By Paul Dobbyn
PARENTS of students impacted by Cyclone Marcia have been advised professional counselling services are available through Rockhampton diocese’s Catholic Education office.
Director Leesa Jeffcoat said parents concerned about children dealing with the psychological and emotional effects of experiencing a cyclone should contact their school principal.
Cyclone Marcia crossed the coast just north of Yeppoon on February 20, leaving a trail of destruction in Yeppoon, Rockhampton, Gracemere and surrounding districts.
Miss Jeffcoat praised a wide range of people for ensuring schools throughout the diocese had returned to full operation by March 2.
They included staff and families and military personnel who helped remove debris from school properties as well as emergency services, “all who worked so tirelessly”.
“Despite widespread power outages and extreme heat and humidity, Catholic schools reopened on Tuesday, February 24, with a modified program to assist families trying to get back on their feet after the impact of the cyclone,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
“In particular, it was important for those parents employed in essential services, or working in the recovery effort for the general community, to be able to send their children to school.”
In Yeppoon, Sacred Heart and St Benedict’s schools, and St Brendan’s and St Ursula’s colleges were damaged.
Rockhampton schools affected were Emmaus College, St Anthony’s, St Peter’s, St Joseph’s (Park Avenue), and St Mary’s schools in North Rockhampton. The Cathedral College; St Joseph’s School, Wandal; and St Paul’s School, Gracemere, were also impacted.
Fundraising events for cyclone relief are being planned. St Joseph’s School, Blackall, with an enrolment of less than 50 students has already held a lunch-time sausage sizzle which raised more than $100.
Principal Duane Wann said the initiative came from the Year 3-4 students who co-ordinated the barbecue under the school’s social justice plan with help from assistant principal for religious education Jo Davison.
“The students thought it would be a good idea to donate the funds raised for this term to the school communities in our diocese affected by Cyclone Marcia,” she said.
Miss Jeffcoat said the fundraising event was “an amazing gesture as the Blackall community itself is in the grip of the most significant drought … and for the children to respond so generously and selflessly is quite humbling”.