The Auracle – Volume 21, November 2017


Vol. 21, November 2017
In this issue:

Aurora College

3B Smalls Road
Ryde NSW 2112

Phone: 1300 287 629

From the Principal’s desk

Image of Virginia Cluff Robot

From her desk in Dunedoo, Virginia Cluff mingled with delegates at the Education for a Changing World Symposium through a telepresence robot.

Last week, I was invited to attend the Education for a Changing World Symposium in Sydney. This gathering was part of a wider project within the NSW Department of Education which is examining the strategic implications that advances in technology will have for education. The project aims to stimulate informed discussions between education, industry and communities about the policies and reforms that may be needed to ensure education best prepares young people to successfully navigate a more complex world.

The symposium took place against the backdrop of growing awareness of the potential changes to our society that will be brought about by technological advances. Almost on a daily basis, it seems, we hear from experts who predict that technological developments, including in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation, will dramatically transform the way we live and work. The world they imagine for young people in this so-called, Fourth Industrial Revolution, is very different to the world their parents faced when they were the same age. It is believed that many of the jobs that their parents now have will cease to exist as they become automatable or AI-augmented.

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) is an Australian non-profit organisation committed to creating generational transformation by improving the learning outcomes and life opportunities of young Australians. The foundation predicts that automation, globalisation and collaboration will have a profound impact on the future work of today’s 15 year olds. Even today, it is not too difficult to imagine the future predicted by the FYA in which:
• ever-smarter machines perform ever-more-human tasks (automation)
• the global workforce connects with Australian consumers in greater numbers and our own workforce becomes increasingly global (globalisation)
• workers hold many jobs with many employers, often at the same time (collaboration).

Armed with the analysis of 4.2 million job advertisements between 2012 and 2015, the FYA argues that many of the changes that have been predicted are already upon us.

“More employers are demanding enterprising skills among young employees. Demand for digital skills went up 212% over three years, while critical thinking increased 158%, creativity increased by 65% and presentation skills by 25%.”

Perhaps most startling of the FYA’s forecasts is that 90% of future jobs will involve advanced digital literacy skills, with more than half of Australian workers needing the knowledge and skills to use, configure or build digital systems in the next 2 to 3 years. Future workers, the FYA tells us, will “spend less time on routine tasks and more time with people and getting value from technology.”

As we all know, Aurora College was created to help bridge the gap in educational opportunities between students in rural and remote communities and their peers in metropolitan areas of the state. Recently, I was asked by a group of colleagues what has been the biggest change at Aurora College over our three years of operation. My answer was that no longer do we think of Aurora as simply a means of ‘leveling the playing field’. Feedback from students, parents and teachers indicates that a shift from a ‘deficit mindset’ has come about because our community sees the benefits of working in a technology rich environment which equips students with technical knowledge and ‘soft’ skills that are necessary in globally connected workplaces. There is a growing awareness that being able to connect locally and learn globally, in fact, places Aurora College students at a definite advantage over their peers in most ‘terrestrial’ schools.

Of course, it has always been the role of educators to think about what today’s young people need to succeed in tomorrow’s world and to best prepare them for it. The pace and breadth of change created by technological advances, however, means that planning for the future matters more now than ever before. Like all NSW Department of Education schools, we are currently working to prepare our School Plan for the period 2018 – 2020. What and how we teach and the programs we offer will be in sharp focus as we determine the best way to prepare students for a rapidly changing world.

What a pleasure it was to spend the week in Bathurst with students and staff at our recent Residential School. Once again, our Bright Lights brought great credit to themselves, their families, their home schools and of course, to Aurora College. Planning is well underway for the first Residential School of 2018, which will once again be held in the ‘Emerald City’ at the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation. All families can expect to receive further information on the ‘res’ in the coming weeks.

Finally, the orientation program for our new (2018) students and their families commenced on Monday 6 November with a video conference ‘meet and greet’.  Follow-up demonstration lessons for students in the virtual learning environment will take place between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm on the following dates:

  • Year 7 – Wednesday 29 November 2017 AND Friday 1 December 2017
  • Years 8 to 11 – Thursday 30 November 2017

Unless alternative arrangements are communicated to families, all students will connect to the lessons at their current school site. Further information will be sent this week to relevant staff and to families. Welcome to Aurora College!

Enjoy reading another edition of The Auracle.

Chris Robertson



Deputy’s report

Aurora students and staff once again had an enjoyable week at the Residential School in Bathurst.

The first Residential School next year will be held in Term 1 from Monday 5 March 2018 to Friday 9 March 2018 at the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation. The Academy is on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, only 45 minutes from the centre of Sydney and moments from Narrabeen Beach.


Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t go away – when they’re ongoing and happen without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard to cope with daily life. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings aren’t easily controlled. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia.

If you would like to find out more about anxiety please visit Beyond Blue where you can take an online anxiety checklist test by answering some questions.

A range of health professionals and services offer information, treatment and support for anxiety conditions, as well as a number of things you can do to help yourself. For more information regarding the right treatment, please click here.

Attendance of students in Term 4

The NSW Department of Education requires all students to attend school until Friday 15 December, the last day of teaching for Term 4 2017. Prior to this date, students in all year groups will be engaged in meaningful work based on the curriculum and syllabus requirements.

If parents are seeking permission for their child to be absent from school for a period of time, the current Exemption from School – Procedures should be followed and permission sort from your home school. A copy of this documentation should then be forwarded to the Aurora College.

Assessments for students in Term 4

As we progress through Term 4, many assessments will be completed by students that will contribute to their yearly results for 2017. Students must ensure they are well prepared for these assessments and that they give their best effort. Students who require extra assistance with their study routines should contact our Learning and Support Teacher, Alana Ragen-Harrison.

Preparations for 2018

We continue to work with our partner schools in preparation for 2018. With our support, this term our partners will:

  • appoint a science teacher to deliver the science practical program in 2018
  • appoint a teacher to undertake the role of Aurora College Coordinator in 2018
  • construct their school timetable to ensure each:
    • Year 7 to 10 student is timetabled to attend all Aurora lessons in English, mathematics and science; have one timetabled science practical period per fortnight per Stage; is able to attend all partner school lessons; and have the allocated recess and lunch breaks at the home school
    • Year 11 and 12 student is timetabled to attend all their Aurora lessons; is able to attend all partner school lessons; and have the allocated recess and lunch breaks at the home school
  • ‘room’ each student in a suitable area of the school where they are able to connect to Aurora’s virtual learning environment on a Department computer (connected to the network via an ethernet cable) and connect to the Department’s wi-fi network on their sponsor-supplied personal device
  • ‘room’ science practical periods for each Stage in a laboratory
  • complete each students’ integrated timetable showing clearly when each student is attending Aurora College lessons and lessons at their ‘home’ school.

Kathy Klados

Deputy Principal

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Connect locally, learn globally

Charlie outside the Aurora College classroom at Billabong High School

Hi, my name is Charlie Doig. I am 13 years old and currently studying in Year 8 at Billabong High School, located in Culcairn. I live in Henty, a small town located halfway between Wagga Wagga and Albury, and about one hour from the NSW and Victoria border.

What good and different things/ opportunities exist in your home town?
In Henty we have a wide range of opportunities and activities to do. We have multiple sports available to play. Some of these are AFL and netball during the winter, and then tennis and cricket during the summer. There is also a swimming pool open during summer for people to go swimming and cool down. There are many other things to do in Henty like go to the library to read a book, play at one of the multiple parks, or ride around the skatepark on a skateboard or scooter.

What is your home town known for?

Henty is known very well for the Headlie Taylor Header. During September we also have the Henty Machinery Field Days, the biggest field day festival in Australia. Thousands of people come out to Henty to look at all the machinery, watch the fashion shows and of course, buy things!

What do you like the most about your community?

The thing I like most about my community are the people. All the people in Henty are nice and friendly. It’s a tight community so it is easy to have a chat with someone when you see them walking down the street.

What do you like doing?

During winter I enjoy playing AFL for the local team, ‘Henty Swampies’. AFL is my favourite sport and it is nice to go and play for the local team on the weekend. During summer I often go swimming or hang out with my friends around town.

What do you hope to do when you leave school?

When I leave school, I am aiming to become an architect in Melbourne or Sydney, and hopefully one day design a skyscraper.

What’s the best thing about learning and being part of Aurora?

The best part of being a part of Aurora is that we get to meet students from all around New South Wales and catch up with them at the residentials. It is good for making new friends

Why choose Aurora? What has the experience been like so far?

The Aurora experience has been great as it helps me learn and opens up opportunities for me when I leave school. It allows me to meet other students as well from across the state, who I would not have met otherwise. The residentials are very enjoyable as they give me an opportunity to catch up with my online friends. At times the Aurora classes have been challenging, but this is good because it extends my knowledge.

Charlie Doig

Year 8, Billabong High School

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Tip from a techie


Our annual stocktake is underway at the moment with all Aurora College devices being sighted and reported back to our office. So far we have sighted nearly 2/3 of devices! This is a wonderful effort by everyone involved over the last few weeks.

If you have not already done so, please bring your Surface Pro or Lenovo Yoga devices to your ACC for checking. They only need to record your serial or asset number, and then you are done for this stocktake. Please note that any device that is not sighted during this stocktake period MUST be returned to the Aurora College office in 2018 for manual checking. There will be no exceptions to this.

Please note that the HP Elite and HP Pavillion devices do not need to sighted for stocktake. If you have one of these devices, you can safely ignore this message!

Stocktake is running until the end of term, but the faster you get it done, the easier it is for everyone. If you have any questions, please send me an email at

Contact details in 2018

As we prepare for our move at the end of this year, I would like to remind everyone that our contact details will be changing. From the end of this term, you will no longer be able to use the phone numbers that start with “02 98”. Instead, if you would like to contact us, please use our 1300 numbers below:

  • School main number: 1300 287 629
  • IT Support: 1300 610 733

From the end of term we will also not have a fax line. If you need to send us a document, please email it to the school address at

Ben Hillsley

Learning Technologies Support officer

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Science faculty news

At Aurora College during Term 3, Year 8 Science students work through the development of a Science Project. This requires the students to compose a question, investigate current research, organise their thoughts on their topic, and then design and conduct a first-hand experiment. Students develop their creative and scientific thinking skills as they consider the impacts of real world issues.

The final part of the task focuses on the importance of communication and every year at the second Residential School we hold the Year 8 Science Fair. This is an exciting part of the residential program as the students share their work with their peers, teachers and Year 7 students. This year we had a number of awards and we congratulate the following students on their outstanding projects and achievements.

Highly Commended

The following 10 students were highly commended for the originality and creativity of their projects. Congratulations to:

  • Joely Scott (Billabong High School) – A chocolate review
  • Jonah Menzies (Maclean High School) – Power of music
  • Jaimee Soo (Ulladulla High School) – Boiling points of different liquids
  • Maddison Gay (Jindabyne Central School) – Effect of sustained string gauge
  • Emily Adamson (Wade High School) – Guitar pedal and resistors
  • Anita McKenzie (Coonamble High School) – Gluten review – the best additives for gluten baking
  • Thomas Derwent (Moruya High School) – Oxidation of metals
  • Joy Chow (Dubbo College South Campus) – Why should we learn a musical instrument?
  • Roshan Caldwell (Tenterfield High School) – Can people link colours to songs?
  • Neve Lawson (Ulladulla High School) – Skittle dye dissolution

People’s Choice

This award is voted for by the Year 7 and Year 8 students. One of the key areas in Science is the importance of communication of ideas. This prize acknowledges the outstanding ability of the prize winner to convey key scientific messages in a limited time frame and in a creative and effective way. Congratulations to:

  • Jessica Fuller (Cowra High School) – Can we really multi-task?

Cluff Commendation

The recipient of the Cluff Commendation is selected by the Aurora Science teachers. The winning project demonstrates innovation, strength in scientific methodology and provides opportunities for future development or research. Congratulations to the 2018 winner:

  • Sarah Burnes (Moruya High School) – Ooho, the water bottle of the future

Robertson Prize

The Robertson Prize is selected by the Aurora executive and non-science staff members. The winning project demonstrates principles that are important to Aurora, addresses an important issue, is a dynamic investigation and incorporates an informative presentation. Congratulations to:

  • Charlie Doig (Billabong High School) – Which battery is most cost effective?

Prizes for excellence

Congratulations to our major prize winners for their excellent projects:

  • First Prize: Alleyne Gaut (Parkes High School) – Accurracy of eyewitness testimonies
  • Second Prize: Callum Weppler (Griffith High School) – Why would you dive that way? (soccer)
  • Third Prize: Harry Bottero (Tumut High School) – Musical Agar (Bacteria growth and music)

As you can appreciate this was an amazing event. Particular thanks goes to the Aurora Staff for their guidance and dedication towards ensuring the integrity of the scientific work, and of course, to the entire Year 8 cohort for all your hard work, wonderful projects and valuable contributions on the day.

Looking forward to the Aurora Year 8 Science Fair in 2018!

Christine Black

Teacher, Science

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Spotlight on … Tanya Williams

Tanya with her family in their back yard, Uralla

Where have your previous teaching appointments been?

I started my teaching career in Cobar in 2002. After my initial 3 year appointment, I travelled overseas and worked in the United Kingdom and Poland. On my return to Australia in 2007, I moved to Walgett where I spent 4 years. I currently teach at Armidale High School.

What is your local community like?

I live in Uralla, which is a 20 minute drive south of Armidale. Armidale and Uralla are both beautiful towns, particularly in autumn when the leaves are turning. Armidale is large enough to support a wide range of facilities, but is still small enough to provide a friendly, community feel.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

Science, particularly Biology, was always my favourite subject at school. As a teacher, it is my favourite subject to teach. Science is great because it has so many real life applications and it answers so many of the “why?” questions that students come up with.

What do you like about teaching at Aurora?

The staff and students at Aurora are all positive and excited about learning, so it is a great environment to work in. I have enjoyed getting to know my 8SCI3 class and learning about them and their communities.

What are your other interests?

I love to travel, but my three delightful children, Charlotte, Eloise and Elijah have slowed this down a bit. We still travel, but mainly down to Urunga to camp and paddle in the ocean. As a family, we also enjoy bushwalking and exploring the many national parks found in the New England Tablelands. I love learning, so I frequently visit museums – the fossil museum in Bathurst was amazing! Recently I also decided to learn how to play the cello.

Tanya Williams

Teacher, Science

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Bright lights

The 2017 Field and Game National Carnival.

Congratulations to Nicholas Brighenti (Year 7, Griffith High School) on winning the Australian Field and Game National Sub (u/15) Junior Championship, held in Wodonga-Albury on the weekend. This event attracted over 500 competitors, shooting 150 clay targets over 2 days.

Competition awards to the Parkes High School Aurorians

Congratulations to our Aurora students from Parkes High School for their achievements this year in a range of competitions, including the International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS).

  • High Distinctions were awarded to Tynan Matthews (Year 9) in the Big Science Competition, Alleyne Gaut (Year 8) in ICAS English competition, and Libby Hoyle (Year 8) in both the ICAS Writing competition and in the Big Science Competition.
  • Tynan Matthews (Year 9) also received a Distinction in the Categorical and Algorithmic Thinking Competition, a Credit in the ICAS Science, Mathematics and Digital Technologies competitions, and a Credit in the Australian Mathematics Competition.
  • Holly MacGregor (Year 7) received a Credit in the ICAS Writing competition and Alex Williams (Year 8) was awarded a Distinction in both the ICAS English competition and the Big Science Competition, a Credit in the ICAS Writing and Mathematics competitions and a Credit in the Australian Mathematics Competition.

  • Julia Williams (Year 10) was awarded a Distinction in the ICAS English competition, a Credit in the ICAS Mathematics and Science competitions, and a Credit in the Australian Mathematics Competition.
  • Madison Bland (Year 10) was awarded a Distinction in the Categorical and Algorithmic Thinking Competition, and a Credit in the ICAS Science and English competitions.
  • Jordan Moody (Year 7) received a Merit in the ICAS Writing competition.
  • Alleyne Gaut (Year 8) was awarded a Distinction in the ICAS Writing, Mathematics and Science competitions, and a Credit in the Australian Mathematics Competition.
  • Archie Lickess (Year 9) was awarded a Credit in the Big Science Competition.
  • Trefor Robinson (Year 10) was awarded a Distinction in the ICAS Science and Digital Technologies competitions, a Credit in the ICAS Mathematics and English competitions, and Credits in the Big Science Competition and the Australian Mathematics Competition.

Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians (MYCA) – Enrichment Stage Results

Eight Aurora students entered the 2017 MCYA Enrichment stage. This is a demanding, multi-week national competition run by the Australian Mathematics Trust. The Aurora students were spread across three levels – Gauss, Euler and Dirichlet – named after famous mathematicians.

Gauss: Congratulations to Amber Ahsan (Year 9, Dubbo College South Campus) who submitted solutions to all 12 problems and was placed in the top 26% of entrants, gaining a Credit Award. Congratulations also to Liam Wymer (Year 9, Young High School) who received a participation certificate.

Euler: Zoe Jenkins (Year 8, Tenterfield High School) finished in the top 45% and gained a Credit. Participation certificates were also awarded to Jonah Menzies (Year 8, Maclean High School) who attempted 11 out of 12 problems, Chloe Gruber (Year 8, Young High School) and Thomas Derwent (Year 8, Moruya High School).

Dirichlet Level: Zara Jobson (Year 7, Nowra High School) showed great perseverance in attempting 7 of the 8 problems and gained a participation certificate.

Aurora Chess Tournament

The first ever Aurora College Chess Tournament took place at the recent Residential School with ten students entering from Years 7 to 10.

It was great to see the newly-purchased competition chess sets and clocks in use and some hard-fought games took place.

In the Stage 5 division, the winner was Emily Henby (Year 10, Oberon High School) who won all three of her matches. Luke Wilson (Year 10, Cowra High School) showed much improvement to finish runner-up.

For Stage 4, six players battled it out, but in the end it was Jackson Winter (Year 8, Nowra High School) who emerged victorious.


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Masterclass program

Term 4 saw the start of the short course using LEGO and robotics. This is delivered online each Wednesday afternoon from 2:00 to 3:00 pm to approximately 15 students who opted in for this class. We had a great time at the Bathurst Residential School for a hands-on challenge.

We thank our partners for this event, Macquarie University, for their time and effort. A highlight was showcasing a robot they built that could throw a frisbee perfectly every time.

Upcoming masterclasses include:

  • Botanist, Dr Hervé Sauquet, from the Royal Botanic Gardens on 21 November at 9:30 am
  • Marine botanist, Dr Yola Metti, on 21 November at 11:30 am

The next parent masterclass will be held on Wednesday 15 November and presented by our counsellor, Dorothy Wakelin, on the topic of ‘Your child’s mental health and wellbeing’. Please register your interest here.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Residential school

Information about the Bathurst Residential School

The Bathurst Residential School was a highlight of the year for many of our students and staff. Click on the image to the left, to view an infographic on the big event.

I would like to commend our students for their exceptional behaviour during the week. Staff at the various excursion sites, including the Orange Civic Theatre and Charles Sturt University, complimented the conduct and level of engagement of our students during their visit.

The first Residential School for 2018 will take place at the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation from Monday 5 March 2018 to Friday 9 March 2018. In the coming weeks, families will receive further information about the program, including bus routes and other travel arrangements.

Enjoy some of the pictures from our Residential

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sharleen Mulawin

R/Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Mentoring program

We have received excellent responses from our industry partners and other volunteers for our e-Mentoring program.

Some of the new mentors on board for next year include a PhD student studying psychology, marketing and other staff from Microsoft, a senior manager from the IT industry, an author, and a CEO from the space industry.

Students who wish to opt-in to our e-Mentoring program can complete the student profile and return it with parental consent.

Further information regarding mentoring can be found on our school website.

Sharleen Mulawin

R/Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Student work samples

Satrical Pieces from Year 10 English

Year 10 recently completed a unit of work on Social Satire which required them to look at an aspect in society and then make a satirical comment on that aspect. Year 10 came up with a variety of issues and topics which they felt needed to be satirised in a visual or written form.

View these creative pieces from:

Year 7 English: Virtual Worlds

In a recent unit of work completed by Year 7, students looked at the concept of virtual worlds. Part of their assessment task required them to create their own original virtual worlds. The variety and ideas that came from this task were exceptional.

A few of these worlds are here to immerse yourself in.

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Library report

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter was the theme for this semester’s Residential School display.

Students and staff at Aurora College overwhelming voted for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as their favourite title in the series.

A number of awards, for a variety of competitions held throughout the semester, were presented to students at the Residential School. Congratulations to the following students:

  • Maria Tynan (Year 8, Leeton High School) –  TOP 25 Residential One competition, 2017
  • Elizabeth Hoyle (Year 8, Parkes High School) – TOP 25 Residential One competition, 2017
  • Zara Gardiner (Year 10, Jindabyne Central School) – Library survey random participant winner
  • David Ibbott (Year 8, Coonamble High School) – 50 words
  • Charlotte Kelly (Year 7, Canowindra High School) – 50 words
  • Laura Kerr (Year 7, Canowindra High School) – 50 words
  • Sarah Boon (Year 10, Dubbo College South Campus) – 50 words
  • Chanse McLean (Year 10, Canowindra High School) – 50 words
  • Zac Giger (Year 10, Orange High School) – 50 words
  • Madison Bland (Year 10, Parkes High School) – 50 words

During the Residential School, students in Years 9 & 10 visited the Charles Sturt University campus Library in Bathurst and undertook a session in refining their skills when searching digital resources. Our students were fantastic ambassadors for Aurora College and came away with many practical skills to support them in their future studies.

Students in Years 7-10 were given the opportunity to visit a bookshop while in Bathurst. Students were very keen to browse the wide selection available. Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror were popular genres with our students, as well as wide range of YA titles.

Ex Libris Aurora will be sent via email very soon – keep an eye out for it – there may be a number of new titles added to our digital library that you will want to read over the summer holidays. As always, if you have books to recommend, please email me.

Happy reading!

Kaylene Taylor

Teacher Librarian & Community Liaison Officer

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A message from our technology sponsor, Microsoft

You may have heard of the term STEM and it’s applicability in modern teaching. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and Microsoft has a vast range of STEM tools available to parents and students.

Click the poster above to download a brochure with links to resources for embracing STEM with Microsoft!

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From the engine room

We are busy collecting enrolment forms from our new students and finalising accounts for the end of the year. Thara Shubbian, our new School Administrative Assistant, has adapted to our school environment seamlessly and we appreciate her efforts, especially over the last 10 weeks when I was incapacitated with a broken arm. A huge thank you to Georgia Brown whose help with residential tasks was invaluable over this period. This was a very large job and Georgia’s efforts added to the success of our recent residential camp.

Please remember that our preferred method of communication is via email. If any of your details have changed (email, mobile telephone, home telephone, address) recently, please let us know by emailing

If you would like to talk to us, our telephone number is 1300 287 629.

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Aurora College; 3b Smalls Road, Ryde, NSW 2112
Phone: 1300 287 629; Email:
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