Planning for empowerment: A look to the future with Be You presented by Geri Sumpter, Kathryn Hopps and Elise Taylor.
Geri SumpterHello, everybody and welcome to our final session of our Be You Virtual Conference. So to those of you that have joined the earlier sessions and joined us yesterday, then welcome and welcome back. So it is our final session and we've really enjoyed learning with you over the last two days. My name is Geri Sumter. I'm the head of Be You Delivery at Beyond Blue, and I'm really delighted to host this conference wrap-up today and looking forward to spending the next 30 minutes with you. And I am absolutely delighted to have enlisted two other people to come along with me. So, Kathryn, I'll get you to introduce yourself.
Kathryn HoppsYes. Hello everyone again. I'm Kathryn and I am a Be You Consultant. I work for Early Childhood Australia, and I'm based here in Ngunnawal Country in Canberra.
Geri SumpterFantastic, thank you. And Elise.
Elise TaylorThanks, Geri. So my name is Elise Taylor. I am a Be You Consultant for headspace, and I'm also based in Canberra on Ngunnawal Country.
Geri SumpterFantastic, thank you. And we're really conscious that we continue to work in complex and sometimes uncertain times, and that more than ever supporting wellbeing is integral. So this discussion that we're having right now is our wrap-up of our conference, is really going to be thinking about where we've been over this past couple of days, getting your reflections on these past couple of days as well, and looking to the future with Be You. So thinking about the evolving education landscape and how Be You can continue to support mental health and wellbeing in learning communities.
So as we do get started, I'd like to Acknowledge that we're meeting on the land of the Ngunnawal People and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. And because we know that you are all over this beautiful country that we're in, and some of you are overseas, we would also like to Acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, waterways and community. And we pay our respects to the Peoples, cultures, and Elders past and present.
So if you'd like to talk about the lands that you're on and pay your respects, please do so in our discussion forum. Now our discussion forum really is going to be an integral part of what we're doing in this session. It is a very relaxed end of the day session, considering it is the wind-up, and so we really want to hear your reflections. So please be as active as you'd like to be in that discussion forum. As you do so, please remember that the discussion forum is an open slather and so we do need to make sure that we're all being respectful and we're thinking about the confidentiality and the privacy of the comments that we're making as well in that place, please. And so we can be nice and mentally healthy and safe within that space for each other.
It is a time as the conference is closing that we do need to remember to do that bit of a check in on ourselves. So how are you feeling Kathryn? In terms of the conference in your warp-up?
Kathryn HoppsAh, I think I'm tired from all the preparation and the behind the scenes stuff. It's been a big thing to put together, but I do feel, I'm feeling accomplished in terms of I've done a session today and had some wonderful feedback. And I'm feeling really invigorated too and inspired by all of the sessions, but also all of the ideas and sharing and insights that have been in the live discussion forum by everyone that's attended. And just even seeing now, like everyone joining from all over the country, it's really lovely to see. Yeah, so lots of different feelings, and all good and positive ones.
Geri SumpterFantastic. How about you, Elise?
Elise TaylorI'm feeling exhilarated. I think I'm still having just done the last session, I'm still feeling very, very exhilarated from that. But yeah, it's fantastic as you were saying, Kathryn, to see who we have coming in from all over the country. A lot of those Lands I recognise from across our work in Be You, so it's wonderful to see that we've had such a range of people join us from across the country.
Geri SumpterYeah. Fantastic. And just looking at some of the discussion there as well that we're seeing. People have been enjoying the reflection, enjoying the conversation. And I love that comment, thank you, Virginia. Excellent two days, nourishes the mind and soul. And I'm feeling very proud that we're in this position and the privileged position within Be You to be able to share this wealth of information with you and have such a fantastic workforce and guest speakers and subject matter experts that have joined us over the conference to share those experiences as well. Absolutely fantastic.
And as we are in this space, looking at the mental health services and support slides that you'll be seeing on there, that is one of our Be You resources. It is there for those of you that may not be feeling quite in this same space as we are sitting here. If you do need some reflection and some space, then please reach out to trusted friends or colleagues. Or please do feel free to reach out to one of those supports if anything has come up for you across these past couple of days as well.
Okay, so the conference itself, it's been fantastic. So yesterday we did hear from a range of professionals on our day one theme, which was all about exploring empowerment and resilience and how they protect mental health. And today's sessions have really been around creating empowering learning environments. And it's our day where it's been streamed across the different education settings as well. So we do in Be You try to make things as practical as we can and give those practical examples that can really help you to take them away with you and put those into your own practices within your learning communities.
So just in terms of where you've been in this conversation, just pop your information in the chat around how you're feeling, what sort of actions you are being inspired to take within your learning communities and has this conference really helped you to consolidate your knowledge in this space? We'd really love to hear your feedback.
So what has been an action that you've, either of you, have learned over the past two days? Something that you've learnt by listening to the conference?
Kathryn HoppsI mean, there was so much. And some of those quotes, and I'm quite active using our Be You Virtual Conference hashtag on Twitter, and in a way that helps me summarise some of those key takeaways, but I think that a lot of our existing practices and things that we do, and I can see that happening in the discussion forum, are like we've been really affirmed and validated and yes, like we are really on the right track here. Our values and our philosophy at our school or early learning service or school age care really shows that we want to empower children. But also like for me, there's things that have been said in sessions that are, that have challenged me or made me feel a little bit uncomfortable or that I'll continue to think about, and then think about, well what can I do if I'd like to change? And thinking of my actions, like what am I going to do next? So I haven't got any solid actions at the moment, but I really like to continue having some of these conversations with our learning communities in some of our online spaces as well, and find out what people have done as a follow up from attending the conference. Or even finding out, for me, I'm going to ask people will you utilise our recordings to play with your team and have discussions with your team? So I'm quite interested to know how people will use their knowledge and little insights they've taken away to share with their whole learning community.
Geri SumpterYeah, fantastic. And Elise, have you seen anything come through in the chat that you'd like to highlight?
Elise TaylorYeah, there was a comment from Juliette a few minutes ago that was around how educators naturally do empower children and young people through their everyday practices. And I think they're, oh anyway, I think it was a really great comment because the work that I've done as a Be You Consultant I've definitely seen that in the schools that I've worked with. And I think that the engagement that we've had today, particularly from the session that I presented, it was incredible to see how excited educators were about this and I think it will be something to definitely take away into the conversations and beyond today, you know? As this theme of empowerment.
Geri SumpterYeah, fantastic. And looking at some of those things coming into the chat, and obviously you can all see those yourself as well, is there was a person whose name I missed there that was reflecting that they could do more. And I think it's around, you know, don't reflect backwards, reflect forwards into taking some of those actions and putting those into practice as you move on as well. And I think there's Julie's comment there talking about the conference has encouraged her to ensure the balance and wisdom around mental health and emotional wellbeing, as well as academic pursuits. And I can't remember who said it, it may even have been Julia Gillard in her presentation, or actually, I think it was Professor Helen Milroy saying wellbeing and mental health is fundamental to those academic outcomes as well. And I think that's where these go go hand in hand for us which is fantastic.
I did go to a few of the sessions, and obviously I sat in on a few as well. Professor Helen Milroy's was at the start of the conference and it was great having Helen there as our first Indigenous Australian doctor, which is quite phenomenal. And also as an Australian of the year for Western Australia last year. And Helen really unpacked empowerment and what I loved about Helen's session was that she was using that Indigenous artwork to really reflect what she was talking to as well. And talking about the importance of the child and the child's voice across all of those settings as well.
In your session, Kathryn, when we're talking about transitions, it was really around that connection to the role that everybody plays in their learning community and really calling out that the child, the family and the educator in terms of that holistic approach. And I'm sure you've got some commentary around the importance of those connections and indeed our Be You modules really reflect the importance of those connections right across the learning communities as well.
Kathryn HoppsAnd I think one thing, and I referred to Bronfenbrenner in my presentation, in that it's really important to understand that what's happening in a child or young person's surrounding environment does impact on their own mental health and wellbeing. So when we do also think about educators and families around transitions and supporting them as well, we are also supporting children. And actually linking back to Helen's keynote, Helen actually said that sometimes there are things that need to happen before a child can settle in for a day of teaching. So paying attention to transitions and attending to children's wellbeing first is really important because it's very difficult to be engaged and participate in a learning environment or to learn and to be in a classroom if you're not feeling okay. So if we pay attention to those daily transitions, and also paying attention to the wellbeing of educators and families as well, all impacts on children's wellbeing at the end of the day. So I was really glad that Helen actually specifically mentioned transitions in and in relation to wellbeing and how important that is. So, yeah, it was very thought provoking.
Geri SumpterFantastic. And what do you think about the engagement that we've had across the conference, Elise?
Elise TaylorI am amazed at the engagement that we've had and looking at all the comments come through in the chat just now. And I'm really excited to see those comments around educator wellbeing as well, which I think is really important and something that I know that, where I'm hearing a lot from the schools that I'm working with so I'm really glad to see that educators have picked up on that theme and we've got a lot of great resources on the Be You website around that to support. Because we know that educators need to be looking after themselves before they can be supporting others.
Geri SumpterYeah, they absolutely do. And I think some of the overarching pieces here are really helping us to think about not just the child wellbeing or the educator wellbeing, but the importance of that whole community, whole learning community approach as well. And the strength that comes when a whole learning community really does engage with an initiative like Be You. And really thinking about the holistic approach that it brings to us.
Lots coming through in the chat there that I can see as well. And really talking back to our Be You professional learning modules. So, which one's your favourite?
Kathryn HoppsOh, well, in preparation for this conference, absolutely the Empower module. And because I'm quite experienced in learning and talking and researching and the practice of transitions, but really thinking through an empowerment lens. So that was, that's probably my favourite at the moment. But fairly consistently the partnering with families [Family Partnerships]. I'm quite passionate about the importance of that and, just like I said, like when we do, when families do feel supported by education settings, that will impact positively on children and also impacts well on educators as well if they feel like they have positive relationships with families that really supports your own wellbeing. And thank you for mentioning actually, Geri, that Be You, our vision is about everyone reaching their best possible mental health. So yes we're about children and young people, but we very much have resources including our understanding mental health module, we have a specific topic about the wellbeing of educators. So there's lots of learning in our modules about how to support children's wellbeing, but actually both personally and professionally, we learn about our own, we're learning about mental health in Be You, and we can apply that to our ourselves, supporting our colleagues and even in our personal lives with our families, our own children, friends and neighbours as well. So, and the modules are really great because they're resources that you can come back to, like you might do them once, but then in a year's time, you've got new children and young people, you've got new families, you might've moved to a new learning community and they are great to revisit. So a resource that you can draw upon at lots of different times.
In terms of answering the question, at the minute, my favourite is Empower, and my probably second favourite is Understand because it's all about understanding mental health. And if we are going to break stigma around mental health, to build mental health literacy that particular module is a great one. For example, if you want to share something with your team or get things started at your place, understanding mental health is a great one.
Geri SumpterYeah, fantastic. And it really is a life skill that does apply not only in those educational settings, but also across the entire community as well. What about your favourite modules?
Elise TaylorSo my favourite modules would be the Early Support domain, so the Notice, Inquire and Provide modules. And I think that links, those modules link in very well with the language around the mental health session that we had earlier today with Chloe Ryan and Ami Raman as well. So I think really looking at the role that educators can take when noticing maybe some changes and the children and young people that they work with, inquiring sensitively, and then providing support that's appropriate to that role. So I think, and we can also look at that through a lens of empowerment as well and providing education to children and young people around how to notice signs in themselves or their peers when they might not be doing okay, how to have those conversations and how to provide support that's appropriate as a friend.
Geri SumpterYeah, that's right, because we know we're not diagnosing or treating, we just need to point people in the right direction, which is fantastic.
So, just to recap on the conference, and I'm loving seeing these comments in the chat as well about people looking forward to watching other sessions, just that reminder that the conference has all been recorded. So if there was a session that you didn't get to attend in these, especially in this sort of choose your own adventure sessions this afternoon, then you're able to go back, in probably about 30 days time, to jump on our website and have a look at all of the different sessions. You will be receiving an email when they are available, so you'll be prompted as to when that's available on the website for you. You'll also be getting a certificate of participation for joining us today. That will be emailed out to you in due course. And if you are in New South Wales or the ACT, then the conference has been a New South Wales Education Standards Authority, so NESA and the ACT Teacher Quality Institute, so TQI, has been an accredited event for those settings and more information around this can be found in our conference webpage and linked in the chat.
So it has been absolutely uplifting to see that we really are all committed to building this network of inclusive and empowering learning communities. And it will help us to achieve that best possible mental health of our children and young people across Australia, which is where we all want to see this things heading.
So when we did have Julia's video yesterday, and for those of you that did miss Julia Gillard's video she is posting that all over our socials with that video, so Julia's face will be ever present and you'll be able to see what Julia was talking about. So Julia was really explaining the work that Be You is doing to advocate for changes to the education system. So thinking about the system level response that we need to work within in relation to the sector.
So we know that, and you'll have all seen that over these past two years, that governments have really pledged record spending for mental health and have that focus on supporting children and young people. You may also be aware that the Australian Government has also released the first ever national children's mental health and wellbeing strategy last year. So we're looking forward to seeing what implementation of that strategy is going to look like in the future times.
So we know that the time is right for change. We know that just from the engagement that we've got with our conference and with the Be You initiative in general, that people are ready for this and it is that time for change and there's great intent from the government, including also our funder, the Department of Health in relation to the initiative, to make sure that the reforms across mental health are implemented in the right way so that everyone benefits.
We also know that at the moment wellbeing can be an add-on for many educators. We know that one of the barriers to engaging with Be You is by people being time poor, and we do try to make sure that our initiative is available for people at times when they can be available for this. And again, that's another one of the reasons why we record our conference. We understand that not all people can attend at all times. And that people in your position as you do go above and beyond to support our children and young people. So I think it's really good to know that we're all trying our best, we're all working in this space and it's great that we've got people like Julia Gillard advocating for changes that will support us all.
Any reflections on this evolving landscape?
Kathryn HoppsI think what you said there around educators being really time poor. And isn't it a real irony that we need to take some time to learn more about mental health to partner with families to support children's wellbeing yet, under a lot of pressure from daily operational demands of running an early learning service or school. So I think that advocacy is really important at a government level. And we do also hear from services that, OK so Be You supports educators to know, for example, to notice when a child may need mental health support and support a family, to perhaps reach out to their GP to go through the referrals but, particularly in rural and regional areas, those services just aren't there. So whilst we're building the capacity of education settings and educators and educators assisting families to seek help, it's not available when they reach out. So we've really got to close that loop in terms of all that hard work and emotional energy that goes into supporting a child, they can then gain the support that they need. So that's a really important one. I'm not sure what you're thinking, Elise?
Elise TaylorYeah. I mean, I think there's a lot that you spoke about just then, and I'm really glad to se that this is becoming more of a of a priority with that new strategy coming out. I think particularly for children under 12 there's a lot of work that can be done in terms of mental health support.
Geri SumpterAnd I think it's recognising those early years as an important stage as well.
Elise TaylorAbsolutely. Because we know that mental health concerns do typically start in the adolescence and so I think making sure that educators and families know the signs to look out for and how to access the support is really important. So I'm really encouraged to see that strategy and it fits really well with the work that we do here at Be You.
Geri SumpterIt absolutely does. It absolutely does.
So let's have a look now at where Be You going. So we've got a lot that is coming up for us and it's all around improving your experience. And that's my particular role within the initiative, as well, is making sure that experience for everyone that's engaging with us is adding value at every single stage and making life easier so that we can get those mentally healthy outcomes for the children and the young people.
So we are going to be using this conference to leverage into continuing the conversation in this space. And so you will see we've got lots of sessions and events coming up in Be You that will leverage some of the presentations that you've had over the past two days to really make sure that we can embed the information that you've gained for yourselves over the conference, or if you're watching any recorded sessions, and really start to think about where you might take some practical action in your education setting to enact some of your new learnings.
You will see also that we're also improving as an ongoing basis, our resources. And I'm very excited to share that we've got a big initiative undergoing at the moment in relation to our professional learning. We've taken on the feedback that our professional learning could be more bite-size, it could have more videos embedded. And following some of those adult learning principles that were being spoken about in one of our former sessions earlier on by Alicia and Kylie as well. And the first cabs off the rank in relation to this new sort of style of professional learning moving forward is going to be in the disaster recovery space. So heading into your field there Elise. And we should have that available for you as we head into the next financial year. With then a big overhaul of the rest of our professional learning coming over this next year as well. So we're very excited to receive all the feedback that you'll give us in relation to how you're feeling about our professional learning as we move on.
You might also know that obviously we've been focusing on educator wellbeing and we took some advice from Be You's actual national advisory council, where we've got a wealth of very experienced and high profile people that support our direction. They told us that we should really tap in to educator wellbeing. We listened to them, we listened to you as our educators and our audience, and we've been getting absolutely incredible feedback about how we've supported educator wellbeing. So we'll have more educator wellbeing resources coming out over this next year. Especially around how to really make early learning services and schools mentally healthy workplaces. So we know we've obviously got obligations in the workplace mental health space, and this will really be helping learning communities to understand practical steps that they can take. So again, it's all around thinking about the practical nature of the work that we can do moving forwards as well.
You'll know from if you were able to go to Elise's session or from work that we've been doing closely with communities that we are taking learnings from the Bushfire Response Program that we've talked to. And we're actually reframing that into information for learning communities around when they're affected by natural disaster or community trauma. So expanding out from just bushfires to think about what's happening more globally and what's happening across the Australian landscape. So we've got a natural disasters landing page now on the website. And we're looking forward to further populating that with more resources and practical examples, and really pushing that out as well to our sessions and events with our amazing Be You Consultants.
And we've also been working really closely with First Nation communities and in rural areas and we've developed a range of resources to support educators to adopt inclusive practices. And a key resource to look out for on our website is our Cultural Actions Catalogue. So anybody that's seen that one, if you want to put that one into the chat and your conversation around that, that would be much appreciated.
We've also got our Disability Inclusion Guide, that has been talked about, and we've also got lots of our practical implementation tools. I know some of them that have been talked about is our Implementation and Reflection Tool, that's a tool that is used a lot by the learning communities and with our Be You Consultants in hand as well.
And really I can't stress enough how much if you register as a whole learning community, you can get access to our amazing consultants who can help you understand how to best use these tools as well.
So in terms of what next for you coming out of our session, it really is around tapping into your consultant. The consultants have been highlighted through all our evaluation as being a key differentiator for our initiative. Really putting us out there as really be an effective and supportive for learning communities in relation to how you can practically implement Be You across your setting.
Our implementation sessions give, again, you access to those Be You Consultants, really helping to hear some tips and tricks and chances to ask your own questions in relation to where you might be in your particular journey as a Be You school or service as well.
Elise TaylorAnd we love hearing from you, so please do reach out.
Geri SumpterAbsolutely. Fantastic. Please get in touch with your consultants.
And so we are coming to the end, and I'm ever conscious of the clock ticking away here and wanting to make sure we do hear back from you as well. So, what is it, as we're right at the very end of this session, what is it that you're going to take away from this conference? So I want to do a quick Mentimeter, which is also a takeaway question. So what is something you're going to take away from the conference?
You can head to menti.com or you can use the QR code that's on your screen. And if you're on menti.com, the code is 2 1 3 7 1 0 4 9. You're able to submit multiple responses and some of your potential responses, really thinking about what next for you? How are you going to share this information with your colleagues? What would be your response Kathryn?
Kathryn HoppsSomething that I'm going to take away, or even that I've written down, some more quotes from Helen Milroy, like mastery turns into personal agency. So as a little takeaway, I'm going to be sharing that with other people as well. And if I could summarise our Be You Empower module, that's a really good quote. So in having conversations with Be You Action Team Leaders across the country, when we're talking about how we can support children's mental health and wellbeing. Having conversations about how do we support agency and mastery of skills in our sessions. And even just making that visible to families as well, that actually when a child feels like they can do something that's really, ad we notice them for that and point it out to them, that little things like that can really support mental health and wellbeing. So yeah, I'm going to take away that little quote, as well as a few others I've written down and blend that into my conversations with Be You Action Team Leaders in our online session.
Geri SumpterYeah, fantastic. And how about you, Elise?
Elise TaylorYeah, something that I mentioned in the session that we did earlier was around the Be You implementation reflection tool. And that has a whole Range of prompts and discussion questions that you can take back to your learning community and discuss with your fellow educators around some of the learnings that you've had from today and how you might start that journey In your learning community. Acknowledging that a lot of you are not starting that it's an ongoing process, but it's a good place to start.
Geri SumpterYeah, fantastic. So let's have a look at some of the results of the Mentimeter. What can we see in here? I can see the I am, I can, I do as being a great slogan. And I love that, that was from Helen. Very popular response there from across the board.
I'm not seeing the results of this coming up just yet, but I was seeing lots there coming through in the chat. And so it was, oh, here we go.
Offering choice. That's a really good one. Partnership. Using empowering to inspire. Oh, I love that one. Empowerment is so crucial to a child or teacher's success in a holistic way. Any particular one's called out for you?
Kathryn HoppsOh gosh, there's so much there, isn't there? Let's see.
Elise TaylorI think my favourite is, while you're reading that, listening to children's, oh it's just disappeared, listening to children's voices. I think that's something that's really important, what we've all been talking about today, is listening to the voices of children and young people.
Kathryn HoppsThere was a comment in there about not necessarily anything new being taken away, but being really affirmed. And I think that that is an empowering thing if you can come along to a conference and feel like you're affirmed and validated in your approach that you've already got and perhaps also that validation could help you advocate with colleagues and families and community that encouraging children's agency is really important and it's valuable here. And I've just been to a conference and it's really confirmed my understandings and beliefs about this. So that's an empowering thing to come away from a conference with, I think.
Geri SumpterYeah, fantastic.
Elise TaylorThere's a few comments there about sharing the power as well. Which I think is really interesting around sharing that power between educators and the children and young people that they work with.
Kathryn HoppsI really like being kind to yourself and others. And there's something that I think Geri said previously, when we are reflecting and realising, okay, there are some things I'd like to change, being kind and having self compassion to yourself. Like now I know something I didn't know before. Not beating ourselves up about I've never, I haven't empowered these particular children or families. It's like, okay, well now it's being kind of self. Alright, I now know something different, I've got that little bit more knowledge and I've reflected on my actions, but not, being too harsh on ourselves for how we were yesterday or five years ago, or, yeah, just moving forward. Maybe acknowledging a little bit of discomfort, but then moving forward and being kind to yourself.
Geri SumpterYeah, moving forward to put into practice. But what an absolutely fantastic bunch of things that we are going to take away. This is incredible.
So learning more about Be You is something that we'd love you to do. So if you haven't registered as a whole learning community, please do so. Just register online, get access to our fabulous consultants. You may find yourself talking directly to Elise and Kathryn. Think about how you can share this as an Action Team within your learning communities.
And think about joining our education voices. So education voices is our national group of educators, pre-service teachers, allied health professionals, that actually help us to advise and shape Be You moving forwards. So if you want to join education voices and have those opportunities to inform us about what we should do with our professional learning, for example, or jump into something to do with a tool that we might be creating. You'd be more than welcome and you can do that via a link in the chat that will be coming through to join. Or you can jump on our website. And of course you can keep up to date with us on our socials and through our EDMs.
So, thank you so much, everybody. It's been an absolutely incredible two days. I'm blown away by what's been talked about, what's been achieved and the incredible workforce that sits behind us here in Be You. So on behalf of the Be You team, I'd like to acknowledge the collective efforts of everyone that's played a role in the Be You Conference from Beyond Blue, headspace and Early Childhood Australia, as well as the Cliftons events team. We're really honoured to support learning communities across Australia to build mentally healthy communities.
So really grateful for your time. Thank you so much. Have an absolutely fantastic evening. Practice some self care the end of this, and that includes all of us as well. And we really look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks and goodbye.
End of transcript.
Planning for Empowerment: A look to the future with Be You
Last updated: July, 2022