Brisbane Catholic Education schools proudly participate in the Defence School Mentor (DSM) Program and are committed to providing a range of services and support assisting children of Australian Defence Force (ADF) families make the smooth transition to a new Catholic school.
The program provides mentors who are dedicated to helping families navigate the enrolment process, guiding them through and obtaining resources to ensure students arrive at school with the correct uniform, books, and stationery.
They also assist ADF parents and students to become familiar with their new school and its community providing support in making connections and forming friendships.
Brisbane Catholic Education schools from Ipswich to Mitchelton work closely with both the RAAF Base at Amberley and the Australian Army Barracks at Enoggera to provide care for Defence families moving to Queensland.
Defence School Mentor, Kerri Wilson, from Our Lady of Dolours School in Mitchelton works with teachers and staff to support the transition of Defence families into the school community by hosting various activities, such as Kids Club, morning teas and picnics.
Mrs Wilson said the whole school community benefits greatly from the program.
“Having this program in place helps to strengthen our small and caring community of Defence families.”
“As a whole, our school community comes together to provide support for the children and families of our defence population,” she said.
Close to RAAF Base Amberley in Ipswich, St Mary’s College and St Mary’s Primary School provides defence students a safe environment to learn and grow.
Defence School Mentor, Kristal Lane, works with close to 100 students from Defence families across both schools.
She provides continuity in her care, supporting students through times of parental absence due to deployment, as well as with the transition from primary to secondary school.
Ms Lane meets regularly with Defence students, in groups and one-on-one, to provide assistance and support as needed.
This year, the primary school and college Defence students collaborated in an art project to transform a garden connecting the two schools into a memorial space they called Poppy Place.
With funding provided by the schools’ Parents and Friends Associations, the local council and local businesses, the garden was designed for reflection and remembrance.
The space includes a giant Flanders Fields mural, a memorial stone, poppy craft, mosaics, and bench seating.
“Working on the project provided our Defence students a safe and relaxing area to work with students in similar situations to themselves – times of absence and mobility due to posting,” Mrs Lane said.