The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Lessons from Australian Heroes

A short time ago, the Australians of the Year were announced. Cave divers Richard Harris and Craig Challen were named as joint winners for their work in helping to rescue twelve young soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

In speaking of their part in the rescue, both men were so humble, acknowledging how they were part of a much larger team, contributing what they could. They seem to be uncomfortable heroes. They also commented that they did not hold much hope at all of a successful rescue; and yet they persisted, working methodically with others despite almost impossible odds.

In accepting his award, Dr Harris said: "I want kids to find their inner explorer by taking a few risks and challenging themselves. I do fear for kids today who, living in a risk-averse society, will not learn to challenge themselves and to earn the grazed knees and stubbed toes that really are necessary to build resilience and confidence. I think a need for adventure resides in all of us. Young people need to be able to find their own boundaries and to test their own limits." He added that it was "…equally important to ask parents to relax a little and let [children] have a bit of rope to do that. Outdoor activities really do promote physical and mental wellbeing," he said.

Dr Challen said, "Everyone has a test coming in their lives and when it does you're either going to make the most of it or you're not – it's too late to start preparing for it then… We must all accept personal responsibility for our destiny and confronting the small challenges that appear every day and taking responsibility for your actions and their consequences is the only way you can possibly be ready for the life defining events. There is a temptation to take the easy route, to think that life will be better if we mold it to make it as comfortable as possible. But there is a real serious risk in doing this – the risk that we miss the opportunities that present themselves, missing the chance to lend a hand and help others, or risk never knowing our own strength and what we are capable of and that when we are faced with our test, or adversity confronts us, we crumble in a heap and give up."

At some point, we become embarrassed about making mistakes. And yet, this is the only way we learn and grow and become better. We want boys to go on, to learn from their mistakes and strive for something even harder the next time. Dealing with daily difficulties helps us to deal with bigger problems when they come along.

At those same awards, the parents of Amy "Dolly" Everett, who took her own life last year due to bullying at the age of just 14, were named Local Heroes. They spoke passionately of the need to raise awareness of the impact of bullying. "Speak, even if your voice shakes. Bullying has no place in anyone's life." This is a message we are working hard to promote at Scotch, through events such as RUOK? Week. We can deal with this problem only when it is brought to our attention. It is important for students to know that we are here for them and we are committed to making things better, however long it may take. If you are concerned about your son or other boys, we would be grateful if you would let us know.

"Bullying is a learned behaviour, but so is kindness," Mr Everett said. "We can combat [bullying] and teach our children to be kind instead, and [show them] that bullying has no place in today's world." This, too, is an on-going focus for us – to impress upon our students the importance of treating people with kindness. This is the pathway to a better world.


With the start of the year, parents may find it helpful to visit the SchoolTV website, to which we subscribe. This is a great place for parents to find information relating to a variety of topics. Of particular relevance are "Surviving Year 12" and Transitions. 

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing