Last week while visiting Collie and Bunbury I was able to speak to a number of children and young people and people that work to support them about the benefits and challenges of living in the South West.
In Collie the students at Wilson Park Primary School explained how they like having a safe and caring school and I was pleased to hear from principal Chris Gorman about the Positive Behaviour Support program, which is helping to improve the self-esteem of the students.
In Bunbury I attended and spoke with a group of mothers and staff at the new Carey Park Child and Parent Centre. This centre is one of 16 centres announced by the State Government that will offer vital health, child development and parenting services for pre-kindergarten children and their parents. It was excellent to see the facility already being so well used by local families.
I also met with about 30 student representatives from Newton Moore Senior High School spanning Years 8 to 12, including members of the student executive. I had some interesting conversations with these students discussing what it is like to live in Bunbury and what is important to them. During my meeting with the student executive team, we spoke about leadership and how being a good role model for younger students can positively impact lives.
The Year 6 students at the Djidi Djidi Aboriginal School in Bunbury were particularly proud to speak about how their school promotes the learning of the Noongar language and Aboriginal culture. I was interested to hear about the MindUP program, which is teaching students skills such as how to focus before commencing class time.
In my many meetings with staff from government and non-government agencies the issue of access to support services was raised on many occasions, including mental health services.
The new Bunbury headspace is providing much-needed local support and has reached out to many local young people, but mental health is an area of significant need, particularly for those young people living outside of Bunbury.
We still have a long way to go to ensure that regional children, young people and families have access to a full range of services and support, including preventative programs that strengthen mental health to prevent problems arising in the first place.
I will be sharing in more detail my experiences and learnings from my South West visit and will release a report soon.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to speak with me. It was very rewarding to meet with such enthusiastic people.
Acting Commissioner for Children and Young People