Psychologists for Peace

Enhancing Relationships in School Communities (ERIS)


Enhancing Relationships in School Communities Project (2004-2011)

A collaborative team comprising members from Psychologists for Peace developed the Enhancing Relationships in School Communities research program. Drawing upon expertise in school-based program development, implementation, and evaluation and specific expertise in conflict resolution theory and practice. The initial aim of the ERIS project was to assist primary schools to make whole school changes in how they approached conflict by helping teachers learn more cooperative problem-solving approaches.

The ERIS project used a model of extended teacher professional development for core school teams while providing support, curricula and resources for teachers to assist their students to learn and use those approaches to resolve conflict.  A further aim of the ERIS project, which developed increasingly over time, was to support a focus on respect for cultural diversity as part of the broad agenda of enhancing relationships in schools. The ERIS Project was conducted in three phases.

Research on the ERIS project demonstrated the value of a core team model of ongoing professional learning. Core teams contributed to whole school approaches to conflict resolution through policy development, supporting and sharing their learning with other staff, embedding conflict resolution in the curriculum and engaging parents in new approaches.


Project Leaders

Professor Eleanor Wertheim - School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University [email protected]  

Ms Elizabeth Freeman â€“ Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne [email protected]

Ms Margot Trinder - Psychologists for Peace, Interest Group of the Australian Psychological Society [email protected]


Project Contributors 

University of Melbourne: Professor Ann Sanson, Professor Glenda MacNaughton, Dr Kylie Smith, Dr Prasanna Srinivasan; Dr Karina Davis, Anne Farrelly; Sue Hunt

La Trobe University: Amy Antcliffe, Michael Gurr, Jo Hutton, Leanne Kelly, Shanel Richardson,


ERIS Resources and Publications

The conflict resolution skills ladder

Five standpoints for surfacing cultural diversity

Centre for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood Education (CEIEC) Justice Alerts


Partners and Funders

ERIS Phase 1 (2004-06) The Enhancing Relationships in School Communities Project

  • Scanlon Foundation
  • Australian Psychological Society, Psychologists for Peace Interest Group
  • The Melbourne Community Foundation’s Morawetz Social Justice Fund 


Final Report for Schools and Systems


ERIS Phase 2 (2007-2010) Creating Culturally Respectful Primary Schools: Enhancing Relationships through Strategic Professional Learning.

  • Australian Research Council (Linkage Grant)
  • Scanlon Foundation
  • Catholic Education Office, Melbourne
  • St Anthony's Primary School, Alphington
  • Haig St Primary School, Heidelberg
  • Australian Psychological Society, Psychologists for Peace Interest Group


Creating Culturally Respectful Primary Schools: Final Report


ERIS Phase 3 (2011) Talking Culture: Building on the challenges and successes of culturally diverse schools

  • Collier Charitable Trust
  • Broadmeadows Communities for Children project, Hume Early Years (HEY) partnership


Talking Culture: Final Report