The challenge


JMI brought together a project team to undertake research, collect evidence and identify practical policy opportunities. Comprised of Institute staff, two NSW Department of Education representatives, and a university post-doctoral researcher, the collaborative team worked together from mid-late 2022, with support from a dedicated Expert Advisory Group that included academic researchers, senior policymakers and school principals. The team conducted consultations with more than 50 individuals, harnessing the expertise of leading academic researchers, current and former principals of regional, rural or remote schools, policymakers with expertise in regional Australia, resilience and education, and community representatives and resilience practitioners.

  • JMI project director and project manager
  • Dr Timothy Heffernan, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of New South Wales
  • Two representatives of the NSW Department of Education, Regional, Rural and Remote Education Unit
  • Two principals of regional, rural or remote schools in NSW
  • Professor Rebekah Grace, Western Sydney University
  • Dr Pam Joseph, University of Sydney
  • Professor Carol Mutch, University of Auckland
  • Two NSW Department of Education representatives
  • One Resilience NSW representative

In a nutshell

hrs of facilitated collaboration between policymakers and researchers
stakeholders consulted
practical ideas identified to boost school and community resilience


The Collaborative Project report, Local links and learning: Resilience in regional, rural and remote schools identified four policy focus areas to boost school and community resilience:

Invest in helping to contextualise learning through community engagement and in helping schools to boost the agency of student and their sense of belonging.

Invest in schools’ leadership capacity to boost resilience through specialised training and professional learning, as well as showcasing effective leadership.

Invest in developing a whole-of-school approach to resilience.

Invest in the capacity of schools to grow, meaningful and enduring ties with their community and advise schools on how to expand their connections with key community stakeholders.

How we are creating change

By drawing on the expertise of a broad range of researchers, community leaders and policymakers, the project provided strong examples of evidence-based practice that are now being actively drawn on by the Department of Education. The project generated innovative and transformative policy ideas, which have directly resulted in activity to support the wellbeing of school leaders, and which are informing future thinking on boosting resilience more broadly. The project also advanced collaborative relationships for policy development and built public sector capability.

Learn more about JMI’s Impact Framework.

Tracking progress