2021 in the residential arena was a year full of challenges, resilience and wins. The year commenced with a residential program full of ambitious young people and energetic staff. As all houses grew with new young people, so did the sense of community, which embraced a strong focus on building and maintaining positive cultures.
The residential team continued to build on the quarterly review process for the young people. This has empowered them to reflect and take ownership of their programs. Dunlea’s young people were diligent in the preparation and participation in these reviews. Many parents were visibly proud of their children’s involvement in this process.
The first recognition ceremony of 2021 took place at the end of Term 1. New young people were officially welcomed to the residential program and several existing young people’s progress levels in the motivation system were acknowledged. Families enjoyed visiting residential houses and the Easter morning tea activities that transpired.
At the outset of Term 2, a sense of confidence permeated through the residential environment. Although Covid-19 was still lurking in the background, the residential staff forged ahead with enthusiasm and positivity. They busily taught to the individual goals and target skills of each young person, incorporating team building and ice breaker activities into the weekly routines. This had the pleasing effect of improving their peer relational skills.
In June, COVID lockdown was announced for schools in NSW. The residential team worked tirelessly to plan creative ways to engage the young people remotely. They scheduled regular evening phone calls and building zoom skills sessions. Maintaining activities in the virtual form kept the young people engaged with one another. The residential young people focused on skills they were already using at home and explored ways to further assist in the restrictive COVID situation. The residential team kept their teaching skills fresh to maximize student engagement.
Eagerly, staff and young people awaited the return to school, face to face, at the commencement of Term 4. Although this was slightly delayed, 93% of residential young people returned on the first official day back. A big effort was made by everyone to regain a sense of normality and structure, which had been lost because of the lockdowns. The majority of young people transitioned well with only a few experiencing minor setbacks. The residential staff worked closely with the families in reestablishing routines and expectations.
As the year drew to a close, the final recognition ceremony was able to go ahead on a bright sunny Friday morning. Nonetheless, by the time the ceremony commenced, the heavens decided to open wide and furiously and a wild storm ensued. It did not dampen festivities though, as the hard work and commitment displayed by Dunlea young people throughout the year, was acknowledged and witnessed by proud parents, carers and staff.
We wish the graduates of 2021 every success and look forward to 2022 and what’s to come!