SUPPORTING young people through their high school years is a vital part of their development, and Danny Graham does it so well, he’s been honoured with two community awards.
But Graham says that being named the recipient of a community service award and the prestigious Jeff Britten Award For The Pursuit of Excellence at the Eurobodalla Shire Council’s annual Australia Day Awards ceremony still came as a complete surprise.
“It was an honour but it was also quite a humbling experience for both awards. The first one I was shocked that I was nominated and won the community award but the second one, I was totally blindsided by that,” Graham says.
“When I see so many hard working, unsung heroes out there … when you are nominated for an award my first thought was ‘wow, there are so many other people who do equal to what I do and more’.”
Graham is the head teacher and coordinator of the special religious education (SRE) program at Batemans Bay High School in New South Wales and is also a trained psychologist. Throughout his 12 years in this role, Graham has been able to develop a successful program that assists teenagers with issues like racism, bullying, relationships, drugs, alcohol and body image.
“In addition to the work in the classroom, as a psychologist I’ve worked and supported the students for many years with the challenges of life …
“My role as a psychologist supporting students and teachers in the area of mental illness has been complementing the school counsellors,” he says.
The school principal, Neil Simpson, is keen to sing Graham’s praises.
“[Graham’s] presentation skills and content knowledge ensure he engages all students, resulting in a highly successful across school SRE program,” Simpson says.
On top of his work at the school, the awards also recognised the work Graham has done with communities in Northern Uganda.
“I take off to Northern Uganda once a year … setting up leaders to understand post traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, the impact that it has on learning.
“The program is really exciting to be involved with. I consider it an absolute honour to be across there.”