Across Term 1 and 2, 2019 the YWCA Canberra Youth Engagement Team worked with Calwell High School to develop a weekly LGBTQIA psychosocial group within the school. The school and the ACT Health School Nurse identified and encouraged several young people to be part of the group.
YWCA Canberra worked with the young people to develop the foundations of the group – identifying their purpose, goals and establishing a safe space for the students to be their authentic selves. The young people had named their group SAGA – Sexuality and Gender Alliance, developed a shared understanding of their purpose. Through the term the young people developed a safe space and negotiated with the school to have non-gendered toilets available to students.
With the foundations in place YWCA Canberra consolidated the group through a project that would raise understanding and awareness of SAGA group for other students in the school, with a small budget. SAGA members were actively involved and took ownership of the project direction and outcomes. They brainstormed ideas and negotiated to develop SAGA hoodies to identify them as mentors to others in the school. The group developed a project proposal to present to the Principal and Executive team, which was accepted. Through the project the young people researched and learnt about ethical clothing, small business operation, financial management, group decision making, and Canberra clothing businesses. They organised and promoted several fundraising sausage sizzles to fully finance the project. The group worked together to create two designs: a SAGA logo incorporating the school mascot, the galah, and year specific design.
The designs were approved by Calwell High School and the hoodies are now accepted school uniform. The SAGA group has continued without the ongoing facilitation by YWCA Canberra, the group is held during lunchtime with a teacher and open to other students within the school.