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MacKillop Education & Engagement Programs

Young people learn most effectively when they feel safe and supported.

Many young people experience barriers in accessing and engaging with learning. Often these barriers can include family violence, neglect or living out of home which can make attending school a struggle. MacKillop Family Services’ Education and Engagement Programs cater for those who find it difficult to learn in a mainstream school setting. In these programs, we support young people aged 6 -18 years with diverse and complex needs.

We work with children and young people to ensure that learning is a positive experience that offers not only academic success but also nurtures their social and emotional wellbeing. We do this by adopting a holistic, trauma-informed model of practice that promotes safety, positive relationships and creates a supportive learning environment.

Our Education and Engagement programs provide school-based or targeted learning interventions, outreach and homework programs, as well as learning and teaching resources.

By adopting a more individualised, flexible approach to learning, we support young people to transition back to mainstream or access vocational training or further education.

Access Ed

Access Ed is a specialist education support service for young people who are disengaged or at risk of disengaging from education. It is available to young people living in a residential care home.

Working in partnership with the student, carers, case managers and schools, our goal is for young people to take an active role in their learning journey to improve their educational outcomes.

The Access Ed service offers:

  • Vocational education support and guidance
  • Provision of educational and sensory resources
  • Assistance to access financial support to enhance education outcomes,
  • Alternate learning strategies (i.e. music lessons, art therapy, mentoring, animal-assisted learning)
  • Access to community support services
  • Educational advocacy
  • Targeted learning interventions


Thrive provides educational services for children and young people living in foster or kinship care at risk of disengaging from education.

The program supports children and young people to improve their educational outcomes through tutoring, mentoring and educational advocacy.

Thrive is available to students (aged 5-18 years) living in a foster or kinship care placement in Melbourne’s western metropolitan region.

Based at the MacKillop Education Maidstone campus, the program supports students to:

  • improve their academic, social and emotional learning
  • identify their strengths and interests as a tool to re-engage them in learning
  • manage the transition back to mainstream education
  • explore future pathways (e.g: employment, alternate education programs or vocational education)

School Focused Youth Services

Mackillop Family Services delivers targeted interventions for students who are vulnerable to, or showing signs of, disengaging from their education. These interventions also aim to the build the capacity of schools to better support those students to remain actively engaged in their learning and successfully complete their education.

School Focused Youth Services (SFYS) supports children and young people in:

  • Moonee Valley
  • Melbourne and Maribyrnong

Paw Pals Program

The Paw Pals Animal Assisted Education (AAE) Program has been developed by MacKillop Education for students who are currently disengaged, or at risk of disengaging, from education. Our program focuses on building student engagement and confidence through animal assisted educational-based activities and individualised learning sessions, working alongside our trained therapy dogs and program facilitators. AAE is a planned and structured student intervention with specific academic and educational goals.

MacKillop Education implements the ReLATE model, and therefore our staff understand the impact and implications of developmental trauma on a student’s learning and education. AAE Paw Pals provides a positive learning environment which supports students to quickly develop trust and self-esteem as an independent learner.

Learn more about Our Learning Partnerships

The MacKillop Institute

The MacKillop Institute provides a suite of evidence-informed programs to support those who have experienced change, grief, loss and trauma.

Professional Development for Schools

Our Reframing Learning and Teaching Environments model supports schools or systems to create the preconditions for improved teaching, learning and wellbeing.

MacKillop Education Resources

Visit this page for resources from our Wellbeing Team to support parents/guardians students and staff in schools.

ReLATE Model

The whole-of-school ReLATE model supports MacKillop Education to reframe best practice in learning, teaching and wellbeing.