With the turbulence of 2021, rolling out effective programs to reduce student disengagement has been difficult. But these programs have never been more important.

Students are more at risk of disengaging from their education than they’ve ever been. The challenges caused by home-based learning and the transition back to a school environment have amplified the situation facing students already dealing with significant risk factors for disengagement.

Consider the following statistics from a recent UNESCO survey on Australian 13–17-year-old students:

  • 47% reported that COVID-19 negatively impacted their levels of stress and anxiety.
  • 24% said they felt unsure about the support options available to them outside of their family.
  • 28% reported that their parents or carers had lost all or part of their income.
  • 175,000 students from across the country may be newly affected by household unemployment and the resulting financial distress.

School Focused Youth Service (SFYS) Programs

The BATForce team, led by Executive Officer Leigh Bartlett and School Focused Youth Service (SFYS) Coordinators Naomi Madigan and Kylie Fox have run a range of programs across the BATForce Region aimed at addressing this issue at such a critical time for many schools.

These schools include:

  • Winchelsea Primary School
  • Western Heights Secondary School
  • Surf Coast Secondary School
  • Oberon South Primary School
  • Newcomb Secondary School
  • Alvie Primary School
  • Mandama Primary School
  • Belmont Secondary School
  • Lara Secondary School
  • Lara Lakes Primary School
  • Colac Specialist School
  • Hamlyn Views School
  • Colac Primary School


  • Grovedale College
  • Clonard College
  • St Joseph’s College
  • St Francis Xavier School (Corio)
  • St Thomas Aquinas
  • Geelong High School
  • Surf Coast Secondary School
  • Colac Southwest Primary School
  • Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College
  • Torquay College
  • Drysdale Primary School

2021 SFYS Highlights

The BATForce SFYS coordinators have worked collaboratively with these schools to produce several targeted programs this year to support not only students – but also families and schools. Below are some of the details of these programs and the aims behind them.

The MAT Life Skills Program at Geelong Highschool, Lara Lakes Primary School and Belmont Highschool.

A therapeutic martial arts program run by TESSA Inc., this program combines the principles of physical and mental wellbeing with those of therapeutic martial art training techniques.  Its format aims to engage and empower the students to learn life skills and to better manage the challenges in their lives and in their education. 

Sessions allow students to recognise & express emotions appropriately, effectively manage conflict, become more confident, resilient and adaptable.


Fit 2 Lead at Winchelsea Primary School, Oberon South Primary School and Mandama Primary School.

This program, led by Michelle Hemley from Sport Support Australia, is a hands-on physical fitness program that increases young people’s confidence through physical activities and engaging them in empowering new experiences. 

Students learn how to use physical activity to manage their own stress and anxiety and develop new strategies for managing behaviour and mood.


Emerge in Yoga at Drysdale Primary School and Hamlyn Views School

Led by Fiona Luca from Move, with Fiona this program uses yoga, meditation and conscious breathing to help students gain the tools to help calm the mind and nervous system and support the body in times of stress, anxiety and managing overwhelming feelings. 

Through the program, students develop an understanding of self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-regulation and self-appreciation.

These programs would not have been possible without the help of Sport Support Australia, TESSA Inc., Hope Carmody & Sarah Hay, Fiona Lucas from move, with Fiona and Libby Brockman. 

You can learn more about School Focused Youth Services here. 

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