Macarthur school launches innovative program to nip destructive behaviour in the bud

Innovative idea: Dr Georgie Fleming speaks to deputy principal Rebecca Dao via an earpiece as she sits with year 1 student Bianca Pirie in the PCIT room. Picture: Chris Lane
Innovative idea: Dr Georgie Fleming speaks to deputy principal Rebecca Dao via an earpiece as she sits with year 1 student Bianca Pirie in the PCIT room. Picture: Chris Lane

An innovative program which could nip destructive behaviours like substance abuse and criminal activity in the bud is now active at Ingleburn Public School.

A dedicated Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) facility has been built on the school grounds and will see a trained therapist observe a parent and disruptive child playing behind a two-way mirror.

The therapist acts as a live coach and feeds information and techniques to the parent through an earpiece.

This allows the therapist to be involved but not distract the child.

The program aims to overcome disruptive behaviours in children.

Ingleburn principal Graeme Green said the PCIT method had been a proven success since it was developed in the United States in the 1970s.

The school has partnered with UNSW to develop a localised unit.

Mr Green said bringing the program into school grounds was a world-first and something he hoped would become the norm in Australian education standards.

"This is a program for children who have been diagnosed with a behaviour disorder and is different from what could typically be achieved with a counsellor," he said.

"It is very individualised to the needs of each child.

"We're starting with just our community of primary schools and a pre-school but we hope it grows beyond that.

"We believe this model will be so successful that it will spread into the greater Sydney metro area."

Kids from Ingleburn Public School, Macquarie Fields Public School, Sackville Street Public School, St Andrews Public School, Robert Townson Public School, Warwick Farm Public School and Campbelltown Community Preschool will benefit from the program.

UNSW Associate Professor Eva Kimonis said PCIT was a successful form of early intervention.

"This is for the most disruptive kids and it can have benefits in later life," she said.

"This type of early intervention can prevent substance abuse, criminal behaviour and even mental health issues.

"The therapy will translate into a calm classroom experience."

Associate Professor Kimonis said the length of the program depending on the needs of each individual child, but ran an average of 14-21 weeks.

PCIT ensures the parents, teachers and the therapist are all on the same page when it comes to the child's development and behaviour.

The school has already identified 50 children who will benefit from the program in its first stage.

Mr Green said he was thrilled that the PCIT program was finally going to be implemented after more than a year in development.

The new PCIT building was officially launched at Ingleburn Public School today (Wednesday, June 5).