Buddy Bench proves a winner

Holly ThompsonSound Telegraph
Year 4 student Varaya sits on the Buddy Bench at Hillman Primary School.
Camera IconYear 4 student Varaya sits on the Buddy Bench at Hillman Primary School. Credit: Holly Thompson

A project aimed at helping primary school students make friends and feel supported at school has proved to be a success across the Rockingham area.

Hillman Primary School has run the Buddy Bench project since 2015. Their bench is situated outside the nurture room.

School chaplain Karen Armstrong, who works in the nurture room with students at lunchtime, said she had seen how successful the bench had been.

“It is a bench I use as well, to sit on and have a chat to students and see how they are going and it feels less formal than in an office,” she said.

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“The bench is placed in a real thoroughfare for students during recess and lunch, and students tend to notice others sitting there and go and join them.”

Learning support co-ordinator Lisa Oliver said because the bench had been at the school for a long time, they all knew about the bench and what it was for.

“We have kids who leave the classroom when it is all getting a bit too much and we’ll often find them on the bench,” she said.

“It is a bit of a respite place for them and somewhere safe they can go to.”

The Buddy Bench project is run through Bendigo Bank.

Bendigo Bank board member Dirk Mulder and Rockingham Community Financial Services chairwoman Barbara Holland both helped replace the old Buddy Bench sticker at Hillman Primary with a new one.

Mr Mulder said the bench provided support for students who were bullied or isolated.

“Staff can then also be aware of which students are maybe struggling,” he said.

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