Building Constructive Partnerships with Community Stakeholders: Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Advance Program in Secondary School Settings

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The Advance program aims to provide opportunities for young people in secondary schools in Victoria, Australia to participate in community life thereby strengthening their links with community organizations. In addition to this the Advance program provides an opportunity for young people and schools to connect with major volunteer organisations. These organisations extend to Wildlife Victoria, CFA, Scouts, Police Cadets, Environmental Groups and Bicycle Victoria. Young people involved in the program are expected to identify an issue or issues of concern in their local community. Once an issue is raised an applied project plan is created alongside community activities or a community project that address the issue at hand. It is hoped that the creation of a project/activities will assist in creating positive outcomes and opportunities that will benefit the broader community and young people. This paper outlines key findings of the evaluation of the program and aims to: •Develop and implement tools and procedures for mapping and monitoring the program model;•Analyse the Advance model and its impact on relevant stakeholders who are involved in this initiative. •Co-ordinate and conduct activities that evaluate the Advance model •Review the extent to which Advance has met its stated aims and objectives to date;•Place the evaluation of the Advance model in the context of existing social policy, youth participation and community initiatives for this target group in Victoria. The study provides a snapshot of how flexible school based programs can strengthen community building capacity for both government secondary schools and local community organisations (Groundwater-Smith et al 2007).


Keywords: Young People, Social Capital, Community Partnerships, Inclusive Education, Student Engagement
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , Building Constructive Partnerships with Community Stakeholders


Dr. Marcelle Cacciattolo

Coordinator, Partnerships, School of Education, Victoria University
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr Marcelle Cacciattolo is a sociologist and an experienced lecturer in the School of Education. She teaches in a diverse range of pre-service courses, conducts a range of research projects and supervises a variety of post-graduate research students. Marcelle’s particular research interests are cross-disciplinary involving health sciences and education-based research. Her research focuses are linked to the following themes  well being, inclusive education, social justice, refugee settlement and a desire to address community issues. Marcelle’s PhD thesis centred on how women cope with breast cancer and the various resources they draw upon in order to reach a personal state of wellbeing and control. Her work has given her insight into the way in which faith, spirituality and religion can be used in order to deal with challenges and dilemmas. Such insight is central to research projects that examine the role of faith in facilitating positive settlement experiences for refugees. Marcelle’s past research has included a range of diverse projects. Two projects have included the evaluation of refugee settlement and refugee relocation. In both projects Marcelle’s role as a senior researcher provided her with an opportunity in which to work with refugees on a range of issues tied to their settlement.

Dr. Merryn Davies

Lecturer in Secondary and Post Compulsory Education, School of Education, Victoria University
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Merryn Davies is a Lecturer in Secondary and Post Compulsory Education in the School of Education at Victoria University. She coordinates, and teaches in, the Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education. Her research interests focus on access and equity in education. She has extensive experience in the conduct and management of educational research projects at the national and state levels, working as a Research Fellow in the Educational Outcomes Research Unit at the University of Melbourne between 1994 and 2002 and as Manager of the Equity Research Centre in Melbourne in 2004. Her work has involved administration of large scale surveys in Australian schools, VET providers and universities and analysis of resultant data. She has also participated in qualitative research work involving individual interviews and focus group work with principals, teachers, students parents, employers and other stakeholders in schools and training providers in a number of states. In recent years she has worked closely with school clusters as a University Associate, supporting their involvement in DEST’s Values Education Good Practice project.

Dr. Robyn Broadbent

Co-ordinator of Youth Studies Program, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Victoria University
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Robyn is an experienced Youth Worker, Educator, Researcher and Community Consultant. Robyn currently coordinates the Bachelor of Arts Youth Studies and has most recently been lead researcher on a number of community consultations. The focus of much of this community research has been to increase the retention of young people in education, employment and/or training. Robyn is currently advising two philanthropic boards on the development of two new Youth Resource Centres in the West that will be completed with a mixture of private and public funds. Robyn has also been active in establishing a number of partnerships that are seen as innovative and responsive between industry and community. Robyn was the chief investigator on this research project that worked in partnership with the communities of Swan Hill and Warrnambool.

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