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Reconnecting Disaffected Young People to School and Community at Mt Druitt Learning Ground

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Reconnecting Disaffected Young People to School and Community at Mt Druitt Learning Ground
Dr. Brenda Dobia, Western Sydney University (School of Education)
Asia-Pacific Regional RCE Meeting 2018
25-27 September, 2018, Parramatta (Sydney), Australia

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Reconnecting Disaffected Young People to School and Community at Mt Druitt Learning Ground

  1. 1. Dr Brenda Dobia School of Education b.dobia@westernsydney.edu.au WITH GREAT RESPECT AND WITH GREAT AFFECTION: Reconnecting disaffected young people to school and community at Mt Druitt Learning Ground
  2. 2. Acknowledgements Please join me in paying respects to the traditional custodians of the lands on which we stand today, the Burramatagul clan of the Darug nation.
  3. 3. SDG focus 4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations 4.6 By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy 4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status 10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard
  4. 4. National ‘Closing the Gap’ targets Statement of intent to ‘work together to achieve equality in health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by the year 2030‘ signed by Australian government in 2008. Aims to: • Close the life expectancy gap within a generation (by 2030) • Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children within a decade (by 2018) • Ensure that all Indigenous 4 year olds in remote communities have access to early childhood education within 5 years (by 2013) • Halve the gap for Indigenous students in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade (by 2018) • Halve the gap for Indigenous students in year 12 attainment (by 2020) • Halve the gap in employment levels within a decade (by 2018) • Close the gap in school attendance (by 2018)
  5. 5. Self-report card Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (2018). Closing The Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2018 https://closingthegap.pmc.gov.au/
  6. 6. School suspension data for NSW Long Suspensions, NSW 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total students suspended 10,878 12,27 3 12,05 4 12,92 2 12,28 1 12,11 8 12,38 8 12,20 3 Total as percentage of all students 1.5 2.3 2.3 2.4 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.6 Aboriginal students suspended 2,286 2,480 2,590 2,974 3,054 3,168 3,399 3,391 Aboriginal students as percentage of all suspensions 22 21 23 24.4 24.9 26.1 27.4 27.8 Aboriginal students as percentage of Aboriginal students 5.6 5.8 5.7 6.3 6.2 6.1 6.3 6.0 In 2016 Aboriginal students in New South Wales comprised 7.2% of total enrolments.
  7. 7. Locating the community
  8. 8. Young people in crisis Watch Saving young lives documentary at https://vimeo.com/267926611/a29f130509
  9. 9. Learning Ground Community Learning Ground aims to • Offer a ‘safe haven’ for those who are dealing with multiple difficulties • Provide behavioural change management for young people • Re-engage people with learning and with work • Promote inter-cultural understanding • Emphasise respect for Aboriginal culture and worldviews • Build community resilience. A unique community education model: “Each one teach one”  Enablers  Mentors  Adolescents & youth  Family Skills
  10. 10. Evaluation approach Research team: Dr Roberto Parada, Dr Brenda Dobia, Mr Kon Kalos 1. We conducted a detailed review of the content and materials provided in all current Learning Ground programs in relation to the stated goals of being practical, socially relevant, culturally sensitive, ethical and theoretically based. 2. We investigated program impacts for service users, including program participants and community agencies that interact with Learning Ground, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. • Participant surveys • Surveys of stakeholder agencies • Focus groups with current and previous participants • Focus groups with mentors • Site observations
  11. 11. Program review conclusions • Social and Emotional Literacy, enabled by creating a safe place to discuss emotions and learn about them; • Metacognitive skills that allow participants to understand and reflect on the influences on their own behaviour (or the behaviour of their children), and in turn the influence of their behaviour on others; • Skills for cognitive and affective reflexivity in relation to individuals’ effects on the world and the world’s effects on individuals, thus enabling re-evaluation of self-in-environment and culture; and • Skills for self-awareness that enable re- evaluation of personal strengths and capacities with the goal of creating a more complete positive self-image.
  12. 12. Learning Ground’s Impact Figure 2. Mean scores (n=47) for Life Effectiveness Questions for S1(How ‘true’ individuals felt the comments were for them) and S2 (How much they had felt Learning Ground had helped in developing this skill). Scores range from 0 to 3, higher scores indicating a higher level of agreement. Q1: I am ok with asking for help when I need it; Q2: I can cope with difficult people most of the time; Q3: I do well in social situations; Q4: What I do and how I do it will determine my successes in life; Q5: I try to get the best possible results when I do things; Q6: When I work hard on something I am confident I will succeed; Q7: When things around me change I cope well; Q8: I am good at cooperating with others; Q9: I can handle negative things most of the time; Q10: If I succeed in life it will be because of my efforts; Q11: I am calm when things go wrong; Q12: I can manage day to day problems most of the time; Q13: I try and listen to other people’s views on things.
  13. 13. Learning Ground’s Impact (Cont’d) Figure 3. Percentage of participants who felt that Learning Ground Programs either helped ‘A Little’, obtained by combining ‘Not at all’ with ‘Very Little’ results; or; ‘Much’, obtained by combining ‘Much’ and ‘A Lot’ results for participant survey results in S2 (How much they had felt Learning Ground had helped in developing this skill). Q1: I am ok with asking for help when I need it; Q2: I can cope with difficult people most of the time; Q3: I do well in social situations; Q4: What I do and how I do it will determine my successes in life; Q5: I try to get the best possible results when I do things; Q6: When I work hard on something I am confident I will succeed; Q7: When things around me change I cope well; Q8: I am good at cooperating with others; Q9: I can handle negative things most of the time; Q10: If I succeed in life it will be because of my efforts; Q11: I am calm when things go wrong; Q12: I can manage day to day problems most of the time; Q13: I try and listen to other people’s views on things. n=47.
  14. 14. Growing respect I feel that the kids have more respect for the people here at Learning Ground than I feel that they do at the schools. But it is helping them improve their respect for the teachers and the heads of school that they have, because here there's more patience and there is more one on one time with the child. ... No child is the same and knowing that and knowing the temperament of the child helps them and helps the mentors and the facilitators be more compassionate, open and more - being able to confide in someone. You don’t have that at school…
  15. 15. Less drama • It's less drama than school is, always fighting, girls bitching all the time. I'd rather come here so I don't have to listen to all that and get away from it. • They teach us how to control our anger… Like, on Wednesdays the other - the younger groups come here, the primary school people come here and some of the people in our group go to teach the primary school… If you're at school and someone is being naughty or something, or someone's picking on them, you teach them what you can do different
  16. 16. Positive change • For me, it made me change my whole perspective of life. The way that I was living was like organised chaos and I wasn't happy in my work and I was ready to just punch somebody and happy to spend some time in jail…. With getting involved with the Enablers program, it helps you think beyond that and you want to give back. • After doing the Family Skills program and learning the skills from the program and introducing that into my home life, everything just turned to be more positive.
  17. 17. Each one teach one Our words of wisdom that we follow is each one, teach one and I really do believe that we get as much out of this as the participants do and we are learning from each other. I think that's what is so key about the relationship that it does go both ways. We're not their friends but we are - we're their mentors… So the whole program is based around behavioural change so we are assisting them in that area. Where we see good behaviour we encourage it through positive description, through emotion coaching and we follow the program that Margaret has so beautifully done.
  18. 18. Recommendations • Work with schools to develop a supportive re-entry program at the school for students who are transitioning between attending Learning Ground and school. • Investigate how the effective mentoring approach used at Learning Ground might be incorporated into schools. • Offer teacher professional development workshops in emotion coaching and descriptive praise. • Investigate the possibility of having teachers from local schools complete the Enablers Program. • Seek ways to provide Aboriginal youth with opportunities to explore their cultural heritage. • Consider further opportunities to develop the Aboriginal-specific content of Learning Ground programs in light of recent developments in Aboriginal education. https://researchdirect.westernsydney.edu.au/islandora/object/uws%3A37226
  19. 19. Working with young people at risk • Learning Ground’s approach is a strong exemplar of a ‘wraparound’ intervention model, which is particularly indicated for young people experiencing complex difficulties. • To provide adequate support for these students, schools need to develop effective partnerships with community agencies involved in the provision of mental health, welfare and specialist education services. • Consistent with a multi-tiered whole school health promotion model, Learning Ground should be recognised as a tertiary service provider with an identified role for working with young people at risk.
  20. 20. Ongoing partnership • Despite these outstanding successes, Learning Ground has met with considerable challenge in gaining recognition from the NSW Department of Education, and some schools have had to defy departmental directives when referring young people to Learning Ground. • To counter this problem we initiated higher level engagement with the Department and participated in a documentary that highlights Learning Ground’s unique approach. • The research team continues to build on the partnership, identifying the unique contribution of Learning Ground’s SEL approach to trauma-informed practice. • We are also advising on further development of programs and research initiatives.

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