Transcript for build community and identity - examples from schools

The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Voice over - Inclusive school practices and programs build a culture of welcome, inclusion & belonging for all families that reflect and respect diversity within the school community.

Community Hub leader

So we’re here today at Chester Hill PS. Behind me I’ve got the mothers from the parents and citizens association. I’ve got a fundraiser happening at the school today and they’re busy cooking sausages to raise funds for the school.

Voice over - Chester Hill Public School employs designated staff to facilitate connections between families and community members and create a family friendly school atmosphere.  Schools that have designated space for community can support the needs of families with specific programs and events. Lina Mourad is the Community Hub leader at Chester Hill Public School.

We run a lot of programs for the families. In addition to this school readiness we also have a playgroup that we run in the hall here as well on a Wednesday. We also use the community hub facility to facilitate vocational programs for mums, parenting programs, it’s a little drop-in and it’s a great space for parents to come in, have a cup of coffee, meet other parents and socialise.

Voice over - High schools can employ community liaison officers to engage different sectors of the community.  Schools collaborate with families and community agencies representing all backgrounds to improve cultural understandings. For example, Prairiewood High School established a partnership with a local sector to set up a community kitchen.

Community liaison officer

The Community liaison officer is a person who speaks another language other than English and can deal with certain communities in order to explain things about schools and also attract them to be engaged in school activities.

When parents are involved in school this will be reflected positively to their children learning and especially if a person has some history or knowledge or experience in the area will attract the people to come and ask questions.

If they want to clarify things regarding their children’s education they can speak to the person. We need to create activities to bring them and they can be attracted to come to the school. For example we can organised workshops regarding some important matters like settlement issues, financial issues, health, well-being and also we came to find that food can actually get the people together. So currently we are running as part of our community inclusion program we are running a community kitchen at Prairiewood High School and it’s wonderful. At the moment I have around 60 parents and carers and community members from the area registered at this particular initiative.

When you prove to them that you are respecting them and including them and acknowledging their needs that’s when trust starts to develop and the people will test the confident in you and your ability to resolve their issues if there is anything that needs to be resolved.  Also when they see you working for them and you are trying your best to do everything that will help them and help their children this will make them feel that there is someone from their family who cares.

School principal

Our Friends of Liverpool is our community coffee club. We run that one once a week and it’s an opportunity for us as a school to really get to understand and know our parents and what it is that they would like to see from us as a school, what they bring as parents and community members to our school. And it’s also an opportunity for them to understand what we are as a school and by sharing, talking and learning together over a cup of coffee we’re building that trust, that mutual understanding and that recognition that despite all the differences from each person that’s there, that we’re all here for that common goal, one common goal, and that’s to work for our students.

Often what we found is that a lot of the things that we were doing were transactional in nature, and it was inviting parents up, parent workshops, celebration days and what have you. But what we found was the engagement and the follow through and whether that created that openness that we wanted to achieve, we found that we weren’t really seeing that, so the idea for Friends was how can we create something that’s regular, it’s non-threatening and it promotes that idea that we want to work together and that the more that we understand from each other the better we can work together.

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