At home in the Perth Hills
Helena College's picturesque setting in the Perth Hills provides an exceptional environment for learning, growing and helping our young people to reach their full potential. But our two campuses in Darlington and Glen Forrest are home to more than just our eager learners - our natural bushland surroundings are also host to a plethora of native species.
These cute little marsupials are very much at home within our Glen Forrest Campus (and from time to time, are also seen out our Darlington Campus). The rehabilitated bush areas provide a plentiful supply of food for the quenda (Isoodon fusciventer, also known as southwestern brown bandicoots). They wander around freely on the campus, and are so used to the passage of students and staff that the quenda are happy to simply ignore their human neighbours, however, may scamper away if you get too close for comfort.
Quenda are about the size of a small rabbit and can weigh up to 2kg. They are 28-36 cm in body length with a short, stiff tail 9-12 cm long. Quenda have a long, pointed nose and short, rounded ears. Their fur is short and coarse and is a usually a dark grey-brown colour with a creamy white belly. Their tails also have dark brown fur. [Source: Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions].
Bushfire Season (November to April)
While bushfires can happen at anytime, there are times of the year where areas such as the Perth Hills more at risk, such as the warmer months. Helena College has a Bushfire Policy and we regularly update our safety plan in line with the latest advice from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES).
Fire danger ratings and warnings are used in Western Australia to provide clear direction on the safest options for preserving life.
Schools and children’s services listed on the Department of Education Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR) will be pre-emptively closed when the Fire Behaviour Index (FBI) reaches 75+ in the relevant Fire Weather District. The FBI is a new tool that aligns with the Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS), which came into effect in September 2022.
The College will follow the directives set by the Department of Education for schools located in same Fire Weather District as we are. We will provide parents with as much notice as possible of a pre-emptive closure by email and by SMS.
Once confirmed, the decision to close will not change - regardless of improvements in the weather forecast. This is to avoid confusion and help your family plan alternative care arrangements for your child. It is also important to note that:
- Staff will not be onsite on days when the College has been advised to close - the pre-emptive closure applies to all staff and students.
- All bus transport services provided by the College will be cancelled when there is a pre-emptive closure.
- Where applicable, camps will be cancelled if a Catastrophic Fire Danger rating is determined for the Bureau of Meteorology district in which the camp is located.
- On Catastrophic rating days, families are encouraged to enact their Bushfire Survival Plan - and on such days, children should never be left at home alone or in the care of older children.
Shelter In Place (Lockdown) Practice Drill
We regularly practice our bushfire safety plan (shelter in place/lockdown) at both campuses. For the Junior School students, the key messages incorporate:
- What does a drill mean? A drill means practice.
- Why do we practice? We practice to be safe.
All our practice drills are carried out in a calm, age-appropriate and controlled way - and we emphasise with the students that it is only a practice. The need to possibly enact a lockdown may range from extreme weather conditions, an unauthorised visitor on campus, or an unwanted animal on school grounds.
You can find more information on Helena College’s Bushfire Response Plan here.
What Families Can Do
- Make sure your family’s bushfire survival plan is up-to-date and includes alternative care arrangements in the event that the College is closed.
- Ensure we have your current contact details, including your mobile phone numbers. Keep in touch with us by reading our newsletters and by checking our website.
- Most importantly at this time of year, if you’re planning a holiday or short stay in the bush or in a coastal area, you should check warnings in advance of travel and remain vigilant during your stay.
- If your child is old enough, talk to them about bushfires and your family’s bushfire survival plan.
- DFES advice Bushfire Preparedness
- Understanding the Fire Danger Ratings
- Check the current Fire Danger Rating