Working together towards wellbeing
Peer Support Australia explains how it provides school communities with the support they need to enhance the wellbeing of young people and help inform positive cultural change.
For more than 34 years, Peer Support Australia has been the go-to-organisation for Australian primary and secondary schools looking to enhance the mental, social and emotional wellbeing of their students.
Peer Support Australia provides support and resources to primary and secondary schools, most notably through its Peer Support Program. The organisation estimates that more than 500,000 young people in hundreds of schools across Australia participate in the program each year.
Peer Support Australia views the work they do with schools as more than just the provision of a program.
Greg Cantwell, Peer Support Australia CEO, explains that the program complements and builds on existing practices at a number of schools across Australia, noting the importance of maintaining ongoing relationships with schools.
“Peer Support Australia places an emphasis on working together with all members of the school community including administrators, teachers, students, and parents to develop a culture that is cohesive and supportive,” Greg says.
Peer Support Australia offers schools the support they need with dedicated wellbeing education consultants placed across Australia.
Sara deVries, Education Services Manager of Peer Support Australia, explains how schools and Peer Support Australia work together.
“Initially, a core group of teachers from a school are trained by a Peer Support Australia wellbeing education consultant at an Implementation Workshop. This is a highly informative and effective training which builds capacity within the school to initiate and sustain an effective Peer Support Program,” Sara says.
“Our wellbeing education consultants provide schools with continued support beyond the workshop to ensure wellbeing is embedded across the life of the school.
“This valuable advice and expertise can be accessed through such services such as school visits, in-school workshops, and video conferencing,” Sara says.
This personal touch from supportive, resourceful, and knowledgeable professionals has contributed to Peer Support Australia’s longevity and their ongoing relationships with hundreds of schools across Australia.
Peer Support Australia provides a dedicated Wellbeing Education Consultant for your school that can provide:
• Specific advice/consultation regarding implementation of the Peer Support Program: including planning
• Recommendations for a best practice model of implementation for the Peer Support Program which addresses specific school needs
• Awareness-raising talks for staff, students and parents
• Video conferencing and ongoing communications
• An evaluation package designed to measure satisfaction with the program
THE PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM
The Peer Support Program is an evidence-informed program that centres on peer-led interaction. The Program benefits a whole-school culture and promotes leadership, wellbeing, positive relationships, resilience, and mental and social health.
Sara explains that the program’s peer-to-peer sessions provide a platform which helps children increase their sense of connectedness with their peers, teachers and community, and increases their self-efficacy.
“The coordinating teacher conducts an awareness raising session with all staff. This unites teachers in addressing wellbeing with a common mindset, using a shared language. Year 6 Peer Leaders are trained to work with small multi-aged groups of students using materials focusing on topics such as relationships, resilience, optimism and anti-bullying,” explains Sara.
Furthermore, the Peer Support Program is enabled by a supportive school staff community as all teachers provide support through briefing, debriefing, and supervision during the sessions. It is envisaged that content covered during the sessions is utilised by teachers and students to work through everyday scenarios as they arise. This encourages students to practice the skills and strategies they have learned.
Building a positive school culture can lead to a host of improved outcomes for students. These include: improved wellbeing, resilience, authentic leadership opportunities, positive relationships and improved social skills to name a few.
In a survey of more than 200 primary and secondary principals:
• 91 per cent indicated that the Peer Support Program was beneficial in building positive relationships
• 80 per cent said it was beneficial in developing peer connections across year groups
• 79 per cent believed it to be beneficial in developing and enhancing students interpersonal, communication and decision-making skills
“We look forward to working together with primary schools across Australia to boost the social and emotional wellbeing of their students,” Greg says.
There are places available at the remaining 2017 Peer Support Australia Implementation Workshops across Australia. The full 2018 workshop schedule is scheduled for release in October.
Learn more about Peer Support Australia and how your school can work together with them to enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of your students at www.peersupport.edu.au or by emailing their Education Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org