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Jenny Shale

Jenny Shale is President of the National Federation of Parents, Families and Carers. She is a mother of a son with a disability, and an educator and community leader.

In the 1980s Jenny moved to Loganlea to raise her child, on the outskirts of Brisbane. Loganlea is a public housing area with high levels of family breakdown, unemployment, and drug and welfare dependency. Jenny was unskilled and unemployed at the time. She found herself spending each day at her child's school responding to crises. Since she found herself at school each day, battling rules and exclusion, she decided to train as a teacher.

In 2007, she is still at the school, having revolutionised its culture and community through do-it-yourself social entrepreneurship. Loganlea State High is now a mecca for students and families with special needs. Of its 720 students, 42 per cent have recognised special needs requiring individual case management. The oldest enrolled student is 89 years of age, the youngest is nine. The school has partnerships with 189 businesses, a hospital, a university, a TAFE, and a juvenile justice centre. It runs a farm, a mechanics' garage, and a restaurant as commercial ventures staffed by its students. Its students do the school maintenance work. Its Rural Horizons is a student-run business. The school janitor doubles as an integration aide. School classrooms double as clinics for Child and Youth Mental Health and counselling rooms for family support.

Senior school staff are required to visit the homes of school families regularly. The school's operating hours extend from 6am to 6pm. No school meeting or function takes place without eating together, because that's when community is built.

Jenny Shale is now Head of Department of Social Justice at Loganlea State High School, a position she created. Contact:

At last - a national voice for parents, families and carers
Society - 15/08/2007 - 5 comments

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