnold Zable pictured above. Denise has donned her Grim Reaper costume to scare students into putting their names down for groups taking part in the second BookWiz competition (book related trivia) at Melbourne High School. Well, not exactly ‘scare’ but she does get noticed.

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We’re opening up more of our books and displaying them in the traffic areas with positive results. Books actually get noticed this way! unnamed (9)

I couldn’t believe how many students and teachers stopped to look at these illustrations. unnamed (2)

The TV is on all day every day – on mute – on the ABC 24 hour news channel. I don’t know why we didn’t do this earlier.unnamed (3)

Students are still playing chess ALL DAY LONG. Not the same students of course. unnamed (5)

Good opportunity to bring out the chess and other strategy game books – right next to the players.

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We still have a wide variety of self-initiated activities happening in the library during recess and lunchtimes. We don’t always understand what is involved but the students obviously do. Notice the nice mix of technology with paper games. unnamed (4)

Data mining continues to be highly esoteric. Here you can see the data being collected for ‘If you could choose to have a superpower, what would it be?’ unnamed clear       unnamed (13)

As you can hopefully see, teleportation and invisibility rank the highest in student-desired superpowers. Commanding an army of ducks has surprising high results too.

One thing I can say with certainty, there is no place for boredom in Melbourne High School library.

Book donations

We are fortunate to receive book donations from various people in the community. Thanks to Pieter Scheffers for recently donating the wonderful philosophy collection (photos coming soon), and also for the books which arrived today. There has been much interest from our reading community.


Has the iPad program killed good old-fashioned hands-on activities? The answer is no.

Short answer: No. Not at Melbourne High School. Sure, we have many students using iPads for all sorts of activities (fantastic), but we also have this –

chessgame chesstable butterfly playingchess pensculpture


I hope this post brings a bit of hope to those who think that our so-called ‘digital natives’ are incapable of amusing themselves without technology.

Thank you to Dr Claudio Rigon and his wife, Jun, for donating the fabulous chess table to the library. Within an hour of its installation, there were already many games played.

Interestingly, Dr Claudio and Jun’s son, Dennis, was spotted playing chess at the very table his parents had donated, despite the fact that he didn’t play it at home. We are amused.