More than 60 students from BSSC and Bendigo’s 7 to 10 colleges attended an Inclusion Leadership workshop today hosted by the City of Greater Bendigo and BSSC. The inspirational workshop, aimed at young leaders and those with leadership potential, covered a broad range of subject matter, all aimed at building understanding around inclusion and what makes a strong leader.

BSSC Assistant Principal, Kylie Hand, considered the highlight having students sitting together around the tables, actually practicing their skills.

“They are having conversations here that will empower them to have similar conversations outside this setting—and on into the future.”

The presenters included Sophie Weldon and John Rbeiz from Humankind Enterprises who demonstrated the power of storytelling and its ability to build empathy and connection. They led students through a series of exercises to encourage stepping into the shoes of others and deep listening.

“Empathy,” Sophie said, “actually can change the world.”

Students also heard from Duncan Smith of Diversity Partners who discussed the notion of ‘unconscious bias’ and stereotypes, and Rory White, ‎Youth Participation Officer from the City of Greater Bendigo, who spoke about maximising leadership potential.

Asked about the highlights, Rachel, from Bendigo South East College, said; “I’m naturally shy so it was great to hear Sophie say ‘you don’t need to change yourself’.”

For Eaglehawk Secondary College student, Hannah, the highlight was hearing that having empathy is something we should be proud of. Meanwhile it was the radical difference between empathy and sympathy that really impacted  Jackson from BSSC.

Bailey, from Weeroona College, picked up on Duncan’s comments. “Duncan explained that we really cannot help having bias or being a bit judgemental. But he also had good ideas about how we can think differently and become aware of our thinking.”

It was an amazing day of storytelling and sharing of ideas, with students invited to step out of their comfort zones and tell their unique stories in a safe and inclusive environment.