Ciantar House students travel from all over Sydney and the Illawarra to attend Dunlea Centre.
Despite being from different backgrounds and experiences, all share a common goal to make positive changes in their lives. They have been learning new skills and strategies to improve communication and how to better respond to challenging situations in their lives. Many had great achievements in 2019 and want to share with you the ways in which the new Teaching Family Model has impacted their lives and encouraged positive change.
Following are some testimonies from the boys in Ciantar House:
“Life at my old school was not enjoyable. I was bullied every day and at one point, I was having anxiety attacks every morning. I didn’t want to go to school and I spent a lot of time at home missing out on school.
I wanted to come to Dunlea and learn new skills that would help me manage my anxiety and bullying issues. When I started attending Dunlea Centre, I found it daunting being so far away from home without my family. The staff were helpful and taught me new skills. I started attending school every day and became more confident interacting with the other students here. When I had issues with others, I started to practise the skill of responding to teasing. I used relaxation strategies to remain calm. I became more assertive in asking the person to stop doing what they were doing and if the behaviour didn’t stop, I was more confident in telling staff and asking how to best manage the situation.
Now I am at the end of my program and transitioning back to home and my old school. Learning these new skills has made me feel more confident that I will be able to deal with any bullying issues that may arise and manage any anxiety that sneaks up on me.”
“Before coming to Dunlea Centre I was missing a lot of school because I wanted to avoid getting into trouble. I was always getting into arguments and my relationship with Mum was getting really stressful and it was upsetting for my little brother.
When I came to Dunlea I liked it straight away. It gave me a fresh start and a break from life at home. I’m friends with all the guys in Ciantar so it’s great to be around people I like all day, every day. I really enjoy the amount of sport and games we play because it helps me relax and think clearly. All the staff are really helpful and supportive – just like right now writing this report I’m getting help – back at my old school I would have written three sentences and then given up.
I think one of the really useful skills I’ve learnt so far is Reading Social Cues. I used to know when Mum was frustrated or angry but I never used to take much notice of anyone else. I am a lot better at really looking closely at people’s faces and body language and figuring out how they’re feeling. Now if I think I can help I will ask if they’re ok.
I am definitely looking forward to next year at Dunlea. I want to start working on weekends and in the school holidays. I like the idea of working on building sites and places like that. I want to be a strong role model for new guys coming into the program. I already know how everything works and what the expectations are and I think I could give them good advice.”
“Before Dunlea, I was getting in trouble in school and outside of school.
The first big skill I learnt in my first few days at Dunlea was accepting “No” for answer. Whenever I used to hear “No” I would struggle to control my anger because I felt like people were trying to control me and not let me make my own choices. I slowly learnt to make better eye contact, actually listen to the reason why and show that I understood by saying “Okay”.
I now understand that being told “No” is a big part of growing up, finishing school and getting a job. This has helped me in a lot of situations already, and I can see it will help me as I continue to grow up.
Since I’ve been here I have learnt a lot about anger management skills and identifying my emotions. I recognise I’m still learning and there is a lot of work ahead, but helping to learn what emotion I am actually feeling has helped me manage situations. Where previously I would have typically identified a feeling of anger, I now know I could have been worried or nervous.
I have felt a sense of belonging at Dunlea Centre which has helped me make an effort to change. I now feel comfortable and think I have a real future here next year and beyond.”
“My life before Dunlea meant not going to school very much and getting into trouble outside of school.
I started at Dunlea before we changed over to the Boys Town social skills model so I have seen lots of things change. I felt like everything got turned upside down and it made me consider my perspective on being here. Slowly I got used to things by learning the skill of Coping with Change and then I also started to notice the other really positive skills I was learning. Dunlea allowed me to take the steps of staying calm and feel supported. Now I try really hard to talk about how I’m feeling and not fall back into becoming too angry
When I stop and think about all the changes that have happened to me in 2019, I feel proud of myself. I now have a part time job and I have made some really good friends. I am really loving music and learning guitar and I am looking forward to finishing Year 10 next year.”
“I wasn’t doing very well before starting at Dunlea.
I have been at Dunlea for 6 months and it has definitely changed the way I behave. A big part of my change has been about learning to choose better friends. When I make friends now I really look at how they act, what values they have and I think about the consequences of having them in my life.
I love Dunlea Centre. I have heaps of friends. I get to choose what we have for dinner at House meetings. I like classes because of the small groups and the attention teachers can give me if I need extra help. I really enjoy being around all the staff because they’re happy, understanding and get what I’m going through. Dunlea is very structured which is different for me as I never used to live by a schedule. I really like knowing what is happening and what I’m doing next. It makes life so much easier.
This is not easy for me to say but without Dunlea I would not have had much of a future. I am so grateful for how my life has changed. Now I can really see why the motto of the Program is “A Place for Change”.”