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Employment, Education and Training Program Helping Youth to Thrive

We believe everyone who has the strength to conquer adversity and the resilience to bounce back from trauma and abuse has a superpower. We call them our superkids and they are learning to fly. Parkerville Children and Youth Care

The first school term of the year is nearly over and while many teenagers are rushing to the high school finish line, others have given up on conventional school. In some cases, schools have given up on them too.

Sometimes when children aren’t thriving in the classroom it is because of the pressures they are experiencing elsewhere in their lives. The right intervention at the right time can be just the springboard these young people need to give them a new start.

The unique Employment, Education and Training (EET) program at Parkerville Children and Youth Care takes a very different approach. It gives young people a circuit breaker . . . a fresh slate . . . and an informed, understanding environment in which to learn and grow so they are confident and equipped to tackle life’s challenges in the future.

Hundreds of young people, from 14 to 16 years, have successfully completed the six-month program finding new confidence and skills to prepare them for a job and many go on to gain their trade qualifications at TAFE.

Every day, the turnaround Greg Holloway sees in the young people under his care, reminds him why he has had been part of the teaching team at ‘Parky’ for more than seven years.

‘It is the young people who bring me back every day’, he said. ‘It can be years later that we receive a call from someone looking for a reference for one of our past students. We get to know them all so well it is easy to remember who they are and to be able to talk positively about them.

‘The program has an excellent track record. Just recently, one of our students applied for work experience with a gardening company. The employer was hesitant until he found out the student was one of ours.

‘The employer had been through the EET program himself. He had a brush with drugs and bikies in his early days and credited the Parky program for turning his life around. Now he has a successful business. He took the student on for work experience and was so impressed he has since given him a permanent job. We hear lots of stories like this.

‘I struggled a lot as a high school teacher watching some kids fall through the cracks and there was very little I could do about it then. My take now is that their misbehaving is not a response to education but a response to the way these young people are treated in schools.

‘Many have had a difficult journey in life and once they have been labelled a troublemaker that label sticks. They need empathy and understanding and the best thing we can do is listen with an open mind.’

The EET program is registered with the WA Department of Education and caters for young people, aged 14 to 16, who have left school or are at risk of dropping out too early. The approach combines evidence-based child psychology and clinical care with good old-fashioned mentoring, support and practical skills to help students thrive.

‘Over six months, we work closely with our students to build literacy, numeracy, social and life skills. We also give them the opportunity to experience work and the demands and rewards that help build a great work ethic,’ Greg said.

‘When people come here, they expect our students to be hanging from the chandeliers, disengaged and badly behaved. But that is rarely the case. Instead of falling behind, being disruptive, withdrawing or dropping out of education altogether, many find the inspiration and confidence they need to start afresh.’

The program is limited to 12 students at a time. Students have their own daily learning program and goals and they finish the course equipped with a nationally recognised Certificate II of General Education for Adults and six months work experience, with training in work readiness skills such as safety, communication and the standards of behaviour and performance expected by employers.

Students work together in groups of four and they spend no more than two hours at a time in the classroom. The rest of the day is spent on the job or developing practical, work skills in the peaceful bushland setting of the Parkerville campus.

Many Parky graduates experience a profound turnaround. After six months they are ready to head to TAFE or into the workforce with fresh confidence, new skills and a sense of excitement and optimism for the future.

‘Most of the young people come to us hating school, hating the teachers and we see them grow. They develop a sense of self-worth they didn’t have before and the confidence to succeed where they weren’t prepared to take the risk because everyone expected them to fail,’ said Greg.

‘When the young people leave here, I firmly believe they are miles ahead of other school students when it comes to their readiness for employment.’

Parkerville CYC is currently looking for supporters and sponsors for this program. If you or your organisation can help, please contact Ra Stewart at rstewart@parkerville.org.au or on 9235 7000.

Parkerville Children and Youth Care

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