The why and the way we do things at Catherine McAuley College

Four principle components inform our expectations of staff and students, the respect we show one another and the manner in which we enact our roles.

Catholic Culture

(Queensland Catholic Schools and Curriculum – QCEC statement, 2021)

All staff and students benefit from the unique distinctiveness of Catholic education. College culture is informed by the foundations of a Catholic theology and philosophy of curriculum and may be described under four major headings:

  1. Anthropology: a Catholic understanding of the human person.
  2. Epistemology: a Catholic appreciation of how we know and the experience of knowing in teaching and learning.
  3. Cosmology: a Catholic perspective on how humans are enjoined to live within the integrity of creation and one another.
  4. The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: a 2000 year old heritage of Catholic Christian learning and teaching within the mission of the Church to promote the reign of God.

These four elements should be evident in staff formation, curriculum experiences and broader community involvement.


The Virtues Project (Linda Kavelin Popov, 1991)

According to the author, Linda Popov, the Virtues are the silver thread running through all of humanity’s sacred literature as well as the oral traditions of the world’s indigenous peoples. They are the qualities of the soul and the attributes of God.
The Virtues Project offers the following five strategies as tools for personal growth and healing and a path to deeper meaning, purpose and joy in life.

  • The language of the Virtues
  • Setting clear boundaries
  • Recognizing teachable moments
  • Honouring the spirit
  • Offering companioning

Embracing the virtues will help to develop a culture of character where respect, patience, self-discipline, tolerance and joy for learning are mastered. The virtues, which can be described as interior disposition or positive habits, lead to the performance of good deeds and bringing out the best in our students and ourselves. At Catherine McAuley College, we aspire to offer optimum opportunities to allow our students to become the best versions of themselves, the people God intends them to be.

College Houses

Every staff member is asked to be a participant in one of the six College Houses. The Pastoral and Wellbeing programs centre on the House structure and every person feeling a sense of belonging and value.

Our House titles and symbols pay respect to the first nations people of the Mackay district and iconic fauna much beloved in our environmental consciousness.

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Catherine McAuley students will experience a daily 30 minute Pastoral Care class. Within that format mental health initiatives will be coordinated and highly evident. This will include:

  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Regulation and de-escalation strategies
  • Leadership training
  • Service initiatives
  • Breathing, relaxation and debriefing
  • Brain breaks and planning meetings
  • Reading for enjoyment and creative stimulation.

Where we are from to whence we will go

Our students start as children and graduate as young adults. The transformation should be an affirmation of common experiences and individual expression. Diversity with a core set of principles will guide their actions.

Each year level is equally important and should encapsulate developmentally appropriate initiatives. Intellectual progress is to be mirrored with social development as students (with support) negotiate the stages of “Who am I”, “Where do I fit in” and “Relationships and purpose”. In the process, our students should enjoy their schooling experience, thrive in the intense social environment and understand that success in life is about giving something back along the way.

The final three years of schooling become directed at career pathways and future planning. The College will ensure that opportunity and curriculum is reflective of the diverse abilities and the career structures that fit into a contemporary economy. Academic and VET options mix and match in a way that values a full range of needs and career pathways.

Every student should be affirmed in their efforts and praised for their achievements. A successful outcome is reflected in a cohesive student cohort supportive of diverse measures of success.

A Culture of Teams

“The Ideal Team Player” ( Patrick Lencioni, 2016)

Our staff teams are recruited and cultivated based on recognition and promotion of the three qualities that lead to high performance and sustained organizational health. In turn, these same qualities we seek to develop in our students to enable their effectiveness in future teams.

The qualities are:

  1. Humble (the quality of humility)
  2. Hungry (the determination to contribute and achieve worthwhile outcomes)
  3. Smart (social intelligence, empathy and awareness)

Whilst everyone has strengths and weaknesses, the College has a model of highly effective teams. This is not possible unless everyone holds themselves to a practical commitment to these three qualities.

Corporate Culture

“The Advantage” (Patrick Lencioni, 2012)

A positive culture is firmly anchored in organizational health. Our College and any other institution must address six key questions and consistently enact what is identified as core operational principles.

  1. Why do we exist? (The why should be the same for every person in the organization)
  2. How do we behave? (Our values should be explicit and help define acceptable behaviour)
  3. What do we do? (Many roles that ultimately contribute to the educated adolescent)
  4. How will we succeed? (What specific actions will we undertake to be successful)
  5. What is most important right now? (Identify what is most important. A few clear goals)
  6. Who must do what? (Identify responsibilities and clear accountability to the team)

The process of addressing the above questions develops a clear culture and an understanding of every person’s role in contributing to the College. For staff they must clearly understand their value and commitment. This becomes obvious in how teaching and learning is enacted with the expectation that students will adopt this culture with an implicit understanding of how to behave and contribute.

Individual development and College Culture

“7 Habits of highly effective people” (Stephen R, Covey, 1989)
“The Leader in me” (Stephen R, Covey, Sean Covey, Muriel Summers, David K. Hatch)

Personal development of the leadership qualities of integrity, responsibility, resilience and compassion is a vital element in forming and sustaining College culture. This pertains to staff and students alike as an understanding of the 7 habits and the extension of ‘the eighth habit’ develops personal responsibility and the qualities of interdependency so important for collective outcomes.

Staff and students receive formal training as the basis of a leadership program for every student and staff member in the College. Every person must feel valued and part of the College. Every person must be clear about expectations and how their efforts contribute to Catherine McAuley College.

Habits program

  1. Be proactive (Act out of your values)
  2. Start with the end in mind (Mission and goal setting)
  3. Put first things first (Time management and prioritization)
  4. Win- Win (Best outcomes for all)
  5. Seek first to understand (Active listening and problem solving)
  6. Synergize (In teams 1+ 1= (can equal) 3)
  7. Sharpen the Saw (Look after yourself. Body, mind, heart and spirit)