Brekky @ The Hub

Lameroo Regional Community School (LRCS) in the South Australian Mallee has a student population of close to 200 from Kindy to Year 12. About 40 kms east is the Pinnaroo Primary School and equidistant to the west is Geranium Primary School. Secondary students from these schools travel firstly by bus to their own school and are then bussed to Lameroo. This amounts to quite a considerable amount of travel time before they reach LRCS, equating to an early start to the day.

Outdoor brekky @ The Hub

In 2018, it was noticed that some students, in the circumstances described, were not eating breakfast – none-at-all, or very little. At the instigation of the Pastoral Care Worker (PCW), the PCW Support Group helped to provide the necessities to offer these children a basic breakfast. It consists of toast, Vegemite or jam, cereals and sometimes fruit. It is provided two mornings a week from 8.30am until morning bell. The average attendance for breakfast is 22 children and, of the nearly 200 student population, 104 different children have taken part in the past year. All children are welcome and there is no discrimination between those who eat breakfast or those who just come in for a chat or a piece of toast. Once a term a hot breakfast is supplied. In Term 1, pancakes with trimmings were cooked on Shrove Tuesday and this provided the opportunity to offer a pamphlet on Shrove Tuesday from the LLL Tract Mission.

“The Hub” is a room in the centre of the school which has the offices of the PCW and the Wellbeing Leader. It also has a shared space where “Brekky @ The Hub” occurs. Of course, COVID impacted on the program when social distancing was enforced, but then, resourcefully, breakfast was held outdoors to keep the program running.

The PCW Support Group consists of a representative from each of the denominations in Lameroo – Uniting, Catholic, Mallee Life, Lutheran and Anglican (until their recent closure). They arrange fundraising activities and liaise with their own congregations to provide funds for the program requirements of the PCW. The Lutheran congregation was encouraged to bring non-perishable goods to their Harvest Festival Service which were then donated to the PCW in support of the breakfast program. Other denominations do likewise. Food is also sourced from Foodbank and individuals generously supply fruit in season.

A quote from a parent:

“As a parent of a student who often does not eat breakfast as she is up early to catch a bus, our family has found the breakfast program to be of great importance. It provides an opportunity for students to access a quick/healthy food option before going to class. I also commend the program on the way it is setup, in-so-far as students who use the service are not singled out or shamed for accessing the program. It has a culture of ‘food available for all’. Specific benefits I have witnessed, resulting from this, are improved emotional capacity and therefore improved willingness to learn and engage.”

A quote from a staff member:

“I get a general good vibe and positivity around the yard each morning there is ‘brekky’.”

The PCW’s role extends much further than providing breakfast. Support is provided to a wide range of children from the age of four- to 18-year-olds. The PCW works under the umbrella of the Schools Ministry Group (SMG) who coordinate and facilitate Chaplaincy Services in government schools in South Australia which commenced in 1986. The PCWs are funded from two main sources – the Federal Government and the local church communities. Chaplaincy services promote student wellbeing, and the benefits have been shown in better attendance at school where a safe and caring environment is experienced.

Students today face a more complex and challenging environment than ever before. Their anxiety levels are very high and COVID has certainly complicated the issue. Children sense the stresses experienced all around them. The PCW can be a role model of social and emotional support, mentoring and providing support in times of crisis as well as being a referral to other support services. Each child is regarded as an individual who is a person of worth and has some gifts to offer the community. The PCW offers genuine compassion, understanding and practical ongoing support to assist each child to reach their potential.

Teachers are also in need of support, and this is another dimension to add to the role of the PCW. If there is an unsettled child in the classroom, there is an unsettled teacher. Staff are supported by providing a listening ear, encouragement, friendship, and care for their personal wellbeing. In her supportive work to teachers, the PCW also assists in any extra-curricular events and activities they undertake with their classes.

Support and encouragement are also provided to parents and caregivers whether in the form of workshops, individual support, or referral to support agencies.

Value is added to their school community by incorporating the PCW’s specific skills within the program. At Lameroo, the PCW extends the music program by offering guitar and drum lessons which would, otherwise, not be available to students. The PCW also supports the Primary and Year 7–12 Student Leadership Teams which incorporate the Student Representative Council and House Leaders.

The life of the PCW is busy, challenging, extensive and – most of all – rewarding.

About the Author

Cathy Miegel

The PCW at LRCS is Cathy Miegel, a fully qualified and experienced teacher, teaching part-time, and a member of St John’s Lutheran Congregation at Lameroo. Cathy has been a PCW since 1998.

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