This year, Teach For Australia’s annual conference, TransformED, took a regional focus with TransformEDx events held in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Shepparton and Melbourne in Victoria.
As such, bringing conversations like those had at the various TransformEDx events around the country to these communities is critical to our work.
TransformEDx NT was held in Darwin in July and focused on the vital role that educators play in the youth justice system – particularly, in the Northern Territory. Experts from across the sector formed a panel discussion on the matter.
The event explored the issues and challenges associated with the Territory’s youth justice system, different models and programs from across the Territory, Australia and the world, which have proven to be successful, and the role of education and teachers in the system.
The panelists highlighted some confronting statistics about youth justice in the Northern Territory – particularly, as they related to the issue of Indigenous young people in the system. Patrick said:
Three days after the event, footage of the treatment of young people at the Don Dale detention centre came to light. Patrick hopes that the Associates who attended the discussion feel empowered to play a part in developing a youth justice system in the Northern Territory that “allows our students to pursue and achieve their dreams”.
TransformEDx Hume was held in Shepparton, Victoria, in mid-August. Hosted in collaboration with Shepparton’s Better Together Alliance, it focused on student wellbeing and transitions with a focus on disengagement, low tertiary participation rates and community collaboration.
The event aimed to facilitate and develop wider school capacity to address these key challenges by increasing engagement at a local community level.
There were almost 50 people in attendance, including members of Teach For Australia’s Associate and Alumni communities and representatives from community organisations and the Department of Education and Training. But, the greatest success of the day was how many members of the wider school community were in attendance.
“Many participants found other teachers or community organisations that could assist or collaborate with them in the future,” said Smeeta. Ultimately, such was the aim of the day.
Lisa McKenzie of the Lighthouse Project, a Shepparton-based non-profit organisation working to improve the prospects of the region’s young people said:
TransformEDx Melbourne explored issues around the role of schools in shaping values – particularly, as they relate to the highly topical issues of LGBTQI+ safe education, asylum seeker integration and preventing gendered violence.
Sessions in the morning were presented by notable speakers on these topics, while the afternoon sessions were school-led workshops, encouraging teachers to reflect on how to implement strategies in their contexts.
The students presented on the issues facing LGBTIQ+ students in the classroom and looked into strategies that teachers and schools could implement in order to break down misconceptions and help LGBTIQ-identified young people to feel more comfortable being themselves in school.
They urged the attendees to understand that “it’s OK to make mistakes” when working with LGBTIQ+ young people – “all we ask is that you’re willing to listen and learn.”
“It was so great to see so many people signed up to our session and how willing they were to ask questions and get involved throughout the workshop,” said Natalie, one of the students.
“After the workshop, we had many people come up to us to congratulate us and tell us how we had taught them something new and helped them in many different ways. There was one person in particular who told us how much he had learnt from us and that we had inspired him to go home and listen to his own sixteen year old daughter which was truly moving.
TransformEDx will be coming to Western Victoria on 6 October, the theme being ‘Better Together’. Registrations are now open and will close on 23 September.