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During first semester this year, we had the pleasure of delivering our Whole School and Community program to the staff and community of Kelso Public School in Bathurst, NSW. This program, usually spanning across two terms, is one of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs and began with the entire Kelso school staff attending two full days of professional learning. The third visit enabled us to work with a strategically selected team of staff, including classroom teachers, an Assistant Principal, teacher aides and the Koorie Education Officer, where we took them through our facilitator training. These 8 chosen staff, known as the Positive Partnership Next Step team, were a driving force for school wide change over the semester.

This enthusiastic team successfully ran their first workshop for families using our tools and resources and adapting them to suit the needs of their parents and their current school priorities assessed using a pre-program survey. Holding this session at the start of Autism Awareness month, they decided to GO BLUE within their entire school hall decorations. They had organised for all classrooms to make contributions through art, poems, prose and teachers all held class lessons on difference and disability.

The parents enthusiastically embraced the Storyboard noting how useful it would be at home for family and friends as well as with new teachers each year. As always ‘A Mothers Story’ had a huge and emotional impact with many mothers relating well to Jaki French and her story.

We were very proud of the team who worked hard to create a safe, culturally respectful and supportive environment that allowed for parents to share openly and honestly.

Whole staff celebration

The program culminated with a whole staff Celebration event led by the Next Step team allowing staff to showcase their group or individual projects involving numerous new changes and adjustments. The celebration was well attended by staff who showcased and displayed projects such as a sensory room, visual timetables, a calming corner, a mindfulness wall, lunch time clubs, an autism book corner, a sensory board, visible learning tools, cultural display banners, a community garden and storyboards completed in collaboration with parents. We are most proud of Kelso for making sustainable school wide changes to their inclusive practices and for their enthusiasm and drive to instil a more positive school culture thus improving outcomes for all children who learn and behave differently, including those on the autism spectrum.