The College is committed to improving the mental health of our students by teaching positive mental health strategies to help them become happier and more resilient. During 2021, Years 8 and 9 were introduced to The Resilience Project during Pastoral Care sessions. Research suggests that the more positive emotions people experience, the more resilient they will be. The Resilience Project focuses on key strategies to cultivate positive emotion and resilience; Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness (GEM) and Emotional Literacy.  

Hugh van Cuylenburg is the Co-Founder of The Resilience Project – this is a summary of his story. 

“In 2008, Hugh was a Primary School teacher, and he was fortunate enough to spend a few months living and volunteering in the far north of India. In this desert community, there was no running water, no electricity, and no beds; everyone slept on the floor of their hut. Despite the fact these people had very little to call their own, he was continually blown away by how happy and positive they were. By contrast, back in Australia, Hugh knew that all too many people found it hard to be happy or suffered from mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety. His own younger sister had battled with anorexia nervosa. How was it that young people he knew at home, who had food, shelter, friends, and a loving family, struggled with their mental health, while these kids seemed so contented and resilient? 

It was this experience, and subsequent post graduate studies, that led Hugh to some pretty simple conclusions about the things that needed to be done here in Australia if we want to be happier. He learnt from the village that practicing Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness leads to a happier more fulfilling experience. Once he discovered these three principles, which were also evidence-based, he decided to share these simple and highly effective wellbeing strategies in a program for schools. Ten years on, having worked with over 1,000 schools, it turns out it wasn’t just schools that wanted to hear this message! He is grateful to work with teachers, students, parents, workplaces, community leaders and sporting clubs every day.” 

In 2022, Year 7 will also be introduced to The Resilience Project as well as the College endeavouring to promote whole school positive education to support and strengthen the wellbeing of our College community.  

If you are interested in reading or listening to more about the founder of The Resilience Project, here are some resources: 

Book: The Resilience Project – Finding Happiness through Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness  

Author: Hugh van Cuylenburg 

In 2019, Hugh teamed up with comedian Ryan Shelton, someone of whom he was a long-time fan and launched a mental health podcast ‘The Imperfects’. Teaming up with Hugh’s brother Josh, the podcast involves talking with well-known Australians about their struggles and imperfections, and then discussing the valuable lessons we can take away and use in our own lives. It is in the top 20 podcasts in Australia, success which Hugh believes is due to its relatability and humorous tone: 

Available on Apple Podcasts:   


Mrs Tracey Rogers  

Deputy Principal Pastoral Wellbeing