The Treasury Theatre in Melbourne was abuzz last week with almost 200 people gathering for the launch of All Of Us - a ground breaking educational resource from Safe Schools Coalition Australia and Minus18. Students, teachers, youth workers, departments of education, tertiary educators, university students and researchers all came to hear how this innovative new resource came about, and to meet some of the young people who star in the videos.
The event featured the voices of young people, including one of the creators and stars of All Of Us, and Victorian Young Australian of the Year nominee, Margot Fink from Minus18. She shares her personal story of coming out to herself and to others as transgender - which was challenging but ultimately positive. “To be able to give positive and informative stories as part of teaching is an enormous way to not only support young people to affirm their identities, but for their peers and teachers to actually better recognise when discrimination happens and how to make sure that they’re included.”
Victorian Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality Ro Allen said that it is the Victorian Government’s intention to introduce the work of Safe Schools to every Victorian government secondary school and that All Of Us is an important addition to the program that they hoped can ‘benefit all our schools’. The Commissioner also remarked that they wished it had been around when they were at school.
Safe Schools Coalition Australia’s National Program Director, Sally Richardson, said that All Of Us “will help teachers introduce gender diversity, intersex and sexual diversity topics and make a real difference to how students across Australia understand each other and the world around them.” She said that the need for the resource was made explicit from teachers: “Although we encouraged teachers to be actively inclusive in the classroom, they told us they needed more. The review of the Australian Curriculum also told us that teachers needed more support to teach topics of gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex and they needed experts to introduce tools and resources to help them do it. The All Of Us resource does just that.” Sally also shared a fantastic message of support for the new resource from the Executive Director of the Australian Secondary Principals' Association.
A panel discussion featuring All Of Us stars Nevo and Jaimee was facilitated by Chris Bush, a Melbourne-based teacher who has been involved in the production of the new resource from the very beginning. He was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the resource. Nevo and Jaimee discussed how important All Of Us would have been for them in high school. In particular, Nevo highlighted the pressure he felt having to educate those around him when he affirmed his gender at school. He said this resource, which captures his and other LGBTI young people’s personal stories, will help do the education on behalf of LGBTI students. Every young person in their video suggests ways we can be better allies.
Bush wondered if the young stars, Jaimee, Vivian, Nevo, Phoebe, Jordan, Margot, and Michael, envisioned the resource would ‘get this big’. He said to them, “Your voices are the ones that will change the hearts and minds of people around the country.Your stories will tell young people who are living similar lives that they are going to be okay. That they aren't the only one who feel as they do.”
All Of Us is aligned to the Health and Physical Education learning area of the Australian Curriculum for years 7 and 8. It is free for all schools and includes a collection of short videos capturing the real life experiences of LGBTI young people, together with posters and accompanying classroom activities.
Safe Schools Coalition staff across the country are ready to distribute the All Of Us resource to schools who are interested in using it in the classroom, as well as give schools tips, strategies and training opportunities on how to best use the resource in your school. To find out more, get in touch with your local state or territory Safe Schools provider.
What people are saying about the All Of Us resource!
“I am so excited about these resources, I think they are essential in making school more inclusive for young people across all backgrounds, not just in the LGBTI space.” – Youth worker
“[All Of Us will help me] to educate myself how to make a safer environment” – Student
“As a HPE teacher it is extremely important that I provide an inclusive curriculum to ALL students!” - Teacher
“[All Of Us] is a ground breaking resource for young people of the future, something that was never taught or talked about when I was in school.” – Young person
“The resource will complement the education that is already happening at our secondary college and educate and support all students in the school and wider community environment” – Adolescent Health Nurse
“I want to try to embed it into the curriculum, the difference it will make is having a resource that is ready to use and support whatever else is or hasn't being used to speak about sexuality… the essence of being a human being” – Secondary School Nurse
“The negative effect of feelings of isolation and exclusion on the mental health of young people is well known. [All Of Us] will provide teachers with practical tools to address issues of inclusion specific to LGBTI young people.” – Research Fellow
“As part of the LGBTIQ+ community, think [All Of Us] is really important because then I would have had an easier time of it at school.” – University student
“Our team had a preview of the resource and we would love to use it in schools to promote understanding and acceptance of LGBTI young people in schools” - Secondary School Nurse
“I'm a graduate teacher and feel that taking All Of Us into my classroom for my first year teaching will be invaluable to myself and my students” - Teacher
“This is a powerful tool for educators to shift attitudes, and create a schooling culture where every young person can thrive.” – University Project Manager
Read all about it!
The launch was attended by several journalists and you can read their and other stories below:
Images: (from top to bottom) All Of Us star Nevo (centre) discusses ways we can be more inclusive to transgender and gender diverse students in schools in a Q&A panel facilitated by Chris Bush (left) and Jaimee (right); the launch is attended by almost 200 people including former Safe Schools Coalition Ambassador Jason Ball (pictured bottom right); Victorian Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality Ro Allen says they wish All Of Us was in school when they were a student; Chris Bush, Executive Producer of All Of Us, says thanks to everyone involved in developing the resource; Micah Scott, CEO of Minus18, explains the educational value of sharing personal stories of LGBTI young people; All Of Us Margot Fink discusses what school was like for her; Safe Schools Coalition Victoria's Manager Roz Ward thanks the inspiring young people for sharing their stories; Sally Richardson, National Program Director of Safe Schools Coalition Australia, wraps up the event.
Images credit: James Moore, Minus18.