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Catherine SchefferYear 12 Siena College, Camberwell
Along with six other Siena students and two teachers, I embarked on an immersion to South Africa for two weeks last year, living with a host family while learning of the history and culture of the country.
I noticed that despite all the hardships of the women of Kopanang, they were some of the happiest people I had ever met. The children stood out in particular for me; happy over the slightest of things.
For example, the other students and I brought balloons, pencils and stickers, which had them ecstatic for days on end.
This ability to draw happiness from poverty and quite often, hunger and pain, motivated me to produce a series of drawings under the title Happy Sadness which will be featured in the 2015 Visual Arts Display during Catholic Education Week.
A young boy named Tyron, who was a member of my host family, personally inspired me as he was always happy despite the conditions he lived in. I grew very close to Tyron, as well as having a strong connection to other children I encountered.
It was after my time at Kopanang that I realised how much we take for granted; food, water, safety, education and much more.
Without knowing the children it is impossible to depict their current state of poverty. These children’s facial expressions show us that money is not the key to happiness.
It is my duty to tell my Siena school community that ‘happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’
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The Wellbeing & Community Partnerships
Unit is committed to supporting Catholic school communities to create welcoming, safe and inclusive
learning environments where student
wellbeing is embedded at the core of school life. Highlighting that wellbeing is inherent to the learning process,
the CEOM Student Wellbeing Strategy 2011–2015 details three strategic themes:
delivered through the CEOM Student
Wellbeing Strategy 2011–2015
seek to foster student engagement, build resilience, strengthen connectedness to
school and community and enhance young people’s sense of belonging.
Initiatives that focus on
promoting continuous improvement and innovation in policies and practices,
relating to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, are
a key priority for the CEOM. In 2014, a Child Safety Working Party was established
to review current child-safety policies and practices in Catholic schools. A
range of professional learning was delivered to Student Wellbeing Leaders
(SWL) and school personnel, addressing issues associated with mandatory
reporting and child protection. This training utilised current research,
eLearning modules and expert presenters such as Ms Robyn Miller, Director, Office of Professional Practice, Department of Human
Services. Legal insights into bullying and anti-bullying policies were addressed
through the ‘Promoting Child Safety’ Seminar.
Mr Vin McPhee (centre) and Mr Dennis Torpy with Principal Jean Corr of St John's School, Footscray West, at the launch of the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum.
strategies for responding to challenging behaviours as part of a whole-school
approach for supporting safety and wellbeing were also examined through SWL
Cluster meetings. Child Safety
was further promoted through the release of the Daniel Morcombe Child
Safety Curriculum in Catholic primary schools. This resource,
developed through the Daniel Morcombe Foundation,
aims to teach children about personal safety and awareness, including
cybersafety and phone safety, by focusing on three key safety messages: Recognise,
React and Report.
Following amendments to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Cth), new online ‘attendance’ resources were developed to promote the
importance of school attendance and assist schools implement legislative changes. The online ‘Every day counts’ resources reinforce the value of daily school
attendance as a critical component of educational
success and young people’s wellbeing. In 2014, the CEOM partnered
with DEECD to jointly
facilitate briefings to discuss the latest ‘attendance’ processes, streamline data
collection, reporting processes and referrals.
Implementation of recommendations from
the Critical Incident Management review
New guidelines were developed in 2014 to inform the CEOM’s Duty Service,
along with improved processes to guide school leaders to prepare and respond to
critical incidents in their communities.
This work followed the completion of a Critical Incident Management review. A
further improvement now planned for 2015 is the development of an online
critical incident resource tool for schools.
Mental Health Promotion
During 2014, the promotion of student resilience and social, emotional and mental wellbeing was achieved through a range of strategies, including:
Professional learning, facilitated in partnership with headspace, explored a suicide postvention toolkit and an online SAFEMinds resource that promoted early intervention and ways to keep young people safe. Workshops enabled participants to examine the needs of students experiencing emotional distress, depression and self-harm behaviours. Student Wellbeing Leaders developed an understanding of the symptoms, causes, early intervention strategies and treatment for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. A highlight of this work was a major seminar, presented to more than 250 CEOM teachers and staff by Professor Ron Rapee from Macquarie University, NSW, in October 2014.
Out-of-Home Care (OoHC)
In 2014, an OoHC Working Party developed a new action plan to support latest implementation of agreed statewide protocols for schools. This included the creation of online resources to guide school leaders and teachers in supporting young people living in a range of alternative care arrangements, available for schools on the CEVN website.
Credentialled learning sponsorship courses offered through the wellbeing & community partnerships unit.
These courses provide students with a range of units of study including Social Justice, Identity and Curriculum, and Leading Change for Student Wellbeing, focusing on the educator’s role in leading and promoting student wellbeing.
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