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Annual Report 21: Australian Services in 2021

29 June 2022, Research and Reports

Keeping kids engaged in learning 

Hands on Learning adapts to COVID-19 

Hands on Learning (HoL) is an ‘in-school’ program that builds student wellbeing and engagement by creating opportunities to discover their talents and experience success through hands-on projects. After the disruption of COVID-19 the importance of belonging, confidence and connection to school has grown exponentially.    

In 2021 we had to think outside the square and adapt service delivery due to COVID-19. Our team at Hawkesdale College teamed up with the local bus lines to send project packages home during lockdowns. This set-off multiple deliveries, inspiring hope across Victoria from many of our partner schools, including Camperdown College and Benalla College.  

Luke only started Hands on Learning two weeks before lockdown. The project package arriving by bus and the HoL artisan-teacher Pip going out of her way to call and make Luke feel welcome... Seeing Luke’s happiness hearing that the HoL team can’t wait to see him come back after lockdown was wonderful. It was quite contagious. I felt happy and it lifted my spirits too. That’s what we all need. Learning that school can be a safe place to share and learn with others is the basis of it all really.

De, Luke’s mum

Luke receiving his remote learning package as part of HoL’s lockdown-adapted service delivery.
Credit: De, Luke’s mum 

In addition to adapting our service delivery, in 2021 we were able to reach new audiences with the addition of Australian F1 legend Daniel Ricciardo as a Save the Children Ambassador with a special focus on HoL.   

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Journey of Hope 

Post-disaster wellbeing support in schools 

Photo: JoH offers school-based programs to help children recover from collective trauma. 
Credit Line: Adam Williamson / Save the Children 

Just as communities began rebuilding their lives after the bushfires of 2019/2020, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the recovery process. 

To help provide school-based intervention and support for children recovering from collective trauma, such as a natural disaster, Save the Children has offered the Journey of Hope (JoH) program to schools across NSW and Victoria.  

“[My child] has used tools learnt in the workshop… [She] can now come back and reset and deal with stressful things” - Parent 

2021 evaluations of the JoH program in Australia showed that the positive changes found were greater than natural improvements over time. These findings are consistent with growing evidence of universal psychosocial support programs in schools and highlight the importance of children receiving wellbeing support after a disaster. 

“[The students] are much happier and our school and our behaviors are much more settled, and I believe that’s been the impact of the program” - Teacher 
The eight-week program helps participants identify and process emotions. Children, school staff and parents reported very positive experiences with the program. 

  • 90% of students said the program helped them learn how to manage their feelings 
  • 79% had practiced what they had learnt through the program 
  • 70% talked to an adult recently about their feelings 
  • 88% felt that JoH made them feel better about attending school 
The Journey of Hope programs are the light in the sky for us. Our kids are now feeling safe enough to talk about their deep feelings with the Journey of Hope facilitators. That is huge!

Mel Croan, Assistant Principal, Ulladulla Public School

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Healthy kids, healthy communities 

Improving the health of Australian children and families 

Children attending a Save the Children Play2Learn program incorporating the Healthy Kids,
Healthy Communities initiative in the Katherine Township, NT. 
Photo: Emily Dienhoff/Save the Children

Healthy Kids Healthy Communities (HKHC) is a program that aims to improve the health of children and families attending our Play2Learn services by increasing the intake of nutritious foods and physical activity. HKHC has so far reached 6,328 children and 3,849 adults, primarily through our Play2Learn-supported playgroups.  

Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused service delivery challenges broadly, the key messages of HKHC continued to be delivered through online and offline-adapted service delivery of Play2learn. Our staff continued to embrace HKHC as an excellent vehicle for engaging families in essential child development conversations.    

Save the Children Australia commissioned an evaluation report of the HKHC program through the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute that found more than seven in ten parents reported having implemented changes in their child’s routines around: active play (79%); eating (73%); child’s screen use (72%).  
In line with report recommendations, a HKHC e-learning module was co-developed with Charles Darwin University and launched in 2021 to increase staff training reach. Additionally, a six-year licensing agreement for Confident and Understanding Parents (CUPs) was entered to ensure ongoing, effective implementation of the HKHC program. 

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Responding to the spike in family violence  

Strengthening the safety and wellbeing of children and families 

COVID-19 forced many women and children to be locked down in unsafe homes and during 2021, more than ever, there was an increased need for domestic and family violence refuge. With rising rental prices and extremely limited social housing; there was insufficient crisis accommodation, transitional housing and long-term housing for survivors of domestic and family violence (DFV). Those who were able to access refuge were often forced to stay longer than is preferable - with children being born and raised in refuge. No child should grow up in refuge.  

In 2021, Save the Children Queensland provided 328 women and 469 children with safe refuge accommodation after they experienced a significant DFV event. 190 individuals received immediate safety support, including psychological first aid, practical necessities, referrals to other support services, and support to remain safely at home or relocate to a safe place. 69% of families exited one of our refuges into safe and sustainable housing during 2021, an incredible accomplishment amid the COVID-19 pandemic and housing crisis that affected 92% of Queenslanders.  

To respond to the spike in family violence we provided women and children in need with immediate safety support, psychological first aid, practical necessities and support to relocate. 
Photo: Unsplash


The gift of time 

Jane* is a 38-year-old woman who escaped a violent relationship in 2016, taking her infant child with her. She was ineligible for government financial support or social housing due to her unresolved visa status. Between 2016 and 2020, Jane returned to violence on nine occasions, a continuous cycle of escaping violence and being forced back into it by paucity of choice. At the time that Jane entered one of our DFV Refuges in 2020, her 4-year-old had spent the majority of her formative years living within a series of crisis accommodation settings.  
Our DFV program provides not just refuge from crisis, but a home to women like Jane. Our accommodation offers the gift of time, and a reprieve from the enormous pressure that comes from the sense that time is running out.  

A mother who entered one of our Save the Children refuges said, "it enabled me to sit back for a minute and take a breath so I can start the next chapter with my kids."   

Throughout this journey women and children receive ongoing, individualised support from our DFV trauma-informed specialists.   
Jane and her child resided in our program throughout 2021. Jane was able to connect her with community supports and seek the medical care she had been excluded from due to affordability and ineligibility. Her child had the opportunity to form safe relationships and connect with other children of the same age.   

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