Bishop Druitt College values, and racism

Tuesday, 17 Aug 2021

There is no place for racism in our society. But we need to take action, not accept it, and call it out when it occurs. We need more than slogans and hashtags. 

Our college has two strong culture statements that I wish to highlight. 

Firstly, The Bishop Druitt Way, as outlined on our website,  “nurtures character and community to transform children into world prepared citizens who are empowered for life, embrace diversity, prioritise wellbeing, pursue personal excellence and serve our community.” This statement is an aspirational target but I meet graduates each year that align with and espouse The BDC Way.  

Secondly, the foundations of these qualities are built around our Anglican School values of mutual respect, service, inclusivity, integrity, courage, justice and generosity of spirit.

Over the last two weeks we have seen on the news some concerning racism claims and admission in AFL circles. I won’t dive into who said what but I will highlight the actions of Carlton’s Eddie Betts. Betts, an Aboriginal player, has begged “Australia to listen” to the hurt that racism causes on and off the sporting field. There is no place for racism in our society but we need to take action, not accept it and call it out when it occurs.

We need more than slogans and hashtags. Society, and through association schools, need a coordinated approach based on the evidence that brings Australians of different backgrounds together. We need to build understanding and develop empathy. It is not enough to play sports together or sit in the same classroom or even to pass each other in supermarket aisles. 

The college’s demographic is racially diverse. Our students come from a diverse range of ethnic and religious backgrounds. The majority of students are born in Australia, including a small percentage of Aboriginal students (44 students), with the remaining coming from more than 45 countries. The students born in other countries originate from the European, Asian, American and African continents. This diversity is also represented through 33 different languages being spoken in our families’ homes. The religious background of Bishop Druitt College students is similarly diverse. Parents have nominated more than 20 different religious groupings in their enrolment data.

Bishop Druitt College is active in addressing racism. If it is reported it is acted upon, but it is not through punitive measure that people change their actions. It is through education. The college is working with a variety of support organisations to address this issue. The Real Schools Partnership is designed to support college culture around restorative justice and discussion circles. Our work with Together for Humanity, a Sydney-based not for profit organisation specialising in fostering intercultural understanding, is aimed at supporting a series of small group sessions with young people from communities that are often subjected to prejudice. We do this to help them feel a sense of belonging, and to build resilience so they can respond appropriately when they hear things about their groups. We also help these students develop confidence in their ability to connect beyond their own ethnic or religious groups.

Together for Humanity also works with teachers and schools to build their capacity so they can do this work themselves. Our first teacher professional development course occurred last Wednesday and has started to equip teachers with more knowledge and skills to allow students to embrace difference and reject prejudice and bigotry. 

Bishop Druitt College will take action for your children and for our society.

Nick Johnstone,