Jake's Story

For young people who have experienced significant trauma and have often been excluded from mainstream education, the Berry Street School provides a safe, nurturing environment to help them achieve. 

Jake* is a student at our Berry Street School. When he first started, he was struggling with thoughts of self-harm. The school created a very clear safety plan for him and Berry Street school teacher, Julie, started character lessons with him. 

Together, Jake and Julie identified that humour was Jake’s signature strength. Every day, Julie talked with him about ways to practice humour, when to notice humour, opportunities to lift other people up with humour. 

After a while, Julie told us that Jake looked at her and said “No one has ever seen me the way you see me. No one has ever noticed that I’m good at something, and that’s humour. And no one has ever tried to make me better by focusing on my strength.”


The Berry Street Education Model helps vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to identify and build on their character strengths, develop resilience and re-engage in learning. The model combines knowledge about brain development and the impact of trauma, helping traumatised young people achieve their social and academic potential. We are rolling out the education model in schools around Australia, training educators and providing them with curriculum and strategies to engage students who present with the most challenging behaviour.

Almost 40% of children in every classroom in every school have experienced trauma.

Since introducing the Berry Street Education Model into our Berry Street School, our students have achieved an average of 1.8 years growth in each year, for the last 3 years running.

This year we will be delivering training on our Education Model to wellbeing representatives from 360 Catholic schools, working in 8 flexible learning/alternative schools and 19 Government schools.

*Name has been changed in the interest of privacy. The models and volunteers pictured are not connected to the case study.

Berry Street Victoria Incorporated (ABN 24 719 196 762) is a public benevolent institution with endorsement as a Deductible Gift Recipient issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Berry Street is also a Tax Concession Charity, holding income tax exemption under Subdivision 50-B of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, and is a Registered Charity with Consumer Affairs Victoria (Number 10925.12).