If the community of Holy Cross Catholic Primary Woollahra were surprised to hear that their principal’s next job would be 800 kilometres away in the north-west NSW town of Bourke, they were also supportive.
Vicki Bourne-Fallon will be farewelled from Holy Cross, which she attended as a primary school student and where she was made the first lay principal after 101 years of leadership from the Sisters of Mercy, on May 29.
She will take up the principal’s position at St Ignatius’ Primary Bourke on July 13. She is looking forward to the many differences between her current post in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and what she will encounter at the remote school of 83 students, almost half of which are Indigenous and belong to three different Aboriginal nations.
“It’s a town of 2100 people so very different from the city experience,” she said.
“I have an app on my phone that shows different principal’s jobs that are available anywhere in the world and Bourke came up. The next day I had lunch with a friend who used to be a principal out at Wilcannia. He gave me a bit of background on the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese and I went home and said to my husband maybe we should go and check out Bourke as something different to do.”
The faces in the town won’t all be new to Mrs Bourne-Fallon and her husband, a musician and early childhood educator who will develop music programs at St Ignatius one day a week. The couple befriended Bourke parish priest Fr John Shalvey 35 years ago when they all belonged to Catholic youth group, Antioch. Mrs Bourne-Fallon also met members of her new community during a morning tea at St Ignatius Primary during Catholic Schools Week in March.
“I met some of the parents and the staff and they were lovely,” she said. “I think I’m most looking forward to a slower pace of life, and being with a different cultural community.”
While excited about her new role, Mrs Bourne-Fallon said she would miss the community at Holy Cross.
“It’s a fabulous community. The staff are phenomenal and I think as a community too we’ve been through a lot. In six years we’ve had something like 16 cancer cases, so I think in that adversity people have come together and developed a great bond and really shown their strengths during that time.
“Leaving that and starting again is going to be a challenge. The kids here are also fabulous. They’re very fortunate, but they know that and they make the most of the opportunities that they have.”