Assistant Minister for Children and Families David Gillespie visits Port Stephens to oversee Communities for Children Facilitating Partners activities

DRUMBEAT: Karuah Public School students Steve, Eli, Owen, Tequarn and Stanley, with Janelle Wheatley (Samaritans), Alison Harwood (The Smith Family) and Lyne MP David Gillespie. Picture: Sam Norris
DRUMBEAT: Karuah Public School students Steve, Eli, Owen, Tequarn and Stanley, with Janelle Wheatley (Samaritans), Alison Harwood (The Smith Family) and Lyne MP David Gillespie. Picture: Sam Norris

A group of Karuah Public School students engaged in a drumming workshop, designed to put them in touch with their emotions, build self confidence and develop team work skills, opened its circle to include a special guest on Wednesday.

Lyne MP and Assistant Minister for Children and Families David Gillespie tried his hand at some of the drumming patterns taught through the Holyoake DRUMBEAT program.

It’s part of a federally funded program rolled out in Karuah and Raymond Terrace designed to create better lives for children and ultimately stronger communities.

Mr Gillespie said it was important to acknowledge not only The Smith Family, which coordinates the programs, but the students themselves. 

“I remember as a child having the local member of parliament turn up to school and it was a big deal, it made us feel important, so I’m pleased that I could take part today,” he said.

Mr Gillespie and the students performed a series of exercises that encouraged the students to think about their heartbeat in different situations, replicated through hits on the drum, and focus on their team mates while they took turns to introduce themselves with their own drum pattern.

DRUMBEAT is an internationally-recognised workshop but its introduction at Karuah also marked the first time Samaritans had delivered the program.

ON MY BEAT: Lyne MP and Assistant Minister for Children and Families David Gillespie. Picture: Sam Norris

ON MY BEAT: Lyne MP and Assistant Minister for Children and Families David Gillespie. Picture: Sam Norris

DRUMBEAT facilitator Janelle Wheatley has worked with those students nominated for the program to assist their social and emotional development.

“Sometimes it’s those children who might not have the best self confidence who benefit most from DRUMBEAT,” she said.

“So long as it isn’t a safety issue, what happens in DRUMBEAT stays in DRUMBEAT, so they can feel free to open up, that’s what helps make it a success.”

The federal government will invest $637,833 into Communities for Children Facilitating Partners program across Raymond Terrace and Karuah in 2018-19, through The Smith Family, which channels those funds into workshops like DRUMBEAT and Play2Learn.

The latter a program designed to enhance interactions between children and their carers through play activities.

“Through evidence-based activities we can enhance parenting capabilities, helping them deliver the support these children need,” the Smith Family’s project manager of communities for children Alison Harwood said.

“If we can do that we can ensure they don’t fall through the gaps. We know that we can’t do this work without partnerships across our communities.”

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Mr Gillespie said he had seen for himself how federal funds were being spent in places as far away as Katherine.

“What I particularly like about the Communities for Children program is that it enhances these community partnerships where these programs would otherwise be siloed,” he said.

“We don’t get a lot of credit for these programs but we’re investing in something that delivers real benefits.” 

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