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Christian Brothers College Year 12
students were treated to a colourful
speech with a serious message by media
and sports personality Stephen ‘Rowey’
Rowe at their annual retreat in May.
Rowey voiced to the young men the
importance of thinking before acting and
explained his mantra ‘measure twice, cut
He says this is a line of thinking which has
kept him sensible and safe, after some
early follies almost cost him – and those
close to him – dearly.
Following a short liturgy and introduction,
Rowey began his speech simply: “I’m
going to tell you some stories that I wish I
had in my head at your age.”
The former Adelaide Crows and Norwood
footballer went on to say that the ages
from 16 to 19 were the hardest of his life.
When he announced to the students that
during these years he nearly killed his
mother, brother and best mate, it became
clear he had their full attention.
“When I was 16 my mum was sitting in a
chair under the mantelpiece on which I
eyed a large mallet,” he recalled.
“Mucking around I asked her to watch
me practise my golfing backswing and I
swung the mallet back, sending the head
“It struck her right between the eyes,
knocking her unconscious, there was
“She was in hospital for three days with
a fractured skull, within an inch of being
killed, all because I didn’t ‘measure
twice and cut once’, I didn’t think things
More stories followed. Like the time
Rowey accidentally shot his brother in the
thigh or the time he beeped his car horn
at his sister who was approaching on
horseback, causing the horse to throw and
kick her, leaving her minus a few teeth and
unconscious on the ground.
With each story of adolescent
foolhardiness of which he said, “we are
all guilty”, Rowey reinforced his ‘measure
twice, cut once’ mantra, in the hope
the young men in front of him would be
encouraged to think their actions through.
Dr Rachele Tullio, the assistant principal
of faith and identity at CBC, said at this
stage in life many students were looking
for some form of guidance.
“This age of 16-19 is such an important
stage of development in these boys’ lives”,
“I think it’s becoming increasingly
important to bridge the gap between
young people and those in society who
would traditionally be considered their
‘elders’, people like Stephen.
“Today, young adults are increasingly
getting advice and guidance via their peers
through platforms like Facebook and there
is a loss of guidance from real-life figures
in their lives.
“That’s why having Stephen here is so
important and I know his practical and real
life experience has the ability to really get
through to a lot of the boys.”
Judging by the attentiveness of the
students in question, Rowey’s address did
exactly that, especially when he recounted
his most serious anecdote of all.
“I left home at 18 to play footy,” he said.
“Family and my faith were important to me
but footy was my dream.
“I had just played my first game of league
footy and all my family had been there, it
“After the game I got into the back of
my best mate’s new car, right behind the
“There were four of us in there and for
some reason I did something stupid.
“I leaned forward and pulled the
handbrake, something we used to do in
the country for a laugh.
“The car flipped three times. One of the
guys broke his collarbone and my best
mate spent three weeks in hospital with a
number of injuries.
“I could have killed my best mate and
myself; once again I didn’t measure twice
and cut once.”
Rowey said it was a lesson he was not to
forget. The car was not insured and he and
his three friends each ended up having to
pay back $1200 each, which in the early
80s was a considerable amount of money
for an 18-year old living out of home.
With trademark humour, Rowey said he
“survived on lettuce”.
He told the boys he counted himself
extremely lucky and that for him, once his
mantra clicked in his mind he had the tools
to avoid adversity and be sensible.
“I say to my kids, I just got away with it, I
“It scares me looking into their eyes and
looking into yours. You need to have a
bright, creative future full of hope and give
yourself the tools to deal with adversity
when it comes.
“The years of 16-19 are damn hard and I
thank the Lord it worked out for me – keep
your faith, it’s helped me.”
GOOD ADVICE: Stephen Rowe speaks to CBC students during their retreat.
‘Our history, our story, our future’ was
the theme for a five-day intensive and
rigorous educational program attended
by 76 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
students from Catholic secondary schools
and colleges in May.
Held at Tauondi College in Port Adelaide,
the Yellakka Yellakkarri Leadership
Program provided students with an
opportunity to ‘grow as leaders and find
their identity in the Catholic context’.
Co-facilitators Dr Roma Aloisi from
Catholic Education SA and Jonathan
Lindsay-Tjapaltjarri Hermawan said the
program enabled students to focus on
“what unites them and what they had in
“Through the program they networked
and engaged with like-minded peers –
developed, challenged and extended
their personal, community and leadership
qualities and knowledge about their
cultural heritages,” explained Dr Aloisi.
Well known members of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander communities were
guest facilitators during the week and
provided diverse perspectives on what
it means to be an Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander person. They included
Ernie Dingo, Karl Telfer, Gina Rings, Jack
Buckskin, Vonda Last, Greg Sinclair,
Martin Pascoe and Bill Wilson.
A feature event was the smoking ceremony
held on the last day, which also coincided
with the start of Reconciliation Week.
COMMON GROUND: Ernie Dingo (hat raised) with other facilitators and students at the smoking ceremony. Photo: Nat Rogers
Indigenous leaders step forward
Rowey inspires CBC students
By Jack Manning
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