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.
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.
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:
- Community stakeholders support collaborative intervention on the chosen issue.
- No duplication with work of other inter-agency grouping on the issue.
- Urgency or potential urgency of issue (emerging trends).
- Opportunity to act/ leverage intervention (eg government policy or existing work of other agency/groups).
- Measurable impact within 12 -24 months.
- Importance of issue can be demonstrated with empirical data.
- Resource implications.
The working group subsequently identified the following priority social issues against these selection criteria:
- Vulnerable and at risk young people.
- Lack of affordable housing and supported accommodation.
- Barriers to accessing culturally appropriate services.
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.
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:
- Would most benefit from a targeted project of this nature and have the greatest chance of breaking the cycle of risk.
- Encompasses both primary and secondary school students, together with the transition years.
- Would be less difficult to engage.
- Could be tracked as they move into the older age groups.
Shared project outcomes
The SWMPF working group has agreed to work together to deliver the following outcomes:
- 8 – 13 year olds participating in the SWMPF project regularly attend school.
- 8 – 13 year olds participating in the SWMPF project demonstrate increased resilience and well-being.
- 8 – 13 year olds participating in the SWMPF project participate in their local community activities.
- 8 – 13 year olds participating in the SWMPF project feel safe and supported in their community.
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:
- Caralee Community School (Melville)
- South Lake Primary School (Cockburn)
- Winterfold Primary School (Fremantle)
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.
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:
- If you could wave a magic wand and make school a really special place – what would it look like?
- Would you like coming to school more if there was something after school you really wanted to do?
- What would you really like to do after school? It can be anything – sport, music, dance …!
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:
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.
WA Police Youth Liaison Officer, Russ Eldean, holds the Caralee children captive!
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.
The WAFL has been running its very successful ‘Nightfields’ program for at risk youth in Cockburn, Fremantle and Melville
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.
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:
- Speaking at the SWMPF’s annual review, Kathryn Hart, a class teacher at South Lake Primary School, spoke passionately about the important changes that she had seen in one student in particular. Previously sullen, disengaged and presenting significant behavioural issues, the child had been effectively “transformed” – she claimed – as a result of his participation in the SWMPF project. The Cockburn Gazette published a short article on Ms Hart’s experience of the SWMPF project (reproduced below).
- “The high need students participating in the project have become more engaged and have been attending to a satisfactory level.” (Steve Berry, Principal, Winterfold Primary School)
- “The project has boosted the confidence and self esteem of the students as they are being asked for ideas and seeing that their ideas are being taken on board and making a difference” (Trevor Anderson, Principal, Caralee Community School).
- “A fabulous project for South Lake students, which is making a big difference!” (Leigh Liley, Principal, and Sue Kirkham, Deputy Principal, South Lake Primary School)
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
- Fremantle Family Support Network (St Patrick’s Community Support Centre)
- SMYL Community Services
- Department of Education
- Department of Local Govt, Sports and Cultural Industries
- Department of Communities – Child Protection and Family Support
- Department of Social Services
- City of Fremantle
- City of Cockburn
- City of Melville
- Fremantle PCYC
- Anglicare WA
- Access Housing
- WA Police
- Lakeland Senior High School
- South Lake Primary School
- Caralee Community School
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:
- Minutes 28 May
- Minutes 10 June
- Minutes 24 June
- Minutes 24 July
- Minutes 2 September
- Minutes 18 September
- SWMPF minutes 16 October
- Minutes 11 November
- SWMPF minutes 11 December 2014
- SWMPF minutes 5 February 2015
- Minutes 5 March 2015
- SWMPF minutes 26 March 2015
- Minutes 28 April
- Minutes 12 May 2015
- Minutes 16 June 2015
- Minutes 21 July 2015
- Minutes 25 August 2015
- SWMPF minutes 15 September 2015
- SWMPF minutes 20 October 2015
- SWMPF minutes 19 January 2016
- SWMPF Minutes 23 Feb 2016
- Minutes 28 April 2016
- Vulnerable and at Risk Youth minutes 15 September 2015
- VRYWG minutes 9 September 2016
- Minutes Thursday 10 November 2016 SWMPF Working group on Vulnerable and At Risk Young People
- Minutes Thursday 9 February 2017 SWMPF Working group on Vulnerable and At Risk Young People
- VRY Minutes 9 March 2017
- VRY Minutes 6 April 2017
- VRY Minutes 19 May 2017
- IF Minutes 23rd June 2017
- IF Minutes 28 July 2017
- IF Minutes 25 August 2017
- IF Minutes 29 Sept 2017 2
- IF Minutes October 2017
- IF Minutes 1 December 2017
- IF Minutes 23 February 2018
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!