“In white and black, we’ve got your back”

November 21, 2018

On Wednesday, 14 November the Newington College’s Senior Leaders revealed the motto for 2019 during Assembly. “In white and black, we’ve got your back”. Its aim is to promote support for one another, and a significant part of that will focus on mental health. Senior Prefect Mark Elwaw addressed staff and students to provide context around their decision. His speech is below.

Good morning Headmaster, Mr Roberts, Mr Quinane, Mr Driver, staff and boys.

Nostalgic of the times when Newington’s mottos were “be you, be true, be new” and “strive thrive one five”, the 2019 school leaders collectively decided to bring back the rhyme. The motto for 2019 is: “In white and black, we’ve got your back”. Yes, we’ve brought back the rhyme. But this doesn’t take away from the serious issues that we will address this year. Our vision for 2019 is focused around promoting support for one another – and a significant part of that surrounds our mental health. This theme has been of focus in previous years and is something the college has addressed very well, but its growing prevalence amongst young men is calling for our attention.

It is estimated that at any point in time, 1 in 4 young men are experiencing symptoms of mental illness. Boys take a look at the people sitting around you. Would you be able to pick the ones who are suffering? The ones putting on a brave face? Would you know if it was one of your mates? In this room, there may be up to 250 boys battling with mental health problems as I speak, of which only half may have sought help. My message to all these boys is: “we’ve got your back”.

In 2019, we want to continue to promote awareness and education of this important issue. We want to further encourage boys not to suffer in silence but to be able to speak out and feel supported when doing so. And it is not just about having these conversations. It is also about having the tools to help ourselves and help others in challenging and stressful times. At some point in our lives, we may all be affected in some way by mental health issues; through our own hardships or those of our loved ones. Knowing what to do can change or even save a life.

We also want to recognise that depression is not the only mental health problem. Without a doubt, many of us will face tough times throughout our schooling years. Early on, it may be getting used to high school or finding new friends, and as we get older it may be about exam stress, social media, relationships or our image. Regardless of the issue, we need to do our best to fight this statistic at Newington. We have a long way to go, but we are aiming in the right direction.

Our motto also emphasises the importance of supporting one another in every one of our pursuits at school. We’d like to continue to enhance the strong sense of unity and camaraderie between all boys who wear black and white: whether it be a tough match on Saturday; a sleepless night at Sleep Rough; an endless trek on camp; or delivering a speech, performance, or that perfect note in front of a crowd. In whatever we choose to do at the college, we must recognise and support one another.

We must also challenge each other to become better men in all areas of our lives. When it comes to our relationships with women or acting selflessly in the community, don’t stop at your own behaviour; but encourage others to do what’s right and to give back. Even the smallest acts of support can make a huge difference to our community.

On this theme, many of you will be busy with exams or nervously awaiting your results, and for the Year 12’s, preparing for our first official assessments. Look after yourselves and look out for each other. Speak up if you need help.

In 2019, I ask every Newington man to stand proudly behind his brothers. In white and black, we’ve got your back.