Getting Stronger in Bourke

Getting Stronger in Bourke

Children in regional areas are often faced with the prospect of moving away from their family to start High School elsewhere. This can be a daunting concept for a pre-teenager. Any transition points are hard to navigate for children, however from primary to high school is difficult for all students and for Aboriginal students in particular, it is significant, as many children drop out of school and don't make it to Year 7.

The "Building A Stronger You" project facilitates the successful transition to high school using teams of trained, qualified volunteers and a local Aboriginal Elder as facilitators who deliver a structured Cognitive-Behavioural strength-focused program. Students learn mediation skills, collaborative problem solving and managing conflict, helping to build their resilience. The transition program also includes a mentoring program in which Eternity Aid, in conjunction with school staff, identify high risk children and work to arrange more specific mentoring, support and counselling to help support their successful transition to high school.

Eternity Aid worked with Bourke High School, Bourke Public School and St Ignatius Catholic Primary School to deliver the workshops. They also held community events to engage children and build relationship with their families outside of the school environment.

Due to COVID-19, there were periods where volunteers were unable to travel and where the risk to vulnerable members of the Bourke community were too great to risk the possibility of infection. The organisation was able to adjust their modes of delivery to a blend of online, local school staff training, provision of training packs to each school and face to face delivery. Overall, 75 students benefited from the support though the "Building A Stronger You" program, along with relevant staff at three schools.

Strong relationships have been built between Eternity Aid and the schools. Eternity Aid were approached to provide Grief and Loss counselling support to 15 staff and their families in response to social, personal and occupational losses, including loss of life.

Delivery of the project during the middle of a health pandemic certainly had it challenges, but the organisation is justifiably proud of how it was able to pivot, response and continue to meet the known and emerging needs of the community.