Saturday, July 13, 2024

DOVES fly for NSW public schools forum

The peak student forum for NSW public schools has welcomed 15 new DOVES from around the state.

The new DOVES join the 27-member Department of Student Voices in Education and Schools (DOVES) in 2024, the state’s peak student forum for NSW public schools.

They represent a diverse range of communities across NSW and advocate for positive student engagement through educational improvement and innovation in NSW public schools.

The DOVES provide feedback and advice to the Minister for Education, Prue Car, NSW Department of Education Secretary Murat Dizdar and school decision-makers.

The 15 students from Armidale, Boggabilla, Broken Hill, Dorrigo, Griffith, Kyogle, the Hunter, Illawarra, Taree and Sydney were last week inaugurated into the DOVES council by Ms Car, at a ceremony in NSW Parliament House.

Ms Car said spending time with the DOVES was one of “my most favourite things” and encouraged the students, from Year 6 to Year 11, to bring to her attention areas for improvement in education.

“The DOVES is a formalised way for all of the students in NSW to actually have their say to me directly and to decision-makers about issues that are concerning your generation,” Ms Car said.

“I’ve met some of the most incredible young people through the DOVES in the last 12 months. Don’t under-estimate the impact you can have.”

The youngest DOVES are in Year 6 – Tracey Duncan (Boggabilla Central School), Ivy O’Donnell (Singleton Public School), Emiliah Smith (Curran Park Public School) and Angel King (Lakelands Primary School).

Emiliah said she applied to join the DOVES because “I love talking” and wants to be a role model for younger students at her school in south-western Sydney.

Angel first heard about the DOVES when she saw a ‘Behind The News’ program in Year 4 and waited two years to be old enough to apply from her Illawarra school.

Tracey said her teacher suggested she nominate for the DOVES because “it would be a good opportunity” to represent her Connected Communities’ school.

Ivy wants to help students with their mental health, by “getting the word out that you’re not alone if you need help”.

Four young students standing in front of a banner.
Image:The youngest DOVES, from left, Tracey, Ivy, Angel and Emiliah.
DOVES agenda for 2024

Katrina Stuve, Senior Adviser Minister Councils, reported to Ms Car during the DOVES Annual General Meeting that the students were working with senior officers in the Department on proposals for student mental health, inclusion and wellbeing, and sport.

Rhys Hibbert, in Year 11 at St Ives High School, said the DOVES met recently with the Department’s mental health team to share concerns about the “cultural aspects of mental health care” and how some students had difficulty accessing services, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angelina Sidhu, Year 9 at Richmond Agricultural College, said student views had been sought from the Department’s Inclusive Education team on “how we can ensure NSW public schools are inclusive settings that value and support all students”.

“We provided feedback that schools are doing OK and there are opportunities for schools to do even better,” Angelina said.

The DOVES are also lobbying to equalise cross-country distances between males and females at state-level competitions. Marley Chapman, in Year 10 at Wagga Wagga High School, said DOVES members were consulting with the Department’s Sports Unit on “the next steps” to be pursued this year.

The success of the DOVES in NSW led to the establishment of a national student voice council, which met with education ministers for the first time in December 2023.

Year 10 student Porter Christ, from Sydney Secondary College – Leichhardt Campus, said focus areas for the National Student Voice Council included diverse post-school pathways and addressing the perception and value of vocational education versus university.

Students standing with two adults in the middle of a room.
The 2024 DOVES in the Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament, with Minister Prue Car and Education Secretary Murat Dizdar.
Meet the DOVES

Connected Communities

  • Dion Beilby, Year 7, Melville High School
  • Tracey Duncan, Year 6, Boggabilla Central School
  • Emiliah Smith, Year 6, Curran Public School

Regional North and West

  • Sienna Eulo, Year 10, Maitland High School
  • Myra Sibanda, Year 9, Dorrigo High School
  • Ivy O’Donnell, Year 6, Singleton Public School

Rural South and West

  • Marley Chapman, Year 10, Wagga Wagga High School
  • Kaedence Pattison, Year 10, Murrumbidgee High School, Griffith Campus
  • Chereine Wellington, Year 10, Broken Hill High School

Regional South

  • Atticus Crook, Year 10, Smiths Hill High School
  • Christopher Booth, Year 10, Bomaderry High School
  • Angel King, Year 6, Lakelands Primary School

Rural North

  • Ruby Stafford, Year 10, Kyogle High School
  • Luke Rees, Year 9, Armidale Secondary College
  • Lawson Fitzgerald, Year 8, Glen Innes High School

Metro South and West

  • Jack Ahrens, Year 11, Engadine High School
  • Zarif Rahman, Year 10, Hurlstone Agricultural High School
  • Sama Roy, Year 10, Fairvale High School

Metro South

  • Dhishana Sutharshan, Year 11, Girraween High School
  • Porter Christ, Year 10, Sydney Secondary College, Leichhardt Campus
  • Hadiya Fatima, Year 10, Macarthur Girls High School

Metro North

  • Rhys Hibbert, Year 11, St Ives High School
  • Lana Beganovic, Year 10, Cheltenham Girls High School
  • Hayley Patterson, Year 9, Asquith Girls High School

Regional North

  • Angelina Sidhu, Year 9, Richmond Agricultural College
  • Harley Bahatko, Year 8, Warners Bay High School
  • Chloe McGovern, Year 7, Merewether High School.

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