Committee for Children Blog

SEL Is Nothing New Down Under

This past June, Committee for Children staff members traveled to Australia to attend the Positive Schools conferences, held in three different states, and to find out how this country is embracing social-emotional learning. Throughout Australia, a movement to strengthen student well-being is taking root in school communities. Educators, government administrators, and health-care providers are all building awareness of the relevance of students’ mental health to academic success.

Most notably, Australia’s Department of Health and Ageing, in collaboration with the Australian Psychological Society, Principals Australia Institute, beyondblue, and Early Childhood Australia, started the relevantly named initiative KidsMatter. This mental health framework focuses on helping early childhood education and care services and primary schools (the equivalent of elementary schools here in the US) implement the best strategies for growing healthy minds and positive communities. KidsMatter coordinators work with school teams to determine what the schools need to thrive and, through access to resources and professional development, help them attain their goals. We are delighted that both the Second Step and Steps to Respect programs have received impressive reviews on their resources list.

Australia has recently standardized a national curriculum and assessment structure. In the curriculum, Personal and Social Capability is one of the general capabilities that will “assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century” (along with others such as intercultural understanding, ethical understanding, and critical and creative thinking). This capability is directly aligned with the CASEL framework, which also guides our work. We applaud the commitment and efforts of student wellbeing advocates throughout Australia.