Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Banksia Gardens Community Services

ProjectProject REAL (Re-Engagement in Education And Learning)




This grant was approved under previous grants policy
Building organisational capacity Develop a solid therapeutic engagement framework utilising performance arts and new trend sports as key tools
Extending opportunity Provide young people disengaged from the mainstream school system with an opportunity to complete their education and reach their full potential
Collaboration and partnership Outer Urban Projects, The Gateway School, 11 primary schools, Good Samaritan PS, Dianella Community Health, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Berry Street Education Program

An innovative community-led initiative deals with the emerging problem of school absenteeism at a young age

Project REAL responds to the alarming increase in the number of young people in the Hume region disengaging from education before they are even into their teens. Leveraging an earlier HMSTrust grant, Banksia Gardens Community Services is working with Outer Urban Projects and other supporting organisations to trial a new therapeutic re-engagement education model.

Image Project REAL operates from two donated portable classrooms in the grounds of Banksia Gardens Community Services.

In the 2015 academic year, more than 25 children aged 9-12yrs in the Hume region spent extended periods of time away from school, either as a result of absenteeism, suspension or expulsions. Without adequate supervision, many of these at risk students engage in highly problematic and challenging behaviours. The core aim is to provide them with an alternate education setting and connect them to health and other services as needed before ultimately re-engaging them with mainstream education.

  • The previous HMSTrust grant to Banksia Gardens initiated partnership activities, enabling leverage of further funding and partnerships.
  • Outer Urban Projects will play a key role in reconnecting students to schooling through their arts engagement programs.
  • The two organisations, together with the Gateway School and Dianella Community Health, will work collaboratively with 11 local primary schools to engage those students that are identified as highest risk.
  • The Gateway School is establishing a specific program for secondary students under 15.
  • A capacity building, specialist support and peer review component to support local schools will be included. Berry Street Childhood Institute will deliver the Berry Street Education Model, a Trauma Informed Positive Education module, to teachers.
  • Curriculum development and teacher training commenced in Term 4 of 2016 with students commencing at the start of the 2017 school year.
  • Brotherhood of St Laurence joined the project to implement and undertake a rigorous evaluation framework to assist with ongoing sustainability.



"The grant was absolutely instrumental in the Project REAL journey. Not only was HMSTrust the first philanthropic organisation to financially support our proposal, they also provided us with resources, advice and contacts that allowed us to make this project a reality." Jaime de Loma-Osorio Ricon, Deputy CEO, BGCS