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Aussie program cited as way of helping UK communities bounce back after riots

7 May, 2012

UK panel, convened after the London Riots, has cited the use of a resilience program born out of a research grant from Deakin University and developed by psychologist and education lecturer, Dr Helen McGrath, as a way of improving young people's engagement in society and future prospects, including employment.

In its final report, After the Riots, the Riots Communities and Victims Panel, called for schools to help pupils develop character attributes such as self-discipline, application, the ability to defer gratification and resilience.

The panel was set up in 2011 to examine and understand why the August 2011 riots took place.

Its report was presented to the UK's Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Official Opposition earlier this year.

"Poor attitudes about school and the future can predict whether young people become individuals who are not in education, employment or training," the panel said.

"It is difficult to gather quantitative evidence on whether a lack of character in rioters led to their criminal actions.

"It is, however, evident that rioters chose not to resist the temptations and excitement that the riots offered them while many of their peers, experiencing similar disadvantage, made a positive choice not to go on to the streets and damage their communities."

The Panel cited the Bounce Back! program and evidence from a trial of Bounce Back! in Perth and Kinross between 2008 and 2010.

"The Panel has seen strong potential in programmes delivered through schools in the UK, US and Australia which are designed to help children build resilience and self-confidence as part of normal school life," the report said.

"The evaluation showed increases in pupils' personal resilience, attitudes and skills in the schools where Bounce Back! had been adopted.

"In particular, there was a marked increase in pupils' awareness of control over their feelings.

"Pupils also commented on the positive effect of Bounce Back! on their own confidence and social skills."

Dr McGrath said she and her co creator of the program, Dr Toni Noble were delighted at the panel's citation and attributed the success of the program to its ability to fit in with different parts of the curriculum.

"The UK panel was very concerned about the lack of basic literacy among their young people as this was a key reason why young some young people felt excluded from their communities," Dr McGrath said.

"One of the reasons Bounce Back! has been popular with teachers is that it has a very heavy focus on literacy and it merges with the personal and social areas of the curriculum as well as the literacy and language aspects."

Dr McGrath and Dr Noble have also trained teachers in to use Bounce Back! in 46 Victorian schools affected by the Black Saturday Bushfires as part of the Department of Education and early Childhood development (DEECD's) PsychoSocial Recovery Unit.

News facts
  • Resilience program cited in report on London riots
  • Panel sees strong potential in programmes delivered through schools in the UK, US and Australia which are designed to help children build resilience and self-confidence as part of normal school life
  • Success of program linked to its ability to fit in with different parts of the curriculum

Media contact

Helen McGrath
Psychologist and Education Lecturer
0419 351 616
helen.mcgrath@deakin.edu.au

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7th May 2012