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Students defy COVID, storm event to gain L-permits

COVID lockdowns and restrictions and a devastating storm event failed to deter a group of students from Cire Community School’s Mount Evelyn campus who pushed through the additional challenges to gain their Learner Driver’s permits.

Having completed their Changing Gears Pre-Learner Driver education program, their Learner Permit tests on the fifth and final day were postponed due to the recent COVID lockdown and then again as a result of widespread power outages and disruptions caused by the damaging storm event that pounded the region and other parts of the Victoria in early June.

It’s an anxious time for anyone preparing for their Learner permits with candidates keen to sit their tests as soon as possible when they are ready. Our students truly showed their determination, resilience and competency on the third successful attempt with a 100 per cent pass rate and, on the day, having to enter the centre one at a time over several hours to undertake their tests due to COVID social distancing restrictions.

The now learner drivers from Mount Evelyn are among a total of 18 Cire Community School students who have gained their Learner Driver’s permits in recent weeks thanks to the Changing Gears program which focuses on the knowledge required for safer drivers and passengers and good decision making. Programs were successfully delivered at the Mount Evelyn and Yarra Junction campuses but a third had to be rescheduled to August, again due to the recent COVID shutdown.

Changing Gears has become an important part of Cire Community School’s offerings for several years and helps students achieve one of the ”rites of passage” which may not otherwise be within easy reach, as well as contribute to keeping our roads safer.

It has been made possible by support and funding through the Department of Transport and VicRoads. Students have achieved 100 per cent success rates for almost every program. Of significance is that Cire has as recently awarded funding for the safer driver and passenger intervention for 2021/2022 and is set to become the benchmark in the region for a new safer vehicles intervention which is being rolled out for the first time, as well as a Looking After Our Mates online session.

 “Changing Gears gives students, and their families, the confidence to undertake their Learner’s permit test and then gain invaluable time driving under adult supervision,” explained Karen Swankie who has been instrumental in securing the necessary grant funding and overseeing the program.

“It provides a supported environment that breaks down the road rules into manageable learning opportunities and as a result, our students have been incredibly successful in gaining their Learner permits over the years. We are now very excited to be able to extend our offerings to the additional interventions of safer vehicles and also Looking After Our Mates. ”

Karen and Willa Vale, who helped coordinate the recent program at the Mount Evelyn campus, emphasised the importance for Cire students to experience success.

Willa explained: ”Changing Gears gives students, particularly those with low literacy levels and self-confidence, the opportunity to achieve success by learning the road rules in a supportive environment with their peers. Facilitators work with individual students on areas where they may require extra support and students are able to learn with their peers, which further embeds the learning. Being able to sit for the test with a group, rather than alone, helps to alleviate nervousness associated with testing. It is such a valuable program for our students.”

The following feedback from students further highlights the value of the program:

I joined the Changing Gears program to hopefully gain a clearer understanding of the Learner’s permit test and to get started on my journey to becoming a responsible driver. The program exceeded my expectations, our teacher was a kind and patient lady who was willing to explain what and why the information she was presenting was valid.  I found it to be incredibly helpful and encouraging and would recommend others do it when the opportunity comes again – Tom

I really enjoyed the program and the extra support I received – Ben

I thought it was really good. It was good that it was at school so everyone was on the same level – Myles

It helped to have the support of other students in the class to learn the stuff – Ruby

I have been waiting to get my Learners through the school with the Changing Gears program – Shaun

It was good to learn with my mates – Hugo

I wasn’t able to get my Learners during COVID so it was good to be able to finally get it – Keely

Changing Gears - learner driver program

Job Trainer – your pathway to a secure career

With many people considering future employment opportunities, Cire Training is well placed to deliver accessible and affordable pathways through Job Trainer, a Federal Government initiative designed to address changing workforce needs in our new COVID environment.

Cire Training offers a range of established courses locally that are Job Trainer subsidised and offer qualifications in sectors that have continued to grow in the past 18 months but struggle to recruit quality staff. Those who complete the courses successfully are well equipped for real job opportunities in areas including Community Services, Early Childhood, Education Support and Individual Support (Aged-Care and Disability Services).

Due to the pandemic, workers have experienced the effects of downturns in industries such as Tourism and Hospitality. At the end of 2020, Tourism Research Australia reported a 60 per cent decline in total tourism expenditure in Victoria compared to the previous year.[1] Job losses have been throughout Victoria. The City of Melbourne alone was projected to shed 15% of its workforce, 75,000 positions, while the rest of Victoria was predicted to lose 9% overall, 250,000 jobs[2].

Given such statistics, it is no surprise that job security is weighing heavily on some people’s minds.  The ‘Australia Talks National Survey 2021’ has found that 88 per cent of Australians think job security is a problem for the country.  More alarmingly, 27 per cent of people fear that they will experience unemployment within the next year.

Fortunately, there are a number of sectors that have maintained a significant level of growth over the past 18 months. Community Services, Early Childhood, Education Support and Individual Support (Aged-Care and Disability Services) continue to experience challenges in recruiting quality staff.

When the Federal Government recognised the parallel issues of people looking for stable long-term employment, plus sectors experiencing skill shortages, the Job Trainer program was born.  This initiative, supported by the state government, will fund training for approximately 320,000 by the end of 2021.  It was developed in response to COVID-19, to create opportunities for up-skilling and re-skilling and create a higher-skilled workforce, particularly in areas of skill shortages.

When considering gaining new skills, the cost of training can be a significant roadblock.  Job Trainer is an opportunity to engage in further study, at a heavily subsidised rate.  Due to the minimum eligibility requirements, many potential students are able to access the benefits of Job Trainer funding. If individuals are under the age of 25, or currently unemployed, they can choose from a number of courses, each targeted to address skill shortages in specific areas.

Cire Training offers a range of Job Trainer opportunities for locals looking to upskill to gain employment.

[1] https://business.vic.gov.au/business-information/tourism-industry-resources/tourism-industry-information/value-of-victorias-tourism-industry

[2] https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/sitecollectiondocuments/economic-impacts-covid-19-summary.pdf

Giving students a better chance to be their best

With a determination to support young people needing a positive alternative to mainstream education, Tom Witenden has found a perfect fit as principal of Cire Community School Berwick.

He says the opening of Cire’s coeducational secondary campus at Berwick at the start of 2021 is particularly exciting because it provides access to the only specialist school of its kind in the City of Casey and the surrounding region.

With established campuses at Yarra Junction and Mount Evelyn, Cire Community School is a choice for young people who are at risk of disengaging from their schooling or have already done so. Cire is a recognised leader in the specialist education sector with its trauma-informed approach.

Tom is passionate about holistic education that has an evidence-based approach catering to the individual needs of each student and the social, emotional and behavioural aspects of their development.

“Cire Community school was a natural fit for me as it really ties in with my core values of assisting those who are most vulnerable to make positive changes. As an independent school of choice, Cire provides an educational setting that enables young people to develop the skills and self-awareness to make positive contributions to their communities,” Tom explains.

Cire enjoys a strong track record for engaging students who have previously struggled in mainstream settings due to a raft of different reasons. Some have not attended school for up to 18 months or more before enrolling at Cire. Successful outcomes include students transitioning to TAFE and further education, employment including apprenticeships and traineeships, and returning to mainstream school.

With specialist wellbeing teams and dedicated staff on each campus, each student is respected as an individual with unique needs. Each student has an individual learning plan to enable them to achieve at their own pace and in their own way.

Cire’s campuses offer a welcoming and inclusive environment to ensure students have a sense of belonging, purpose and growth, and are supported in their learning, wellbeing and life goals.

According to Tom, vulnerable students and their families find it increasingly difficult to navigate “mainstream education”. Cire provides viable options and realistic career pathways that may not have been accessible or available in the past.

“Previous generations have been let down by a lack of understanding and a lack of options, and it is the alternative educational settings that we see today that are ensuring that these same patterns are not repeated.”

Tom finds it extremely rewarding, both professionally and personally, to see young people make positive changes which in turn give them options that they may not have had if they had continued on their original trajectory.

“It is wonderful to see the difference this can make to families, and the joy, and relief, to see their child develop and grow with optimism for a positive future,” adds Tom.

“It is such a pleasure to hear from families, particularly at the end of the year, about how their children have progressed since being part of an alternative educational setting. Often there is a proclamation of disbelief that schools like this exist, why they are not more common, or how they wished they had found the school sooner.”

Originally pursuing a career in Finance, Tom soon recalibrated to requalify and find his niche in specialist education. An initial setting that catered for children with ADHD, high functioning ASD and other associated social, emotional and behavioural challenges confirmed he had made the right decision.

“The most important aspect of a career is to feel as though you are making a positive contribution, and education provides me with that opportunity.  Seeing young people develop, grow, make positive changes and then step out into society with a sense of purpose and meaning is extremely rewarding,” Tom says.

“When we talk about positive outcomes for students, nothing is more satisfying than seeing a young adult turn up early at school one morning,  after they have graduated, in a crisp, clean work uniform, smiling from ear to ear, so proud that they are ready to start their first day as a new apprentice, chef, or whatever it may be. Thinking back to where these students have come from, it is the reason teachers do what they do.”

Cire’s new Berwick campus benefits from the supporting infrastructure and networks of Cire Services Inc., one of the largest not-for-profits in the Yarra Ranges and unique to the region.

In addition to the Community School, Cire’s core operations are Children’s Services which includes long daycare and integrated and other family support services, Community Hubs, and Training; an award-winning Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

Another article worth reading about our Berwick campus – Cire Community School Expands to Berwick

Click here to find out more about Cire Community School.

Anzac biscuit cook up for Rotary

Cire Community School students have responded to a call out from Wandin Rotary for Anzac biscuits for the club’s community Anzac Day Service.

They eagerly bunkered down in the school’s Hospitality Training Centre at Yarra Junction to bake dozens of Anzac biscuits to serve up at morning tea, following the club’s Anzac Day Service at Wandin.

The students were delighted to support the club which has been hosting the community remembrance for about 20 years. Not only did some of them taste test Anzac biscuits for the first time but the initiative also sparked their interest in Anzac Day and its significance and to share their own family’s connections.

The cook up ticked some additional boxes for students studying for their Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL), satisfying one of the learning outcomes required for their course. One of the VCAL strands is Professional Development Skills (PDS) which aims to develop student knowledge, skills and attributes that lead to self-development and community engagement through family, social, community and environmental responsibilities; resilience, self-esteem and efficacy; and health and wellbeing. This partly involves responding to a need in the community. Their Anzac biscuits were of huge benefit to Wandin Rotary who hosted the morning tea assisted by Wandin CWA and much enjoyed by those who attended, as well as being rewarding for the students.

Cire Community School

(pictured above from left to right; Cire Community School Students Rd, Callum, Tiarna and Bella)

VCAL students commented:

  • It makes me feel great to help out on Anzac Day because my Great Grandmother was a nurse in WW2. I feel like I’m giving something back. It is so great to have our new kitchen (completed in 2020), with the new equipment we have we can improve our skills and do events like this for the community quickly.. Bella (pictured)
  • These opportunities make me feel good knowing that I’m helping in the community. We only come to this campus once a week specifically for this subject, we love the amount of new foods we can explore in this fantastic new space. Tiarna (pictured)
  • My Great Pop was in WW2. By helping bake Anzac biscuits and supporting Wandin Rotary and it being Anzac Day gives me a sense of pride. Ella

One of the baking sessions was timely for a Middle Years mixed class of Years 7 to 9 students. It provided a real life context to a Maths class earlier in the day as they had to work out how many times they had to multiply the recipe to bake the required number of biscuits, as well as work out ingredient quantities.

“The biscuits taste different but still yummy, said Callum (pictured) who was in charge of weighing the butter.

“They taste great. I hope they (Anzac Day attendees) like them,” added classmate “RD” (pictured)

While the history of Anzac biscuits varies, the following is one of the more popular accounts.

During World War I the wives, mothers and girlfriends of the Australian soldiers were concerned for the nutritional value of food being supplied to the troops.

Food was transported across the sea at a maximum speed of ten knots, or 18.5 kph, by ships of the Merchant Navy. Most of these ships did not contain refrigerated facilities, so food had to remain edible for at least two months. That is when the Anzac biscuit was “invented”, based on the Scottish recipe using rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water. The ingredients did not readily spoil and were easily maintained. Some soldiers also used crushed biscuits to make porridge.

The biscuits initially were called ”soldiers biscuits” but were dubbed Anzac biscuits after the landing on Gallipoli in 1915.

As the war continued, many groups like the Country Women’s Association, churches, schools and other women’s committees made Anzac biscuits to send to the troops.

Cire Services Inc. is one of the first organisational members of Wandin Rotary Club.

Cire Community School expands to Berwick

Cire Services Inc is excited to announce the opening of a third Community School secondary campus at Berwick at the start of the 2021 school year.

Following an 18-month process, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) has given Cire the green light to offer years 7 to 12 to local young people who are disengaged or at risk of disengaging from their education.

The approval is testimony to the reputation Cire has earned and enjoys as a ‘school of choice’ for students who need a positive alternative to mainstream education, as well as realistic employment pathways.

Based on the Berry St Education Model and trauma-informed approach, Cire Community School is one of only a few special assistance schools registered for years 7 – 12 students.

The school has well-established campuses at Yarra Junction and Mount Evelyn where total enrolments across the campuses have grown 86% since 2015 to more than 200 enrolments. Earlier this year, the Yarra Junction campus received VRQA approval to offer years 5 and 6 for the first time at the commencement of 2021.

The expansion to Berwick, aligns with Cire’s Strategic Plan to source opportunities, mainly focusing on areas of need and growth that complement existing campuses in the Yarra Ranges.

“Berwick is such an amazing opportunity to extend what we deliver, and do well, in the Yarra Ranges and adjacent areas,” said Cire CEO Gus Seremetis.

“Cire Community School has become one of choice, offering alternative education for young people who struggle in mainstream education for all kinds of reasons. We are not competing with other schools; we simply offer a positive alternative with many successful outcomes.”

Cire enjoys a strong reputation and track record for engaging students who have previously struggled; some have not attended school for up to 18 months or more. Successful outcomes include students transitioning to TAFE and further education, employment including apprenticeships and traineeships, and returning to mainstream school.

Cire Community School’s Executive Principal, Paul van Breugel said – “He is proud that Cire’s model and expertise in specialist education can be extended to the City of Casey and adjacent areas where schools have identified the need for such alternative education.”

“Local young people who need this type of education will have access to better opportunities to learn and grow and become successful adults,” Paul said.

Cire Community School’s success is underpinned by specialist wellbeing teams and dedicated staff on each campus where each student is respected as an individual with unique needs.

“Our flexible and innovative approach is reflected in individual learning plans for each student, enabling them to achieve at their own pace and in their own way,” Paul explained.

Cire Community School campuses offer a welcoming environment to ensure students have a sense of belonging, purpose and growth, and are supported in their learning, wellbeing and life goals.

The Berwick campus will offer middle years (years 7 to 9) and a VCAL program (years 10 to 12) with the first intake of students beginning at the start of the 2021 school year.

Already with strong enrolments, the Berwick Campus has the capacity for 90 students and the potential for further growth.

Click here for further information on Cire Community School.

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 wandincustomcar@gmail.com

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 www.cire.org.au 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.”