Wednesday 28 November 2012

Thanks for the many hosts we have had

Since the Conference ended both Tom and I have had little time to rest, visiting almost all areas of this wonderful country and meeting up with so many excellent Boarding Staff.
Just four days from the last conference session we were off to Melbourne, firstly to visit both Melbourne Grammar School and Xavier College and then to run a very successful Duty of Care Beginners Workshop at Scotch College. Next stop was Canberra - where we ran both the Beginner and Advanced Workshops at Canberra Girls Grammar and had the chance to tour both Canberra Girls and Canberra Grammar Schools.
I was privileged to be involved in helping to select a new Head of Boarding for Worawa Aboriginal College in Healsville, Victoria, and took part in their interviews. One of the special moments of this activity for me was watching the movie 'The Sapphires' on the plane while travelling to Melbourne, only to discover that this movie is based on the story of Auntie Lois Peeler, the Principal of Worawa!!
The Queensland Division held their State Conference at St Margaret's Anglican Girls School in Brisbane and over 70 members had the chance to learn more about Adolescent Brain Development.
The end of October saw us off to Sydney to run Beginner and Advanced Duty of Care workshops at Knox Grammar School, and to tour their new boarding facility. Upon return we headed for Adelaide where we visited Immanuel College, Westminster School, Scotch College and Loreto College over two days and attended their Heads of Boarding meeting, where Tom presented on our Social Media offerings and I talked about progress with the National Boarding Standards. Next day we were off to Mackay to Whitsunday Anglican School for an Advanced Duty of Care workshop and a tour of this fast-growing boarding school.
Perth was our next stop, with a very full program. We started by attending the Term 4 Heads of Boarding meeting and both presenting, Tom again on Social Media and this time he included a discussion on how teenagers are actually using different parts of the Social Media offerings, and I again talked about the National Standards and taught those in attendance how to use our website effectively. We were privileged to tour Scotch College, PLC, St Mary's Anglican Girls School, Hale School, St Brigid's College and Mazenod College during our stay in the West.
Two more trips have taken place during November - firstly to North Queensland to Visit St Patrick's College, The Cathedral School of St Anne and St James and Townsville Grammar School all in Townsville, Blackheath and Thornburgh College, Columba Catholic College and All Souls St Gabriel's School in Charters Towers, and then to spend Graduation Day at St Teresa's College, Abergowrie - a remarkable ceremony celebrating the work of this wonderful school just out of Ingham.
Our last trip was to Toowoomba, where we held a Bridging Course for those who had completed the old Duty of Care Course at Fairholme College, and also enjoyed a tour of Fairholme, and Toowoomba Grammar School, and next day travelled out to visit and tour The Scots PGC College in Warwick.
As you can see we certainly haven't spent a great deal of time in the office, but it has been absolutely wonderful to meet with so many of our members, and to see the fantastic offerings they all have. Our aim of 20 school visits during term 4 is almost achieved, and we hope to report in the next Blog of a few extra schools in Brisbane who have hosted us. Look on our Flickr page for photos of every visit we have undertaken!
Work on our Leaders in Residential Communities Symposium to be held in Perth on 18th and 19th August 2013 is well underway - keep these dates free for what promises to be an exciting new way of improving your knowledge and skills.
Until next time - enjoy the last few days of the school term!
Richard Stokes

Saturday 6 October 2012

A Real Success!

All those who attended the 2012 ABSA National Conference would surely agree that we excelled this time - excellent speakers, great social events and wonderful practitioners discussing their successes!
Our time at Surfers Paradise was full and varied, and included a wonderful Opening Keynote from Judith Slocombe, CEO of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation talking on the safety of children and the need to develop esmart schools. This was followed by our first round of concurrent sessions - some very capable presenters - and the night ended with an evening in the clouds, a cocktail party on the top of Q1, the tallest building on the Gold Coast.
Monday was our fullest day, and included keynotes from Andrew Knott on legal issues and John Hendry and Charlie Scudamore from Geelong Grammar talking on Positive Psychology in Action, as well as a presentation on our Research Project by Brad Papworth and a number of sessions looking at the Draft of our National Boarding Standards. Delegates also enjoyed some more fantastic Concurrent Sessions. Most of us we happy to have a free night to wander, whilst the Principals and Heads had a chance to dine together at our first Head's dinner.
Tuesday morning saw a fascinating presentation from Pete Upham, Executive Director of TABS USA, and Hilary Moriarty, National Director of BSA, UK, and our last offering of Concurrent Sessions, followed by a free afternoon where many went shopping and others enjoyed a relaxation massage. Everyone donned their finest to head to the secret Conference Dinner location, Seaworld, where we had the Dolphin Show all to ourselves and a fabulous seafood buffet followed with a great DJ allowing people to dance the night away.
Wednesday was filled with presentations on Leadership by Darryl Cross and Relationships by Nick Hawkes, and attendees drifted off after lunch to hit the beach or head home.
My thanks to everyone involved - our Board Members for the fabulous support and help throughout, our Office Manager Thomas Dunsmore for being there every minute of the day to help the delegates (and teach them to tweet!), and to the delegates for so actively taking part in this wonderful event - your feedback has been fantastic and your personal notes and email to both Tom and me have been very flattering.
Thanks also to our wonderful sponsors:
Scholarest/LAPG for the coffee machine and fruit and your presence at everything, Coca-Cola Amatil for the drinks and great display, A H Beard and Interior Fitouts for the great bedroom display, LetzLive our long term supporters finding GAP student placements, ANZ Bank, Tightfit/Edart, Scuta, A Clear Direction and Harrison James - watch this space as these fantastic companies continue to support our work and offer members even more benefits.
And so we start to plan next year's offerings - a Heads of Boarding two day Symposium in Perth in August, a conference for people new to boarding at the end of Term One in Sydney and State Division conferences across the country.

Saturday 1 September 2012

A busy month - with some exciting developments

This week saw Tom and me in Melbourne for a couple of days - and the chance to attend their 'look Inside' at both Scotch College and Trinity Grammar School. We were both incredibly impressed with the wonderful turnout of Heads of Boarding and Senior Boarding Staff, and enjoyed the chance to lead a discussion on the progress toward National Boarding Standards and the running of Boarding School Expos in both Tasmania and Victoria. We received a very warm response toward this new project - work will progress over the next couple of months and more information will be forthcoming. We also enjoyed a lovely dinner together at the Skinny Dog Hotel in Kew - a great chance to relax and talk together.

Our previous two weeks were busy meeting with some of our Association sponsors. We are excited to report that Coca-Cola Amatil have signed on to support ABSA for the next twelve months - their new offerings will be very interesting for those who work with boarders. Scholarest/LAPG are also really excited about their presentation at the National Conference - they have a great deal to offer us and are very keen to work with our Expos as well. A.H.Beard Mattresses are also developing an interesting display for the conference.

The ABSA National Conference at the Gold Coast is not far away now - only 29 days at the time of writing this - and closing date for Registrations is only 10 days away. It is wonderful to report that we have over 230 delegates registered at this point - a considerable increase on the numbers attending our last two National Conferences - and more are still coming in. If you haven't registered yet please do so as soon as possible as our accommodation offerings are running out - you can register at

Lastly there has been a huge development in our Social Media offerings (including this blog!) - all instigated by our Office Manager Tom Dunsmore. If you aren't following us on Twitter (@austboarding) or haven't yet liked our Facebook page you really are missing out on some wonderful information relating to your work, which is updated often. Our online newspaper at Paper.Li is published weekly, and our Pinterest and Delicious accounts are increasing, and we are working toward putting some of the key articles from Lights Out onto the additional page of this blog - all of these have links at the top of our webpage. Lastly our YouTube Channel has an ever increasing number of videos - both those showing what is happening in schools around Australia and those filmed by Tom asking about best practice in boarding - they are great to watch and can be accessed from the tab on our home page. Take the leap and join in with us in this new way of gaining professional development.
Until next time . . .

Monday 6 August 2012

Great Conference Day in Tasmania

Just a short post this week - time runs short when you are out of the office, even for a day.

Congratulations to the Tasmanian Division of ABSA on their wonderful Conference day at Launceston Church Grammar School on Saturday. Terry Sheehan, Head of Boarding, arranged a first class program and we all enjoyed the chance to network during the day. It also gave Tom a chance to film some more staff talking about boarding - his efforts will appear on our YouTube Channel in the days to come.
Conference registrations are coming in steadily, but this is a brief reminder that our early-bird closing date is 15 August - just 9 days away. If you want to save your school $100 you will need to get that application in as soon as you can.

This weeks sees a range of appointments with Association Sponsors - some good support is coming our way, but we are always looking for more. If you know of a company which would benefit from partnering with us, please let me know.

Monday 30 July 2012

Conference Registrations coming in fast

Just when you think you are on top of everything, a deluge of conference applications comes in! Hopefully if you have registered this week (we received over 30 registrations) you have now received your confirmation.
Tom, our Office Manager, and I were lucky enough to attend the Associations Forum National Conference in Brisbane last week, where we gathered with 400 other Association Professionals to look at better ways of doing our job. You always know when you come away from a conference with heaps of good ideas which you can action immdiately that you spent your money well, and our 'whiteboard brainstorm' filled the whole board with things were are already putting into action. One specific area we are working hard to expand is our social media offerings, and our Twitter account is already getting more of a workout, and these feed straight to our facebook page as well. We need our members to become more active - tweeting and commenting on facebook - so why not put your mind to it today! We have also created an organisation page on LinkedIn, so if you use this social media source I encourage you to connect with us. More on this in the next edition of Lights Out.
Whilst talking about Lights Out I am keen for more members to highlight their excellent work - so if you have some ideas we would love you to put pen to paper (or finger to the keyboard is probably more accurate) and send something in - closing date for the Term 3 Edition is August 15.
If you are planning to come along to the National Conference but have not yet registered please don't miss the Early Bird Registration date of 15 August - registrations are available on-line at
Until next week - enjoy being tired and staying up late watching the Olympics - I am!

Saturday 21 July 2012

Duty of Care workshops in Sydney

The week started earlier than normal - 5am Sunday on the way to the airport as we headed to Sydney. St Vincent's College hosted our Duty of Care Advanced workshop with 18 more staff completing Book Two of the Certificate Course - special thanks to ABSA treasurer and Head of Boarding at St Vincent's, Madonna Hennessy, for hosting the day and providing such a lovely lunch. It was great for our Office Manager, Tom Dunsmore, to travel to Sydney to meet the ABSA executive as well, and he and I shared a wonderful dinner with Madonna on Sunday.
Monday morning Tom and I headed off for a series of meetings - firstly with new Association sponsors A.H. Beard, manufacturers of King Koil mattresses, then to PLC for Tom to meet Vice Chairman and Head of Boarding, Pauline Turner. From there we headed out to The King's School to have lunch and meet with the ABSA Chairman, Tim Hawkes - a three hour meeting discussing all the work of the Association. Our last meeting of the day was with Glenn Russell of MattressKleen who is looking to support our work in the near future, although we also caught up with Pauline and her two new GAP students during the evening.
We headed back to Brisbane on Tuesday, and had a busy day in the office on Wednesday trying to catch up with so much outstanding work!
Thursday was another early morning as we headed down to Sydney again, leaving home at 4.30am, to run a GAP Duty of Care workshop for the new LetzLive GAP students. It was a wonderful chance to help these young people settle in and connect them with Tom.
Friday was another busy day in the office which ended too quickly - thus me writing this on Saturday afternoon!
Some exciting things are on the horizon for ABSA - the possibility of running Boarding School Expos to help our schools to advertise their  schools, the Boarding Standards, the upcoming National Conference, workshops on Social Media around the country and the new School Search section of the website are all pending . . .watch this space.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Preparing for Boarders to Return

This week was another busy one, with Thursday and Friday out of the office conducting a Beginners and an Advanced Duty of Care Workshop at Clayfield College in Brisbane. It was great to welcome along staff from Clayfield College, St Margaret's Anglican Girls School, The Scots PGC College, Marist College Ashgrove and even one who travelled from The Scots School in Albury.
The start of the week in the office saw our trainee Tom working hard on a presentation for the second unit in the Certificate III in Business Course he is doing, and on Wednesday he presented this to both his trainer and me. We were very impressed, not only with the presentation and powerpoint, but also with the huge effort he put in to 'be the best he could be'. Tom has now completed two unit at an outstanding level, in the ten weeks since he started working for us. Thursday and Friday he joined me at Clayfield College, not to undertake the Duty of Care workshops (he has already completed Book 1) but to work on his next units, competing two more and getting half way through a third. He also videoed more staff answering the questions he posed, and will shortly edit these and post them to our YouTube Channel to add to the three he has already done.
We have commissioned an IT firm to re-write our Association Database, meaning much easier access to our data and the ability to get information out to members more quickly. We have received almost all of the update forms from schools now (still 20 to come!) which means we are now able to develop better communication lines with our members.
We have some exciting news regarding partnerships and sponsorships with other businesses to announce shortly - watch carefully as not only will you save yourself a good deal of money, but you will also help to support the work ABSA is doing.
For those of you in New South Wales and Queensland who have enjoyed three week break - I trust the coming term is a good one. Our conference takes place in the next break - we look forward to seeing many of you there.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Web Site Improvements were the order of the day

Another busy week based in the office as we worked to update everything on our website, as well as investigate new possibilities we can offer. We hope everyone checks the website often as our plans include information on our National Standards Project as well as new links on the homepage to our sister organisations around the world amongst the myriad of changes we are making.
I took part in a webinar on producing webinars - sounds a bit funny I guess, but the possibilities this opens for our organisation to offer training across the country over the internet is an exciting option for our future. We have also spent time investigating the accreditation of the Duty of Care Certificate Course - more information will be forthcoming on this in weeks to come.
Work continues on the National Conference in September/October, and those who offered to present concurrent sessions will be contacted this week - thanks to all of our members who have offered to give up their time to present. Unfortunately we are running our of some options in our accommodation offerings - I encourage all of you who are planning to come to register soon.
The week ahead sees a return to presenting Duty of Care workshops, in Brisbane on Thursday and Friday and in Sydney on Sunday - hopefully I will catch up with some of you on those days.

Friday 29 June 2012

How time flies in this busy life of Boarding Schools

Those of you from New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory will certainly understand the title of this blog piece having just enjoyed the first week of your mid-year break - I do trust you are finding some time to refresh after a busy first semester. South Australia and Victoria are all farewelling their students as I write, and Western Australia and the ACT are just holding on with a week of term left. Tasmania have just gone back into their second term of the year.
So what has been happening on the ABSA front this week - to be honest, not much really. It has been really great to have a week with us both in the office, which has meant the National Conference is now all up to date and workshops are almost finalised, the database update forms are all processed (only 20 still to come in), and some work has started on our website offerings. A project that has been on my list of things to do for over a year was launched by Tom this week - our YouTube videos, accessible through the YouTube link on our home page. Tom has been videoing boarding staff talking on a number of questions he poses, and then edits these together to form a fantastic collection of ideas - all watchable on a brief video. Check this link out on a regular basis as we plan to add more and more to the library.
Our Twitter and Facebook presence is also increasing, so if you are a user of one of these social media make sure you 'follow' or 'like' us - our Twitter feed can be found at @austboarding and for our Facebook page search 'Australian Boarding Schools Association'.
We have also started working with Australian Digital Partners, have developed a 'QR Code', and will be targeting those people who will find our Conference and training offerings most useful in new and exciting ways - watch this space!
Lastly, I am almost up-to-date with the marking of Duty of Care books in the office - with only those which arrived this week still to go. If you have been slow to complete your workbooks this semester break might give you a little time to do those last few tasks - then just send them in and I will mark them and issue your certificate (with an invoice, of course). Work is progressing with the accreditation of this course - more information will be forthcoming on this later in the year.
Don't hesitate to ring (or call in) if there is anything either Tom or I can help you with.

Saturday 23 June 2012

My first Blog

Having read a number of articles recently on different ways to use Social Media for organsations such as ours one of the more useful suggestions is a regular blog on the happenings and activities of ABSA so I have taken up the challenge and here we go.

The most exciting development for ABSA in recent weeks is the employing of our new 'office manager' and business trainee Tom Dunsmore. Those of you who have already met Tom would have been impressed to see a young man with so much energy to learn becoming an integral part of our organisation(at least I hope you were impressed). Tom is studying a Certificate III in Business under the Australian Government's traineeship program and has already taken on the challenges of looking after our social media presence (the video project he has started is looking fabulous and will be linked to our website this week from our youtube channel) - thus me having this new task as well, as well as all of the conference registrations and bookings, our distribution of Directories and Duty of Care books ordered and a myriad of other tasks in the office. I have known Tom for a number of years, including having taught him in Year Eight, and now I am enjoying having someone young and energetic in the office each day challenging me to do an even better job of supporting our members.

Associated with this was the move four weeks ago into our own office (and out of my home office) and we are now very well established at Brendale in Brisbane's north. Work is underway to increase the offerings of the members' section of the website and I encourage everyone to visit there regularly to see what else we have to offer. If you think of something we should add, please give me a call or send an email and I can look into getting it in place.

The last month has also seen a visit to Victoria to run a Duty of Care Beginners Workshop at The Hamilton and Alexandra College (thanks to Jane Horne for hosting this and to Sue Collister, our Victorian Chairman, for coming along for the trip). I was also lucky enough to squeeze a visit in to Worawa Aboriginal College in Healsville during that trip and really enjoyed the chance to meet their Principal Lois Peeler and Business Manager Andrew Jans and to see their facilities - a real highlight for me was the student art gallery which is fabulous!

This week saw a visit to Perth, firstly to attend a boarding review meeting at Guildford Grammar School, then to run a Duty of Care Bridging Workshop to help 13 staff who had completed the old Duty of Care course upgrade to the new one(thanks to Elaine Riley from MLC for hosting this great day), and lastly to look at potential venues for next year's Boarding Leaders' Symposium - more information on this to come shortly.

I am looking forward to a quieter week ahead in the office, which should allow me to catch up on some of the marking or our Duty of Care books, as well as to finalize the conference workshop program. Don't forget to contact our office if there is anything you would like us to assist you with - Tom's presence means we might even answer the phone when you call!