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Callum’s story

When his life was uprooted, Callum adapted and showed true courage in the face of adversity.

Callum* has lived with his Pop Gerard*, a MacKillop foster carer, for over five years now. Though they had lived in Roelands Village, Callum needed to move to a larger regional town in the South West in January 2022 because of an illness suffered by Pop. Callum still retains strong cultural connections to Roelands, and he and Pop visit regularly.

The move also meant a change of school for Callum, and school had always been a major trauma trigger for him. He had a history of numerous school exclusions due to trauma related behaviours. Coping with Pop’s illness, saying goodbye to people, and being open to a new school, people and experiences took great courage.

In 2020, he was enrolled in an Alternate Learning Centre with a goal to transition to mainstream school and felt supported. MacKillop Education prepared him to transition to High School on a modified program in 2021. Callum attended on a 1:1 basis, with limited peer interaction, and was able to complete the year with no suspensions.

In January, Pop was hospitalised following a mild stroke. Callum was really worried about him but was very brave in his coping. His Uncle Phillip* took on his care while Pop recovered. They moved into Uncle Phillip’s home and Callum was enrolled in a new school. Concerns were addressed through a great transition plan and Callum commenced school. Concurrently, the family had to move house, as their old house was being demolished - He experienced many changes in a very short time.

Callum attends on his own, is thriving, more confident and has begun socialising with peers during recess and lunch. He has also had no suspensions. Though he misses Roelands Village, as long as he is with Pop he feels safe and Pop ensures he is immersed in his culture.

To all who know Callum and his family history, he is an inspiration. Callum has gone from a young boy who struggled with his emotional regulation and was excluded from many activities, to engaging in school and growing into a young Aboriginal man, connected to his culture.

Callum was always anxious about school which impacted his learning and he struggled to interact with other students. His former 1:1 teacher’s commitment and genuine relationship enabled Callum to progress and grow in confidence. Callum was able to settle in well at his new school and is now above average reading level for Year 8.

While much of the progress Callum has made is due to the culturally safe placement with Pop, credit must also go to Callum for wanting his life to look different, having the courage to make changes and seek support when he needs it. There have been no reports of any incidents or escalations for him over the last 2 years, due to the supports in place and Callum feeling safe.

*Name changed to protect privacy