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A lesson in life changing Rites of Passage

​Catholic Church Insurance (CCI) and The Rites of Passage Institute have partnered to run an innovative program that supports students in developing a healthy personal identity and learn foundation life skills as they transition from adolescence.

Penola College Year 10 students described an innovative, personal development program that is being conducted at several Catholic schools, as a great experience. It’s helping young adults to become more self-aware and empathetic. One student’s comment was typical of many who participated in the program.

"I learnt a lot about others, and the people who were involved made everyone feel safe and secure."

Catholic Church Insurance (CCI) and The Rites of Passage Institute have partnered to run an innovative program that supports students in developing a healthy personal identity and learn foundation life skills as they transition from adolescence to young adulthood. It has been rolled out at Penola Catholic College in Victoria, with excellent results.

It's another example of the way that CCI assists schools to meet the demands of busy school life, for teachers and students alike. The partnership follows CCI's development of a range of resources for schools including regular Principal Health and Wellbeing reports, risk education material, and Insights articles that track the most important issues and topics for discussion in the education sector. Moreover, schools will benefit from the programs offered through this partnership through improved student and teacher engagement, trust building in the classroom, and reducing bullying and aggressive behaviour among students who learn to interact more positively with their peers and educators.

Schools benefit in other less visible ways from programs develop leadership capabilities, and that enable a psychologically safe and supportive environment for all staff and students; presenting fewer liability and workers' compensation claims.

Ross Castle, General Manager, CCI describes the programs as one of the brightest opportunities today for students, parents, mentors, and educators to find common ground and direction for improving student wellbeing and academic progress. Fostering an identity of group belonging and individual contribution build resilience and he expects to see a positive impact on principal and teacher health and wellbeing for those schools who adopt The Rites of Passage program.    

"At CCI, we see first-hand the importance of investing in health and well-being outcomes for the Catholic school community and we are keen to see initiatives such The Rites Of Passage program find their place in our schools."

Dr Arne Rubinstein is the founder of the innovative approach to supporting young people as they move through life's stages. The programs are the work of 20 years of research and practice that has now led more than 100,000 people around the world to adopt the Rites of Passage principles and practises.

 "Schools and educational institutions are identifying the need to balance the achievement of academic mastery with soft skills such as resilience and self-efficacy," he explains. "Improving the wellbeing of students will not only address many of the issues they are facing like mental health and risk-taking behaviour, but it will also improve their academic outcomes."

"We're a privileged partner," explains Castle "and I'm pleased to see that students are very keen to learn about the journey of transformational growth into young adulthood. The programs help to build family relationships and strong physical health, encourage young people to pursue their unique gifts and talents, and supports them through those transitional challenges of leaving childhood and becoming a teenager."

The Rites of Passage Institute conducted workshops with Year 10 students over 5 days, with extra sessions provided for some students who were considered at risk of disengagement. CCI has identified that schools are aware of a need to address risks with regards to mental health and risk-taking behaviour among some young adults. Teachers often face the challenge of balancing the curriculum and other demands on their time. It's especially difficult to deliver a suitably targeted health and wellness program that caters for a broad cross-section of students, while at the same time dealing with their own wellbeing needs as an educator. The programs and incursions developed by Dr Arne Rubenstein are an invaluable source of strength in this regard; offering practical tools and resources to address these demands.

The Institute also provided staff with a day for consultation to focus on how the school could give staff additional training and education, particularly in trauma-informed practice and highlighting the importance of staff wellbeing.

Deputy Principal (Student Wellbeing) Ernie Pisani, at Penola College said the Rites of Passage workshops were a unique aspect of the school's program throughout 2018, and described them as stimulating for both staff and students.

"The Institute's intimate understanding of adolescents in the contemporary world shapes their programs to cultivate strategies for student self-management and genuine personal growth. We have seen improved self-awareness and more maturity in our students, and this has supported them as they navigate their way in a challenging world. We're thankful that CCI supports this program in a way that has genuinely assisted us to be able to make this investment in our students' development."

CCI's Ross Castle says "The Rites of Passage Institute delivers programs in schools all around Australia and is passionate about bringing out the best in young people. Our partnership with The Institute provides us with a unique opportunity to support even more students in our Catholic education sector and we need to ensure more schools are aware of the benefits of these programs."


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