Our Journey Towards Embracing Diversity – Jennifer Oaten

Our pursuit of diversity and inclusion at Santa Maria College has strong foundations in our Catholic faith, which teaches us that every individual is created in the image and likeness of God. This central belief compels us to recognise the inherent dignity and value in each person, guiding our efforts to foster an environment where everyone feels welcomed and included. This perspective encourages us to embrace each person’s uniqueness while working together towards a more inclusive and harmonious community.

Catholic social teaching, with its emphasis on community, solidarity, and the common good, inspires us to see beyond individual differences and to appreciate the diverse landscape of human culture as a single family created by God. It is about embodying the Gospel’s teachings of love, compassion, and justice in our interactions with others.

Our approach to inclusion is further enriched by the call to reconciliation and healing. Acknowledging past biases and injustices, we strive to create a culture of forgiveness and growth through open dialogue. Through the principles of Catholic social teaching embedded in our curriculum, we aim to educate our students on the importance of empathy, and need to respect the dignity of every human being.

Guided by the example of Pope Francis and the broader teachings of the Church, we are motivated to extend our mission of inclusion beyond our school, seeking to make a positive impact on the wider society and helping to create a community where every individual is valued for who they are.

When we refer to diversity we are referring to the many different groups within our community including those of different academic abilities particularly those who are neurodiverse, those who are of different cultures and religions, those with disabilities, those with different physical appearances, those of different genders identities or those with different life experiences. All of these groups should feel welcomed and included in our community.

Where did we start? Insightful beginnings through survey analysis

Our journey towards fostering a more inclusive environment began with a survey aimed at capturing the diverse voices within our school community. We delved into various dimensions such as students’ birthplaces, language skills, religion and experiences at school. Students provided feedback regarding if they felt valued and included in our community and made suggestions on how we could improve. Their feedback was very helpful in shedding light on a complex issue.

Students expressed a clear desire for a more inclusive environment. Their responses highlighted not just a preference but a strong call for action towards enhancing equity and ensuring fair treatment and equal opportunities for all.

Parallel to the student survey, we engaged our staff in a similar exploration, seeking their perspectives on inclusivity and diversity within our school for themselves and our students. Staff feedback mirrored the students’ sentiments, pointing to a shared recognition across our community for broader representation of diverse groups and more inclusive practices. This unified voice from both students and staff underlined the imperative for actionable steps towards inclusivity.

Responding to this collective call, we established a Diversity Committee composed of members from both our teaching and support staff. This team took on the task of analysing the survey data to craft a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Our approach was grounded in the insights gathered, aiming to develop a framework and principles to guide our work ensuring that our strategy remains responsive and relevant to the needs of our school community.

Crafting our Vision and Strategic Pillars

Vision

At the heart of our mission lies a vision to cultivate an environment where every individual is valued for their uniqueness, fostering a deep sense of belonging within our school community. We are dedicated to building a space that not only appreciates diversity but actively promotes inclusion, seamlessly aligning with our core Catholic virtues of respect, love, and compassion. Our goal is to create a community that not only appreciates but also celebrates the diversity of humanity.

Strategic Pillars: Guiding our journey towards inclusivity

Informed by Insight: Our strategy, crafted from in-depth data analysis and the expressed needs of our students and staff, stands on four pillars designed to steer us toward an inclusively vibrant future.

We are committed to:

  1. Understanding Differences: We will focus on learning about and understanding our own unique stories and those of the diverse groups within and beyond our community.
  2. Improving Diversity: We will strive to improve the representation of diverse groups within our school community.
  3. Promoting Inclusion: We will continue to work towards creating an environment where everyone feels valued, included and respected.
  4. Celebrating Uniqueness: We will encourage and celebrate the individuality of each member of our community.

At Santa Maria, our dedication to fostering an inclusive environment is based in our Catholic values, which call us to love one another. By embracing our four pillars – Understanding Differences, Improving Diversity, Promoting Inclusion, and Celebrating Uniqueness – we are committed to building a community that not only respects but celebrates every individual.

We invite our students, staff, and the broader community to join us in this important journey as we work together to create a school that truly reflects inclusivity. Let us create environments where the richness of our differences are not just tolerated but celebrated, where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Alexa Teixeira’s Journey from Santa Maria College to the screen

From a gap year adventure in California to working alongside Hollywood stars in Western Australia’s thriving screen industry, Alexa Teixeira’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. Graduating from Santa Maria College in 2015, Alexa deferred her sports science degree to explore a newfound passion for filmmaking. Her experiences, from Warner Brothers Studio tours to assisting renowned actors like Daisy Ridley, highlight a remarkable career shaped by spontaneous decisions and a deep love for the arts.

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