Each year, our Year 9s look forward to pursuing a particular service project as part of ‘Project Empathy’, a signature program at Korowa. Project Empathy provides students with an authentic experience that allows them to gain a valuable understanding of our country’s homelessness crisis with a particular focus on Melbourne. The program encourages students to draw upon Korowa’s values of Courage, Respect, Integrity and Service in order to challenge their pre-conceived assumptions.  Project Empathy asks them to consider how they can make an impact whilst also draw attention to organisations who support homelessness.

This year’s theme is ‘What is Melbourne’s story of homelessness in 2022?’ and ‘How might we raise awareness about homelessness so that more people will know how to support that organisation?’

Students attend a week-long program at City Cite, working with partner organisations such as the Salvation Army, Launch Housing, The Good Box, Go Kindly, Front Yard, McAuley Community Services for Women and Orange Sky Laundry.

At City Cite, students took a deep dive into the social issue of homelessness, compassion and empathy by visiting a number of places in Melbourne’s CBD to learn about the issue from the experts. Students had sessions with Victorian Police, a Muslim speaker, Big Issue and Just Voices.

Working in small groups, students created a short podcast that shares their findings and highlights the role of their partner organisation in reducing homelessness in Melbourne. Students also considered suggestions of what more could be done to support both their partner organisation and to reduce the issue.  The writing and delivery of the podcast develops students’ skills in the field of influence communication.

Accompanying their podcast, groups designed the podcast cover art, as well as a photograph that represents the issue, organisation and solution. The body of work will form the exhibition to highlight the work of the City of Melbourne as part of Homelessness Week in August.

Prior to their week at City Cite, our Year 9s were visited by SYN Media for a ‘How to Podcast’ session to introduce them to the equipment and podcasting best practice techniques. They also engaged in a photography workshop with Korowa’s own Art Technician and a research skills workshop to prepare them for the week ahead.  SYN Media returned to School this week to assist students with the editing phase.

Head of Year 9, Kate Tanner, said “during Project Empathy week, the Year 9s really demonstrated kindness, compassion and great depth of understanding of what community really means. They asked insightful questions that highlighted their engagement with the purpose of the project and their consideration and respect for each presenter as they shared their stories. This experience has really inspired them and I cannot wait to see the ripple effect, as these students now take small steps to make a positive difference in their community”.

An exhibition of the student’s art work and podcasts will be made available later this year.