Does suspension change behaviour?
When I first came to RISE, I was very in my own world. I was extremely shy, and barely spoke".
“Within three months, by just going to RISE three days a week, the community and our teacher really helped me come out of my shell. I’m now a successful trainee in childcare, my dream job at the age of 15."
*Amelia (name changed) is a RISE participant who suffered debilitating anxiety before starting at RISE. Unable to cope in the classroom she withdrew from friends, family and school until she was suspended.
At RISE, Amelia was able to gently restore her confidence. Connected with local health and community organisations, Amelia found her strengths in structuring activities and ability to lead young people in groups.
A 2018 SMH investigation revealed a disturbing trend in south-western Sydney schools who recorded over 9560 short and long-term suspensions in 2016, almost four times more than other areas of Sydney.
There are 35 Department of Education learning centres statewide which translates to only 500 places in NSW. With 6550 students facing repeat suspensions in south western
Sydney alone, more alternative education services are required to to help these students at risk of long-term welfare.
A 2017 NSW Ombudsman report noted the ‘benefit of smaller class sizes and personalised support for some students, such as those with substantial trauma, and/or with complex mental health concerns and calls for more places’.
Tightly resourced schools are not always in a position to support these students. Research found that students were still suspended despite child protection risks at home in situations of domestic or family violence, less than half (43%) receive welfare strategies and other disciplinary measures prior to suspension.
The RISE program began five years ago when Sydney Community Foundation was invited to consult with the community and find out what they needed.
Young people suspended from school were identified as the greatest community challenge, so RISE was co-designed with leading youth charity Whitelion who now run the program.
Sydney Community Foundation with Be Kind Sydney have now also introduced RISE Junior for primary students. run by Save the Children in response to calls by community.