A Path to Follow


Alternative education with a well-being focus- A chat with Stella

Differences between mainstream and alternative education; a well-being focus. This is an edited transcript of an interview our Social Media Volunteer, Kyle, completed with his school Well-Being Leader, Stella. Kyle attends Hestor Hornbrook, an education setting that achieves a positive balance between a student’s educational and mental well-being needs. Stella and Kyle chat about the differences between mainstream and alternative education settings and Stella’s role as Mental Well-being Team Leader. Big thanks to both Stella and Kyle for sharing this with us. Who are you and what is your role at Hester Hornbook? Rebecca Stella is the Well-Being Team Leader at Hester Hornbrook Academy. The Hester Hornbrook classroom is that of 1 Educator and 1 Youth Worker to approximately 12 students. Stella’s role is to coordinate the Classroom Youth Workers and oversee that student well-being needs are being supported. Stella provides supervisory support to the Youth Workers about well-being issues and certain crisis intervention strategies. In addition, Stella ensures she forms personalised relationships with students and is available to talk and provide support directly. Why did you choose to move into the Mental Health field of work? Stella started her career at the City of Port Phillip however she quickly saw this line of work wasn’t for her. She has experience working with young people with disabilities through the Joint Councils Access for All Abilities (JCAAA) program. There Stella found her passion for working with young people. Stella grew up with 8 siblings so working with young people seemed to come naturally to her. Soon after her work with JCAAA Stella completed her Youth Work Degree and decided this was the field she wanted to continue in. With her degree under her belt she linked in with St.Kilda Youth Services; an organisation who offers education for high risk young people. Through her work at St.Kilda Youth Services Stella’s passion for working with young people further increased. She saw first hand how young peoples’ experiences of mental health problems was impacting their educational options. Supporting students to manage mental health challenges first, helped them with school engagement, continuing their education and achieving their education goals. Stella found, and continues to find, great satisfaction in working with kids. She enjoys helping them realise their potential and watching them develop in their journey. Stella especially loves seeing the students with mental health obstacles find themselves.   Rebecca Stella-Well-being Coordinator at Hestor Hornbrook Academy What is alternative education in comparison to ‘mainstream education’ and what are the benefits? The main difference between Hester Hornbrook and mainstream education is the unique balance and prioritisation of supporting both student well-being and education. When getting to know young people who want to be a part of Hestor Hornbrook it is not simply about academic achievements and goals, it is about all aspects of a young person’s life. Hester Hornbrook looks to push young people to strive for their greatest educational potential, whilst also acknowledging a lot of young people have massive barriers to actually accessing that education. These barriers often lie within mental health, disability and/or other external challenges in a young person’s life, such as drug and alcohol challenges and trauma. Stella also reports Hester Hornbrook works really hard to build relationships with students on a more personal level; understanding problems that occur outside of academia. In the future do you see alternative education becoming the normality? Yes, more and more so. Because of recent events with COVID-19 community are beginning to understand that education can’t be delivered simply as a one dimensional program. Delivering only the academic side of the curriculum, as remote learning has done, has proved to have some negative effects on young people’s mental health. It has truly shown that well-being is an integral part of education and the development of young people. Alternative education often allows young people to open up more about their obstacles because of the personal relationship students share with educators. By making alternative education more accessible and known, it will allow more young people who may be suffering with mental health challenges to speak out and open up to their educators. What do you say to those people who say that alternative education doesn’t provide as thorough a curriculum as mainstream schools? Hester Hornbrook truly does attempt to provide the best possible education, starting with the great and professional educators who often have worked in a mainstream setting before and who have a great deal of experience.  Combining that experience with the well-being focus of Hestor helps young people who had not been engaging in mainstream education to still gain a high quality education. Hestor Hornbrook is able to provide education specific to a student’s needs, based on the level they are at. This structure is accompanied by a flexible mode of study that allows them to move at a pace they are comfortable with; something mainstream education struggles to provide in keeping a steady pace for the general population. What resources do alternative education providers provide that mainstream education providers don’t give? Post care is probably the greatest asset Hester Hornbrook provides in terms of additional resources. Hester Hornbrook has a 12 month period after a young person graduates where an Alumni worker supports that young person in all their well-being needs.  During that time there is also a Careers worker who consistently supports the young people to find a path beyond Hester Hornbrook. Generally students who are preparing to leave are identified about 6 months ahead of time. In that period the school works extremely hard in supporting the young person to achieve the goals they have set. This can include other pathways in the Hestor program and opportunities for scholarships that can help in overcoming barriers. What is the most challenging part of your role at the school? The dynamics of classrooms can be quite challenging. Having a group of people, who outside the classroom would have potentially never met, all together in one place and ensuring everyone’s safety and comfort, takes good

Resources To Assist with COVID-19: South East Melbourne Area

Thriving, not surviving, through the Chaos… Below is a list of services and resources for parents to support their young people through this time of impending self-isolation. Please be aware that some of the below services may close while others will move to providing online support.  If you are outside of this local area or experience troubles in accessing the below, please contact Kirstie directly. Get the right information It is critically important you responding to information that is as current and reputable as possible. At the moment this appears to be via our government sources. Please be mindful of what comes up on your and your child’s social media stream Federal Government Updates Victoria Government Updates Better Health Myth Buster Referrals to Services Local Council Services There may be some changes to the normal way these services operate, however, they are still operating and are best to be called if seeking specific support.  Generally their eligibility works according to resident’s proximity of where they live, work or play to the service. Glen Eira Youth Services Provision of one to one support. Glen Eira Youth Support Information Ph:  9524 3676 Kingston Youth Services Provision of one to one support (call to see if taking new clients) Kingston Youth Services Ph: 1300 369 436 Bayside Youth Services Provision of one to one support Bayside Youth Services Website Ph:  9599 4622 Blokes Psychology Psychology for Males of All Ages. Highett and Scoresby https://blokespsychology.com.au/ Local Community Health Centres Connect Health & Community Connect Health has counselling for all ages; pre-school to Older Adult. Connect Youth Services One to one practical supports and counselling. Connect Counselling Services One to one therapy; including Psychology, Social Work and Counselling. Ph: 9575 5333 Other Mental Health Services Headspace Bentleigh and Elsternwick One to one support for young people 12-25 years. Bentleigh Bentleigh Website Ph: 9076 9400 Elsternwick Elsternwick Website Ph:  9076 7500 Online Resources Reach Out Parents Self-Help Forums, Fact Sheets, Online Group Forums and one to one support options Help For Parents Young People Self-Help Forums, Fact Sheets & Online Group Discussions Help For Young People Go Zen For parents American site that has resources around managing stress and building resilience in your children (and yourself).  Below link is to a video series. I recommend the first one. Go Zen Anxiety and Covid-19 videos Eheadspace For parents and young people eheadspace provides free online and telephone support and counselling to young people 12 – 25 and their families and friends. If you’re based in Australia and going through a tough time, eheadspace can help https://headspace.org.au/eheadspace/ Emerging Minds For parents Has reputable resources and options for online training around supporting young people’s mental wellbeing. Toolkit For Preparing and Supporting Kids Through Community Trauma Below video is a short video on supporting children through community disasters by Emerging Minds. https://vimeo.com/394049129 Article on how to talk to your children about COVID-19 The Conversation Article Sane Australia For parents General mental health resources, referral services and fact sheets for all ages. https://www.sane.org/ Beyond Blue Beyond Blue General Site Referrals and resources for adults. Beyond Blue Young People’s Site Referrals and resources for adults. Below is a link to Beyond Blue’s advice for mental wellbeing during covid. Looking after your mental health during Covid-19 Parent Line Telephone and online counselling service for parents with children 0-18 years. Parentline Website Ph:  13 22 89 Kids Line Telephone and online counselling service for young people to 25 years.  Also have great FB and Insta Accounts. https://kidshelpline.com.au/ Ph:  1800 55 1800 Life Line For cases of mental health emergency and suicide prevention.  Telephone, online chat and text service. All ages. https://www.lifeline.org.au/ Ph:  13 11 14 Need Financial Assistance? Emergency Relief Help Community Information & Support Victoria https://www.cisvic.org.au/ Glen Eira Glen Eira Emergency Relief Bayside Emergency Relief BAYCISS Other Useful Information Learning at home Scholastic Scholastic Learn From Home Modules Twinkl Online School Modules FREE-for short time-up to Year 10. The trusted home of teacher-created planning and assessment materials and teaching resources aligned to the Australian Curriculum. Online Modules Rebecca Sparrow I feel like my purpose is to help teenage girls traverse that tricky path from childhood to adulthood. My great passion is helping teen girls (and their parents) navigate high school friendships, have a more positive experience online and understand that despite what society tells them they are enough just as they are. Below is a resource compiling loads of home ideas shared by her followers. Rebecca Sparrow Learn From Home Modules Project Rockit PROJECT ROCKIT is Australia’s youth-driven movement against bullying, hate and prejudice. https://www.projectrockit.com.au/ Young People Wellbeing Webinars Self Care A collection of podcasts and poetry for however you’re processing or experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. Self Care Podcasts Steps to Self Care Center for Adolescence Studies on steps to self care at this uncertain times. Self Care Article A Path To Follow remains open via online video calls and telephone during this period for young people, parents and small business. See our service pages for more information and remember, our pricing can be subsidised for those experiencing financial hardship. © A Path To Follow. Not to be reproduced without consent of author.

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