Bendigo VicSRC Regional Conference 2014
The top three issues identified by students in the Bendigo region are Homophobia, acceptance, and mental health.
Gathering at Bendigo South East College, the Bendigo Regional Student Conference got underway enthusiastically with a variety of students ranging from Year 7 to Year 12. Students were asked to write down their dreams; aspirations and pet hate on sheets so that they could share with their colour group and get to know each other better. Through some enthralling activities and bonding sessions the most important issues that face students in our area was decided to be homophobia, bullying and mental health. But to get to those issues we rearranged into our school groups and brainstormed what the problems our school’s students faced, and then we moved onto the challenges faced by Victoria’s secondary school students.
An interesting activity that I thought was an engaging way of learning how to feel empathetic to other students was where we were all given an identity to assume. Mine was ‘student on a scholarship’ and I had to respond to the questions in the way that I thought a student on a scholarship would, one step forward for yes, and one step backwards for no. As we were asked if we would “find it easy to make friends at school” and questions similar, we were forced to consider the reality of the answers and the honest tribulations students at our school were burdened with, this helped shape the issues that we identified and later refined. The issues will be taken to Congress where they can be discussed in further detail on a state level.
Taking the program off course, students got an opportunity to converse with each other about the actions their own SRC had performed in the past. It was personally impressive to see the levels of formality and process in the selection and running of their SRCs and the pride they have in expressing this.
Bendigo Decided that homophobia, the pressure and stress of family issues, the inability to confidently access student support services and the awareness of students with special needs were the issues most important to our area. Education and school community awareness was seen to be the best way to tackle these issues along with practices that could be taken home so that student’s issues are tackled from all aspects of their life. It is important to raise these issues at Congress because there would be other school communities who are facing the same problems, and the issues can be altered state-wide. The conference was useful in giving my SRC a better understanding of possible issues, but because of our full agenda for the year, it doesn’t seem as if these educational practices will be able to be brought up. The same issues will probably have to be brought up by the next SRC as a priority in order for an action to be undertaken.
By Sarah Bibb, VicSRC Executive
Bendigo Senior Secondary College
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