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A Catholic Independent Day & Boarding School for Girls years 7 - 12

Deborah Vasta

Magistrate

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Deborah Vasta is currently the Magistrate of Bundaberg, Queensland and responsible for over 80,000 people. After completing her law degree at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), she worked in Legal Aid and then as a Barrister before being appointed Magistrate at Southport.

Deborah has a long history with Stuartholme and Schools of the Sacred Heart. She graduated in 1985 and is the youngest of four girls who attended Stuartholme. Her mother went to Kincoppal Rose Bay in Sydney along with three of her sisters. Deborah also has two daughters and four nieces who attend Stuartholme.

Read Deborah’s Transcript

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What has it been like working as Magistrate of Bundaberg?

It’s a huge responsibility to be charged with assisting a town that is going through so many emotions, and really doing it tough following the recent floods. There is a real need to give people confidence in the legal system, the justice system and that they aren’t being forgotten.

There were a lot of people made homeless and displaced in the evacuation centre – you had alcoholic homeless men sleeping beside families with young children which made the situation even more stressful. There were also extra police from all over Queensland which had an effect on the numbers of people coming through the criminal justice system. It’s been a period of growth, maturity and learning for me as Magistrate of this town. It’s also very rewarding. It’s been an interesting career and I love it…

Why Stuartholme?

For me it was a no brainer to send my daughters here because it has such a great education system, such a great ethos and philosophy behind education. It was so important to me that this School gives such a fantastic lifelong education that I was prepared to travel from the other side of the city to get my girls to school. Stuartholme treats everyone as an individual. You’re not just another brick in the wall, you’re not just a number, you are a face and a name.

What lessons have you taken away from your education at Stuartholme?

I’ve written to the Mayor many times about Community Service projects and I’ve been out to see the naval cadets to support them. These are all things that the Stuartholme education taught me that I could do. To stand on my own two feet and take a risk. Even if you fail, you’ve still tried. That’s the lifelong lesson I’ve learned from Stuartholme – that you really can make a difference and to not be afraid. That’s just one of the many things.

Who influenced you the most?

Stuartholme is a relatively small school and the Year 8s always look up to the older girls. The Year 12s were certainly the most influential – they were such warm, loving and compassionate girls. It was very obvious to see the Cor Unum spirit flowing through the School in the way everyone cared for each other. The older girls had a large influence on me, how they’d foster us and care for us. The teachers were all great too in their own ways. They had an infectious love of learning.

What advice would you give to girls attending Stuartholme now?

Embrace it. You don’t know what you have until it’s passed. Stuartholme encourages girls to go out on a limb, to not be afraid and that’s something that I would really reinforce. When you leave school and go out into the world, you need self-confidence and belief in your abilities. Really challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Enjoy your time. Enjoy the friendships. You’re very lucky to have this education. You’ll look back with very fond memories of Stuartholme.

How have you stayed connected to Stuartholme?

I’ve always stayed in touch with the friends I made at Stuartholme. When we had our ten year reunion, we had most of the class turn up. My three older sisters and I have been able to get in touch with past students through the School’s Alumnae records, attending the Mother’s Day Luncheon and at the Alumnae weekend events.

I’ve also stayed connected through being involved with leadership volunteering and debating programmes and helping train the Bond University Mooting Team. I also served on the School Board for 10 years, which I did until last year. It was a great way to keep in touch with what was happening in the School community.


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