My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is for Heywood & District Secondary College to be able to use some of the unexpected government funding to fund their Standing Tall program. Heywood & District Secondary College was given $600 000 in the state budget, presumably for building maintenance and repairs.
Shortly after the announcement, I rang the school and was told that, while the money was welcome, it was a complete surprise and they had no idea it was coming and had no detail on what it was to be used for. The principal, Glenn Kane, then raised with me the possibility of spending some of that money to fund the Standing Tall program, which has been a huge success at the school, helping to re-engage students who are at risk of abandoning their education.
He said to me that there is no point having a building if the students are unable to be engaged in functional education.
Standing Tall is working and making sure students are re-engaged. Being able to allocate this money would of course require the department’s approval. The results of this program speak for themselves, and I would be happy to provide the minister with the data the school has given me to show just how worthwhile Standing Tall is.
Standing Tall matches carefully selected and trained community volunteers with at-risk junior school students. The volunteers have a one-on-one hour-long session every week, which can involve talking, playing cards, cooking, undertaking activities or whatever the mentee chooses, as well as regular group sessions that focus on issues pertinent to the students involved.
This program is working, and one example I will share is of a female student who, in the 12 months prior to entering the program, recorded 72 misbehaviours. Since entering the program at the beginning of this year, she has recorded no misbehaviours.
Students involved in the program have also taken on leadership roles in the school and in the community, and rather than walking away from education and slipping through the cracks they are now engaged and planning for future careers in various fields.
Some of these students are facing some heavy situations at home, but this program has given them a reason to come to school. It has provided them with someone who believes in them and, most importantly, someone to talk to.
Teachers say that this program has turned their work from dealing with crises and just getting these kids through the day to actually educating engaged young people. I note that the government has flagged a rollout of the Compass program across the state, but I hope it would not replace the well-established Standing Tall program, which is getting real results in Heywood, Warrnambool and, in the member for Lowan’s electorate, Hamilton.
The program relies on community fundraising to continue, but rather than risk it going by the wayside Heywood & District Secondary College want to put some of the money they received from the budget into this program to ensure it continues.
They know its value, they know it works and they have seen the results. Minister, please consider this and give these kids in Heywood the opportunity they deserve to succeed.