School helps fight homelessness on the Central Coast

December 17, 2018

Students at Brisbane Water Secondary College Umina Campus, are donating over $700 to Mary Mac’s Place in Woy Woy – an outreach community service providing up to 100 meals a day to the homeless as well as other services such as Legal Aid, emergency relief and partners in recovery and health assistance. Mr Brown’s Year 9 Commerce class were required to create their own business to operate within school. It was the accumulative profit of each business that raised the money for the substantial donation.

Each business was officially operational for 2 weeks. Students developed the following products or services – natural care products, specifically handmade bath bombs and perfume dissolvents, a book store, buzz out skills tester, teacher car wash service, spider soft drink stall, confectionery stall, guessing jar competitions and a sports skills tester.

Students were required to advertise their product or service within school, taking into account the demographic and clientele base that a years 7-9 junior campus would offer. Some businesses targeted students as their primary market, some targeted teachers, some did both. Mr Brown put them in charge of organising their own roster, keeping record of their own accounts (including expenditure, cost price, retail price and profits) and ensuring that they met strict deadlines.

“I loved the assessment task. Seeing everyone’s response to the stall – seeing the reward of our hard work and people enjoying themselves – gave you a real sense of fulfilment,” said student Maddison May. “It wasn’t always easy though, we weren’t prepared for the high amount of sales we got on the first day of our spider drink stall and ran out of stock quickly. We bought a lot more for the next day and it was quiet – it just goes to show that business is unpredictable and can fluctuate so you really need to think on your feet.”

Additionally, prior to business operations, students created a risk management plan. This included any work health and safety issues that could occur and what measures they have in place, both preventative and consequential, to ensure smooth business operations. At this time, they also pitched their business ideas to a panel of four teachers, with diverse expertise, in order to receive feedback and implement necessary adjustments. Head Teacher of Science, James Guthrie,, stated “We are always constantly reminded of the talent and application of our students at Brisbane Water Secondary College – the panel were thoroughly impressed by the ingenuity and entrepreneurship. What they achieved is nothing short of inspiring.”

After students had concluded their sales, they came back to ‘the panel’ and presented their business evaluations to both parents and teachers. As a result, students generously raised over $700 in profit to donate to Mary Mac’s Place in Woy Woy. When asked about why the class chose to donate their money, student Guy Cooper stated “It’s really important to give back to the local community. Mary Mac’s are a non-for-profit so the donation is going to those who really need it. We even got to tour the facility to see first hand the positive impact it has made for the homeless people in our community – it’s made a real difference.”

This task goes to show that the students at Brisbane Water Secondary College are learning and putting into practice real life skills whilst also gaining an understanding and huge sense of appreciation for local and small business. “You have to be dedicated and fully committed to the business – to ensure everything is running smoothly. Going through this assessment task made me realise that I like a fast-paced work environment and being able to think on my feet”, stated student Jordan Curren. When reflecting upon the task, Mr Brown said “I really wanted to emphasise to my students that, even on their small scale of operation, the amount of hours and hard work required to operate your own business successfully takes determination and resilience. My students certainly showed these qualities. I’m very proud of them.”

Catherine Pantehis, coordinator for homeless services at Mary Mac’s, said that “This effort helps us in being able to provide meals, laundry, showers and other support services for homeless people and anyone else in need.”

by Robert Brown, HSIE & Commerce Teacher at Brisbane Water Secondary College


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