HSC Hurts Our Kids

Students put under too much pressure during HSC exams can have devastating mental health consequences, an esteemed school counsellor has warned.

Eddy Fracarossi, a health professional for the past 26 years and current counsellor at Holsworthy High School fears that the HSC creates an unsafe amount of stress for students during the four week examination period.

“HSC is an incredibly, unrealistically, stressful time [for students]. It’s the whole emphasis that gets put on it, with the whole thing about your life’s journey. Too much emphasis is placed on it by the department of education,” Mr Fracarossi said.

More than 77,000 NSW high school students are currently in the last week of their HSC exams. Recent studies reveal that the number of students who experience high-level anxiety symptoms during this time have increased over the last few years. Many of these cases involve ‘extremely severe levels of anxiety’ which can have dangerous impacts on students’ wellbeing.

“Some of the repercussions that tend to come is that they don’t study as effectively, and it impacts their memory. It impacts their relationships around them and they stress out more, it’s a vicious cycle. And sometimes when they stress too much they can have mental blanks in the examination and that creates more stress,” Mr Fracarossi said.

These warnings are echoed by Ninan Mathew, the Wellbeing Coordinator for Student Life and Wellbeing at the University of Wollongong.

“Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work… or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV. But beyond your comfort zone, stress stops being helpful and can start causing major damage to your mind and body,” Mr Mathew said.

There are ways to beat stress according to Mr Mathew. Techniques such as being physically active, connecting with others, engaging your senses, setting aside time to relax and eating a healthy diet can contribute to overcoming stress.

Mr Fracarossi hopes that students remember that the HSC is not the end of their world.

“There’s more to life than the exams. Exams don’t give a true measure of your ability; it’s one snapshot, so whatever the outcome, there are alternatives,” he said.



Life After Rio: Our Golden Girl Gets Married

Australia’s Olympic champion Chloe Esposito is set to continue her winning gold streak this time with rings not medals.

Esposito blitzed through the final leg of the modern pentathlon at the Rio Olympics to secure herself gold and an Olympic record of 1372 points. Now her sights are set on a February wedding and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“We’ll be in Australia for quite a while, because I have my wedding… but it would be stupid of me to not continue [modern pentathlon],” she said.

Esposito met fiancé Matt Cooper in London at the 2012 Olympics but for the last two years they have been over 15,000 km apart. Esposito moved to Budapest in late 2014 to train for the Rio Olympics and Cooper remained in Australia. Since Esposito’s return home the couple are determined to see the most of each other before training begins for the Tokyo Games.

“It will be hard, because that’s the only thing I have to work out with Matt, because I’m going to be married I don’t want to be spending that much time away from him again,” she said.

Chloe’s mother Suzanne Esposito witnessed the strain that the long-distance relationship had on the young couple throughout Chloe’s intense training regime overseas.

“They were always friends but they never thought they’d be in the same country at the same time,” Mrs Esposito said.

Since being back in Australia Chloe Esposito has exchanged her Spartan-like training for wedding plans and relaxation.

“It’s been nice to just wake up and go for a run in my local area.” Chloe said.

It is also a time to catch up with family as Suzanne Esposito cherishes having everyone at home in Casula for the first time in three years.

“It’s going to be strange, us being home all together under the one roof. I’m sure there’s going to be a few blues,” Mrs Esposito laughed.

Despite the overwhelming fanfare that Chloe’s gold has garnered, the Esposito family has not let the attention change their lives. As Mrs Esposito continues teaching at ‘Esposito’s Swim School’, and Chloe begins a casual job at the Sydney International Shooting Centre.

“We’re just living a normal life again, but a little bit more crazy,” Mrs Esposito said.

Street University Schools Liverpool in Graffiti

Students and invitees of The Street University showcase their artistic talent at the first ever Liverpool Street Art Festival. Performing live, these artists, both new and old to the medium of graffiti, battle against one another in a match of ‘Tag Team Wrestlers’.
The previously drab parking lot in South West Sydney has been transformed by the efforts of the university students. Three artists in particular, Kim Ngo, Daniel Pritchard, and Drew Funk, discuss the inspiration behind their paintings, and the importance of The Street University in bringing legal graffiti into the mainstream of art culture.
Music credit: Richard Neho, Liverpool Street Performer

Video and Interviews by Tayla Bosley