Sydney Catholic Schools announces new Sports Council

Michael Ennis, Leisl Stimpson and Kim Green

Sydney Catholic Schools’ Executive Director, Tony Farley, today announced the formation of a new Sports Council via an online video message to all students, parents and staff.

The Sports Council will play a pivotal role in the streamlining of structural and administration functions in Sport across all 150 primary and secondary schools in the Sydney Catholic Schools system.

In case you missed it, you can watch Mr Farley’s announcement via the live link below:

About the Sports Council

Chaired by Dr Kate O’Brien, Sydney Catholic Schools’ Director: Education and Research, the Sports Council aims to create more sporting opportunities for students at all levels, as well as increasing access to participation in elite sport.

Another focus of the Council will be the expansion of inter-school sport, introducing new sports within schools, and creating more before and after school sporting programs.  

Together with Dr O’Brien, the Council is made up of five internal experts and three external experts who will help connect Sydney Catholic Schools with the wider sports industry.

Sports Council Members
Principals of the Sports Council. Clockwise: Peter Watkins, Dr Cathy Young, James Clancy and Michael Hollis.

Dr O’Brien said the formation of the Council represents an important chapter in Sydney Catholic Schools’ proud sporting history. 

“The year ahead promises to be one of the most exciting for sport yet, so we are delighted to have the support of the Council,” Dr O’Brien said.

“We are lucky to have been able to assemble a Council who are all knowledgeable, passionate and motivated about taking our sporting programs to the next level.” 

“We are particularly pleased to welcome Michael, Kim and Leisl onto the Council and we look forward to the valuable insights and ideas that they will bring to the table” – Dr Kate O’Brien 

A Sydney Catholic Schools’ parent, Michael Ennis said he’s excited about contributing to the development of sport across the system. 

“The chance to work on the Sports Council is something that I’m extremely humbled by,” said Mr Ennis. 

“After already talking to the Council, there are some wonderful things happening in both primary and secondary schools. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing what we can create and how we can better the system, to give the kids the most opportunities to play the sports that they love – or to try new ones.”


2021 Primary Sports Awards winners announced

Revealed: Lockdown Arts Festival Winners

Sydney Catholic Schools Lockdown Arts Festival

We’re excited to share with you the winners of Sydney Catholic Schools’ Lockdown Arts Festival.

Themed Looking outwards from a life in lockdown, the festival celebrates the joy, creativity, optimism and resilience of our Sydney Catholic Schools’ community during the pandemic.

Launched during lockdown, our Sydney Catholic Schools’ students, families and staff submitted more than 900 creative works showcasing their incredible creative talent.

Please CLICK ON THE CATEGORY NAMES BELOW to see, hear and read the amazing works of all our category winners and highly commended artists.

Visual Arts
Painting and Drawing
Scenes from a Play
Short Story
Original Composition

Congratulations to all of our winners and participants. You really have done us proud!

Wellbeing: The Sydney Catholic Schools approach

two hands with rosary

A legacy of care unique to Catholic education has laid the foundations for a robust and positive approach to wellbeing at Sydney Catholic Schools.


Catholic schools became synonymous with pastoral care in the 1980s when many adopted the work of Marist Brother and member of Little Brothers of Mary (FMS), Brother Kevin Treston.

The educator and author’s book, Pastoral Care for Schools, quickly became favoured for its philosophy of care across all aspects of school life.

It asked teachers to recognise and develop each child’s individual gifts and emphasised forming positive relationships.

Pastoral care is the integration of the academic, social and religious dimensions of a school so that an atmosphere of care prevails within the school community.

“Pastoral Care was a marker of Catholic school; then, with the emphasis on mental health and wellbeing, the language changed,” said Sydney Catholic Schools’ Manager: Student Wellbeing and Learning, Stephen Said.

“Pastoral care included making sure that every child had a friend, they weren’t bullied and there was peer support available.

stephen said image
Sydney Catholic Schools’ Manager: Student Wellbeing and Learning, Stephen Said.

“As we’ve become more vigilant to mental health needs, the field of wellbeing has got even more rigour about it” – Stephen Said

“Today, under a wellbeing focus, we have staff who are registered mental health practitioners with various qualifications in counselling, social work and psychology,” Mr Said explained.

“The Student Wellbeing Team also consists of educators with extensive knowledge and experience in maintaining the positive relationships that underpin learning and a cohesive family life.

“Wellbeing and positive relationships are seen as integral to learning.

“When referring to pastoral care and wellbeing one has really morphed into the other.

“But we can very confidently say that Catholic schools have a long tradition in pastoral care that has served our schools really well, and is addressing the current challenges families face.”


A school’s Catholic charism and values often add another layer to the wellbeing approach of individual schools within the Archdiocese of Sydney.

“There is always something in the different charisms that underpins the philosophy within the school,” remarked Mr Said.

For example, Saint Mary Mackillop’s famous saying “Never see a need” advocates compassion and action. Presentation Sister, Nano Nagle’s motto “In deed, not word” encourages positive action.

“Schools will unpack their motto, and what it means for day-to-day life and relationships,” explained Mr Said. “They will drill down and really embed what that means for their school community.”


Sydney Catholic Schools’ student wellbeing policy acknowledges that wellbeing is central to learning effectively and that learning, in turn, supports wellbeing.

It is informed by the Australian Student Wellbeing and Be You frameworks that aim to promote and protect positive mental health in children and young people nationally.

Sydney Catholic school students can access counsellors employed through CatholicCare – the social service agency of the Archdiocese of Sydney – or directly by the system, i.e. Sydney Catholic Schools.

“Every one of our schools is supported by a fully-qualified school counsellor,” explained Mr Said.


Mental health first aid is the help provided to someone who is developing a mental health problem, has a worsening of an existing mental health problem or is in a mental health crisis.

This type of first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received, or the crisis resolves.

Since the first 180 teachers from Sydney Catholic Schools became accredited Youth Mental Health First Aid providers in 2016, many others have completed the internationally recognised two-day course.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid course covers where and how to get help for a young person aged 12 to 18 with poor mental health.

Depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders and substance misuse are discussed in depth, along with how to respond to traumatic events, suicidal thoughts, self harm and other mental health crises.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ Specialist: Student Wellbeing and Learning, Wendy Howlett, said teachers are trained to recognise the signs of these conditions and intervene early.


“What we are looking for are major changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours, which disrupt or impact on their day-to-day functioning over a period of time,” Ms Howlett said.

“As an example, there are psychological symptoms of anxiety: excessive fear and worry, decreased concentration and memory, indecisiveness, irritability, confusion, sleep disturbances. There are also behavioural and physical symptoms.

“Schools and teachers provide connection, inclusion, explicit teaching of social and emotional skills and are in a position to intervene early and seek further support if there are indicators of concern.”


Wellbeing and learning after lockdown