From Romania with love

This ‘From Romania with love’ blog article was written by Karyn Robinson, Senior Advisor in the Professional Education Services team, at Australian Childhood Foundation.

 

A man of profound compassion, Nelson Mandela once remarked “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children” (8 May 1995). 

For all of us working tirelessly in our separate enclaves to ensure the care and protection of our children, this reflects a binding motivation between us. This binding motivation can generate active and productive partnerships now more than ever through technology, enabling exciting opportunities of collaboration, the sharing of wisdom, knowledge, experience and passion across the globe.

The Australian Childhood Foundation has a long history in collaboration and bringing people together for the shared purpose of preventing harm and violence towards children and young people. However, the logistics of creating partnerships with individual organisations outside of Australia had remained challenging on a practical level. When the Covid pandemic hit with full force early in 2020 it quickly ushered in a new way of connecting; online. While it is no replacement for that ‘in person’ way of working it did remove the limitations of geography. This widespread embracing of the online platform has meant that the Foundation can now more seamlessly connect with organisations globally.

Much to our delight, the American International School Of Bucharest, Romania (AISB)  approached the Foundation in May 2020 seeking guidance to support their students with possible trauma and more broadly supporting students during the disruptions and stressors of Covid. Discussions quickly developed as our shared motivation gave rise to the partnership’s full potential. We learned about the trauma facing their students who are often from “ex pat” communities where highly achieving and highly stressed parents have little energy and emotional support to provide to their own children and where repeated rolling campus and city lockdowns had robbed students of face to face school connections and learning support for over 12 months.

The Counsellors and Safeguarding Coordinator of AISB were advocating for the implementation of a trauma-informed, compassionate school wide approach. To do this it was recognised that ‘buy in’ would be needed, starting with the leadership roles and then the whole of staff. Both sessions proved very positive experiences, generating lively conversations, interest and impetus in developing AISB’s trauma informed approach. Staff enthusiasm has been buoyed by the space opened to explore this approach together and supported by the partnership. Planning is now underway for the next phase in our partnership; supporting the implementation of a school wide trauma informed approach. The scope, not only for tailoring the package specific to AISB needs but the flexibility to respond adaptively as they take this journey, is a real strength of this partnership. It provides an encouraging example of international collaboration.

Some feedback we received after the first training session with the AISB team was, “while we are still new to introducing this approach to our community and it will take some time to build capacity, the Foundation really helped us to reach our initial goal by helping us to build buy-in with our administration. We now have a team of people who are committed to furthering this work in our community.”

Through connecting and sharing our wisdom and mutual passion for the wellbeing of our children, we can ensure that our society’s souls reveal the humanity and compassion our children deserve.