A Berry Street team at the forefront of change

Berry Street’s Y-Change initiative is a social and systemic change platform for young people with lived experiences of socioeconomic disadvantage. As Lived Experience Consultants, they challenge the thinking and practices of wider social systems through advocacy and leadership.

For Berry Street’s 2019-20 Annual Report, the team contributed the piece below that explores what change means to them, and what needs to urgently change across the sector to help create a better future for children and young people.

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A year of two halves – Y-Change in conversation with our President and CEO

It’s been a year like never before. One that has —in so many complex ways —demonstrated the constancy of change, as well as how rapid change can so brightly shine a light on existing inequality. A time when we’re confronted to see the reality of what lies before us and work through some of the most challenging times in our lives.

At the same time — amongst the very real upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects it will continue to have on children, young people, families, and societies the world over — there are glimmers of hope. We’ve been presented with a time potentially like never before, when all is laid bare, to challenge ourselves and reimagine how we can work together to courageously change lives and shape a new future. This includes a future where — as we believe at Berry Street — children, young people and families are safe, thriving and hopeful.

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How the Teaching Family Model is transforming residential care in Victoria

The number of children and young people coming into out-of-home care in Victoria has increased significantly in the past 5 years. But for those who have experienced significant and repeated trauma, traditional out-of-home care (such as foster and residential care) doesn’t always provide the right specialist support.

It is critical that they get the care they need to recover and ultimately thrive. This is why Berry Street runs a new, proven model of care to reimagine the future for our most vulnerable children and young people: the Teaching Family Model (TFM).

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Berry Street Education Model in action

We recently asked schools to share their success stories in using BSEM strategies. We are excited to share these stories here.

Circles

It’s always good to start the day with a circle; a great way to check in and out, frame expectations for the day or session and nurture meaningful relationships within the community.

Denna Tye, teacher, explained, “At Naradhan Public School (NSW), we have implemented morning and afternoon circles to build on our predictable routines. It allows us to set the tone for the day, highlighting positives we’ve seen in the playground and then finish the day, by giving everyone the opportunity to reflect and share something they’ve enjoyed.”

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Stories of Impact – Rhythm, Culture and Community Wellbeing at School

Lamine Sonko is known as Australia’s African cultural journeyman. He has toured Australia and internationally as a performer and educator, engaging and energising audiences across the country, and bringing people together to celebrate diversity and enable creative collective action.

BSEM draws on evidence to advocate for the use of patterned, rhythmic physical movement activities to support students’ healing, growth and learning at school. In this interview, Lamine reflects on using rhythm and culture to engage young people, facilitate community and improve wellbeing.

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Video: Radically improving someone’s life: the emotional health of the babies

Babies – like all humans – can have good mental health, poor mental health or anything in between.

The first 1000 days of a child’s life is crucial to their mental health later in life. All babies need to feel safe and looked after – it’s what sets up their expectations of what a loving relationship feels like.

If the baby is not fed when they are hungry, held when distressed or spoken to regularly, they quickly learn to expect not to be looked after.

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Black Lives Matter

In case you missed our recent series of Tweets @BSEMaus regarding the #BlackLivesMatter and #AboriginalLivesMatter protest movement, we are sharing them again here. BSEM will always have a focus on contributing to collaborative efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of Aboriginal Australians and other marginalised groups. We are always interested in hearing from schools about the work you are doing in this space. Please contact us if you have thoughts, ideas or initiatives you would like to share with us or if you want to join us in this continuing conversation.

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Positive priming pics ‘n tricks using curiosity and creativity

When people experience positive emotions, their minds broaden and they open up to new possibilities and ideas. At the same time, positive emotions help people build their personal well-being resources, ranging from physical resources, to intellectual resources, and social resources (Fredrickson 2009).

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Why Must Educators Explore Implicit Bias?

One year ago, I moved to Australia to become a Senior Trainer with the Berry Street Education Model. As an American citizen, now an Australian resident, and a former New York City public school educator, I have been closely following the recent Black Lives Matter events in both Australia and the United States. Because this movement has been covered prominently in world news, I’ve had many conversations with Australians who have expressed shock and disbelief that racism is still one of America’s biggest battles. Interestingly though, I can see that Australia has its own story when it comes to the ongoing prevalence of racism. The way both countries have historically and currently treat people of colour significantly impacts the young people with whom we work and as such, is a critical subject to address.

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Through Elijah’s eyes: the best things about his Teaching Family Model home

For children who have experienced significant and repeated trauma, traditional out-of-home care (such as foster and residential care) doesn’t always provide the right support. Berry Street is implementing a new, proven model of care to reimagine the future for our most vulnerable children: the Teaching Family Model (TFM).

TFM is an evidence-based, alternative approach to traditional residential care. It offers an innovative way of caring for children and young people in a family-style setting. TFM practitioners provide children with trauma-informed care, help them learn important interpersonal and living skills, and how to better manage their emotions.

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Tips, tricks and resources: What’s been helping during COVID-19 and as we transition into our new “normals” | Part 3

Part 3 of our series ‘Mental illness relapse and recovery during a global pandemic: lived wisdom from young people’s perspectives’

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. […] We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” – Sonya Renee Taylor

As a collective, we’ve found that the advice from many think pieces during this time has been removed from lots of people’s actual lived experiences. Right now, we’re in an absolute unknown. Things are going to be and feel different, strange and exhausting as we adjust to completely new versions of “normal”. For some of us, no amount of meditation and mindfulness helps in general, let alone during a pandemic, especially if our basic needs aren’t being met.

This is the final part in our series, ‘Mental illness relapse and recovery during a global pandemic’. For those of us who are working hard on our recovery journey, where can we seek specific support during this time? What are some useful tips, tricks and tools from peers in this space with relevant lived experience?

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How COVID-19 intensifies symptoms of mental illness | Part 2

Part 2 of our series ‘Mental illness relapse and recovery during a global pandemic: lived wisdom from young people’s perspectives

“Shouting self-care at people who actually need community care is how we fail them.” – Nikita Valerio 

For young people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, experiencing isolation and lockdown brings up a whole lot of stuff around coping mechanisms.

In part 2 of our series, we look at some changes in our own behaviour that we’ve observed and some common symptoms for those of us already managing mental illness.

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