Congress 2017: the wrap up

That feeling when VicSRC Congress goes from an explosion to an inferno of student voice. Here's our wrap and top takeaways!

COngress 2017


"I'm absolutely speechless! Congress has literally changed my life. And WILL change many others."
Delegate, VicSRC Congress 2017

Three days, 180 students, 15 Exec, 37 volunteers, 7 staff, our second ever Open Morning and a choose-your-own-adventure model - it's safe to say that VicSRC Congress 2017 was the biggest yet!

Congress is a unique beast! For three days in July, the collective genius and positive energy of students from all corners of the state simply could not be contained. From within and without the halls of Ormond College, the roar of student voices rang out.

The students who make Congress what it is came from all walks of life and circumstances. They ran the gamut of education sectors and brought their expertise to the table. And thanks to the expertise of students, we have some really clear takeaways from the whole experience:

Students are experts in our education!

As students, we experience the realities of the education system day in, day out. What came across so cleary from our delegates was that we care passionately about education. We care about our political climate, sector funding, equality and diversity. We feel strongly about the challenges facing 21C education, what's not working and what needs to be done to make it better. And for each us, having a voice and agency in decision making is essential to real education change.

We saw this changemaking in real time! Delegates were brave, and bold. They brought their ideas to the table, pitched their solutions and led their own Action Teams to develop 12 key proposals for change. These proposals rang out loud and clear at the second annual Open Morning on Day 3 of Congress, with the top five Action Pitch Proposals prioritised by students to form the basis of the VicSRC's advocacy in 2017-2018.

Students are serious players in the sector

The sector has caught up to what we've known all along: that authentic student voice and agency is central to the success of our education system. This is evidenced by the words of support from James Merlino, Deputy Premier and Minister for Education; Liana Buchanan, Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People; and over 50 education sector stakeholders who came to Open Morning to hear our voices.

Importantly, the support wasn't just words; it came part and parcel with action. Not only was the VicSRC's Student Representation on School Governance Councils research report launched and embraced by Liana Buchanan; the Andrews government responded to our two-year campaign calling for mandatory student representation on school governance councils (link coming soon!) - which would see a major shakeup at the decision making table. Check out our coverage in The Age.

And it doesn't stop there! We are thrilled that Minister Merlino announced new funding for the VicSRC, including an Australian-first comittment to authentic student voice and agency by funding the online VicSRC Student Voice Hub. Find out more in the media release.

Finally, we launched our 2017-2020 Strategic Plan - a powerful and significant feat for our tireless Student Executive Team.

Phew! SO MUCH happened at Congress to spark real change, and the best part? There is so much more to come. Bring it!

Our stories matter

The connections made at Congress went beyond education sectors and circumstances. Students worked together, embracing their differences and respecting each other's voices. It didn't matter if you were from a government school or independent school; from the Catholic system or a flexi-education setting; a student with a disability, a loud voice or someone who struggles with the limelight.

Through skills and chills workshops, mashing out ideas, and becoming part of the #VicSRCfam in just three short days, our delegates showed time and again that our stories and life experiences connect us; that our stories and perspectives on the world around us are powerful conduits for positive change.

Students know how to work hard and play hard

O.M.G. What an incredible bunch of humans we've had the privilige of working with!

So many highs and LOLs, from the polaroid Welcome Wall, the Queen of Hearts-themed wide-game, the nerves and excitement of Exec Elections, the serious dancing shoes at Mad Hatter's Secret Garden Party Gala Dinner, to the epic energy of the Congress 2017 Open Morning; all while preparing 12 incredible Action Pitch proposals that spoke to the core of how we need to transform education from the inside out. Just quietly - our delegates know how to work hard and play hard.

This was our Congress! We pitched our ideas, developed our own Action Teams, chose our own adventures, and worked together to present our ideas and solutions for the Victorian education sector.

Congress 2017 is just the spark. The sector is listening, so now is the time to turn our ideas into action. Together, we are powerful.

Speak out, spark change!

We would like to extend an enormous and heartfelt thank you to all the people and organisations that made Congress 2017 possible:

VicSRC 2016-2017 Executive team

Chelsea Hard, Roghayeh Sadeghi, Bryce Pace, Campbell McGown, Chole Laurel, David Trevorrow, Feyla Anja, Gerard Felipe, Jacob Baker, Phoebe Cody, Ryan Wijaya, Sam Ilobuchi, Spencer Davis, Tobi Naylor and William Wilson.

VicSRC staff

Nina Laitala, Kat Daymond, Fiona Campbell, Aisha Trambas, Mel Gaylard, Matty Sievers and Pinchy Breheny.

Congress Crew and supporters

Roger Holdsworth, Scott Duncan, Dave Mould, Freya Fogliani, Emily Unt Wan, Kristen Sellings, Claire Moore, Caitlin Frost, Margo Tran, Katie Simkin, Qais Sadat, Justine Jaramillo, Tim Eric, Chester Ngan, Mangala Parasetia, Kelly Phan, Craig Martin, Ben Donald-Wilson, Demi Irwin, Chris Pritchard, Netania Lim, Danai Harawa, Dave Rose, Zac Power, Thomas Velican, Aaron Hind, Evrim ?en, Liz Chiem, Doug Flakemore, Jess Miller, Tess Shacklock, Sophia Patikisa, Liz Kalas, William Hornstra, Heidi Oost-Lasa, Sarah Dunstan, Georgia Hunt-Prokhovnik, Gloria Du and Tegan Whitten.

Department of Education and Training
The Hon. James Merlino MP, Minister for Education

The Commission for Children and Young People
Liana Buchanan, Principle Commissioner for Children and Young People

Congress 2017 proudly sponsored and supported by:

Congress 2017 sponsors and supporters

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