High Notes, Vol 16 No 16, May 29 2015

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From the Principal

High Talent
Congratulations to Roger Wu (Year 10) who was ranked first in NSW and 3rd in the nation in the ASX Schools Share Market Game. Roger won a cash prize for himself and a larger one for the school. Tom Liu (Year 7) placed equal 3rd in Australia in the Junior Division of the Australian Geography Competition. Great job, Tom! At the Stan Jones Tennis Cup Knockout, High was represented by Matthew O’Sullivan (Year 9), Stephen Young (Year 10), Danny Yu, Daniel Zhang, Adam Smagarinsky (Year 11) and Josh Sangueza (Year 12). The boys played well, accounting for Menai, Kirrawee and Woolooware. Regrettably, they lost again in the final to Endeavour Sports High. Congratulations to Thomas Shortridge who was a member of the NSW Schools Debating Team which won the National Debating Competition. At the National Individual Boys Fencing Championships John Tian (Year 10) won gold in the Senior Epée and James Siu (Year 9) won gold in the senior sabre, with Garry Huang (Year 11) third. Congratulations on a great performance, boys!

Changes to the Australian Sports Foundation grants
The ASF was formed in 1986 to provide a tax deduction for donations to sport to incentivise community, corporate and philanthropic investment. The Foundation is registered under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 as a type 1 Designated Gift Recipient. It has always given 100% of the money donated to it back to the registered organisations, less a credit card fee where it applied. In recent times public funds are coming under increasing pressure and budgetary cuts have been applied to the ASF. As from July 1, 2015, ASF operating costs (c$2m pa) will no longer be publicly funded. Grant donated monies in future will be 95% of online donations and 94% of offline donations. In addition, credit card donations will attract a 1% fee or 2% for American Express. These charges will apply from July 1.

High is in the last year of its third ASF project. Sport at High has benefited very significantly from the c.$750,000 donated by parents and Old Boys since 2001. Next month a new grant agreement will be issued by ASF to all registered organisations. Parents considering giving to ASF for a particular sport are urged to take advantage of the existing arrangements to get the maximum benefit from their philanthropy. It is so much simpler to donate now. Just go to  https://asf.org.au/organisation/sydney-boys-high-school/ On the page displayed there is a box to make a general tax deductible donation to the School Sports Projects. Beneath the box there are pictures and donate buttons for each of our sports. From now on this will be the only method available to parents to make donations to the school sports programs.

Sorry Day Assembly
Three of our boys gave moving speeches in poetry and prose to highlight the plight of the ‘stolen generation’ and to reinforce the message of our society saying ‘sorry’ for its treatment of Aboriginal people under previous government policies. My speech to the assembly is reprinted below:

"Good afternoon and welcome to our Sorry Day Assembly. I acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as the custodians of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to any Aboriginal people here today. This week we are hosting our Kamilaroi friends from Boggabilla.

"Our Sorry Day Assembly is held during National Reconciliation Week which commences officially today, commemorating the May 27 referendum in 1967 which recognised Aboriginal people as Australian citizens. This week provides us with a period of time each year during which we can take time out to assess or reflect upon our relationships with indigenous Australians.

"One perennial issue we must confront is the incidence of Aboriginal incarceration and rate of deaths in custody for aboriginal detainees. One in every thirteen adult Aboriginal males is in prison.  Aboriginal people make up merely 2.5% of Australia’s population yet comprise 26% of the prison population.

"Since the 1991 Royal Commission there have been more than 340 deaths in custody of Aboriginal people. Noel Nannup, a Noongar elder, drove a familiar route to Perth’s Casuarina maximum security prison where his 31 year old nephew took his own life with just three months of his sentence left to serve.  Noel says: “In some ways, I guess I’m used to it…it’s just awful.  So, there’s another side of me that just aches to the core; you now, about how frustrating it can be to have this happen time and time again.” 

"Nothing much has changed since 1991. One of the Royal Commission’s recommendations from that year was that Aboriginal people should be incarcerated as a last resort.  Many Aborigines are in gaol because of unpaid fines.  Julieka Dhu, aged 22, died in custody after being twice transferred to the local hospital only to be cleared to return to gaol.  She owed $1000 in unpaid fines. Ironically, the cost to the government of keeping people in gaol is at least $80,000 per annum.  The economics around locking up people for modest amounts owed in fines don’t seem at all reasonable. A deeper question is whether imposing fines as a punishment is appropriate in some Aboriginal communities.

"My sense of this issue is that racist attitudes towards aboriginal people have not changed significantly in the last twenty five years. In the USA black Americans are frequently being shot ‘on suspicion’. In Australia, Aborigines are more often arrested ‘on suspicion’. If we are to have a genuine ‘national reconciliation’ as a society, we will have to become more proactive and stop turning a blind eye to the problem of police and magistrates who have racist predispositions, acknowledged or not.

"Sadly, even within our own school, boys are making racist jokes or posting racist utterances online.  ‘It is time to change it up.’ Our behaviour needs to change for the better. We need to become more tolerant of difference and more inclusive of others. We can resolve to be more aware of and become more sensitive towards racist attitudes and expressions.  We need to change what we say and do to others, bearing in mind what we have allowed to happen to our fellow citizens in the past; what continues to happen now, but what we need so much as a nation not to let happen in our future. Let’s change it up together!"
Dr K A Jaggar

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