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VR program aims to highlight dangers of binge drinking

A virtual reality game aiming to educate teenagers on the dangers of drinking and taking drugs will be rolled out to 20 independent Catholic schools across Queensland.

ABC News reported the game will involve students attending a virtual reality party, where they are asked to have a drink, deciding how many drinks they will have, and experiencing the repercussions.

Known as Blurred Minds, with the game titled Perfect Pour, the Griffith University project will first be trailed at St Mary’s Catholic School in Cairns.

Griffith University researcher Timo Dietrich described the scenario to ABC News as “a bit crazy”.

“And they can make decisions by attending a party in the virtual world.”

Almost two years in the making, the virtual reality game aims to teach teenagers about responsible drinking and drug taking.

St Mary’s physical education teacher Matt Rattray told ABC News it was a different approach to the subject for the school.

“Obviously they’re underage so we can’t use a lot of props or real aspects,” he said.

“So it’s a lot of using images and projecting onto a screen.”

Dr Dietrich and his team will take surveys with students after each trial class.

“So, we’re looking at changes across attitudinal measures, behavioural intentions,” he said.

“If we can get them to learn how to say no or decline a drink, that’s what I really want out of this.

“A big problem is pre-loading, so before kids even go to a party they end up meeting and actually start having drinks.

“One of the decisions that they have to make is do they actually want to choose a larger amount of drinking, and we highly discourage that through this adventure.

“So, what happens then [in the game] is that they actually pass out, so they don’t even make it to the party.”

Dr Dietrich said when it came to alcohol and drug education it was difficult to use “learning by doing” techniques.

“Because you can’t really give a 15-year-old students alcohol and say hey how does that feel?

“Here’s a virtual world that allows us to actually creates these experiences virtually and actually expose them to some of these cues and risk taking scenarios, without actually the negative consequences of the real-world setting.

“I think VR gives us a tremendous opportunity to really take education to a whole new level.

“So think about geography lesson where you could take people to a different country. It doesn’t just have to be a house party.”

Mr Rattray said the trial allowed students to get an understanding of the effects of what was classified as socially acceptable or harmless drugs.

“And how small amounts, or what those limits are and really understand how it impairs coordination and response to certain areas of the body,” he said.

“Students are technologically savvy and they like to be doing things where they are engaging and anything where they’re able to do, the learning always is amplified.”

Another of the students involved in the trial, Anneliese Powell, told ABC News what she was seeing while wearing the VR headset.

“There’s lights everywhere and like beer pong. Drunk people like on the floor, all passed out,” she said.

Anneliese made the decision to have three drinks.

“The vision becomes a bit distorted and its shaking a bit,” she said.

“[It’s showing] the dangers of drinking and what the effects they can have on you.”

Catholic school cuts could ‘work against govt’

The Catholic education sector has warned of a voter backlash after the Federal Government announced its latest funding model.

Under the proposed Gonski 2.0 funding, a patchwork of 27 agreements will be rolled into a single, needs-based model, meaning all non-government schools will be brought into line with the school resourcing standard within 10 years.

All Catholic schools will face a 10-year funding freeze as part of this, expected to leave them with less funding in 2027 than received in 2017.

The Federal Government’s new model is expected to inject an extra $18.6 billion into schools over the next decade.

The National Catholic Education Commission told ABC News the changes would result in funding cuts across its schools, and fees would rise as a result.

It has called on the Government to release further details and consult with the sector.

“Here is a policy that is alienating voters and I think that it will work against the Government,” Tim McDonald, National Catholic Education Commission West Australian director, told ABC News.

However, Grattan Institute School Education Program Director Pete Goss told ABC News the Government’s policy was trying to end the funding wars.

“The Catholic Schools are saying that under the current deal they are going to be worse off and that is probably correct, but the current deal was too generous for everybody,” he said.

“The Government is saying that Catholic schools will get more money.

“I think the Government is basically right, but I think there is one clear exception which is Catholic Schools in the ACT, which have been on an unusual deal for a while that has been very generous to them.”

Catholic school cuts could 'work against govt'

ABC News the changes would result in funding cuts across its schools, and fees would rise as a result. It has called on the Government to release further details and consult with the sector. “Here is a policy that is alienating voters and I think that it will work against the Government,” Tim McDonald, National Catholic Education Commission West Australian director, told ABC News. However, Grattan Institute School Education Program Director Pete Goss told ABC News the Government’s policy was trying to end the funding wars. “The Catholic Schools are saying that under the current deal they are going to be worse off and that is probably correct, but the current deal was too generous for everybody,” he said. “The Government is saying that Catholic schools will get more money. “I think the Government is basically right, but I think there is one clear exception which is Catholic Schools in the ACT, which have been on an unusual deal for a while that has been very generous to them.”]]>

Child and blackboard

Tasmania’s share of Gonski funding

Tasmania will be the greatest recipient per student of funding from Gonski 2.0, Premier Will Hodgman says.

The Premier told News Corp the Federal Government’s proposed funding arrangement would result in about $200 million for Tasmanian schools over 10 years.

“We will be the greatest recipient per student of funding via Gonski 2.0 [which] is a significant positive outcome for our state,” he said.

As part of its 2017 budget, the Federal Government revealed an $18.6 billion increase in funding for Australian schools over the next decade and has asked businessman David Gonski, who advised the former Labor government on funding, to prepare a new “Gonski 2.0” report on how to lift students’ results.

Independent Schools Tasmania executive director Tony Crehan told News Corp the new deal would deliver “fairly steady increases in funding for all Tasmanian students for the next 10 years”.

“That gives schools funding certainty,” Mr Crehan said.

He said, while Tasmania would have benefited from the previous Gonski agreement, “there’s a general feeling that the Government couldn’t ­afford that and came up with an alternative plan, which I think is acceptable and gives us some certainty”.

Mr Crehan said he had concerns about funding for students with disabilities.

The Australian Education Union told the publication Tasmanian public schools next year would receive $7.4 million under the deal, compared with $50 million promised under the previous Gonski deal.

The union’s Tasmanian president, Helen Richardson, said the Federal Government’s school funding estimator showed Clarendon Vale Primary School, in one of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities, would receive $16,000 next year, compared with independent The Friends’ School’s $318,300.

But Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff told News Corp that was a dishonest comparison to make as the estimator only showed federal funding.

The State Government is the main provider of funds to government schools and its contribution is not included in the estimator.

“For example, Clarendon Vale Primary School is also receiving $1.61 million in total from the State Government in 2017,” Mr Rockliff said.

Child and blackboard

Tasmania's share of Gonski funding

News Corp the Federal Government’s proposed funding arrangement would result in about $200 million for Tasmanian schools over 10 years. “We will be the greatest recipient per student of funding via Gonski 2.0 [which] is a significant positive outcome for our state,” he said. As part of its 2017 budget, the Federal Government revealed an $18.6 billion increase in funding for Australian schools over the next decade and has asked businessman David Gonski, who advised the former Labor government on funding, to prepare a new “Gonski 2.0” report on how to lift students’ results. Independent Schools Tasmania executive director Tony Crehan told News Corp the new deal would deliver “fairly steady increases in funding for all Tasmanian students for the next 10 years”. “That gives schools funding certainty,” Mr Crehan said. He said, while Tasmania would have benefited from the previous Gonski agreement, “there’s a general feeling that the Government couldn’t ­afford that and came up with an alternative plan, which I think is acceptable and gives us some certainty”. Mr Crehan said he had concerns about funding for students with disabilities. The Australian Education Union told the publication Tasmanian public schools next year would receive $7.4 million under the deal, compared with $50 million promised under the previous Gonski deal. The union’s Tasmanian president, Helen Richardson, said the Federal Government’s school funding estimator showed Clarendon Vale Primary School, in one of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities, would receive $16,000 next year, compared with independent The Friends’ School’s $318,300. But Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff told News Corp that was a dishonest comparison to make as the estimator only showed federal funding. The State Government is the main provider of funds to government schools and its contribution is not included in the estimator. “For example, Clarendon Vale Primary School is also receiving $1.61 million in total from the State Government in 2017,” Mr Rockliff said.]]>