The Smiling Animals in the Dreamtime project aimed to:
- Improve animal welfare in indigenous communities
- Deliver animal welfare education to primary aged school children in a trusted learning environment
- Provide teachers in remote community schools with resources, lesson plans and notes to teach students in the classroom about animal welfare.
The project has delivered on its goals to provide essential teaching resources to improve student understanding towards animals and animal welfare in indigenous community schools.
The project visited 15 schools on the mainland, with a potential exposure to over 3000 students and to 12 Torres Strait Island schools, with an exposure to almost 1000 pupils, in the first year of delivery. With the resources now in the school libraries and the capacity to deliver to every student every calendar year, this resource will continue to inform and improve understanding and empathy towards animals within indigenous communities.
At most campuses, presentations were made to class students and teachers on the program deliverables and on general animal welfare matters. Where possible the Animal Management Worker in the community was invited to attend to provide a link between student learning and matters relevant to the health, welfare and management of animals within the community.
At some campuses separate meetings were also held with the school Principal to focus discussion on the implementation of the lesson plans within the school and the expected outcomes for students. In all cases the program was well received with support given to implementation.
The Teacher Resource Pack has also been made available online on the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website to enable all teachers wishing to provide students with a better understanding of the principles of animal welfare in six simple lessons.
The continued success of the project will be determined by the willingness and enthusiasm of individual teachers to continue the delivery of the lesson plans and to engage the students in the fun and interactive way that the lessons and associated activities presented in the resource kit allow. The enthusiasm with which the project was met indicates that this willingness is there and the lesson plans will be delivered.
The primary aim of the project to provide teachers in remote community schools with the resources to teach students in the classroom about animal welfare, through the provision of lesson plans, teacher aides, notes and activities has been achieved. By implementing the program, schools will meet the goal of the project which is to improve animal welfare in indigenous communities through teaching animal welfare education in a trusted learning environment.