St Mel’s harmony project wins award
Cultural harmony is an intrinsic part of the ethos at St Mel’s primary school, Campsie. From left: Patricia Arcilla, Andrew Sarkis, Lawrence Alde, Peter Andreacchio, Jongyong Hwang and Imogen Haubenwallner
A project entitled Building cultural harmony - from racism to inclusion has won St Mel’s primary school, Campsie.a national award for values education.
The award, which recognises the school’s outstanding contribution to quality schooling in the area of values education, includes a prize of $24,000.
The principal, Elizabeth O’Carrigan, says Building cultural harmony - from racism to inclusion began two years ago when the school undertook a research project to develop an understanding of the nature of racism and the extent of racist attitudes and behaviour evident within the school community.
“We have a school population of 390 from more than 40 cultural groups,” she says. “At that time there was a great deal of racist bullying occurring and disruption to the learning time of students.”
Mrs O’Carrigan said that the research shows that racist attitudes and behaviour are shaped early in life through interaction with family, friends, peers, media and schools.
“This points to the urgency of developing positive racial attitudes early in a child’s education,” she says. “The aim of our research project was to establish an environment whereby teachers, parents and children could learn to change their attitudes. Information and evidence gathered from the research was also used to develop a cultural harmony plan for the school.”
The aim of the cultural harmony plan was to raise student awareness of the positive effects of cultural diversity, explore cultural identity, recognise and appreciate similarities and differences among St Mel’s cultural groups, and to build a culture of harmony, she said.