Beauty class supports homeless

Cire Community School’s beauty class has thrown its talents behind community organisation Stable One Yarra Ranges to help the homeless.

Beauty class supports homeless The class is also appealing to others to support its Stable One campaign through initiatives such as its GoFundMe page, and contributing new clothing and essential items.

Supporting Stable One came about due to COVID-19 restrictions when the class could no longer visit aged care facilities to provide manicures to the elderly who are at high risk as a result of the pandemic.

Lead teacher Megan Small said the class has truly stepped up and personally grown from the challenge, setting up the fundraising initiatives, and asking for donations of essential items and also canvassing businesses.

 “I have gorgeous outgoing women here that are ready to make a difference,” said Megan.

One student Karina said: “It feels good to know that we are all helping, especially for those in need in the Yarra Valley.”

The class has explained its initiative in the following article:

Our beauty class has selected a few ways to help raise money such as our GoFundMe page, and donations box in the front office at both Yarra Junction and Mt Evelyn campuses.

Beauty class supports homeless We are also encouraging essential item donations such as food, clothes, toiletries and miscellaneous items. All items donated will be given to those in need and any money raised will be used to fund larger items such as mountain bikes, games and puzzles.

Please don’t donate second-hand items because it is our mission to provide the homeless with the joy and experience of something as simple as taking the tags off their new possessions.

We have made it our priority to ensure all our proceeds go directly to Stable One and the people in need. This is a cause close to our hearts and those in the community; so your support and generosity in this time of need would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you! – Cire Community School Beauty class

Hayley and Kailea set up the GoFundMe page, which has so far raised almost $400.

“It’s exciting when you check it and see the money has gone up. It’s nice to see,” Kailea said.

The young women said they were stirred into action after the class sat down together to learn about the Stable One success story of James, a man who had been living in his car in Chirnside Park.

“It gave us motivation because he’s a local to our area. Everyone goes to Chirnside Park, so we wanted to help give so that less people are in that situation,” Kailea said.

Stable One Yarra Ranges is a charity made up of several local churches, who assist the homeless community in the area with temporary supported accommodation. Over the past three years, they have supported more than 90 people in need.

Stable One founder Jenny Willetts said: “It’s not just about providing a roof. It’s about connecting people to the help they need, which will allow them to take steps forward.

“We’re all really learning about isolation at the moment when people who are homeless have always been feeling isolated.”

For more information about Stable One, visit their website. To contribute to Cire’s GoFundMe, click here.


School goes above and beyond to support students & families

Cautiously welcoming the staged re-opening of campuses in coming weeks, Cire Community School pulled out all stops during the tougher period of COVID-19 restrictions to ensure that all students continued to be engaged, connected and supported in such challenging times.

The school made a rapid transition to online delivery of learning and making sure all students had a digital device, to providing and delivering individual learning packs where needed to opening the Mount Evelyn campus to students unable to continue their schooling at home. Teachers have been incredibly innovative in using web-based applications to engage students in a remote learning environment

Teaching and learning support staff have been available at all times and so too has the wellbeing team who have been touching base regularly with students via phone, email and SMS to see how everyone is going.

And in the midst of the changes, the school clocked up some milestone achievements in the form of registration to expand to include grades 5 and 6 at Yarra Junction possibly from 2021, and the completion of the much-anticipated hospitality training centre at the campus.

Principal Paul van Breugel said: “I am incredibly proud of our staff and how they have worked so hard to support our students and families. Even at the best of times, our staff go above and beyond to ensure the individual care and support of each student. In this difficult period for all of us, our staff have been flexible, innovative and amazingly committed.”

Given this week’s announcement of the easing of restrictions, the school is now organising a staged re-opening of the campuses and the management of health and safety measures. All students will be able to attend face-to-face no later than Tuesday 9 June, following the Queen’s Birthday holiday on the Monday.  Students who are unable to return to face-to-face teaching for health or other reasons will continue to be supported with online learning.

The possible option of online learning for a small cohort of students is one of the many benefits that have emerged from a challenging situation. One of the big bonuses of online delivery has been the access to guest speakers and subjects experts who would otherwise be unavailable.

Google Meet has allowed teachers and students to stay connected via voice and video conferencing. A welcome addition to some usual classrooms has been the introduction of guest speakers joining in remotely. A fashion student residing in the UK dropped in on Personal Development Skills Beauty via Google Classroom to speak with students while a representative from the National Gallery of Victoria joined one of the VCAL core classes.

Another guest has been Joost Bakker to talk about sustainability and in particular moving towards zero waste. Joost is the man behind fire-resistant hay bale homes and sustainable restaurants Brothel & Silo where there is no waste, not even recyclables. His new ‘0 Waste House’ project is scheduled to be assembled at Federation Square later this year.

“Online learning made this possible as Joost is very busy & this was a great opportunity while he was working from home to just join our meet,” said VCAL teacher, Catherine Gates.

The school’s rapid transition to managing the tougher COVID-19 social isolation restrictions benefitted from Cire-wide resources, as well as the school’s dedicated staff. Cire’s bus drivers have gone beyond their call of duty, with weekly deliveries of learning packs and collection of completed tasks from students living as far afield as Mooroolbark, Yarra Glen, Warburton and Powellton and numerous towns in between. The IT Department has also been kept busy ensuring students were equipped with digital devices.

Approximately 35 students are having work delivered to their homes or collecting it from the Mount Evelyn campus while the school has loaned online learning devices to those requiring them.

About 40 students have been attending the Mt Evelyn Campus for up to four days a week depending on their needs.

As the school prepares for a staged resumption, the Department of Education and Training and Victorian Chief Health Officer’s recommendations and guidelines will be followed closely.

Many logistics must first be put in place to ensure the safety of all and including physical class arrangements, hand sanitiser, cleaning, and the school bus service.

The school community will be kept up-to-date accordingly.



Top Gear for Kaylum at the Wandin Rotary Car Show

With a passion for both photography and cars, Cire Community School student Kaylum was in his element helping out at the 2019/2020 Wandin Rotary Custom Car and Bike Show.

Kaylum attended the family-friendly local show on several occasions to assist and learn tips from the club’s official photographer, who is recording the event on camera.

“It was really great,” Kaylum wrote of his experience. “I saw all the cool cars people brought to the show… Cars from the 80s and before except for some like a Nissan R33 Skyline (Release Date 1995). I saw some of my favourite cars”.

The Wandin Rotary Custom Car & Bike Show is held monthly over the summer at Wandin East Reserve (Old Baker Rd, Wandin East) with six shows showcasing the very best custom and classic vehicles. With all sorts of makes and models on display, this wonderful local event is sure to satisfy even the most ardent car enthusiast!

On Wednesday evenings, the event offers something for everyone, with food trucks, a well-stocked bar and live entertainment, including music and a jumping castle for the kids, in addition to the spectacular array of cars.

Kaylum’s Top Five Cars

  • Mini Morris which was supercharged. It is similar to a turbocharger but instead of being connected to the exhaust like a turbo, a supercharger is connected to the fan belt.
  • Mini Clubman. The clubman is similar to the Morris except that is has more of a flat bumper opposed to the more bug-eyed look of the Morris.
  • Corvette Stingray. The Stingray was one of my top favourites when I was younger. I can’t recall why I liked it so much but I think it was the design the sleek pointed front end that looked like a blade.
  • Dodge Charger. The Charger was a car that I discovered in the ‘Fast and Furious’ movie – Dom is one of my favourite characters and the Charger is his car.
  • Nissan R33 Skyline. The R33 Skyline is a part of the GTR family which has been a big part of the JDM community for a long time and the Nissan GTR became even more popular from the ‘Fast and Furious’ movie where Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Conner drove them (specifically the R34). Paul Walker was a massive JDM fan.”

Visitors can enter the show for a mere gold coin donation or, if you have a pre-1985 vehicle or bike you’d like to display, you can do so for $5. With all funds raised going to the Royal Children’s Hospital as well as local community projects, not only will you have a fantastic evening out, your attendance will support some wonderful causes!

Final shows for the year take place on Wednesday 15 January, 19 February and 18 March. For further information, please visit the Wandin Rotary Custom Car & Bike Show Facebook page or email

Connecting People To Natural Spaces: The Story of Skids

Shrouded in the mists of a Peruvian jungle, our very own Kylie “Skids” Skidmore took time from her travels to share her journey with Cire Community School. With her strong passion for connecting people to natural spaces, Skids believes that our kinship with the environment is an integral part of being a whole, balanced human being. Seeing the bush as a place of healing, restoration and reflection, she aims to create spaces where people who’ve felt like failures can excel and experience a sense of accomplishment, building communities based on trust and a lack of mainstream cultural or societal norms.

Skids became the first Australian to graduate from the University of New Hampshire‘s dual Master of Science/Master of Social Work in Adventure Therapy, a unique course only they offer. With three to six people selected to complete the qualification each year, it is a casual environment but also one of deeply significant and special connection. Their graduation ceremony looks nothing like the American stereotype of gowns and formality, with graduates dressed in jeans and awarded t-shirts before sharing a potluck dinner with their professors, families and friends.



The Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc describes Adventure Therapy as “a diverse field of practice combining adventure and outdoor environments with the intention to achieve therapeutic outcomes for those involved”. Skids describes it as “getting alongside people, and spending time living life together; cooking around a fire, paddling down a river or watching a sunset together. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, and there aren’t the same rules or expectations that exist elsewhere”. She also sees it as an important tool for teaching immediate, natural consequences. “If you don’t set your tent up correctly, you get wet. If you eat all your snacks day one, they’re gone. It’s much easier to see that our choices have power and determine outcomes, which can be incredibly empowering”.

Skids has a background in P.E/Outdoor Ed teaching and student wellbeing. Before departing for America, she was working with pre-dominantly indigenous youth in NSW. “The schools I worked in were really trying to catering for these young people, but the end result was still often a hostile environment, which didn’t truly acknowledge the layers of trauma these adolescents, their families and communities had and were continuing to endure at the most profound level”, Skid writes. “I also felt like the school system, as it was, was not a healing or ‘rebuilding’ place. At the time I wanted to create an alternative outdoor space, connecting people to natural spaces, where these students might flourish and reconnect to culture and country”.

Returning home to undertake her internship, while completing the associated classes online, Skids successfully applied to work with Cire. She saw it as an opportunity to research and reflect upon work she truly cared about: work that is real, immediate and important. Skids describes Cire as a place that will “take risks and follow research which invites an ongoing commitment to examining evidence, reflection, and innovation for the sake of helping our young people access tools and resources to live freer, fuller lives”.

This year, Skids will be working with Cire Community School across Outdoor Education and Student Wellbeing.

But first, she has Patagonia to explore…

For more information on Cire Community School, or to book a campus tour, please visit our website at or contact our team on 1300 835 235.

Announcing the 2020 SwinLocal Scholarship Recipients!

The SwinLocal program is a community outreach initiative by Swinburne University of Technology, offered to students studying at Learn Local or community schools, such as the Cire Community School. Learn Local providers offer education and training in community settings and Cire Training was awarded the Community Training Provider of the Year for 2019.

The SwinLocal partnership currently covers the outer-east, including Yarra Ranges. Established in 2016, SwinLocal has awarded 23 scholarships, enabling students to undertake VET courses at Swinburne University. Scholarship recipients receive quality vocational training and a safe, supported introduction to a larger educational institution.

Our Community School team are pleased to announce that the following Cire students have received SwinLocal scholarships for 2020:

Rhonan Wouters
Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology – Game Art and Animation

Kyha Edwards
Certificate II in Building and Construction Pre-Apprenticeship – Carpentry

Sienna Withers-Burke
Certificate III in Laboratory Skills

Each of these students submitted an application for the scholarship and participated in an interview process. They have already attended orientation and enrolment sessions in preparation for their studies, which will commence February 2020.

Janice Farrell, Student Wellbeing Coordinator, SwinLocal VETSS Program supported the students through the application, interview and enrolment process. She explains “The SwinLocal Scholarship program, now in its 3rd year,  aims to bridge the gaps that currently exist for students studying at Learn Local or community schools. Previous SwinLocal students have made successful transition pathways into employment or further vocational studies.”

RYLA catapults Taylah onto huge learning curve

Attending a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program earlier this year has catapulted former Cire Community School student Taylah Minca onto a huge and positive learning curve.

Whilst still a student at the school,  sponsored Tayla to attend the challenging week-long camp which provides a unique opportunity for leadership skills development while having fun and connecting with others.
Since attending RYLA, 18-year-old Tayla has commenced a beauty therapy course at Victoria University. She has captured her Rotary experience in the following article.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to win a scholarship provided by Wandin Rotary to go to RYLA.

While I was waiting for the bus to go to RYLA, I made friends with a girl who was also going to the camp. When we arrived at RYLA it was super intimidating. We walked through a human tunnel of arms created by the leaders and they were all super energetic. I really didn’t know what to expect at this stage.

At the start, there was lots of team building activities which seemed really silly at first. I won a paper scissors-rock-competition, which was one of the best parts of the experience and made me feel really welcome. While these games seemed silly at the start, by the end of the camp, they felt normal as there was no judgement from anyone. We felt so free, and you could express yourself without embarrassment.

I found the first day a bit hard and felt homesick. The leaders were very supportive and encouraged me to keep going. Alan (the camp leader) was particularly supportive and made a massive impact with his service style of leadership. I’ve never felt so much support before.

By the second day, I realised that I needed to take on board as much as I could from the experience. It was great to be off my phone, and always be present with the people around me.

Over the week, my team all became super close and learnt so much about each other and ourselves. I hadn’t realised I was an introvert; I am a lot more self-aware now.

At one point, I had to introduce someone to the whole group after only meeting him for five minutes. It was nerve-wracking, but I did ok. He had a lot of cool, interesting things to say and really engaged the audience.

On our final night, we had a lot of fun, and I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself. I learned a lot about mindfulness, gratitude and kindness, which has already had a big impact on how I live my life. I hope to take the lessons that I learned on this camp into the next part of my life. I cried, I laughed, and I learned so much about myself.

I would like to give a huge thanks to Wandin Rotary and Cire Community School for giving me the opportunity to have this experience.

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards

Cire welcomes closer partnership with Rotary

Cire Services and Rotary are strengthening their partnership and reach to help respond to the needs of local communities, particularly younger people.

The initiatives encompass Cire Community School, a recently launched Rotary District 9810 Books for Kids fundraising campaign, and support for Cire Training’s Learn Local (see post on this blog page).

Cire is one of the first two organisational members of Wandin Rotary which has helped foster a greater understanding between the organisations and how closely our values align.

Recently, Wandin Rotary approved scholarships of $1000 each to two students at Cire Community School; enabled a student to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA), a6-day residential program focusing on leadership, personal and professional development and service to the community; and is helping drive mock interview sessions to prepare students for applying for employment.

The scholarship recipients were overawed by the generosity of Rotary and the student about to attend the keenly anticipated leadership camp said it was an opportunity she would never have thought possible.
The mock interviews will commence in earnest in Term 3. The sessions will also enable students to discuss their strengths and relate them to experiences with past work or opportunities provided within the school.
Initial feedback provided by some of the students who participated in mock interviews included:

  • It wasn’t dry and boring
  • It was really good and life-like
  • It made me think about what I need to do to prepare for an interview
  • The print out of questions is good, I can use it to prepare for interviews.

At a broader level, Rotary District 9810, which extends from Port Philip Bay to the hills of the Yarra Ranges, has launched Books for Kids.

The new District Governor, Shia Smart, is driving the Rotary DG Family Project Books for Kids Campaign which aims to identify and fund primary schools that will benefit from being on the Books in Homes program.

Rotary District 9810 together with Books in Homes will provide books-of-choice to children in District 9810 experiencing disadvantaged and low socio-economic circumstances, to ensure crucial early literacy engagement and the development of reading skills needed for lifelong achievement.

Identified children will receive two personally labelled books-of-choice to own and keep in their own personally labelled book bag.  Selected schools will receive a Preview Pack of 48 books to keep.

The campaign to fund the purchase of books was launched on 1 July 2019.

The more money raised, the more children who can receive books.

The books are top quality and brand new, curated for the program by the Books in Homes Book Selection Committee, made up of authors, illustrators, educators, and parents!

If you’d like to read more or make a donation to this fantastic project please go to Rotary District 9810’s GiveNow campaign page.

Wheelchair basketball – wellbeing day

In conjunction with Victorian Youth Week 2019, Cire Community School organised a Wellbeing Day which featured a wheeltalk basketball workshop at Kilsyth Basketball Centre.

The workshop was a great opportunity for students to experience what it is like to be wheelchair-bound and gain a greater understanding and empathy for people with limited mobility. The day also helped highlight there is a way to overcome obstacles in our lives and be resilient through adversity.

Overall the experience was very empowering and developed a great sense of gratitude, empathy and wellbeing among students.

The following feedback from students demonstrates the benefit of the experience:

Asharnte. As part of Wellbeing Day we had a Wheelchair Basketball workshop at Kilsyth Basketball Centre with Gary. Gary suffered a workplace injury about 30 years ago when he fell from a height and landed badly on his back. A very sports-oriented person, Gary has a special bike where he lays down and usually goes for a 4-5 hour ride each day. Gary is in a wheelchair and still competes in many different sports which sets a good example to kids who don’t do sports when they are completely capable. Gary is a great role model to children and adults who have a disability.

Mahalia. We split up into teams of five so there were 10 players on the court. Each player was given a wheelchair and it only took me a few minutes to get the hang of using it. I found it easy, enjoyable and overall a worthwhile experience.

In a letter of thanks to Basketball Victoria/Disability sport Australia, Michaela said the following:

Overall wheelchair basketball was a fun and enjoyable experience. It was great to see students go out of their comfort zone and join in on an exhilarating team effort. It was refreshing to arrive onsite and just be able to practice using the wheelchairs with no 20-minute explanation. The only complaint I have is that it wasn’t long enough. The game was entertaining and I would go again.

Our facilitator had an interesting story to tell and helped make the experience all the more enjoyable on the court. He told us about how he became a paraplegic and gave us some cautionary advice about thinking about every action you take as you never know how you might wake up the next day. This really resonated with me.

I’d like to thank you for this experience and the opportunity to play basketball, in wheelchairs.

The wheeltalk experience was one of a number of thought-provoking wellbeing workshops at Cire Community School’s Wellbeing Festival. Students were able to choose workshops that would help them ‘grow’ and be stretched. The workshops were both informative and challenging.

The workshops were run by professionals and covered family conflict, managing ‘big feelings’, masculinity and femininity, managing anxiety and depression and legal content about the rights and responsibilities of adolescents. Students also were able to be part of a session on sleep, safety and respect, help seeking and coping skills. This session used a number of practical activities and examples to engage students in thinking through some of these important topics.

A big thank you to Eastern Access Children’s Health (EACH), Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (ECASA), Eastern Legal, Anglicare, Inspiro and Eastern Domestic Violence Outreach Service(EDVOS) for their support with this event.

Students kick career pathway goals in new boots

Cire students washing buses

Cire students washing buses in their new boots

Workwear has again supported Cire Community School with a second donation of work boots for our students.

The company delivered a ‘truckload’ of new boots to the Mount Evelyn campus mid last year and has followed up with another delivery earlier this year.

Students have been hugely appreciative of the boots and Workwear’s ongoing generosity.

Having the OHS-compliant footwear means students can engage in more opportunities for hands-on learning activities for their Certificate 11 in Horticulture, and also structured work placements with local businesses including plumbers, landscapers and local nurseries.  Students also undertake projects at Yarra Valley ECOSS, an environmental and educational not-for-profit organisation committed to showcasing and encouraging best practice in sustainable solutions.

The boots are a real boost to the self-esteem and confidence of students, as well as providing them with appropriate footwear for invaluable work experience, according to Karen Swankie, who is responsible for Vocational Education Training (VET), and Student Pathways at Cire Community School.

One of the students, 14-year-old Shaun, was particularly appreciative and wanted to extend a massive

Workwear boots donation for the students at Cire Community School

The boots even made it on the cover of the Mail newspapers

thank you to Workwear.

‘The boots are great and really comfy. I have dropped a few things on my feet at ECOSS so the reinforced caps have saved my toes!’ said Shaun who now has a second pair of boots having outgrown the ones he received last year and almost worn them out.

Another super thankful student is Ollie, especially after a close encounter with a lawn mower which took a chunk out of his boot but not his foot.

‘I was so glad to have the Workwear boots,’ said 16-year old Ollie who is undertaking a school-based apprenticeship in Landscape Construction.

Meanwhile, fellow student, Ethan was also hugely appreciative because he can wear his boots to his plumbing VET course each week.

Cire Community School, with campuses at Yarra Junction and Mt Evelyn, is one of the core operations of Cire Services Inc, a non-for profit organisation, unique to the Yarra Ranges where it provides flexible learning opportunities to people of all ages across its vast catchment area.

Cire’s other core operations are:

  • Cire Training, our Registered Training Organisation (RTO), delivering accredited, pre-accredited short courses and VET
  • Cire Children’s Services which offers long day care including integrated kindergarten programs, occasional care, outside school hours care and playgroups
  • Cire Community Hubs offering a diverse range of programs and services in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Cire operates across sites in Lilydale, Yarra Junction, Mount Evelyn and Chirnside Park, as well as through outreach.

Students graduate with Learner permits

Congratulations to some of our Cire Community School students who recently gained their Learner Driver permits.

It was a 100% success rate with the 12 students who completed the three-day Changing Gears driver education program attaining their Ls at the Mooroolbark Licence Testing Centre. Cire Community School was able to deliver the program at an affordable cost to students thanks to a grant of $1000 from the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

The following feedback from students highlights the value of the program which is run by instructor Linda Jane from Changing Gears:

“I got my Learners permit and it’s all because of the Changing Gears program.”

“Thanks, Linda, for being such a great teacher and helping us pass our test.”

“Linda was so patient with everyone. Even though there was a lot of distractions, we all learnt about the Road Law and how to be safe, and we passed.”

Linda Jane said the following statistics were a testimony to how important driver education is for young people:

More than 350 young drivers aged 18-25 have lost their lives in Victoria in the past 10 years – representing one in four, or a quarter of the road fatalities in the State over the decade. In 2016, 19% of drivers who lost their lives were aged between 18 and 25 years with this age group only representing about 10% of Victorian licence holders.

Of the 29 young drivers who lost their lives on our roads in 2016:

  • 76% were male
  • 55% were killed in regional Victoria (94% were killed on 100+ km roads)
  • 69% were killed in single-vehicle crashes
  • 63% were involved in crashes that occurred in high alcohol times
  • 55 people die and 1,245 are seriously injured each year in crashes with drivers under 25.

Linda Jane said inexperience, lifestyle factors, risk-taking and using older, less safe cars made young people for more vulnerable to crashes and injury.

Subject to funding to ensure the program is affordable for students, Cire Community School tries to offer Changing Gears on an annual basis.

Linda Jane delivers the program in a fun and interactive way of using learning activities such as:

  • videos
  • information that is explained so it makes sense and is easy to understand
  • easy to use workbook
  • lots of practice tests
  • easy to remember methods
  • student questions answered.

If you would like to know more about Cire Community School and the education programs they deliver click here.