Case study: Emotional support rabbits
Brauer College Student Representative Council won the 2022 Student Led Project Award with their Emotional Support Rabbits project.
The Student Representative Council (SRC) team at Brauer is made up of a wide range of year levels, backgrounds, and experiences.
The SRC and other students within the school identified a lack of morale and discussion surrounding mental health so decided to do something about it. After thorough research, they concluded that Emotional Support Animals would greatly benefit the school community, so they came together and collaborated with staff and students outside of the SRC to determine how it would affect everyone within the school and how it would be implemented. After receiving permission from the principal, they raised awareness, fundraised, got sponsors and worked with the school’s Hands On Learning team to sustainably create an enclosure. The team then worked with local vets and found an ethical breeder. To begin with, two rabbits were purchased. As Brauer was the first school in Australia to have rabbits as Emotional Support Animals, they continued researching its benefits and 10 months later, decided to purchase a third rabbit due to their positive impact.
This project started a discussion surrounding mental health and helped students achieve a greater sense of understanding about mental health. The younger year levels received mental health first aid training and the rabbits were a significant grounding tool for them. There has been large amounts of positive feedback from both staff and students, and members from the school’s SRC have been discussing a similar model with other local schools to see how it can help them. Having the rabbits in our wellbeing space also rejected the stigma surrounding that space, and the phrase “going to see the rabbits” became more comfortable and less invasive than “going to wellbeing.”
This case study is drawn from VicSRC's Student Voice Awards, an annual celebration of best practice student voice, amplifying the important contribution of students to Victorian education and acting as a catalyst for change within Victorian schools.