On Thursday, 18 October 48 teaching staff from 35 different schools throughout Victoria, visited St Charles Borromeo Catholic Primary School in Templestowe, to learn about all things Better Buddies!

Organised by The Alannah & Madeline Foundation, teachers from four Melbourne schools presented at the Professional Learning Day, to share their stories of how Better Buddies has been embedded throughout the schools' classrooms and policies. The day was made possible thanks to a NAB Schools First grant received by St Charles Borromeo, in partnership with the Foundation.

The Better Buddies Framework is designed to support students' orientation and transition during their first year of school. Aimed to be implemented in schools over an extended period of time, it can be adapted to meet the needs of different school communities.

The presentations featured representatives from schools who have taken the idea of Better Buddies and modified or expanded the Framework, to meet their schools' needs.

Amy Newcomb and Sally O'Byrne from St Dominic's Primary School talked about linking Better Buddies to their own school values and focusing on buddies as a key part of their prep transition processes. A highlight of the presentation was video footage of the student buddy pairs saying how important their buddy was and what it meant to them to have a good friend at school.

Gloria Puopolo and Silvana Luca from Keilor Views Primary School described Better Buddies as "not something extra, but part of their everyday work". At Keilor Views, Better Buddies is part of the school culture with a buddy system operating at all levels of the school.

Sarah Fry from Aspendale Gardens Primary School gave some great examples of how the program has expanded since it was introduced seven years ago. Better Buddies is now the basis for their whole school wellbeing program. For example, they have 'buddy bus stops' in the school yard where younger students can go if they don't have anyone to have lunch with and the older students look out for them and take them to have lunch with their friends. This is such a lovely example of how a school can adopt the philosophy of Better Buddies and then create their own activities from it.

Sue Cahill from St Charles Borromeo shared how the school has moved the buddy system beyond the school yard and out into the community. Grade five students are paired up with an 'oldie' buddy at the local retirement home, whom they visit and share stories and memories with. Sue said the students love finding out what life was like for their buddy when they were at school.

The Alannah & Madeline Foundation's Manager of Prevention Maree Stanley said the day was well received by all participants.

"Many of the teachers provided us with great feedback," Maree said.

"They said they found the presentations inspirational and worthwhile; enjoyed immensely hearing how Better Buddies looks and feels in other schools; and were grateful for the opportunity to network with teachers from schools at various stages of involvement in the program.

"Together, the Foundation and NAB were able to give teachers some valuable information and ideas to help them further bring Better Buddies to life at their schools."

Thank you to the keen students at St Charles Borromeo who helped prepare for the day and, in particular, Sue Cahill who worked hard to help ensure the event's success.

Filmed footage of the presentations will be edited and uploaded onto the Better Buddies website soon for everyone to learn from.

If you would like more detail about how these schools have embedded the Better Buddies Framework, contact the Better Buddies team at betterbuddies@amf.org.au

2 - St Charles buddy pairs doing an activity Picture: St Charles buddies enjoying an activity together.

Better Buddies
Better Buddies