Our Friendship Seat project was runner up in the Most Outstanding New Project category at the Community Work Partnership Awards for Corrections Victoria, 2013.

 

The Friendship Seat project is an innovative program that involves prisoners in building “friendship seats” to help prevent bullying in primary schools.

The project is a partnership between The Alannah & Madeline Foundation, Marngoneet Correctional Centre, the Education Department, AVIS Australia and the South East Metropolitan Region Community Work Team.

It serves as an extension to the Foundation’s Better Buddies program, which has been designed to create friendly and caring school communities to help reduce bullying.

In addition to helping create supportive environments for primary school children, the Friendship Seat program provides a valuable way for offenders and prisoners to make reparation for the harm or damage caused by their offending behaviour.

The Friendship Seats are made by the prisoners at Marngoneet Correctional Centre and are then installed at primary schools out of school hours across the South East Metropolitan Region, by offenders performing unpaid community work.

"The schools place their Friendship Seats in the school grounds. Whenever children have no one to play with, they can sit on the seat and someone will come over and invite them play, or help find their friends. The idea of the seat was to support children in our schools who experienced feelings of isolation or sadness," said Maree Stanley, Better Buddies Manager.

The prison reports that prisoners have a great sense of pride when building the seats.

“I have gained a sense of achievement participating in the program, as it highlights a very serious issue that I feel strongly about. This program will hopefully shed some light on bullying in schools, prevent young children from falling into a life of crime, and even help with things as simple as self-worth and happiness” said one participant involved in the program.

Dr Judith Slocombe, CEO of The Alannah & Madeline Foundation, said she was delighted the program was recognised with the award.

“As the Foundation’s mission is to keep young people safe from violence, we were particularly pleased that some of the young people involved in the project who have experienced severe bullying, have had positive effects from being involved.”

“It truly is a meaningful project for all and fantastic that this has been recognised.”

Congratulations to all involved.

2 - Friendship Seat project wins award

Photo: Students from Blackburn Lake Primary with their Friendship Seat

Better Buddies
Better Buddies