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Common social issue – Imagined Futures – Keeping Kids in Education

The work of this group has expanded since 2017 and it is now known as the Imagined Futures Youth Initiative.  This initiative is the result of a whole of Forum prioritization process, which highlighted the need to expand the previously known ‘Vulnerable and at Risk Working Group’ to respond to the complex needs of vulnerable young people, and to respond to the lessons that we had learned through the last few years of implementation. The project has achieved strong outcomes in terms of increasing vulnerable young people’s school attendance and their sense of belonging at school, however it was clear that these same young people did not always transition to secondary school, for many complex reasons. As such, the Imagined Futures Initiative was developed which aims to increase school attendance at both primary and secondary school, and support families to prioritize education. The programme works to build resilience in children at primary school, provides support in their transition to secondary school, engage young people in community activities such as sport and art to develop their sense of connectedness, supports their families to overcome complex issues inhibiting their prioritization of education, and helps reintegrate young people who are already disengaged from education or training. This early intervention strategy will provide strong benefits for individuals and the community. Watch this space for more information.


The history

Collective impact requires all participants to have a shared vision for change, one that includes a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions. Take a close look at any group of funders and non-profits that believe they are working on the same social issue, and you quickly find that it is often not the same issue at all.


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Collective Impact – John Kania and Mark Kramer, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2011
The  South West Metropolitan Partnership Forum (now known as Imagined Futures) has an overriding objective to embed a culture of collaboration among all human service providers in the Cockburn, Fremantle and Melville region in order to maximise their collective social impact. As is the case of the SWMPF’s community ‘hotspot’ project, this initiative  involves trialing an all-in collaborative approach to address a common social issue that the community has identified as a priority in the region.

How we identified our common social issue

The Foundation membership convened a working group on 31 January 2014 to draw up a short list of priority social issues across the three local government areas of Cockburn, Fremantle and Melville. The working group agreed the following selection criteria should be applied in identifying the social issue:

The working group subsequently identified the following priority social issues against these selection criteria:

The Foundation membership agreed by majority vote at its meeting on 7 February 2014 that vulnerable and at risk young people would be the target of it’s first community-led collaborative intervention.

Project scope

Discussion at the working group’s first meeting centred on scoping the project to ensure it targeted those children and young people that would most benefit from an initiative of this kind. After considerable debate,  the working group agreed to scope the project around 8 -13 year olds. This was the age group that the group believed:

Shared project outcomes

The SWMPF working group has agreed to work together to deliver the following outcomes:

Note: As is the case of all SWMPF projects, all initiatives to achieve these project outcomes will be driven by the 8 – 13 year olds themselves. To find out how the working group is monitoring its progress in achieving these outcomes, check out  Project 2_Program Logic_Common Social Issue _Vulnerable and at risk 8 13 year olds (Final).    The Survey to obtain baseline data among 8 – 13 year olds (around family connectedness, feeling safe at school, having friends with healthy attitudes about risky behaviours, family connectedness, having a supportive adult in or outside the family, feeling good at something, and involvement in the broader community) was undertaken among the 65 participating 8 – 13 year olds in the last fortnight of Term 4, 2014. This is one of several Data collection methods we are using to measure the impact of this and our other SWMPF projects.

Action plan – how the SWMPF is working to deliver its shared outcomes

The first challenge facing the working group was how to identify vulnerable and at risk 8 – 13 year olds across the 3 LGAs to engage in the project.  It agreed the most effective approach would be to engage the children and young people through their schools. With assistance from the Department of Education, the working group identified three schools – one in each LGA – that might welcome the opportunity to participate in the project.  These were:

Happily, the Principals of all three schools accepted the invitation to support the SWMPF project.  Their first task was to identify students in the 8 – 13 year old age group that they believed would most benefit from this project.  Each school together identified a total of 65 students.

Winterfold - cg and activity selection

Equipping the children with the skills to drive this project
is a critical part of  the SWMPF’s  approach

Stage 1 initiatives Once the parental consent was obtained, the students were convened for the first time in October for “working lunches” that were held in each of the three schools.  There they learned that they had been chosen to be part of a team that works with their school to make the school a better place for all the kids. The SWMPF wanted to hear their ideas about what they like, what might need to change and what other “stuff” might make school fun, safe and a good place to learn.  They were all given wristbands with the text “Making school cool” (a great hit!). The students were then given a few fun exercises to get their responses to the following three questions:

Caralee kids drawing close up
As the photos on this page show, the children were actively engaged in the process and provided a huge range of responses.  To view these, check out Proposals to make school cool


South Lake PS

winterfold - steve with group
The next challenge for the working group was to go through all the students’ ideas and see which the SWMPF would be able to turn into reality.  Following discussion with the school Principals, the working group convened a further round of “working lunches” with the students in each of the three school.  These were held to provide feedback to the students on all the responses received, discuss which initiatives the SWMPF would seek to implement (in partnership with the schools) and explain why these had been chosen over others. All the initiatives that the SWMPF is currently working on with the schools, with a view to their implementation in Term 1, 2015, are listed in Proposed initiatives for 3 schools – stage 1 Note: Participation in this project is completely voluntary.  The students have been asked each time they have met whether they wish to participate.  To date, two of the 65 students have withdrawn from the project.

Stage 2  In week 3 of term 1, 2015, the three groups of  students attended workshops facilitated by an extraordinarily talented young animator Nathan Viney to help them come up with their own individual  project  name and unique branding.  The children really seemed to enjoy themselves and all came up with great ideas.  The following are what they agreed upon:

The children are using their logos to promote each of the different initiatives they are responsible for introducing at their respective schools.  It is hoped that this will serve not only to promote their efforts to the rest of the school, but also give them a sense of pride in their achievements.

Stage 2 continued in term 1 with each of the students  participating in one on one interviews to inform the next series of initiatives to respond to the particular challenges facing the individual.  The working group will meet with the Principals of the three schools early in Term 2 to discuss the feedback obtained and explore possible initiatives to respond to the issues raised.

Russ at Caralee
WA Police Youth Liaison Officer, Russ Eldean, holds the Caralee children captive!
A common theme to emerge from the one on one interviews was the pressing need to build the resilience of the participating children.  This led to the introduction of a 12-month protective behaviours/resilience-building program, tailored to the different needs of each of the three participating schools.  The program is being generously provided by Palmerston’s South Metro Community Drug Service.  The SWMPF is indebted to Palmerston and their Youth Counsellor, Simone Ryan, who is running this program.

sue and simone

Sue Kirkham, Deputy Principal at South Lake Primary School, and Simone Ryan, Youth Counsellor at Palmerston, consider all the children’s suggestions to ‘Make School Cool’

In mid-2015, the WA Football Commission – which has been running a very successful program for vulnerable and at risk young people in the South East Corridor – entered into a partnership with the SWMPF.  Thanks to funding the WAFL was able to source through the Department of Sport and Recreation, the WAFL has been running its Nightfield program in all three local government areas.


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The WAFL has been running its very successful ‘Nightfields’ program for at risk youth  in Cockburn, Fremantle and Melville
The working group has continued to hold regular working lunches with the participating students to progress initiatives to support the project outcomes.  This has included meeting with representatives from local clubs to encourage the children to participate in local activities.

The working lunch in term 1, 2016,  sought the children’s ideas on how best to spend a $10,000 grant generously provided by the Fremantle Foundation to ‘make school cool’ for everyone.  The schools are now working to implement the suggestions, which include building a tree house, soccer equipment, purchasing a water fountain, and developing an outshed as an informal meeting place.

Working Lunch Subway Kids

The Caralee Idea Hunterz take a break from their labours!

In Term 2, 2016, the working group will be working on initiatives to ensure the participating students feel safe and supported in their community.

Feedback so far…

The working group meets regularly with the school Principals, all of whom report that the project has succeeded in significantly improving school attendance and in increasing their engagement at school.  Specific comments include:


kathryn hart article 3

Note: In Term 1, 2016, Winterfold Primary School withdrew from the project as it believed the participating students are now engaged and attending school to a “satisfactory” level and that there had been a marked reduction in high needs students entroled in 2016.

Imagined Futures Youth Initiative

In 2017,  a process of prioritizing pressing social issues in our region was undertaken, which highlighted the need to expand the previously known ‘Vulnerable and at Risk Working Group’ to respond to the complex needs of vulnerable young people, and to respond to the lessons that we had learned through the last few years of implementation. The project has achieved strong outcomes in terms of increasing vulnerable young people’s school attendance and their sense of belonging at school, however it was clear that keeping young people engaged in education required a focus on their transition to high school, as well as programs to ensure their continued engagement right through schoool.

As such, the Imagined Futures Initiative was developed which aims to:

i. increase school attendance at both primary and secondary school,

ii. support families to prioritize education

iii. support best practice in transition to secondary school programs

iv. reengage young people in appropriate education / vocational training.

Imagined Futures working group implementing this project

The membership of the working group as of 2018 comprises:

Chair: Palmerston Association

The roles and responsibilities of the working group members are provided in Terms of Reference Vulnerable and At Risk 8 – 13 Year Olds Working Group

Follow the project’s progress

To view the minutes of the working group’s meetings, please click below as appropriate:

If you would like to get involved in this project but are unable to join the working group, please share your thoughts and ideas through us online discussion forum or feel free to contact us at anytime!