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Championing positivity in a far north Qld community

​It's all about teamwork and positivity: Northern Peninsula Area State College teacher James Maguire puts a smile on the dials of the school's tuckshop ladies

It's the little things that can make a big difference. The simple random acts of kindness that touch lives. And thanks to some modest deeds of positivity and goodwill by one Far North Queensland teacher, the small community of Injinoo is reaping the benefits.

James Maguire is the Northern Peninsula Area State College Health and Physical Education teacher for Prep to Year 6. He is also one of the Department of Education Wellbeing Champions who are recognised for their contribution in positively influencing the wellbeing of others.

Within this very remote Far North Queensland school, James said he tried to inject some fun and positivity in even the most simple activities.

'It is the little things that happen every day that I feel makes the biggest positive difference to wellbeing,' James said.

'From the "good mornings", to the hi-fives, spending time with our local tuckshop ladies, helping the school groundskeeper, being genuinely interested in Injinoo and the culture of the surrounding communities, and simply talking to parents about the successes of their children, it’s these seemingly trivial acts that make a huge difference to our community.'

Injinoo is located at the very tip of Australia, which, James said, created both geographical and communication challenges.

'We are a small 100% Indigenous community located right by the water's edge. Our students do not speak Standard Australian English, which can prove difficult for the teaching staff. They have to learn how to communicate with students who speak creole at school, in the playground and at home.'

Some of James' small initiatives may seem insignificant, but they set the foundation for a positive culture within Injinoo. These range from organising Sunday sport sessions for teachers, nurses and police; giving chocolates to all staff with a small note explaining why he is grateful for working with them; playing music on the PA speaker before school and at lunch time–creating a party, festive vibe; coordinating end-of-year, whole-college dinners; and coordinating a special school shirt for the entire campus.

'Having all staff wear the same Indigenous-designed work shirts on a particular day boosts morale and creates a sense of belonging. It builds team spirit within our school,' he said.

'Making sure our staff work together and treat each other like family is very important to me. It's in the building of relationships that the greatest benefit comes and enables a deep respect for culture, traditions and each other.

'We live in a unique and quite special place. You have to work each day at improving wellbeing and, in my opinion, nothing boosts morale like positivity and teamwork. Smiling every day and getting your school family to smile every day is a simple step to boosting school community and wellbeing.

'If we can have fun together as adults and the children see us working together and respecting each other, then they can see a future where everyone can learn and work alongside each other too.'

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
16 March 2020