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Honorary Fellow, School of Education, Faculty of Arts and Education, Centre for Educational Impact, Deakin University Research for Educational Impact (REDI) | Deakin

Chair, Peace Education Working Group, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict GPPAC | Prevention of Armed Conflict | Peacebuilding Network

Peace education broadly involves developing the values, knowledge, and skills for interacting and engaging with others in respectful, inclusive, and just ways. In this sense Peace Education has been at the heart of my work for more than 40 years.

I began my career as a secondary humanities teacher which at its essence is helping young people understand the world and how to get along with others i.e., teaching for a culture of peace.

From teaching I moved into regional and statewide education roles, particularly those related to social justice and school and community improvement.

These roles in the Department of Education for the state of Victoria included;

  • Fostering national gender equity initiatives and resources in schools with a focus on improving the educational outcomes for girls,
  • Developing and delivering violence prevention and anti-bullying resources and training for schools,
  • Facilitating drug education initiatives in schools
  • Leading statewide a portfolio of programs designed to prevent early school leaving and reducing at risk behaviour among young people,
  • Leading a national values education initiative at the state level,
  • Managing statewide civics and citizenship initiatives, and
  • Managing multicultural and global citizenship education initiatives.

Along the way I also spent 3 years involved in research into student wellbeing and mental health, restorative practices, and juvenile justice at the Australian Youth Research Centre at The University of Melbourne.

In 2018 I co-authored policy guidelines for global citizenship for the Asia Pacific Centre for Education and International Understanding.

I finished my time at the Department of Education in 2022 by leading The Victorian Young Leaders to China Program which included 5 weeks of language and cultural immersion for Year 9 students in China (up to 2019).

I have been a member of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, Peace Education Working Group since 2005 and was able to compliment my Education Department roles with the work of the PEWG. This complimentary relationship between a civil society organization such as GPPAC and a government department was at times challenging but tended to flourish as a global education mindset became more embedded in school programs.

One of the key challenges for Peace Education is that it is such a broad field that defining and evaluating the impact of programs continues to be evasive.

In 2009 and 2010 I worked with a PEWG colleague in Montenegro to develop Peace Education resources for schools using frameworks and resources from Australia values and citizenship education. We obtained a grant from the Australian Embassy in Serbia which enabled a small number of teachers and principals from Montenegro to participate in design workshops that I ran.

Draft classroom materials were written, reviewed and successfully piloted in schools Montenegro and Victoria.

Other highlights include:

  • Delivering training to teachers and school leaders in Cyprus (North and South) and lending support for collaboration despite the ongoing division.
  • Supporting the Ministry of Education in Kenya in their Peace Education efforts following the post-election violence in 2008

The motivation for peace education comes from a deep desire for social justice, that is, to help ensure that our schools and communities are safe, fair and inclusive places to live and work.

As a humanities teacher in rural and metropolitan secondary (technical) schools I was faced with a range of student and relationship management issues. While there was no specific subject in the Victorian curriculum dedicated to Peace Education /Conflict Resolution I found a focus on personal and social development, and citizenship education, including student voice in my lessons led to more engaged and motivated students.

I moved from teaching into a regional role as an equal opportunity consultant with a particular focus on social justice and the education of girls. Later I was involved in the development of anti-bullying and gender equity resources and delivered teacher training on these material throughout Australia. Subsequently I worked for the University of Melbourne conducting research into school improvement and developing better mental health outcomes for young people. This was prior to my work in values education, multicultural education, civics and citizenship education and global education in the Department of Education where I was able to provide support to many schools in less advantaged areas.

I grew up in a working-class coal mining town in country Victoria and recognised the power of collective action, particularly through the union movement. I was lucky enough to work as a public servant for more than 20 years in policy and program areas in which I could make an impact on school communities, particularly promoting student voice and agency, anti-bullying, social inclusion and citizenship. Working directly and indirectly with students, teachers and the broader school communities to bring about positive changes was a privilege.

Cultural and ethnic diversity is a characteristic of most Australian schools and a key focus of education policy and curriculum. This is also true of many other countries as increasing numbers of migrants and refugees seek economic security and safety. Intercultural capability is mandated in the Australian curriculum with the aim to move students beyond just knowing about cultural and ethnic diversity towards interacting and engaging with people they perceive as different from themselves. Building such learning environments is however challenging. In this webinar, I share an overview of key concepts, approaches, and practical strategies for developing intercultural capability in schools.