2020 started positively and Dunlea Centre’s Residential Houses had significant plans for the year ahead. The agency had recommenced after a challenging summer holiday period where many parts of Australia were declared states-of-disaster.
These included a series of unprecedented calamities with severe bush fires, wild hail storms and widespread flooding leading to major evacuations in many parts of the country. The damage and destruction these adversities incurred would be quickly usurped in late January, by the confirmation of the first Australian case
The Leadership Team commenced navigating a path through these demanding times whilst it gradually dawned on the world that a major pandemic was unfolding. Meanwhile, Dunlea young people resumed with energy, enthusiasm and a new sense of attitudinal maturity. A culture of fervour and eagerness permeated across the Houses as previous students welcomed the newly enrolled with care and kindness. Notably, self-reflection and skill development being at the forefront of everyone’s thinking.
Keeping in mind all the skills development, the residential team and young people focused heavily on developing review meetings. These discussions are prepared and facilitated by the young person, with a Residential youth worker and parents/carers in attendance. The focus of each meeting is about recognising and presenting academic achievements, feedback, praise and future goal setting. The intention is for young people to take ownership of their individual goals and their respective progress.
Twenty-two students successfully completed the ROSA in 2020. This was the largest cohort of year 10 students to achieve this milestone in any given academic year at Dunlea. This distended number led to deliberations over extending current services beyond year 10. A successful application to NESA late last year has allowed the Agency the opportunity to deliver Stage 6, Preliminary and HSC from 2021. This is an exciting new chapter for Dunlea Centre as it will be able to support students in attaining an HSC qualification, with the option of an ATAR.
Not to be deterred by the global pandemic and the restrictions placed upon workplaces and life in general, engagement with families was still maintained. This was accomplished in a COVID creative way, primarily via zoom meetings and phone conversations. The latter part of 2020 witnessed an increase in more regular face-to-face contact culminating in an end-of-year social event in each House once COVID restrictions were eased. This involved young people and residential staff catering and entertaining for parents and carers, which was by all indicators, overwhelmingly successful.
The ongoing feedback received from young people, parents and carers has been extremely positive.