Victorian Institute of Teaching

Victorian teachers see the benefit of Special Needs professional development.

Research indicates that most teachers will be teaching learners with disabilities. A recent study by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission found that 62% of classroom teachers reported they were inadequately trained to teach learners with disabilities.

To support the Victorian Government’s Special Needs Plan to improve access to and participation in learning for children with special needs, VIT set up a Special Needs Framework in 2015. As part of this framework VIT asked all teachers renewing their registration to undertake Special Needs professional development by the end of 2017.

In this video, we hear from a group of teachers about the benefits they experienced as a result of undertaking Special Needs PD.

Every learner has a right to the knowledge and skills that will help shape productive and positive lives, regardless of their physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics.

Undertaking Special Needs PD will help teachers build professional knowledge and expertise to address this need. It will also support the development of an inclusive culture in schools and early childhood settings.

Hyperlink below:


Victorian Parents Council Podcast Series - Join us and Listen wherever you are!


VPC is excited to introduce the ‘VPC Parents Podcast Series’.

The first 3 episodes in the ‘VPC Parents Podcast Series’ is all about NAPLAN which is approaching us very quickly.

First Episode is NAPLAN and Managing Anxiety with Ruth Fordyce

Is your child feeling anxious about NAPLAN? In this VPC Podcast Series we are looking at all things NAPLAN. Tune in for practical, down to earth advice and tips for students and parents alike.

Please share the podcasts in your networks.  (duration 46 min)


The second episode in the ‘VPC Parents Podcast Series’ - join us & listen wherever you are, is also all about NAPLAN which is approaching us very quickly.

NAPLAN: what can parents do to help prepare their Year 3 and Year 5 children

NAPLAN is on in May. Need a recap on what it is all about from a parent perspective? In this VPC Podcast Series we are looking at all things NAPLAN. Tune in for practical and down to earth advice and tips for students and parents alike. Please share the podcasts in your networks. (duration 12 min)


The third episode in the ‘VPC Parents Podcast Series’ - join us & listen wherever you are, is once more all about NAPLAN which is approaching us very quickly.

NAPLAN: adjustments for students with learning support needs.

Can children with Learning Support needs participate in NAPLAN? YES they can!

In this VPC Podcast Series we are looking at all things NAPLAN. Tune in for practical and down to earth advice and tips for students and parents alike. Please share the podcasts in your networks. (duration 9 min)

Victorian Parent Council Parent Seminars 2018 series - Dr Michael Carr-Gregg

"What parents need to know about Mental Health issues for Young People"

The Victoria Parent Council would like to invite you to hear Dr Michael Carr-Gregg present at the first VPC Parent Seminar 2018.  We will be co-hosting this event with Brighton Grammar School on Saturday afternoon 28 July 2018, 3.00 p.m.
Please connect to VPC Facebook page to receive updates on date, time and bookings details.

'Mental Health issues for Young People'
The latest research tells us that rates of depression, anxiety and self harm in young people are at an all time high.

This presentation will summarise the latest research on the mental health of young people, share tips on what parents should look for and the key components that every parent needs to know to build happy and resilient young people.

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg is one of Australia's highest profile child and adolescent psychologists. He wrote his PhD at the University of NSW on Adolescents with Cancer and named and founded CanTeen more than 30 years ago with a group of young cancer patients. He has worked as an academic, researcher, and political lobbyist. He is also the author of 13 books and is working on his 14th. Michael is an Ambassador for Smiling Mind, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Playgroup Victoria. He sits on the Board of the Family Peace Foundation and the National Centre Against Bullying.

Michael is the resident parenting expert on Channel 7's Sunrise and Channel 9's Today Extra,as well as psychologist for the Morning Show with Neil Mitchell on Radio 3AW. Michael is married with 2 boys and is a special Patron of the Hawthorn Football Club.


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NAPLAN - Review of minimum standards of senior secondary literacy and numeracy

The VCAA has been asked by the Minister for Education, the Hon James Merlino MP, to consider whether there should be an explicit requirement for students to meet minimum standards of literacy and numeracy in order to be awarded the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL).

The Minister has asked the VCAA to consult widely and to provide a report by the end of August 2018.

In responding to this request, the VCAA has developed the Consultation paper to which interested parties may respond.  Download the Consultation paper Word (docx - 82.54kb)PDF (pdf - 49.94kb)

How to have your say!

You may submit feedback to  or complete an online survey at Engage Victoria.

Alternately, submissions can be mailed to:

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
Literacy and Numeracy consultation
Level 7, 2 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Responses must be received no later than Friday 18 May 2018. 

Metropolitan and regional consultation events

We will be holding various community consultation events in regional and metropolitan locations. Please register for the consultation event you wish to attend using this registration form.

Date & Location

Melbourne - Thursday 19 April Theatrette, Level 5

5.00pm-6.30pm 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Frankston - Monday 23 April Frankston Arts Centre

5.00pm-6.30pm 27–37 Davey Street, Frankston

Glen Waverley - Tuesday 24 April Department of Education and Training Glen Waverley

5.00pm-6.30pm 295 Springvale Road, Glen Waverley

Geelong - Thursday 26 April Deakin University Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

5.00pm-6.30pm 75 Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds

Bendigo - Monday 30 April Department of Education and Training Bendigo

5.00pm-6.30pm 7–15 McLaren Street, Bendigo

Sunshine - Wednesday 2 May Sunshine Library

5.00pm-6.30pm 301 Hampshire Road, Sunshine

Ballarat - Federation University
Thursday 3 May Ballarat Technology Park - Central

5.00pm-6.30pm 106-110 Lydiard Street South, Ballarat

Broadmeadows - Monday 7 May Broadmeadows Sporting Club

5.00pm-6.30pm 111 Sunset Boulevard, Jacana

Wodonga - Tuesday 8 May Best Western Hovell Tree,

5.00pm-6.30pm 614 Hovell Street, Albury

Bairnsdale - Tuesday 8 May Bairnsdale Sporting and Convention Centre

5.00pm-6.30pm 117 Great Alpine Road, Lucknow

Shepparton - Wednesday 9 May Goulburn Valley Hotel

5.00pm-6.30pm 223 High Street, Shepparton

Traralgon - Wednesday - 9 May 5.00pm-6.30pm TBC

Warrnambool - Monday 14 May 5.00pm-6.30pm TBC

Horsham - Tuesday 15 May 5.00pm-6.30pm TBC

Mildura - Wednesday 16 May 5.00pm-6.30pm TBC



Do your school parent group meetings consist of the same four people each month?  Does your child’s classroom need a volunteer to take on a special project? Are you trying to recruit volunteers to help with the school fete? These tips will help you attract school volunteers and keep them coming back to help.

What volunteers love :

“We’re so glad you’re here.” A warm and inviting welcome can win your volunteer’s heart. Introduce them to others. Include them in conversations. If the work environment is pleasant, your volunteer is much more likely to participate again.

“We’re doing this because…”  Help your volunteer understand how their role relates to your overall goals and what you hope to achieve. Sometimes having a specific outcome or project will attract more people.

“Thank you so much.” Let your volunteer know you appreciate their help, whether they donated an hour or a week, whether they did the most difficult task or the easiest. Acknowledging what a person does is very important.

“Whatever works best for you.” People have different styles and abilities. Whenever possible, let volunteers take ownership of the process. Give them the goals of the project or the desired outcome, and let them choose their own way to get there. Don’t say “we do things this way,” especially if there’s no compelling reason to stick with the status quo.

What volunteers do not like:

“We don’t need you after all.” Your volunteer shows up on time and ready to help. But when they get there, they discover there’s no work to do. Maybe you have enough help already. Maybe the task changed and you’re going to do it a different way at a different time. The reason doesn’t matter. The message to the volunteer is: “Not only don’t we need you, we also didn’t care enough about you or your time to tell you before you drove over here.”

"Good night, and good luck.” Being given a job to do without proper instruction or the tools to do the job properly can be very frustrating — especially if you leave your volunteer on their own to figure things out for themselves. Most people won’t submit to that kind of experience twice.

“Just another hour-or so.” You ask the volunteer to donate an hour of their time. But it turns out to be the great elastic hour — it stretches and stretches until the job is done. They might stick around to see things through, but they’ll think twice before committing to help out again.

“You’re doing it all wrong!” It’s OK to tell a volunteer when they are doing the wrong thing, but presentation matters. Be helpful rather than confrontational. It could cost you a volunteer — and maybe more if they tell their friends.

Things that keep volunteers motivated

“That’s a great idea.” Nothing is more motivating than making your own idea a reality. An atmosphere that encourages new ideas not only energizes volunteers; it keeps your group fresh and injects excitement, too.

“We’re all in it together.” If your volunteers feel like part of a team, they’ll be more motivated to do their part. A team atmosphere means making sure everybody feels wanted and participates. And it’s crucial to break up cliques.

“You’re really good at that.” Use people’s talents, not just their time. Not many people will get excited about constantly being on the clean-up committee. But if you let the person who loves carpentry build your fete stalls or the one who’s interested in graphic design create your newsletter, they’re much more likely to do a great job and want to continue.

“How did that go for you?” Check in with volunteers occasionally. Make sure their needs are being met and they haven’t become disgruntled. Personal contact lets them know you care about them individually, and it catches potential problems before they become significant. Never underestimate the power of building relationships.

“We did it!” When things go right, share your successes with your volunteers. A shared sense of accomplishment can be a powerful motivator.

Five good ways to find new volunteers

“Position available.” Write help-wanted ads. Create a flyer or section of your newsletter with descriptions of the jobs you need help for. Include the duties of the position, likely time commitment, and other pertinent information. You’re more likely to find a good match for your position if you publicize it well.

“There’s a lot you can do.” You already know that one of the biggest fears of volunteers is that they’ll be sucked into a black hole of never-ending time commitment. One way to address this fear is to create a list of all of the things that volunteers can do in one hour to help your group.

“Would you help?” The No. 1 reason people say they don’t volunteer is because “no one asked.” Asking doesn’t mean a newsletter ad that says “new officers needed.” It requires a personal approach, and it works best if you have a specific task in mind. “Jim, we need ticket-takers for the carnival. Can you spare an hour to help?”

“Bring your friends!” People are much more likely to participate in a group if they know someone who participates already. You can use this to your advantage by asking existing members to issue personal invitations to people they know.

“Thanks for your interest.” Don’t let volunteer surveys sit around for weeks before you respond, even to people who expressed interest in an event that is months away. People are much more likely to follow through later if you make a connection now. Also, this is an opening to ask for more involvement: “I know you said you’d help with the spring carnival, but I wonder if you could spare an hour to help children pick out books at the book fair in October?”

For those of you who have stepped up to your P&F at your AGM, you may find this information pertaining to volunteers interesting and useful. Don’t forget if you have any great ideas for recruiting and retaining volunteers, please let us know so that we can share them.

Article from the Parents and Friends Federation WA (PFFWA)


Television viewing and young children – How to “work with” the medium and not fight against it.


Studies of how children spend their time at home reveal that preschoolers (children aged between 2-5 years) spend the majority of their time in play and watching television, with the exception of sleeping. The average preschooler watches 2-3 hours of television (including DVDs) per day.  Although research on children’s television viewing has been reported for over 30 years, it was not until more recently that such investigations were integrated into the field of developmental psychology.  Some of the many topics that have been investigated include television and the educational benefits, television and language production, television and prosocial outcomes, television and aggression or violence, television and its’ contribution to stereotyping, and television and multicultural awareness.

Interest in early childhood television viewing is based on the premise that cognitive and social development during this life stage is probably more malleable than it is in later childhood and adolescence.  Given that a television set is present in most children’s lives right from birth, it is argued that the preschool years are ideal for examining socialization of television viewing habits and that patterns of viewing acquired during early childhood have long-term implications for children’s development. Research evidence supports this argument.  The findings of one longitudinal study showed that viewing educational programs, such as Sesame Street, at ages 2 and 3 years predicted higher scores at age 5 on measures of language, math and school readiness.  These findings prevailed even after parental education and income level and children’s vocabulary test scores at the beginning of the study were statistically controlled. In another longitudinal study, researchers revealed that early viewing of educational and prosocial television programs was associated with higher high school grades in Science, English and Mathematics. In contrast, early viewing of violent cartoons and general audience programs was associated with lower high school grades in the subjects noted above.

Contemporary researchers argue that television viewing should not be treated as a one-dimensional construct, and that the medium of television is not homogeneous in its impact on children’s development. Hence, to claim that ALL television is bad and that young children should never be exposed to television is alarmist and unrealistic. When children want to watch television, we must ensure that the content is age appropriate with educational and prosocial messages. If the television does not supply this type of content, encourage children to watch a DVD that does provide this content. Of course, just watching television or DVDs and not taking part in other activities, is not what is being advocated here. We must encourage our children to partake in many different activities such as reading books, general playing indoors and outdoors, taking part in sporting activities, drawing, singing, dancing and so on. Television watching should be one activity for children in a day filled with other fun activities!

As adults and parents, we need to spend time watching television with our children; and whilst this article focuses on preschool children, the same rules apply for primary school-aged children.  Viewing together with your child is important for several reasons; you can:

1.  Monitor what television your child is watching;

2.  Help your child understand the content of the program; and

3.  Reject to violent images and advance nonviolent and prosocial values.

There is more scope for learning from television if you are there with your child to discuss, explain, and share the experience with him/her. There is also more scope to engage in play with your child, sing along to songs or to dance with your child as reflected in the television program or DVD. Children love to share these experiences with their parents. If you were watching “Frozen” with your child for instance, you could act out a scene by taking on characters. Encouraging your child to engage in pretend play is the best way to strengthen a wide variety of mental abilities, such as language skills, imagination, creativity, cooperation, sharing, divergent thinking, sustained attention, memory, and the ability to take on another person’s perspective and to understand the difference between self from other.

Of course, time is of the essence and it is not possible to sit down with your child every time he/she watches something on television, nor is that necessary if you are familiar with the content of the television your child is watching. However, it is important to make the time to share this experience as much as possible and that any new television programs and DVDs should first be watched together. This will enable you to judge the appropriateness of the content and discuss with your child the educational components to “work with” rather than against the medium of television.

Yu, M., & Baxter, J. (2015). Australian children’s screen time and participation in extracurricular activities. Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Annual Statistical Report 2015, Chapter 5, p. 99 -125.

Skouteris, H., & McHardy, K. (2009). Television viewing habits and time use in Australian preschool children: An exploratory study. Journal of Children and Media, 3, 80–89.

Prof Helen Skouteris is a developmental psychologist and the Monash Warwick Alliance Joint Professor of Healthcare Improvement and Implementation Science at Monash University. She has a strong track record in longitudinal multi-factorial research, randomised controlled trials, and implementation research in the area of maternal and child health and wellbeing.


Assessing global competence

Global competence.png

PISA will assess global competence for the first time ever in 2018. 

In 2015, 193 countries committed to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations – a shared vision of humanity that provides the missing piece of the globalisation puzzle.

The extent to which that vision becomes a reality will in no small way depend on what is happening in today’s classrooms.  Indeed, it is educators who hold the key to ensuring that the SDGs become a real social contract with citizens.

Goal 4, which commits to quality education for all, is intentionally not limited to foundation knowledge and skills, such as literacy, mathematics and science, but emphasises learning to live together sustainably.  This has inspired the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to include global competence in its metrics for quality, equity and effectiveness in education.  PISA will assess global competence for the first time ever in 2018. PISA conceives of global competence as a multidimensional, lifelong learning goal.  Globally competent individuals can examine local, global and intercultural issues, understand and appreciate different perspectives and world views, interact successfully and respectfully with others, and take responsible action toward sustainability and collective wellbeing.

Many teachers will have mixed feelings about this: is this just one more demand placed on their shoulders that will further dilute what students learn and contribute to making curricula a mile-wide but an inch-deep?  And when the results from PISA will come out, will teachers be blamed for things they had no real opportunity to teach in any depth?  Before judging this, it is worth having a look at what global competence as measured by PISA actually entails.

First, PISA expects that students can examine issues of local, global and cultural significance.  This refers to the ability to combine knowledge about the world with critical reasoning whenever people form their own opinions about a global issue.  Globally competent students can draw on and combine the disciplinary knowledge and modes of thinking acquired in school to ask questions, analyse data and arguments, explain phenomena, and develop a position regarding a local, global or cultural issue.  They can also access, analyse and critically evaluate messages delivered through the media, and can create new media content.

Second, PISA looks at whether students understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others.  This highlights a willingness and capacity to consider global problems from multiple viewpoints. As individuals acquire knowledge about other cultures’ histories, values, communication styles, beliefs and practices, they begin to recognise that their perspectives and behaviours are shaped by many influences, that they are not always fully aware of these influences, and that others have views of the world that are profoundly different from their own.  Engaging with different perspectives and world views requires individuals to examine the origins and implications of others’ and their own assumptions. This, in turn, implies a respect for and interest in the people who acknowledge and appreciate the qualities that distinguish individuals from one another are less likely to tolerate acts of injustice in their daily interactions.  On the other hand, people who fail to develop this competence are considerably more likely to internalise stereotypes, prejudices and false heuristics about those who are ‘different’.

Third, PISA looks at the extent to which students are able to engage appropriately and effectively across cultures.  Globally competent people can adapt their behaviour and communication to interact with individuals from different cultures.  They engage in respectful dialogue, want to understand others, and try to include marginalised groups.  This dimension emphasises individuals' capacity to bridge differences with others by communicating in ways that are open, appropriate and effective.  ‘Open’ interactions mean relationships in which all participants demonstrate sensitivity towards, curiosity about, and a willingness to engage with others and their perspectives.  ‘Appropriate’ refers to interactions that respect the cultural norms of both parties.  In ‘effective’ communication, all participants can make themselves understood and understand the other.

Last but not least,  PISA looks at young people's role as active and responsible members of society, and refers to individuals’ readiness to respond to a given local, global or intercultural issue or situation. Globally competent people create opportunities to take informed, reflective action and have their voices heard.  Taking action might imply standing up for a schoolmate whose human dignity is in jeopardy, initiating a global media campaign at school, or disseminating a personal opinion about the refugee crisis through social media.  Globally competent people are engaged to improve living conditions in their own communities and also to build a more just, peaceful, inclusive and environmentally sustainable world.

It seems hard to deny the critical importance of these competences, particularly in a country that is as outward-looking and globally interconnected as Australia.  But that alone does not answer the question of how teaching global competence can be reconciled with the myriad other responsibilities schools already have.  However, for many children, school is the first place where they encounter the full diversity of society, so schools need to play a crucial role in this regard.  Schools can provide opportunities for young people to critically examine developments that are significant to both the world at large and to their own lives.  They can teach students how to use digital information and social media platforms critically and responsibly.  Schools can also encourage intercultural sensitivity and respect by encouraging students to engage in experiences that nurture an appreciation for diverse peoples, languages and cultures.

It certainly does not mean adding new school subjects, but rather how we integrate aspects of global competence into disciplinary contexts.  Imagine Elizabeth.  In her history course, she learns about industrialisation and economic growth in developing countries, and how these have been influenced by foreign investments.  She learns that many girls of her age work in poor conditions in factories for up to 10 hours a day, instead of going to school.  Her teacher encourages each student to bring one item of clothing to class, and look at the label to see where it was manufactured.  She is surprised to notice that most of her clothes were made in Bangladesh.  She wonders under what conditions her clothes were made.  She looks at the websites of various high-street branding shops to see if the websites can tell her about their manufacturing standards and policies.  She discovers that some clothing brands are more concerned with human rights in their factories than others, and she also discovers that some clothing brands have a long history of poor conditions in their factories.  She reads different journalistic articles about the issue, and watches a short documentary on YouTube. Based on what she discovers she starts to buy fair-trade clothing, and becomes an advocate for ethically responsible manufacturing.

That leaves the question for how PISA actually assesses global competence.  In 2018, PISA will make a first start with a two-part assessment consisting of a cognitive test and a background questionnaire.  The cognitive assessment elicits students’ capacities to critically examine news articles about global issues; recognise outside influences on perspectives and world views; understand how to communicate with others in intercultural contexts; and identify and compare different courses of action to address global and intercultural issues. In the background questionnaire, students will be asked to report how familiar they are with global issues; how developed their linguistic and communication skills are; to what extent they hold certain attitudes, such as respect for people from different cultural backgrounds; and what opportunities they have at school to develop global competence.  Answers to the school and teacher questionnaires will provide a comparative picture of how education systems are integrating international and intercultural perspectives throughout the curriculum and in classroom activities.  If you would like to try some of this out in your own classroom, PISA will be happy to share the questionnaires with you.

At the OECD, we believe that this assessment offers a tangible opportunity to provide the global community with the data it needs to build more peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies through education.  It will provide a comprehensive overview of education systems’ efforts to create learning environments that encourage young people to understand one another and the world beyond their immediate environment, and to take action towards building cohesive and sustainable communities. It will help the many teachers who work every day to combat ignorance, prejudice and hatred, which are at the root of disengagement, discrimination and violence.

Some have already raised concerns about the feasibility of measuring students' readiness to engage with the world through an international test. International comparisons are never easy, and they are not perfect, particularly when it comes to measuring such complex competences.  But without quality data, it will be difficult to initiate a fruitful, global dialogue about what works in education.


NAPLAN: adjustments for students with learning support needs


In this interview we speak with Mary Kerba. Mary is an experienced educator, combining special needs education and school leadership. Mary is the founder of the Hills Learning Centre, a current professional member of SPELD NSW and Learning Difficulties Australia (LDA); a committee member of the Learning Difficulties Coalition (LDC) and an associate member of the Independent Primary School Heads of Australia (IPSHA).




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Music: "Sunny"

NAPLAN: what can parents do to help prepare their Year 3 and Year 5 children


In this interview we speak with Mary Kerba. Mary is an experienced educator, combining special needs education and school leadership. Mary is the founder of the Hills Learning Centre, a current professional member of SPELD NSW and Learning Difficulties Australia (LDA); a committee member of the Learning Difficulties Coalition (LDC) and an associate member of the Independent Primary School Heads of Australia (IPSHA).


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Music: "Sunny"

Tagged: podcastNAPLAN



NAPLAN and Managing Anxiety with Ruth Fordyce


In this interview we speak with Ruth Fordyce. Ruth is a registered psychologist from the Resilience Centre, Epping NSW. Ruth explains anxiety, what is normal and when to be concerned. She offers practical ways parents can assist their children dealing with anxiety in the NAPLAN test period.



Parenting in the Digital Age

The Day by Day: Learning Together app is designed for mums and dads with children up to three years old.  The app prompts parents to play simple learning games and do activities in everyday environments, such as the kitchen, bathroom, outdoors and travelling.  Maria, who has three children under five years old, says she and her husband downloaded the app to their phones and spend a couple of minutes looking at it each weekday.
'The activities are quick and straightforward, so even after a busy day, it doesn't take much effort to complete one to two activities that we'll try with the kids over the next few days,' Maria says. '" I am already noticing how they are more intrigued about everything we do — asking questions and fascinated about the simple things while learning at the same time."
Parents can even design the app's characters to look like themselves and their child.  The app is readily accessible on Android and Apple smart phones, tablets, and designed so there are no ongoing data usage costs.

The State Government invested $300,000 into the app, while Save the Children, one of Australia's largest aid and development agencies, oversaw its development.  Save the Children worked with researchers, policymakers and practitioners, and consulted with parents to develop the app.

Save the Children Australia State Manager for Victoria and South Australia Claire Febey says "The app creates healthy habits and attitudes by rewarding players for completion of small goals.  It brings families closer as kids learn new things and together they share accomplishments" 
Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos says "The project aligns with the $202.1 million Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan, created to provide more support for parenting - particularly for first-time parents who may not have easy access to facilities and services".
For more information, see:
Early Childhood Reform Plan
Download Day by Day for iPhone or iPad from the Apple Store
Download Day by Day for Android devices from Google Play


The Andrews Labor Government is extending a free meningococcal vaccination program so even more young Victorians can be protected against the deadly disease. This follows the inaction from the Turnbull Government which continues to shirk its responsibility leaving young people behind in the fight against this disease.

Visiting Traralgon Secondary College, Minister for Health Jill Hennessy MP announced there would be free meningococcal vaccines for all young people in Year 10 of secondary school, as well as those young people not in secondary school but of an equivalent age (15 or 16 years old).

They will be able to get the vaccine at school, at their GP or through their local council immunisation session and they’ll be protected against four strains of meningococcal disease, ‘A’, ‘C’, ‘W’ and ‘Y’.

“Our local schools, GPs and councils will be working with students and families to offer this free life-saving vaccine to young Victorians, and help protect the wider community by reducing the spread of the disease.”



Friday, 5th January, 2018 - Keeping our Childcare, Kinders Safe and up to Scratch

Minister for Families and Children - Jenny Mikakos:  "Quality education and care is what every young child deserves - we're cracking down on those dodgy providers who fall short."  "The vase majority of our early childhood services do a fantastic job, but we want parents to rest assured action is taken if providers do the wrong thing."  " We've stepped up inspections by more than 60% compared ot the previous Government to ensure all Victorian kids are in a safe and caring early years service."

Useful Links - Term 1 2018

“Math saves lives” - Mathematics

Working with Children Screening Checks Guide (VIC) *updated*
The Victorian guide has been updated to reflect changes to Victoria's working with children laws, which came into effect on 1 August 2017. 
FAQ for Parents and Citizens associations
Below are the most current FAQ for Parents and Citizens associations (P&Cs) and Parents and Friends associations (P&Fs) which outlines their obligations to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) if they are registered. The only difference between the documents is the use of ‘P&C’ and ‘P&F’.  Please pass this on to the P&Cs/P&Fs that you assist or include the FAQ in welcome packs/committee handover checklists or website as an additional resource.

The ACNC Webinar for P&Cs:

Non-Government Schools and the Quality Schools package –
Independent Schools Council of Australia

The per student base funding component of the new funding model is calculated as a Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), intended as a measure of the cost of effective and efficient provision ...

The Impact of Machines on Jobs
“At least one-third of tasks could be automated in about 60% of jobs, which means substantial changes for employers and workers.
However, history shows that, while technology is disruptive, it also creates jobs. Between 8% and 9% of new jobs in 2030 will not have existed before. In addition, certain sectors, such as healthcare and technology, would see a massive growth in jobs.”
These are the jobs most likely to be taken by robots | World Economic Forum
Great resource from NZ Parent-Education

Social media readiness

Mental Health and Cyberbullying

Support to promote the health and wellbeing of our state's students
Schools have a range of strategies in place to promote positive mental health. 
This includes creating positive environments, maintaining strong connections with families and communities and social and emotional learning.
In committing to promoting positive mental health, our schools can also help to foster satisfaction and success in all aspects of their students' lives.
In February 2018, the Victorian Government announced additional support to promote the health and wellbeing of our state's students.
With a specific focus on mental health and bullying, this investment will give our schools the resources and tools they need to maintain a positive environment.
Recognising a growing need, this additional support will also include a dedicated focus on preventing suicide. 
Together, these investments will help support the work of our schools and ensure our kids are happy and healthy.
Mental health

 “Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham has called for a total ban on the use of mobile phones during school time, in a bid to crack down on cyberbullying. 
What do you think - Should we ban mobile phones at schools? And how would such a ban be policed? Let us know in the comments below. #9Today”

The VPC Seminar 2017 at Brighton Grammar School   “Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Digital Age” with Dr Glenn Melvin

Questions from the audience

In relation to antidepressants for anxiety in teens/children, once they are on them is it feasible that they will be able to come off them?
There are two phases of treating depression in adolescents, the response phase and then the maintenance phase. The response phase is getting the teenager well. Once a person has improved on antidepressants they have had a response. The maintenance phase is keeping the teen well.  For one episode of depression the maintenance phase is between 6 to 12 months depending on the side effects.  If the person has more than one episode of depression then it is longer, and the timelines are less clear.  When the person has been well for a while, during a quiet time, like school holidays it is worth gradually reducing the dose and seeing if they (1) need to remain on the antidepressant at all, and (2) if they can manage on a lower dose.
In addition, if teen doesn’t respond to the antidepressant, that is, it doesn’t resolve the symptoms that were targeted, the teen may come off the antidepressant or switch to another antidepressant.
Also note, there is much more evidence that antidepressants are a helpful treatment of teens rather than children.

What were the two books regarding anxious children you mentioned in your talk?
You and Your Anxious Child by Anne Marie Albano
Helping Your Anxious Child by Ronald Rapee

I have a popular, emotionally intelligent & socially engaged boy so he is not shy or introverted. Right now at age 11, he is starting to worry about what he is going to do with his life and that he isn't smart enough. He is having trouble sleeping & getting tummy aches. How can I help him besides just assure him?
While it is hard to make specific comments about a child without having met with the child and family and completing an assessment, a few general thoughts come to mind.
It is important to listen to your child and provide empathic responses. Show that you can see that worries are bothering him. This type of validation can be containing for children. There may be other fears underlying those that are currently being expressed and if they feeling safe and able to express himself, you may learn more and therefore be able to help more.
It is important to emphasise that it is normal to be unsure about one’s career choice during adolescence and particularly at 11 years. Focus on the importance of searching and exploring interests, rather than having a career determined in late childhood.
Boys can be a competitive bunch, so competition about who performed the best on a test or in a term isn’t unusual. However, being smart isn’t the only thing. Persistence and determination, which some have called ‘grit’ plays a very important role in achievement and being productive. Angela Duckworth’s writing in this area might be of interest
Sleep difficulties and tummy aches may be symptoms of anxiety.  If these persist consult your GP for advice or referral. It is better to get onto learning strategies to cope with stress or anxiety and its symptoms earlier rather than later.

What strategies can children/parents use to cover the move from school to school? (especially from small primary to large secondary) 
Changing schools is a time of increased stress for most kids and teens. Expressing that it is normal to feel some anxiety or unsettled feelings when starting at a new school may be helpful. Also pointing out that this anxiety tends to settle down in time is helpful.
Children may need more rest or downtime during transition to a new school, so it is important to take this into account when scheduling extra-curricular activities. Around transition time, make sure you are a bit more available for your child too, providing them with opportunities to tell you about how school is progressing and what is on their mind.  Be aware of the homework demands and ensure your child has the time and space to complete his/her tasks.

Support the development of new friendships by supporting social activities, e.g. having friends over or going to the movies, playing sport on the weekend.
If you are concerned, contact your child’s teacher earlier rather than later, to see if any issues need to be addressed. Connecting with other parents can also be helpful to gauge how your child is progressing compared to others.

Why does there appear to be so many more kids suffering from anxiety? Does the research support that this is the case?
In 2015, the Australian Government released the Second Australian Child & Adolescent Survey on Mental Health & Wellbeing. This survey found that 6.9% of Australian children and teens experienced one or more anxiety disorder in the past 12 months. Many more would experience anxiety to a lesser level that may have a lesser impact on their lives. Unfortunately, the prior national survey did not assess anxiety disorders, so we don’t have any good data to show any kind of change in child and adolescent anxiety.
However, there is some evidence to suggest from these national surveys that rates of mental health problems have increased slightly. It is not entirely clear why, but many theories exist. While some stigma still certainly exists around mental health, reductions in stigma are thought to be associated with increased reporting of mental health problems. Beyond this, changes to our social structure are also thought to play a role in increasing risk of mental illness.  

I think OCD should be put down as an anxiety disorder for kids/teens. I think it is one parents should be aware of as well as eating disorders.
This is an interesting nosological (classification of diseases) point! Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was thought of as an anxiety disorder up until 2013. It now sits in a new grouping of disorders called Obsessive and Related Disorders that includes hoarding disorder and skin picking disorder. I, too, think that it is an important disorder for parents to know about. I would have liked to have spoken about it but was limited by time. Eating disorders are also important for parents to be aware of, particularly in young women, while not forgetting that young men can also affected. Being aware of the warning signs of both these disorders is important. The Butterfly Foundation is a good source of Australian information about eating disorders

How do we encourage optimistic thinking in the elderly?
According to eminent psychologist Martin Seligman, optimism can be learned. This can be achieved by modifying our responses to daily stressors and hassles and modifying how we respond to such adversity. Seligman wrote a book on this topic called Learned Optimism. It might be a useful resource.

NAPLAN by Dr Tracy Robinson

Dr Tracy Robinson is a senior research fellow at the Monash Centre for Health Research & Implementation.  As a registered nurse and a doctor of psychology, she has extensive experience working in the field of mental health and supporting the wellbeing of young people.  We’re most grateful to her for once again providing an article for this term’s newsletter.
There has been much talk about NAPLAN testing over the past week with research by Dr John Ainley that found over the last decade Year 9 results in reading and numeracy have barely improved. Between 2008 and 2017, numeracy scores across all states and year levels stagnated. Moderate improvements in literacy were identified for some primary schools but were not sustained when students reached high schools. Dr Ainsley’s review is the most comprehensive analysis of NAPLAN data to date and raises some serious questions about the utility of this testing. Originally designed to help governments and schools identify whether students are meeting their key learning outcomes, NAPLAN has now become a source of anxiety and stress for students, their parents and teachers. In fact three state governments have called for a review of NAPLAN because of its potential to impact negatively on teaching and learning – especially because so much attention is now focused on this testing which occurs in Years 3,5,7 and 9.

While no one would disagree that literacy and numeracy are essential to children’s success, NAPLAN testing is coming under increasing scrutiny – not least because it is often used as a measure of a school’s performance – which it is not! In fact, it can be argued that the test results only tell teachers (who do a great job) what they already know in terms of identifying students who are facing challenges in their learning. Of more concern, is the question of whether NAPLAN results might contribute to low self- esteem in very young children who do have the ability to understand the whole context of the assessments. Also, because NAPLAN does not make accommodation for students who are new to Australia or who have spent less than five years speaking English we need to consider whether this is fair on students and schools.

One thing that gets overlooked in this debate is that there are many types of literacy young people need to prepare them for life and the world of work in the 21st century. Data and computer literacy, cultural literacy, emotional literacy and even media literacy which involves building young people’s skills to think critically about different forms of media. Recently, there has been much attention on emotional literacy – the ability to understand and express feelings. This relies on having self-awareness and being able to recognise and manage one’s own feelings. Emotional literacy also includes empathy – being sensitive to other people’s feelings and situations, which is essential for developing communication skills. The term emotional intelligence is sometimes used interchangeably in the academic literature where it has become an area of increasing interest and research. Emotionally intelligent people are able to identify, use, understand and regulate emotions (their own and other people’s). In the world of business and management it is widely accepted that emotional intelligence/literacy improves relations in organisations and increases the performance of employees and the organisation as a whole. The literature on leadership identifies emotional intelligence as a key attribute of effective leaders.

It is also worth thinking about the relationship between emotional literacy and bullying. Many young people who bully others frequently experience overwhelming feelings of anger, excitement, boredom or even fear and do not know to empathise with their peers who may look or act differently. Some schools now run programs to increase emotional literacy but with all the focus on NAPLAN testing it is hard for schools to make time in an already crowded curriculum.  Is it time to now broaden our understanding of literacy and focus more on skills that build the resilience and emotional wellbeing of young people? In Dr Ainley’s report on NAPLAN, he questions whether we should have more focus on critical thinking and problem-solving skills (in line with international trends). We need to move on from old definitions that focus only on reading literacy. Many schools in Victoria now take a “whole school” approach and allocate more teaching time for reading. It is these kinds of programs and more intensive interventions for young people who are struggling that make the difference – not the NAPLAN testing. And perhaps it’s also time to reflect on the good job our teachers and schools do in terms of supporting our children and ensure they have adequate funding. Instead, we continue to see deep cuts in funding for local schools, despite the Gonski review which held such promise for our education system.

Annual Seminar 2017 - Mental health and wellbeing in a digital age


We were delighted by the fantastic turnout at our 2017 Annual Seminar on September 1, which focussed on supporting young people's mental wellbeing in an increasingly connected world.  We had a wonderfully diverse range of attendees, including parents, educators, social workers, charities and mental health professionals, from throughout Victoria.

Many thanks to everybody who attended, as well as all those who made this seminar possible. We are most grateful to Brighton Grammar School for hosting us in their beautiful new Wellbeing Centre; to Sally Pryde of the Department of Education and Training; and to Tim Wilson, federal MP for the electorate of Goldstein, who officially opened the seminar and kicked the day off to a great start.

And of course, all praise is due to our brilliant speakers and their relevant and engaging insights into student wellbeing:

  • Christine Ireland, past president of the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented, who spoke about social and emotional issues facing high-achieving students
  • Josh Reid Jones, founder of the Just Be Nice project, who discussed the project's focus on social responsibility and providing equal opportunity through housing, employment and mental health
  • Dr. Glen Melvin, senior lecturer and clinical psychologist at the Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry and Psychology, who discussed anxiety in children and ways of supporting children's mental health using a range of phone apps
  • Martine Oglethorpe, Accredited eSafety Presenter at Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner, who discussed digital resilience and potential online traps for young people
  • Casper Pieters, of SOOCed, who spoke about how parents can support their children to became safe and responsible digital citizens
  • Kylie Warry, lead trainer with Teamology, discussed how parents can assist their children in building resilience through a strengths-based approach

You can see more photos and read more about the Seminar over on our Facebook!