In late 2000, The Bouverie Centre and a newly established Community Reference Group (CRG) 1 began work on a project to increase acceptance of difference and reduce discrimination and bullying within certain school districts. (Visit Breaking Through for more about the approach developed). The school communities, drawn from independent and government sectors, all identified the need to work together as a regional community to promote attitudinal and social change. The initial target group was Year 10 and 11 students, staff, parents and the school community. Over the ensuing three years, the scope was enlarged to include younger students ages thirteen to fifteen.
Phase One of the project introduced Breaking Through (BT) into three secondary colleges in the Loddon/Campaspe area—two government schools and one independent school. In Phase Two, the BT project was expanded to include two additional rural secondary schools in the Loddon/Campaspe district, and one urban secondary school. Phase Three of the BT project involved training teacher/facilitators in Theatre of the Oppressed (TOTO) techniques. The majority of these teacher/facilitators were drawn from the schools already part of BT. In Phase Four, newly trained TOTO facilitators worked with students from the middle years of their schools to conduct further awareness-raising theatre performances. Phase Five consisted of creating a video and booklet resource that increased awareness of homophobic discrimination and victimisation and promoted greater acceptance of diversity within school communities.
1 Membership of the Community Reference Group (CRG) included representatives from: Oliver House— CAMHS Kyneton; Youth Development Office— Macedon Ranges Shire Council; MH-SKY Child and Adolescent Program— Travancore; Southern DE&T School Support Service; Loddon Campaspe Mallee Region, Department of Employment &Training-Victoria; Mental Health Promotion Office— Department of Human Services -Bendigo; The Way Out Project-Loddon Campaspe region; Community Services Division, St. Lukes Family Services, Bendigo; Sunbury Community Health Service; Representatives of the School(s) Management Team; and Representatives of the School(s) Parent Community; & Young Person(s).
There were over 50 successful theatre performances by participating schools to over 3000 students, staff and parents. These performances dealt with a broad range of health and social issues, and subsequent community discussions involved parents, teachers, professional service providers and other community members.
A website developed by VCE students was used to gather stories of discrimination and resilience from school and community participants. This website was a source of material for ‘Making a Difference’ booklets and supplemented the information gathered directly by schools about bullying in their own community.
The BT project was evaluated over 2003-2006 using data gathered from interviews and focus groups with students, school staff and parents, and feedback from the secure website. Findings demonstrated both innovative curriculum changes in schools and attitude change in participants in response to the program. Overall the project delivered a variety of significant outcomes for the BT performers, for the schools and organisations involved and for the facilitators themselves.
The Bouverie Centre is delighted to be hosting an interactive workshop by Vikki Reynolds on how we can be of use in community work that happens in contexts of social injustices.find out more