Rotary Club of
Wendouree Breakfast

Rotary Club of Wendouree Breakfast
PO Box 191, Ballarat, Vic, 3353

President: Vicki Fawcus 0418 143 366
Secretary: Kath Venters 0418 570 726

2017 Brett Shillito Due to the overwhelming interest in Brett’s first presentation, he was invited back to provide some more background on the work they are doing to not only educate their students, but rebuild the community. The Yuille Park philosophy hinges on the concept of “it takes a village to raise a child, and a child to raise a village”. Every day they live their ethos of Empathy, Belonging, Respect and Effort.

Brett outlined the challenges faced with having a large number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many are surrounded with issues including generational unemployment, poverty and domestic violence. Much of their work is around showing there is an alternative to these issues, and what it takes to change the paradigm. This necessitates a different approach to education where they take a collaborative approach to building trust with not only the students, but their families and the wider community. Yuille Park operates three campuses and now includes a kindergarten. Numeracy and literacy issues are prevalent so the Kinder is used as an early intervention tool to identify issues and address them. They have also implemented adult programs following the kinder classes to assist parents raise their skills to help their children.

Open learning is practiced with “pods” rather than traditional classes operating. The pods amalgamate age groups for shared experience. A lot of the focus of the school is on experiential learning. They have three 10 seat buses that are constantly taking the students out in to the wider geographic are of Ballarat. Many of the students have little or no experience or idea of the wider community of Ballarat, or any area outside of their immediate surrounds. Brett gave some examples of students who have arrived with major issues, described the process of building trust and the time taken to do this, and the changes in the students to where they are today.

Brett noted that the staff turnover is almost non-existent with the staff being emotionally invested and connected with the whole community and he outlined some of the work that they do over and above the normal school day. When asked how they deal with the issues and situations they face every day, Brett advised that they have a compulsory debrief every day to at least verbalise what they have been dealing with.

Brett’s enthusiasm for the difference they are making through community collaboration, buy in, and capacity building was well received by the members who engaged in lots of questions and discussion.