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MERRI-BEK WEEK 1 TERM 3 2023

Hi Everyone!


I’m excited to say we’re already underway with our newest crew members from the Merii-bek council area. We’ve already had one full week and are excited to debrief with you here today 🙂


On Wednesday the 26th of July we collected the crew members for our first day at Oxygen Youth Space in Coburg. Having a few introductory games we got the group more comfortable around one another before delving into some values exercises. Every term we create our own values wheel, that leads to a fun and safe program for all. Our crew traced their hands and we decided upon 5 values and amongst them chose the most prominent amongst them for our term. They are as follows:

  1. Kindness

  2. Respect

  3. Trust

  4. Honesty

  5. Fun

After these values were set we had a small break before looking into other people's senses of values, by watching some short clips and discussing them. After this we did a short survey to see how we feel about certain aspects of the program, from riding in the bus and not having their phones all day, to sleeping in cabins and how they feel riding a bike. This way we can properly assess who is confident in which activities and who might need more support in other areas. When we came back from our lunch break we then moved on to our second activity, boxing. We greeted our boxing coach Sal and his coworker John down at Melbourne Aboriginal Youth Sports & Recreation Centre, a space that we are grateful to utilise. Sal and John work for Fire Rescue Victoria, and as a part of educating young people about fire safety he joins us a few times each term to have a boxing session. During the day he educated us on his value of attitude, and making sure your mindset supports you in the space. After a few rounds on a bag some of our students went head to head with him in the ring. Our crew enjoyed their time, pushing themselves and getting to understand a little more about fires and how to react in that difficult situation. Once done we thanked Sal and John before dropping off at Collingwood Station, a place we would meet the next day.


On Thursday the 27th, we collected the crew at collingwood station and headed off to our second day, hiking and tree surfing. On our way to Belgrave, we joked and listened to some music, finding the taste of the group. When we finally got to the hiking location, Sherbrooke forest, we touched on the importance of staying in a group and working together while walking together. We began on a good step, all chatting and walking, aiding students as they led the group. Through the walk the crew had an opportunity to look around, taking in the sites and exploring what the brush of the forest looked like, some even entering the hollow of a tree. It was muddy but enjoyable with students walking at a quick fitted pace to our eventual end and lunch break. Here we talked about the camp, bringing up our food options and talking about our activities before moving on to our tree surfing. This, was to be one of the more nerve wracking activities of them all as we scaled the trees to a max height of about 15 meters. All getting through an introductory course we moved to the higher levels. Moving in groups we climbed through the tree, ziplining and shakily making our way through each obstacle. It was truly thrilling, each student having something positive to say about the experience and how they were proud of one another for making their way through the more daunting areas. We then headed off having some upbeat songs on our way home from a rather exhausting day.


On Friday the 28th we had an easy start. Collecting at collingwood station we headed to Collingwood Alternative School (CAS), the home base for Operation Newstart Northern. Here we touched on some self-reflection pieces, things we review through the term, before breaking for a play around CAS’s gym. Soon enough we moved onto some book work, identifying and talking about character strengths. Character strengths are parts of your personality that impact how you think, feel and behave, there being 24 in total. After talking about what they believed were their personal strengths and why, we moved on to do a survey from VIA, talking about all character strengths and in which order they are present for each individual. After we finished answering some questions and discussed these answers, many were surprised by the computers' responses to their surveys. We then had a small break before re-grouping and chatting about goals. Each student is to identify 3 school related goals and 2 personal goals for the program. These are another reflection tool for the students, allowing them to identify what they specifically want from the program. Each student was diligent, having very different and specific things they wanted to identify for their personal journeys. After this we had some final free time at CAS, eating our lunches and chatting or playing some badminton before heading to our final activity, landscaping. At Melbourne Polytechnic Fairfield, we met with Ash, a teacher and landscaper who has been working alongside the Operation Newstart Groups for many years. We talked about what TAFE was, how people can attend both during and after high school and what types of courses were available. We soon moved on to our activity, paving, it is a widely used skill in paving but also something everyone is aware of, as we’ve all walked a paved path before. The crew was split into two groups, each being told in easy steps and getting full rein over their own projects. The groups did extremely well, all focusing on following all instructions and being very determined to present their best work. This is a great session for those looking at trades to find their spark in hands-on learning. After this we thanked Ash for all his help and touched on the camp once again before finishing for the week.


We are all pumped for the continuation of this term and I know just from the first week alone this is going to be a great term!



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