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Stephen

Stephen Bentley

Year of Award: 2014 Award State: Tasmania Community > Education
Education > Secondary
The Gallaugher Bequest Churchill Fellowship to investigate effective models of re-engaging traumatised children with education - USA, UK
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I knew about the existence of the Churchill Fellowships for most of my life, as my father Nigel Bentley was awarded one in the early ‘70s. I joined him as a child at the end of his Fellowship and the family enjoyed a self-drive holiday in Europe. To follow in my father’s footsteps was a wonderful opportunity and it has allowed us to share our experiences on a different level.

I continue to spend a great deal of time with my mother and father, as we run a family vineyard on the East Coast at Orford. Wildside is probably one of the smallest vineyards in the State, doing everything without outside assistance. We grow, pick, make, bottle and label our wine at the vineyard.

My Fellowship allowed me to observe, participate in and discuss trauma, brain development and recovery with some of the leading practitioners in the UK and the USA.

My experience has affirmed that here in Tasmania we have made steps in the right direction in dealing with trauma, like the Launching into Learning programs and Community Child and Family centres.

These have the opportunity to successfully address the intergenerational cycles of poverty, neglect and abuse that underpin much of the trauma we see in our schools. A focus on the 0-5 age group is imperative as that is where some 90% of brain development occurs. This is our primary window of opportunity to provide support, education and guidance to young parents (whose own childhood experience may have been less than perfect).

The Fellowship also highlighted for me the need to ensure that our teachers and those working with traumatised children are well trained and are making trauma- informed decisions. Seeing very damaged children recovering was inspirational. Knowing what we can do for these children and how to support them is the first step. Transferring that knowledge into practice is the next challenge. I share the opinion of many people around the world, that the number of children who find attending and participating at school difficult because of trauma in their lives, is seriously underestimated. One of my challenges in the future is to find ways to highlight the size of this problem.

The Fellowship was an amazing opportunity and I feel privileged to have been given it. 

Excerpt from “Bringing Knowledge Home” published by the Churchill Fellows Association of Tasmania (2016) 

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