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Backgrounder - Violence Prevention Awards - the good f-words: fun, friendship and fellowship

Media Release

24 November 1998

A couple of years ago, Hampstead Primary School was considered disadvantaged. But one simple idea changed all that with a profound and lasting impact on its students, teachers and parents, as well as its local community and communities across Australia.

In 1995, the school community was concerned by high levels of vandalism, graffiti, break-ins and gang intimidation, and amongst the students physical fighting, harassment and teasing had reached an all time high.

Today, children and adults are thriving. The community is proud that the previous culture has been replaced by an atmosphere of empowerment, unity, pride, respect, tolerance and compassion.

The incidence and severity of violence in the school and the community have been dramatically reduced. Families are healthier and happier. Academic levels have improved, and the physical appearance and public image of the school have improved.

How did this remarkable turnaround come about? The school established the project, And the Band Played On... And On, in the belief that:

  • schools have a responsibility to create a safe environment, free of fear, violence and prejudice, and to develop the skills for productive citizenship and leadership; and
  • all members of a school community have a responsibility to participate in and contribute to the greater well-being of the school, local and wider community.

School policies were reviewed and updated, and early intervention programs were established. Staff embarked on professional development and began working in supportive teaching teams. Students focussed on improving literacy, performing arts and social skills. Parents were supported with conflict resolution and parenting skills.

The Bushband, featuring singers from the school performing with a community band, was developed to build self-esteem, morale and link the school more to the community.

"All this resulted in tremendous positive energy and excitement in the school. At that point the children decided to focus on helping other people and working towards a safer society", said Christine Kerslake, School Principal.

The school has since fundraised and performed for many communities around Australia, such as Port Arthur, the Child/Adolescent Mental Health Unit of the Women's & Children's Hospital, drought affected communities, Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory and isolated communities of the Nullarbor.

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