MGC Alumni Newsletter

24 March 2016
Issue Three
Page 1
President's Message
A message from our Principal
From School Captain to MGC Council President
Graham Brain - A Retrospective
Spotlight on our Alumni
Spotlight on our Alumni
MGC students in the media
Global Money Week
Your Alumni News
AIRTC/AAFC 20 year celebration
Photo Galleries
Melbourne Girls' College
9428 8955
Yarra Boulevard
Richmond, VIC, 3121

President's Message

Welcome to our Alumni

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2016, packed with the latest alumni news and events. I would also like to warmly welcome to the MGC family the many new alumni who graduated from the College in December last year. To those alumni who will be reading this alumni e-newsletter for the first time, I hope you will continue your association with MGC in the years to come and stay connected to the School and to each other in order to participate in professional development activities, to network, promote employment opportunities, share expertise, and to engage in social events.


The MGC Alumni Association will be holding a number of reunions this year to provide opportunities for alumni to engage and reconnect. One particular event that is worthy of an early mention is the Cadet 20th Presentation Dinner to be held at MGC on 13 December 2016. I am particularly delighted to advise that all our ex-cadets are invited to join the currents cadets, families, staff and ex-staff. Further details of our reunions and the Cadet 20th Presentation Dinner will be announced soon. Please update your contact details on our Alumni Registration Form to ensure you receive an invitation.


Finally, in other exciting news, the Melbourne Girls’ College Alumni Association Facebook page reached 731 ‘Likes’ this month. This number signals growing engagement with our alumni through social media. Our new Facebook target is to have 1000 ‘Likes’ by the end of 2016. If you have not done so already, please join your fellow alumni and like us on Facebook.


We look forward to keeping you updated on developments throughout 2016, as well as sharing stories which celebrate the outstanding achievements of our students and alumni.


Suzie Rule, President


We’d love to hear your feedback, ideas or comments on the newsletter – please email [email protected].

A message
from our Principal


Welcome to 2016 and another year of learning, leadership, community service, sport, music, the arts and fulfilment seen through the eyes of our Melbourne Girls’ College Alumni.

The College shone on the world stage from 16th-24th January when Thirumagal Arunachalam Elanthendral (Year 11), Ruby Wynne-Williams (2015, Year 12) and I represented Melbourne Girls’ College at the Zayed International Sustainability Awards in Abu Dhabi. The learning for all of us was invaluable from attending the awards ceremony where Ban Ki Moon and the President of Mexico spoke about the UN climate change initiatives and the Paris Agreement 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC reached in December, 2015. For more information on the UN and Sustainabilty, click here.                        


Thirumagal and Ruby also presented at the Global High Schools conference, Ruby addressed the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week conference and Thirumagal fielded sustainability questions as one of five panel members representing high schools from Swaziland, Romania, The Maldives and Korea.


The College has been working steadily on the following initiatives to support global learning in our local context:

  • Building a professional learning community of students, staff and parents; rather than a community of separate professional learners. The premise is that the exponential growth in learning when we collaborate and problem-solve together is greater than planning and reflecting alone. The professional learning team design has an emphasis on students and teachers as co-learners and co-leaders in learning.
  • Wellbeing, a program incorporating Positive Psychology, Growth Mindset research and the Victorian Curriculum Cross-Curriculum Capabilities
  • The M.G.C. Learning Model, which is displayed in every classroom for students and teachers to share, discuss and use as a foundation for increasingly complex learning. The introduction of Learning Walks as a method of gaining a whole school snap-shot of the learning occurring in a range of classrooms, subjects and lessons - AITSL - Classroom Observation Strategies. Students are explicitly at the centre of our work every day.

The 2015 VCE results were a great success.  Our median study score was 33 and 15.8% were above 40. 28% of girls attained an ATAR above 90, 51% above 80 and 75% above 70. Our Dux was Rosie Duffy with an ATAR of 99.8 (who is featured in Top Arts this year).


I always look forward to getting to know as many of you as possible, so please call in to MGC and say hello.


Karen Money

From School Captain to
MGC Council President

Maya Narayan

Class of  2003

President, College Council


I graduated from Melbourne Girls’ College in 2003 and completed an honours degree in political science at the University of Melbourne, before enrolling in the Juris Doctor at Melbourne Law School.  Upon graduating from law school, I qualified as a lawyer at the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office, where I worked for several years as a solicitor practising predominantly in constitutional law. Currently, I am employed by the State Government, working directly for the Solicitor-General for Victoria.

As a constitutional lawyer, my work is varied and exciting.  Much of my role involves conducting litigation in the High , Federal and State Courts and providing advice on diverse questions of constitutional validity, statutory interpretation and human rights compatibility, as well as policy and legislative development in a range of contexts.

For the last seven years, I have also been actively involved in the College community, previously as a community member of the College Council and, this year, as College Council President.

Despite my obvious attachment to the College, I don't mind admitting that, as a risk-averse 11-year-old who hated change, I had pronounced initial reservations about attending MGC.  At the time, I knew nothing of the College (except of the Richmond Secondary protests) and most of my primary school friends were attending other schools (the horror!).  Of course, my initial reservations proved to be entirely unfounded.

Upon starting at the College, it became apparent that the school was one that fostered curiosity, creativity and ambition in its students.  I met a group of like-minded friends early and we remained close until year 12, where members of our group filled most of the positions on the Student Executive.  When we left the College, many of us were fortunate enough to end up at the same university and we remained close.  So close in fact, that one of my MGC friends recently married into my family and through a confusing series of genealogical events is now, technically, my aunt.

With the 21st anniversary celebration, I recently had cause to reflect on the College’s alumnae population in an attempt to identify common characteristics borne of our time at the College. A few things stood out.

First, the College seems to have a knack for producing women who rather un-ashamedly believe that their personal and professional trajectories lie completely within their control.  Of my graduating class alone, there are women working in a variety of fields   including medicine, law, education, history, archaeology, journalism - and, while in pursuit of different goals, they are, overwhelming, self-sufficient and remarkably well-adjusted women.

Secondly, the College seems particularly good at not just empowering its girls, but at instilling in them an appreciation of the importance of celebrating the women around them.  As a woman in a professional field, this outlook is of particular significance for me.  Often, it seems, women are encouraged to suppress some element of their selves in order to succeed in traditionally male-dominated environments.  
Finally, girls seem to leave the College with a pronounced sense of social responsibility. When I was in VCE, Nia Holdenson established the Student Foundation, which has provided students with a unique opportunity to engage directly with communities and causes broader than those endemic to the school itself.  In respect of my cohort at least, our interest in social engagement that was nurtured at the College followed us into the world when we left.

The Principals of the College have also played an important role in creating a culture of empowerment and engagement at the College. I am particularly fortunate for the opportunity to benefit from their support and guidance long beyond my years as a student.

Shortly after I joined the College Council, I was anxious about my relative lack of governance experience and about whether I was vocal enough in meetings.  When I expressed these concerns to Judy Crowe, the past Principal, she  matter-of-factly replied, “Maya, you don't speak often, but, when you do, you always have something important to say”.  That advice was not just exactly what I needed to hear at the time, but it struck me as characteristic of the Principal Team’s understated approach to leadership and the ethos of the College generally; that is, that you needn't be the loudest person in the room in order to make a meaningful contribution to it.

So, with 21 years behind us, I think there is cause for great optimism as to what our ever-growing alumnae body will be able to put out into the communities in which we choose to engage.  For my part, through my role as Council President, I look forward to working closely with the Association to try to harness the maturing and diverse energies of the College’s former students to new and exciting ends.

Graham Brain -
A Retrospective

A Retrospective

Looking back over the last 33 years of my teaching career, I can’t help but remember the positives that the career has afforded me.


Starting at Richmond Girls’ High School on 31/01/1984, I was lucky enough to be in a small school that allowed staff to run with ideas and programs that were ‘new’. The school had about 250 students when I started, peaked at about 400 five years later and then dropped to about 220 when it closed in 1993 – more on this later. Schools were funded differently back then and as a result we could offer a range of VCE classes to a Year 12 cohort of 30-40 students. Supplementary Grants (later the Disadvantaged Schools’ Program) allowed us to run camps and other activities that low income families would not have accessed without such funding.


The school had a large Italian and Greek cohort in the early years but later changed to Vietnamese as the demographics of Richmond changed. It was a local school with little (if any) parental involvement. Due to changing demographics and changing funding, schools of a size as small as Richmond Girls’ Secondary College (RGSC) (after the name change of most schools in the late 80s to Secondary Colleges) there was a target painted on the chest of the school in terms of its ability to deliver a quality senior program. I imagine that staff at Malvern Girls’ High School (MGHS) felt similar pressures!


In late 1992, Jeff Kennett (the then Premier of Victoria) announced closures of many schools that were perceived as no longer viable. According to local rumor, both RGSC and MGHS were on the list up until the day before the announcements. I remember sitting in the RGSC staffroom listening to the radio, (or was it the TV?) to see if we had been axed.


RGSC was given a stay of execution, (as was MGHS) and both schools were told to work together during 1993 with the idea of creating a new girls’ school in 1994. This happened. We met to discuss possible curriculum models, and generally how we would like the new school to look as a result of the potential amalgamation.  We did not know where the new school was to be situated, but it became apparent that it was to be neither of the original schools.


Late in 1993 we were told that Richmond Secondary College, (closed at the end of 1992 but occupied for more than 12 months by people that did not want the school to be sold off) was to be the site of the new school.  In December 1993 the occupiers of the school were ejected by police in a baton led push. For the next month, refurbishments were made to the school in readiness for the birth of the school we know as Melbourne Girls’ College.

MGC opened on 27/01/1994. It flourished. In my view this was because it was not MGHS taking over RGSC or vice-versa but that the two schools came into the contract with a shared view and ownership. It grew from about 400 to 1200 quite quickly and currently sits at approximately 1425. The rest is history. Different Principals gave the school different flavors at different times. The result is a school with state of the art facilities and programs and with staff that care about and are proud of the school of which they are a part.


What makes MGC, MGC? Diversity!


The school is very much a melting pot of cultures, religions, socioeconomic groups and abilities. There are a lot of programs within the school that allow students to feel a part of a smaller family and allow them to display their talents. AAF Cadets, Aerobics, Rowing, Public Speaking, Debating, School Productions, Environment groups  and a myriad of inter-school sports to name but a few mean that the girls can find something in the school that allows them to contribute to a greater whole, and show their strengths.


Many indices are used to measure the success of a school. Median study score at year 12, percentage of girls with study scores over 40, ATAR performance (in the olden days called VICTER or just TER), etc.but less emphasis is put on things that are perhaps less quantifiable. I am confident that what makes MGC great is its success academically, yes, but also the total package it delivers to the girls under its care. Girls leave with resilience and a balanced viewpoint on life.


Returning to my opening comment, I feel very lucky that much of my teaching career has been at schools such as RGSC and MGC that have allowed me (like the girls) to do many things. MGC in particular has a vibrancy that transcends academia alone. I hope it continues to serve the community, but particularly the girls, well!


Graham Brain

AAFC Officer / Dean / Year Level Leader / Year Level Coordinator / Faculty Coordinator/ Camps Coordinator/ Sport Coordinator / Enrichment Coordinator / Timetabler / VCE Coordinator/Union President Secretary and Treasurer / School Council Member and Treasurer / Staff Association President and Treasurer and Teacher.

Spotlight on our Alumni

Gemma Jarvis

Class of 2000


What is your current position and what led you to this role?


Business Director at OMD Australia which is a media agency. Nobody knows what media agencies are (nor did I before working in one).


After leaving MGC I studied Creative Arts (a now defunct course) at the University of Melbourne. It was a great chance to focus on topics and projects that I'm passionate about but I knew going in it was never going to lead directly to a career path. When I graduated I had a short stint working full time at a bar and working unpaid on multiple film and TV projects. That's a path that a lot of people in creative industries can stay on for years due to work being so scarce and seasonal. But I quickly burned out, and happily 'sold out' by trying to get a full time paying job anywhere under the broad umbrella of marketing.


I landed in a media agency, basically we buy advertising space for our clients so that involves profiling consumers, understanding the media landscape and ultimately negotiating the best price for the space. It's a mix of client service, behavioural science and stock-market style trading, with a large serving of 'work hard, play hard' thrown in. As a junior I worked my guts out to learn the ropes and prove myself; ten to twelve hour days are the norm.


At twenty-five I received the best advice of my life from a manager at the company (not my direct manager). She basically said “you're already on the radar of management for promotion, that will be true wherever you work. So go travel and have fun before you have a mortgage and children, this world will all still be waiting for you.” She was absolutely right, I travelled for two years in North and South America and when I returned I found that my skills and experience were in even greater demand.


Nearly ten years later, I am a manager myself and I don't hesitate to give the same advice to other young people: travel while you're young.


What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments (personally or professionally)?


Professionally there have been exciting pitch wins and some awards, but I have to be cliché and say creating my eight week old daughter is certainly my most life-changing undertaking. A lot of it is clichéd actually, obviously I feel an amazing love for her that grows each day but I have also found myself struck by how helpless and dependent on us she is. It makes me worry about all of the other babies out there and hope they have someone taking care of them. I have become a 'think of the children' type woman and I now realise it must be hormonal!


What do you consider to be your biggest challenges?


My industry is notoriously devoid of working women with children. I remember looking around the office in a previous role one night at 8pm and all the people still working were all mid-level women who were mostly single and had no kids yet.

I work at an agency now that is actively trying to retain experienced women and promote them to leadership roles. Our industry is actually 60% female, but only 26% of senior leadership roles are held by women. I've been active and vocal about exploring the biases that lead to these outcomes so now that I have had a child I feel a huge pressure to return to work and continue my career path upwards. 


It's hard knowing that all of the women who came before me were smart, hardworking and determined but nearly all concluded that they couldn't juggle family with the demands of our industry. I'm not arrogant enough to believe I'll be better at tackling this than they were but I hope the climate towards working mums has shifted enough over time that it's now feasible.


In what ways has your experience at MGC had an impact on your career and who you are today?


I loved the diversity that MGC offered, both in the students who attended and the activities/programs we could take part in. My current role requires me to help identify and target various demographics across society, many of which I don't personally belong to. But, for example, thanks to my participation in the Air Training Corps I met people from regional areas who I would have never otherwise known. The diversity at MGC meant I had a day-to-day glimpse of different religions and cultures. I have always been curious about everyone I meet (sometimes to the point of rudeness) and I guess I have turned that into a career somehow.


What was your most memorable moment as a MGC student?


There are so many (including a particularly memorable Year 9 Science Camp) but I really loved the duo of Ms Mumme and Mr Dunscombe (who's drama and media classes I was in respectively). Their classes were a mix of serious discussions and topics with a very healthy dose of humour included which meant no-one was ever allowed to take themselves too seriously. Thinking back, the vibe of those classrooms very closely resembles my current work environment, there is work to be done but there's always laughter too. And as in those classes it's great to be surrounded by your tribe; the people who get the joke.

Other Comments


Via Facebook I know of three other pregnancies from my MGC year level who have all given birth to their first child within a few months of me. We thought it was such a strange coincidence but I guess it also reflects the lives we have lead in the fifteen odd years since graduating high school. There's no right or wrong way to live your life but I know that personally I delayed having children (and signing on to adult life) so that I could try to explore other elements like career, travel and study to their fullest first. Or you could argue that we are all still just like our teenage selves and putting things off until the last minute!

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Spotlight on our Alumni

Liz Seabrook

Class of 2008


Mental health is my passion. I started my psychology education at MGC in Year 12, Term 2, 2008 (unusual I know!) after watching a really interesting documentary late one night on SBS about the brain. After begging the coordinators to let me drop maths and pick up psychology, I spent a very stressful term break catching up on the reading and assignments determined to prove I had what it takes. I am so glad my teachers backed me.


At Monash University my thirst for knowledge grew as I was exposed to a fantastic group of academic staff and researchers. MGC had also equipped me with excellent leadership skills and led me to co-found the Students’ Neuroscience and Psychology Society at Monash University, the first student run psychology club to survive longer than 1 semester (proudly now in its fourth year)!


When I got into honours we finally had the chance to contribute our ideas and skills to our own research project. I was looking at the way people with Traumatic Brain Injuries utilised mobile phone technologies to supplement their cognitive, social, and occupational functioning after injury. Not only was this an incredibly intense year of learning, it was an incredibly difficult year at home. My little sister was suffering from depression.


My understanding of depression completely changed in 2012. I no longer thought of depression as a series of textbook facts and figures. To me it was calling ambulances, hospital visits, not leaving the house out of fear of leaving her alone. It was watching my sister battle the deepest sadness I had ever seen day after day. It was watching her thrive when she advocated for her friends going through the same experiences. It was feeling helpless when I didn’t understand what she was going through enough. It was curling up on the floor with her and holding her while she cried.


She died on the 16th of October, 2012.

Why had psychology failed her?

I felt angry.


I have been fortunate enough to have loved music all the way through high school. This brought me back to university after a year of grieving and to a PhD supervisor with the same passion. My first meeting with her was nerve wracking. Here I am, fresh out of a year of having done nothing ready to plead to her to take me on board. I had no clear research ideas (other than “I want to do something in Music Psychology”) and no clear direction… Then she mentioned a new research idea I might be able to contribute to, using an app to track mental health. This app would be able to look at key mobile phone behaviours, like music listening, and map it onto mood change.


We know that we use technology and media to influence our moods. Music in particular has been argued to be a ‘canary’ to mental health as people can use the emotion in music to regulate their own moods. To start investigating this and other questions, our team began work with industry partners to create an app that could be used for research AND provide benefit to its users.


Two years later I am proud to introduce MoodPrism!

MoodPrism allows its users to gain insight into the pattern of their emotions from day-to-day. Being aware of changes in emotional health can help people to develop coping strategies in times of stress, recognise patterns that might lead to feeling low or anxious, and increase awareness of the times they might like to seek help. We have developed MoodPrism to answer some very important research questions and hope it is an easy way to engage with mental health.


Just starting a conversation about mental health isn’t enough for me and it is why conducting research with real world impact will be such an important part of my career. While MoodPrism and apps like it are in their infancy, we hope that mobile technology will be able to fill some very important gaps in the mental health service model.

If you would like more information about MoodPrism please visit

MGC students in the media

Fixing the super gender gap will need equal pay

Seventeen year-old Laura Bass wants to finish working like a man – with a big superannuation account...

I haven’t even started university yet, but I already know that once I graduate, on average, my pay will be 18% less of that than my male classmates. Once I move into the workforce, on average, I’ll be paid around 20% less. This is despite nearly 40 years of equal opportunity legislation. 

Once I retire from work, the picture becomes even more bleak given that women retire, on average, with half the amount of superannuation than men. Sixty percent of women retire with no savings at all. 

To address this issue a Senate inquiry into improving the finances of retired women is currently underway. 

Melbourne Girls' College hosted one of the hearings in February, and I was fortunate enough to meet with inquiry chair Senator Jenny McAllister. 

Some of our exchange was captured in an article published across all Fairfax papers including The Age, Australian Financial Review and Sydney Morning Herald.  You can read it here.


Laura Bass College Co-Captain 2016

Picasso tribute among VCE works on display at National Gallery of Victoria

Almost 70 years after Picasso painted The Weeping Woman in France, she came alive in a different form on Thursday in the heart of Melbourne...


To read more of this article featuring the artwork of former MGC student Rosie Duffy, click here.

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Global Money Week

Photo: Linda Brown, Kay Gavas, Edwena Dixon, Brooke Sandilands & Lisa Rosos

Alumni visiting MGC

Edwena Dixon graduated from Melbourne Girls’ College in 1999, she is now the Director and Senior Mortgage Broker for Pinpoint Finance. Edwena has a passion to support investors, and especially women. She takes the time to educate her clients so they understand the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ as she creates the best structures for each individual scenario.


Edwena is the treasurer of the MGC Alumni and returned to our school to present on Global Money Week. The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) launched ‘Global Money Week’ in Australia in 2016. This is an annual international money awareness celebration, which took place from the 14-20 March 2016 with the theme of ‘Take Part, Save Smart’.

Her presentation aimed to guide students towards future financial independence and financial literacy. By teaching budgeting skills and good saving habits to students, she demonstrated how important it is be financially aware. Edwena warned students of the consequences of risky financial behaviour, as bad credit history can affect you for seven years!


Edwena’s presentation was very helpful to students as she provided an insight to the financial world, her successful career inspired many students to follow in her footsteps.


Edwena Dixon is an esteemed member of the MGC Alumni, and I would like to thank her on behalf of all students for sharing her knowledge and wisdom.


Aybuke Gavas

College Humanities Co-Captain

Alumni Success Stories

We are always looking for inspiring alumni to share their story, so please contact [email protected].


Your Alumni News

Save the date!

The class of 2006 is celebrating their 10 year reunion this year!

When: Saturday, 29th October 2016

Where: The Gillard Centre, Melbourne Girls' College

Time: 6.30pm - 8.30pm

Keep an eye on our Facebook page and upcoming issues of the Alumni newsletter for further details.

Connect with us on
social media


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MGC is now on Twitter! Follow us @MGC_Achieve to keep up to date with what's happening at MGC.

Alumni Association Board


Are you interested in joining the Alumni Association Board?


The Alumni Association Board is made up of the following positions: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Director of Communications and Marketing, and 2 to 3 general committee members. Read the list of our official board positions and their standard duties: Alumni Association Board

The governing board is a group of volunteers who are responsible for implementing and overseeing all alumni programs and activities that link alumni back to the College and with each other. Meeting four times a year, board members generously donate their time, skills and efforts during the meetings and to projects conducted and completed outside of meetings.

We are excited to announce the Alumni Association Board is accepting nominations and applications for officers and general committee members. We are looking for bright, creative, diverse, dedicated and enthusiastic alumni who share an interest in event planning and execution, writing in our quarterly alumni magazine, marketing, and strategic planning. In addition, we are seeking general volunteers willing to contact alumni to inform them about upcoming professional, networking and social events. These positions provide the opportunity to learn valuable public relations and communications skills through events planning, communications, marketing, teamwork and networking. Being involved with the Alumni Association fosters a relationship with other graduates and connects you with a network of hundreds of other professionals.

The business of the board is governed by the Rules of the MGC Alumni Board.

If you are interested in joining the Board or willing to help organise alumni events, please contact our President, Suzie Rule at [email protected].

AIRTC/AAFC 20 year celebration


Photo Galleries

Year 7 - 1995


Year 8 - 1995


Year 9 - 1995


Year 10 - 1995


Year 11 - 1995


Year 12 - 1995


MGC Alumni Newsletter