December 14th, 2021

Hello Buchan Community (and East Gippsland),
I am sure that you have seen or heard about our cutest new staff member, called Marley, and I wanted to tell you a little bit about how we got her!
In late 2020 I was speaking to a parent who was having trouble with a child not wanting to goto school, we discussed a range of support options, including pets at school. I found guinea pigs and had them delivered to Buchan school to encourage children to attend, give them important caring roles and to provide comfort to all students! This was great but I really wanted a Wellbeing Dog!
I had seen HUGE success with other schools, engaging Dogs Connect and integrating and training puppies to become wellbeing dogs. I had seen the improvements in staff and student wellbeing in schools with wellbeing dogs and I loved the way that the students had to learn about their own emotional regulation, so that they could teach the puppy to regulate and become a wellbeing staff member. I discussed this with parents, staff and students and Elly McAuliffe wrote a brilliant letter of support.
I asked everywhere for money, and one day, whilst I was at Buchan PS, the Australian Tarmac Rally team came to the school offering to donate $500. Whilst this was great, I told them about our plans for a wellbeing dog and they offered to help us fundraise! Sarah and I developed a crowd funding page, with My Cause, and promoted this with the Tarmac Rally community. We raised $2,175 and Banksia Park Puppies donated us a PUPPY!!
We still needed more money for Dogs Connect to work with staff and students, to train our puppy. I contacted Connect Well, who funded us $15,000 for Dogs Connect and some of the ongoing costs for our puppy.
We then started working with the students to make some really important decisions!
What gender will our dog be?
What colour will our dog be?
What will be her name?
The students all participated and voted at each stage, it was so exciting.
I look forward to supporting the Buchan PS students in 2022 😊
Kind Regards
Kelly Duncan – Bushfire Recovery Practitioner – Department of Education and Training