Hard Yards - disruptive pedagogies for marginalised learners

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Thursday 16 August 2018 09:30 pm until Friday 17 August 2018 04:00 pm (Add to calendar)
Event organisers
(03) 5444 7252; (03) 5444 7907
Presented by:
La Trobe University
Type of Event:
$210 for one day conference, $105 full time tertiary students and concession card holders.

This conference will be of interest to early childhood, primary and secondary teachers, social workers, advocates, educational leaders and others working with children who have experienced childhood trauma.

An estimated 1 in 32 Australian children suffer trauma in childhood. We need to rethink current practices and help schools to become more ‘trauma informed’. But what exactly does this mean, and how do we make it happen?

The Hard Yards conference is a provocative exploration of the profound impact of traumatic experiences in early childhood. The one-day event presents a live theatre piece that explores the learning and behavioural difficulties experienced by a 14-year old boy where a deep understanding of his challenges and motivations behind his extreme behaviour is expressed. The play is performed by Hobo Playhouse Theatre Company who present quality Australian theatre with social realism themes.

Hard Yards is a unique opportunity for professionals to engage in dialogue with educational leaders in the field of Trauma and Critical reflection. This one-day conference takes an inquiry based approach where reflection is part of an agenda designed to refocus educational practices on more relational pedagogies.

Participants will be immersed in current thinking and innovative practices and be challenged through performance and art to stimulate critical reflection on current practices and consider what might be required for change.

This is a one day conference repeated:

  • 16 August 2018, 9.30am - 4.00pm
  • 17 August 2018, 9.30am - 4.00pm


Portrait photo of Ann MorganDr Ann Morgan

Professional Learning Coordinator at EREA Youth+ in QLD

Educators exploring Relational Practice: Options for dialogue and co-learning between educators in mainstream and special assistance schools.

What can be learnt from educators in flexi schools to support young people to remain connected in mainstream schools?

Over the last decade in Australia, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of ‘special assistance’, ‘alternative’ and ‘flexi’ schools. These schools aim to reengage young people who have experienced exclusion and failure in mainstream schools. Much of the research conducted in this relatively new and emerging field of education provision has documented the stories of young people as they reflect on their experiences in non-traditional flexible education settings compared with mainstream schools. While there are numerous intersecting factors that contribute to the experience of young people who face multiple life complexities that can be a barrier to educational success, evidence from national and international research identifies that a strong emphasis on relationships of trust and respect are essential for re-engaging young people in education. This keynote will explore the relational shift that is required of educators working with young people and colleagues in non-traditional flexible education settings. Educators in these settings require a high degree of self-awareness and the ability to critically reflect on their own practice in order to challenge dominant cultural norms, beliefs and values about the nature of education and the nature of learners. Using her recently published book, Different ways of being an educator: Relational Practice, based on doctoral studies on educator identity and development in flexi schools, Ann will consider how relational practice can also be a protective factor for students in mainstream schools who are at-risk of failure and exclusion. Exploration of this topic is also informed by many years working as an educator and leader in both mainstream and flexi schools.

Portrait photo of Anne SouthallAnne Southall

PhD student, School of Education, Bendigo, La Trobe University

Anne Southall an educator and Principal for 30 years, developed an interest in the education of children from traumatic backgrounds and interventions which respond to the profound and long term impact on their brain development. She currently lectures at La Trobe University in student wellbeing while completing her PhD on Complex Trauma and the role of educators

Biting the Hand

This live theatre piece written by Anne Southall explores the learning and behavioural difficulties experienced by Daniel, a 14 year old boy who has suffered abuse and neglect in childhood. The moment is set in his specialist school where four characters: a special education teacher, an adult who has suffered early childhood trauma, a psychologist, and an educational researcher have been invited to listen to Daniel’s story and understand the many challenges his behaviour presents. Although the professional position seems well justified, the themes of Daniel’s narrative and the confronting images he creates gradually expose his isolation and feelings of powerlessness within the current school system. As the group begin to engage with his dialogue they gradually become less reactive and censored and move towards working in ways that might build connection and hope for this vulnerable boy. This true story raises important questions in the minds of the audience and offers educators working with traumatised youth new insights into the impact of early childhood trauma on behaviour and learning.

The play is performed by Hobo Playhouse theatre company who are based in the historic Goldfields township of Maldon in Central Victoria. This expanding company presents quality Australian theatre with social realism themes.

Profile picture of Fiona GardnerAssociate Professor Fiona Gardner

Head of Social Work and Social Policy at La Trobe University

Fiona has practiced social work across many areas of northern Victoria and is committed to accessible social work education in rural communities. Fiona’s research interests have focused on the development of critical reflection and critical spirituality as frameworks for understanding and engaging more deeply with issues in practice for those working in health, welfare and education.

As well as teaching in social work, she continues to offer workshops in critical reflection including using critical reflection for supervision. Fiona also teaches a unit using critical reflection at Stirling Theological College for those working in pastoral care/spirituality and well-being roles. Her most recent books are Being Critically Reflective and Working with Human Service Organisations.

Portrait photo of Jeff JonesJeff Jones

Director, Hobo Theatre Co

On the Biting the Hand performance that will be part of the conference: ‘I believe this is an extremely important piece of theatre that parents, teachers, medical professionals and people who have, or have experienced mental health problems will relate to. But more importantly, I want this play to be accessible to the whole community.

I want to get people talking about trauma-affected students, to lift the lid on a social problem that is hidden behind the walls of schools and homes across Central Victoria.’


Lunch and morning tea provided (special dietary requirements are catered for - see registration).








9.00 am

Participants arrive

Tea/coffee and biscuits in foyer

Opportunity to see the art display


Welcome to Country



Dr Cathleen Farrelly

Introduction to speakers and overview of the day


Anne Southall

Impact of trauma on learning: the neuroscience and implications for teachers


Morning tea



Performance: Biting the Hand

Hobo Theatre Co.



Panel of performers

What is your personal response to the performance?
What are the implications for you as a professional?

Performers talk about the role and its impact, answer audience questions

Audience engage with the issues and articulate their personal responses.

12.00pm – 1.00pm

Lunch (provided)

Rifle Brigade Hotel

Choose from:

  • brie, semi-dried tomato and caramelised onion stuffed chicken breast served with chats and greens and finished in a creamy sauce (GF)
  • steak and mushroom homemade individual pie's served with beer battered chips and a petite sala
  • vegetarian option (on request): housemade vegetable lasagne served with rocket, pear and parmesan petite salad.

Dessert choices:

  • homemade chocolate fudge brownie served with vanilla ice cream
  • fresh fruit salad bowls (GF) served with vanilla ice cream.

Opportunity to view art display

2 musicians perform over lunch


Associated Professor Fiona Gardner: Organisations and critical reflection

Frames the overarching responsibility of organisations in supporting practitioners to reflect on practice.


Application of the Critical Analysis model in local study

Makes the links with trauma, the student teacher relationship and the role of critical reflection.


Dr Ann Morgan - Educators exploring Relational Practice: Options for dialogue and co-learning between educators in mainstream and special assistance schools.

Key note address


Break for participants


2.35pm – 3.20pm

Facilitated panel discussion:

Dr Ann Morgan, Associate Professor Fiona Gardner, Anne Southall, School Principals

Opportunity for participants to engage with speakers and practitioners.

3.20pm – 3.30pm

Plenary and conference conclusion


La Trobe Arts Precinct

121 View Street, Bendigo



18th Feb 2019 3:10pm

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