Dear Supporters and Friends,
Over the last few weeks, there have been various announcements that have changed the way we live out our lives in public and in our workplaces.
The continuation of schools has brought with it significant challenges and stresses for all involved, either directly or indirectly, in school communities. YouthCARE’s school chaplains have had to continue their front-line role of supporting our school communities. There is no doubt that their work has had to change, adapt and expand to better support school staff, students and families.
YouthCARE has been working closely with the Department of Education to ensure that its chaplains are still able to offer their support to families and students who are not at schools, through other approved means. We will continue to adapt to the changing scenarios as matters relating to COVID-19 play out in the coming days.
ALL YouthCARE chaplains and Area Chaplains throughout WA have continued to provide their service with the greatest level of commitment to their school community, including a small number who are working from home due to health concerns.
All other services including Christian Values Education have been suspended for the time being.
We are so proud of the way our chaplains have gone about their roles in an unassuming and sensitive manner to ensure that anyone who may be feeling vulnerable at this time is given the necessary support or referrals.
Your prayer support for all involved with YouthCARE is appreciated and valued.
This week YouthCARE’s Heads of Member churches, YouthCARE Board and the senior management team and met for YouthCARE’s Annual General Meeting; although it looked a little different this year!
The group gathered over an online Zoom meeting to receive the reports for 2019 on the positive activities of Christian Values Education and YouthCARE’s chaplaincy services which are offered to almost 600 state schools across WA.
It was a great opportunity for the organisation to welcome Glenn Bergsma as its new chairman and new board member Mildred Rego. Malcolm Potts, Mark Illingworth, and Steve Francis have been re-confirmed in their roles.
Our thanks go to Sandra Peterson for her generous service of 2 terms on the board.
“We are grateful for the strong support offered to the organisation by the member churches in so many ways; their encouragement helps us continue the great work of the organisation in our school communities throughout WA.”
While many YouthCARE chaplains days’ are filled with programs, pastoral care, and school events, life as a chaplain at WA College of Agriculture Cunderdin looks very different!
Michelle started at the college in Term 3 last year and says she has loved the unpredictability each day brings.
“I join with students across the College to engage with them in class, farm, and trades. I also work during residential time two days a week to be a support and facilitate activities,” said Michelle.
The College productively farms a 4,064ha property including an intensive piggery, poultry unit, butchershop, shearing shed, and farm workshop. The farm runs sheep, cattle, pigs, and poultry for egg production.
“I turn up wherever something is happening, whether its cattle in yards, shearing in shearing shed, pigs farrowing, welding in the workshop or chasing sheep in the rain! I spend time just being in the student’s workspace and engage in one on one conversations with them,” said Michelle.
Students come from all across the state making up 142 years 11 and 12 students, only 3 of whom are day students and the remainder are boarders. Michelle says a big focus for her and the Student Services team is the well-being of students as they navigate being far from home.
“I can combine my passion for photography with my role as chaplain and it gives me great pleasure to be able to walk about with my camera photographing the students at work. They are very keen to have ‘evidence that they can shear a sheep’ when no one believes them!” said Michelle.
YouthCARE chaplain Di has started running the Highway Heroes program at Balga Primary School to help improve students’ behavioural, emotional and social skills.
“We wanted to look at a whole-school program that covers something that aligns with curriculum and provided social and emotional skills to students,” said Di.
The program equips students to identify if an issue can be dealt with themselves and gives them the steps to do so.
One part of the program which has permeated the school is the ‘Six Steps Stick Up for Me’. These six steps target bullying and help students to build confidence in addressing a bully.
“The Six Steps help our students to stand up for themselves and each other by learning to be resilient and identifying when they need an adult.
“It makes it so much easier when everyone is on the same page and by the whole school participating in this program we are able to reinforce what is learned each week,” said Di.
The program is very interactive for students and staff and sees participants acting out different scenarios and learning how to deal with situations.
“The key to the program is repetition. We keep parents informed about what is taught each week so they can reinforce the skills at home. We can definitely see that students have benefitted from the program with how they interact with each other on the playground,” said Di.
At YouthCARE we have had an incredible start to 2020!
Already this year we have inducted and commissioned 34 chaplains into schools from as far north as Mount Magnet down to Albany, and everywhere in-between.
Nicola is one of our chaplains who was commissioned in February and has started her YouthCARE chaplaincy role at Inglewood Primary School.
“The induction week was extremely helpful, not only in terms of the content covered but as an opportunity to meet other new chaplains, hear stories from experienced chaplains and meet the other staff who work at YouthCARE central office,” said Nicola.
YouthCARE’s chaplaincy application process has been refined over the last 40 years of experience to ensure the best quality service possible is delivered to schools. 63% of chaplains placed in state schools through YouthCARE have more than the minimum requirements of becoming a chaplain.
Nicola had met YouthCARE chaplains previously through her son’s high school as well as her position on the P&C and knew that the quality of pastoral care provided in schools through YouthCARE was exceptional.
” After meeting several YouthCARE chaplains and hearing about the great work they do, it was an easy choice for me to apply with YouthCARE when I was ready to become a chaplain,” she said.
For over a year, YouthCARE chaplain Belinda has been running Breakfast Club at Koorana Primary School and has since seen a huge change in the school community.
Students who had previously been late to school, are now arriving early to engage with other students and have a good meal before starting the day.
“For some students, the transition from home to school can be tough. Some of our students come from stressful home lives and it can be hard for them to get into school mode. Breakfast Club has helped students get excited for the school day and all start together,” said Belinda.
Koorana Primary School also has an Educational Support Centre where students are also invited to participate in Breakfast Club.
“We have lots of students come to Breakfast Club from our Educational Support Centre. It’s been a great way for students to integrate in with each other,” said Belinda.
Breakfast Club at Koorana has been provided a great opportunity to engage with the large community.
Food for the club is donated by the P and C, Coles Warnbro, Second Bite, and Foodbank.
“We rely heavily on the generous support of local organisations to keep Breakfast Club running. I also have a lot of parent support in setting up and serving and it’s been a great way to open lines of communication with them,” said Belinda.
After seeing the devasting bush fires in their local area, and on the east coast, three Albany Senior High School year 7 boys decided it was time to take action.
With the help of their YouthCARE chaplain Jennifer, the students planned a school-wide cake stall to raise funds for the local Kalgan Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade who are fundraising for a new station and heat cameras.
Last week, Albany Senior Hight School YouthCARE chaplain, Jennifer Wingard organised a visit from longtime supporter of the YouthCARE school chaplaincy program and Albany locals, Mr. Peter Watson MLA to be part of a special occasion held at the school.
Principal Mrs. Jenny Firth said she was blown away by the courage of these two young men, “they even asked me to cook a cake!” she said.
The school event was also attended by a longtime supporter of YouthCARE, Mr. Peter Watson MLA.
Mr. Watson said he was thrilled to be part of the presentation of the cheque by the boys for such a worthwhile cause and said these young men are our future leaders.
“Albany Senior High School should be very proud of their effort.”
For over 28 years, Andrew has been the YouthCARE chaplain at Mount Lawley Senior High School and in that time has started many new programs and initiatives, one being the second-hand school uniform shop.
Andrew started the shop in 2007, sourcing second-hand uniforms from graduating students and storing them on a roller rack near his office.
Since then, the shop has grown more and more and Andrew now has hundreds of uniforms donated from families every year that he sells from a shop within the school grounds.
All the money raised goes towards his chaplaincy service in the school and in 2019 over $5,500 was raised through the uniform shop.
Andrew said the shop gave him a great connection point to students and families.
“The shop benefits me as a chaplain. I’m able to meet new students who have transferred from other schools and connect with families in our school that are struggling. I’m often the first person students meet and its great being that first connection point.
“We have parents come in to help me sort the uniforms and sell them at school events. We have an incredible school community and every year we get more and more uniforms donated.”
Michael Camilleri Associate Principal said the second-hand uniform shop was a benefit to the whole school community.
“We have embraced the second-hand uniform shop as it provides great opportunities for all our families. It reduces the financial burden some parents may feel and ensures all students feel part of our school community.”
The 8.20am school bus arrives to drop students at West Coast Secondary Ed Support Centre in Warwick and there is a rush for who can get to Breakfast Club first.
YouthCARE chaplain Raissa is running the Breakfast Club for the third year, providing breakfast foods from cereal and yogurt to pancakes and toasted sandwiches to anyone who needs it.
“Food is social and at breakfast club, I can create repour with students and staff effectively, building positive relationships in a safe and informal environment.
“Being an Ed Support, our conversations with students often look different and are more based around social skills. The great thing about the breakfast club is that students choose to come to me and eat. I’m not coming into their space which can be daunting for some,” says Raissa.
School Principal Joanne Kriziotis said, “We’ve seen a huge increase in concentration and emotional regulation from students since starting the Breakfast Club. Positive relationships have developed between students and staff and its a great way for us to all start the day in a positive way.”
Raissa believes that the consistency of Breakfast Club is vital for many of the students.
“We consistently have Breakfast Club three times a week since it started. The routine of this is important for many of our students and it helps me build on relationships in remembering what I’ve spoken with students about previously and checking in on them again.”