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Dusty and Friends

The Dusty and Friends (K-2 resilience program) three-book series is an excellent resource which engages children in lessons teaching vital skills of resilience. It is also a resource which parents, grandparents and the broader community can use from home.

After two years of research and the subject of a PhD study, the author and director of School For Living Sarah Tillott selected the St George Illawarra Dragons to provide a platform for deployment in schools.

This partnership followed recommendations from both the Department of Education and Community and the University Of Wollongong nominating the Dragons as an excellent partnership choice.

Resilience enables the community to build social and emotional competencies which now have a primary role in the National Health and Physical Education curriculum (HPE).

To facilitate and optimise resilience based practice, teachers are required to use pedagogical and relational strategies to foster the skills of resilience such as self-awareness, self-esteem, social awareness and social management. 

In accordance to the national Health and Physical Education curriculum and the NSW PDHPE syllabus, schools have the opportunity and the responsibility to build resilience via evidence based, wellbeing and social and emotional learning programs (SEL). 

The Dragons support classrooms and teachers aiming to promote wellbeing of children’s mental health by focusing on sustainable, contemporary and evidence based principles.


Over the past three years, the Dragons Community staff and players have presented the Dusty and Friends first book 'Game On' to 4375 students in 35 primary schools across the St George and Illawarra regions from Kogarah in the north to Moruya on the south coast.

The program will be deployed in a further 50 schools in Term 3 and 4 of this school year focusing on books two and three 'Spelling Bee' and 'Flying Hamburger' respectively. 

The Dragons have had great success presenting the Dusty and Friends program, which aligns with the Australian Curriculum and ACARA goals, to the early childhood years targeting children aged 4-7 years. Further resilience strategies have been repeated through the Best You Can Be Diary program aimed at Stages 2 and 3.

School for Living

The School for Living provides primary school teachers with a contemporary wellbeing program that will save your time whilst delivering a highly engaging program that aligns with the national curriculum using active play and literature.

The Dusty and Friends program helps to build resilience and social and emotional wellbeing in children using a strengths based approach.

Emerging literature in the resilience research has a particular focus on encouraging children to adopt strategies that facilitate emotional regulation.

Each child's ability to monitor and regulate their emotions is unique and is indicative of their personal intrinsic ability to adopt self-regulatory mechanisms and apply them to create solutions (Tillott, 2015).

For more information on the School For Living program, visit:

Author Sarah Tillot discusses the Dusty and Friends book series with Dragons TV

Teacher Resources

In accordance to the national Health and Physical Education curriculum (HPE), and the NSW PDHPE syllabus, schools have the opportunity and the responsibility to build resilience via evidence based, wellbeing and social and emotional learning programs (SEL).

Early intervention and prevention programs can help to identify at risk students which enable teachers to refer and liaise with internal and external support services (Finney, 2006; Hornby and Atkinson 2003).

Evidence derived from primary studies reviews indicate that school based mental health and social and emotional learning initiatives and programs in Australia and internationally can significantly improve the health, well-being and psychosocial skills of students. Furthermore it can lead to improve learning and academic outcomes (Slee et al 2009; Greenberg 2010).

PD/H/PE 2013 syllabus guide and Dusty and Friends series    

Below is a quick guide that enables educators to view the learning opportunities using the Dusty and Friends series in relation to the School K-6 Syllabus using the Strands and Skills requirements.

The tick on the far right indicates that the concept has either been demonstrated or role modelled in the variety of series in Dusty and Friends or provides a learning opportunity to teach this skill in the school setting using this resource. It also indicates where the Dusty and Friends series may encourage students to engage in the activity given the learning opportunities in the program, for example V5.









Decision making















 Combined with a sports program

Problem solving

PSES 1.5






Active Lifestyle






Interpersonal Relationships





Personal Health Choices





Safe Living







The theory embedded within the Dusty and Friends program can be entwined with a sports program. When this occurs, the entire PDHPE curriculum can be delivered in one setting whilst achieving the outcome required by the ACARA goals and the school curriculum.

Values and attitudes outcomes checklist


Senses of Own worthy and dignity


Respect the rights of others to hold different values and attitudes from their own


Enjoys a sense of belonging


Increasingly accepts responsibility for personal and community health


Willingly participates in regular activity


Commits to realising their full potential


As demonstrated by the comparisons chart, the Dusty and Friends series provides learning opportunities for 4/5 skills checklist and 4/8 strands of the PDHPE syllabus. Given the time constraints that teachers experience in covering the curriculum, the Dusty and Friends series is effective, fun, engaging and efficient way to address the requirements of the PDHPE 2013 school curriculum. When combined with a sports program, the whole of the curriculum can be delivered in an efficient and effective manner.


Dusty & Friends Program Proudly brought to you by St George Illawarra Dragons and the School for Living.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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