Local, Independant and Effective

3 minute const statement - education programs transforming lives

Posted March 05, 2015


CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (10:44): I believe that young people are our future, and education, followed by meaningful work, is the key to ensuring that all Australians, and particularly young people who live in regional electorates such as Indi, are able to reach their potential. Today I would like to talk about two programs where community, government, philanthropy, families and young people work together—with wonderful results. The programs are 2coolforschool and Hands On Learning.

The 2cool4school program is a pilot program for young people not in school and not employed. It is based in the Albury Wodonga Community College under the guidance of Rodney Wagman. Over either six or 12 months, 2cool4school students learn how to study, whether at home or in safe learning places, such as with a supporting coach. The 2cool4school program currently works with over 1,000 students—developing skills and work opportunities and building self-esteem. I am pleased to report that the 2cool4school success rate is currently at 90 per cent. Evaluations show that 2cool4school has transformed the lives of many individuals and helped to reduce ethnic, Indigenous and regional inequality while enhancing community wellbeing in all its forms, including health, happiness and employment.

Hands On Learning is another program making a huge difference. It is being run in four schools in Indi—Benalla College, FCJ College Benalla, Wodonga Middle Years College and Belvoir Special School. With support from philanthropic groups such as Benalla's Tomorrow Today Foundation, Hands on Learning is running a school early intervention program one day a week. It provides alternatives to traditionally based education and engages students in creative construction projects. An evaluation has shown that real retention rates for HOL students have been above 95 per cent each year for the last 10 years.

The costs of our young people disengaging from traditional education during secondary school for reasons such as social disadvantage, learning difficulties, mental illness, disability and lack of transport are very well documented. Investing in keeping young people engaged in learning provides them and the whole economy with benefits through increased employment and earnings, as well as positive outcomes for health, family life, community participation and cohesion. I am so proud of the educators in my electorate, particularly teachers such as Peter Jarnas, Ed Bishop and Frank Fischer. They make this happen.

To all the teachers and to all the schools in Indi: you are creating opportunities for our youth to engage and helping them to realise their potential. It is vital that government continues this work, as well as investigating additional incentives to address the service gaps. In this regard, I would particularly like to nominate the problems with transport, mobile phone coverage and broadband. I believe our young people are important. They deserve this investment and I support every endeavour from the government and from our community to make sure we continue to invest in them.

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