Children empowered by partnerships bring about change

March 2020

Children empowered by partnerships bring about change


Signs reading "this is a safe place" at services and schools in the Bridgewater area, and a repainted underpass neat the East Derwent Primary School are the result of children taking the lead in a project to improve their safety, supported by local organisations working in partnership.

In 2017, a partnership between Centacare Evolve Housing and The Salvation Army Communities for Children Program empowered children from Gagebrook, Herdsmans Cove and East Derwent

Primary Schools to identify spaces in which they felt safe, and make steps towards improving the safety of spaces for young people.

The Safety Signs project tapped into biennial safety mapping that The Salvation Army Communities for Children Program conducted with children in the area. The mapping asked local children to identify areas where they do, or do not, feel safe. During that mapping exercise, the children came up

with ideas for how to make the area safe. Their ideas were taken to the Centacare Evolve Housing Community Development Engagement Reference Group (CDERG), which is a locally-based group of service providers, community members and tenants of social housing.

Sheryl Rainbird, Community Development Officer with Centacare Evolve Housing, describes how the ideas were brought to life.

“One child had said: ‘I just need someone to tell me where it’s safe so that I know where it’s safe.’ The members of CDERG heard this child’s response and decided to help.”

The group applied for a Calvary Hospital community grant for money to be able to develop signs indicating a safe place.

Student representatives from each school drew designs, which were used by CatholicCare Tasmania graphic designer Sue Medlock to create the final artwork. The students then nominated organisations at which they felt safe, and so should receive a Safety Sign.

“There’s one at the library, there’s one at tagari lia [child and family centre], there’s one at each of the primary schools because they felt safe there. The fire brigade’s got one,” Sheryl said.

“We had a big ceremony at the civic centre and the kids presented the signs to those organisations.”

The plan was to have the children inform the other students at their school about the safe places identified by the Safety Signs. However, it wasn’t only the children who benefited from the project.

“The anecdotal evidence from the library [was that] they were having more children coming in, and they didn’t know whether it was because the Safety Sign was there or not,” Sheryl explained.

“But the fire brigade, for instance, was so proud to have the Safety Sign. They were really proud that the children had nominated them to have a Safety Sign.

“So as much as it was about the children, it actually mattered a lot to the services as well. And a local police inspector at the time…said that if it’s safe for children, it’s safe for everyone. Something we don’t think about.”

UNDERPASS REPAINTED

A second student-led safety project in the area was to repaint the underpass on Bowden Drive to make it colourful, brighter and safer for students.

The underpass is used every day by students going to and from East Derwent Primary School. It was identified by them as unsafe and the children were avoiding it on their daily commute to school.

“It had a black roof, and it was pretty dark. So if you were little, it was pretty scary,” Sheryl said.

In response to this, students from the school designed murals and raised money to purchase paint, while an artist was engaged to take the children’s ideas and bring them to life. During their school holidays, Student Leadership Representatives from the school took part in the repainting, which resulted in a lighter and more fun approach to the school.

“Once again, the kids took the lead,” Sheryl said. “They came in the school holidays and painted.”

In a collaborative effort, the Brighton Council had the underpass cleared and railing installed; Centacare Evolve Housing liaised with Wayston Building Services to paint a lighter undercoat on the underpass; and The Salvation Army provided food, a protective coating for the mural, and paid for an artist to work with the children.

Following the repainting, there is evidence that people are respecting the murals and that students are no longer avoiding the underpass.

“It’s bright, it’s certainly a lot brighter,” Sheryl said. Spearheaded by the students themselves, the Safety Signs and underpass repainting projects demonstrate the ability of children to affect positive change within their community, supported by partnerships across place-based organisations.

“[The children] took the lead and, as adults, we were just the supporting role,” Sheryl said.

Following the initial work, other community groups and organisations such as St Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Bridgewater have become involved and continued the work. The initial safety mapping uncovered that children from other schools felt unsafe in the front of St Paul’s because of parents driving and the busyness of the street. St Paul’s ran a series of sessions with the school and responded to the children’s concerns and ideas.

In 2020, children from across the community continue to be listened to about their safety concerns, and to be involved in the solutions for positive change.

Recent News

Minister for Human Services commends Cat

On Friday, 16 October, the CatholicCare Tasmania Leadership Team welcomed supporters and media to its 60 Years of Servic...

Anti-Poverty Week launch

At the launch of Anti-Poverty Week on October 13 in Hobart, Tasmanian actor John X spoke about the crucial need to act o...

Migrants and refugees supported to start

Migrants and refugees supported to start small market businessesA group of refugees and people from migrant backgrounds ...

Other news you may also be interested

On Friday, 16 October, the CatholicCare Tasmania Leadership Team welcomed supporters and media to its 60 Years of Service campaign launch. Special ...

Minister for Human Services commends CatholicCare Tasmania for its 60 years of service

On Friday, 16 October, the CatholicCare Tasmania Leadership Team welcomed supporters and media to its 60 Years of Service campaign launch. Special ...

At the launch of Anti-Poverty Week on October 13 in Hobart, Tasmanian actor John X spoke about the crucial need to act on poverty “this year more t...

Anti-Poverty Week launch

At the launch of Anti-Poverty Week on October 13 in Hobart, Tasmanian actor John X spoke about the crucial need to act on poverty “this year more t...

Migrants and refugees supported to start small market businessesA group of refugees and people from migrant backgrounds wil...

Migrants and refugees supported to start small market businesses

Migrants and refugees supported to start small market businessesA group of refugees and people from migrant backgrounds wil...

Children empowered by partnerships bring about change

Posted in News & Media

Children empowered by partnerships bring about change


Signs reading "this is a safe place" at services and schools in the Bridgewater area, and a repainted underpass neat the East Derwent Primary School are the result of children taking the lead in a project to improve their safety, supported by local organisations working in partnership.

In 2017, a partnership between Centacare Evolve Housing and The Salvation Army Communities for Children Program empowered children from Gagebrook, Herdsmans Cove and East Derwent

Primary Schools to identify spaces in which they felt safe, and make steps towards improving the safety of spaces for young people.

The Safety Signs project tapped into biennial safety mapping that The Salvation Army Communities for Children Program conducted with children in the area. The mapping asked local children to identify areas where they do, or do not, feel safe. During that mapping exercise, the children came up

with ideas for how to make the area safe. Their ideas were taken to the Centacare Evolve Housing Community Development Engagement Reference Group (CDERG), which is a locally-based group of service providers, community members and tenants of social housing.

Sheryl Rainbird, Community Development Officer with Centacare Evolve Housing, describes how the ideas were brought to life.

“One child had said: ‘I just need someone to tell me where it’s safe so that I know where it’s safe.’ The members of CDERG heard this child’s response and decided to help.”

The group applied for a Calvary Hospital community grant for money to be able to develop signs indicating a safe place.

Student representatives from each school drew designs, which were used by CatholicCare Tasmania graphic designer Sue Medlock to create the final artwork. The students then nominated organisations at which they felt safe, and so should receive a Safety Sign.

“There’s one at the library, there’s one at tagari lia [child and family centre], there’s one at each of the primary schools because they felt safe there. The fire brigade’s got one,” Sheryl said.

“We had a big ceremony at the civic centre and the kids presented the signs to those organisations.”

The plan was to have the children inform the other students at their school about the safe places identified by the Safety Signs. However, it wasn’t only the children who benefited from the project.

“The anecdotal evidence from the library [was that] they were having more children coming in, and they didn’t know whether it was because the Safety Sign was there or not,” Sheryl explained.

“But the fire brigade, for instance, was so proud to have the Safety Sign. They were really proud that the children had nominated them to have a Safety Sign.

“So as much as it was about the children, it actually mattered a lot to the services as well. And a local police inspector at the time…said that if it’s safe for children, it’s safe for everyone. Something we don’t think about.”

UNDERPASS REPAINTED

A second student-led safety project in the area was to repaint the underpass on Bowden Drive to make it colourful, brighter and safer for students.

The underpass is used every day by students going to and from East Derwent Primary School. It was identified by them as unsafe and the children were avoiding it on their daily commute to school.

“It had a black roof, and it was pretty dark. So if you were little, it was pretty scary,” Sheryl said.

In response to this, students from the school designed murals and raised money to purchase paint, while an artist was engaged to take the children’s ideas and bring them to life. During their school holidays, Student Leadership Representatives from the school took part in the repainting, which resulted in a lighter and more fun approach to the school.

“Once again, the kids took the lead,” Sheryl said. “They came in the school holidays and painted.”

In a collaborative effort, the Brighton Council had the underpass cleared and railing installed; Centacare Evolve Housing liaised with Wayston Building Services to paint a lighter undercoat on the underpass; and The Salvation Army provided food, a protective coating for the mural, and paid for an artist to work with the children.

Following the repainting, there is evidence that people are respecting the murals and that students are no longer avoiding the underpass.

“It’s bright, it’s certainly a lot brighter,” Sheryl said. Spearheaded by the students themselves, the Safety Signs and underpass repainting projects demonstrate the ability of children to affect positive change within their community, supported by partnerships across place-based organisations.

“[The children] took the lead and, as adults, we were just the supporting role,” Sheryl said.

Following the initial work, other community groups and organisations such as St Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Bridgewater have become involved and continued the work. The initial safety mapping uncovered that children from other schools felt unsafe in the front of St Paul’s because of parents driving and the busyness of the street. St Paul’s ran a series of sessions with the school and responded to the children’s concerns and ideas.

In 2020, children from across the community continue to be listened to about their safety concerns, and to be involved in the solutions for positive change.