Students of the Portland Re-engagement Program 2011
The Glenelg-Southern Grampians region has one of Victoria’s highest rates of youth disengagement. In 2010 the depth of the problem was confirmed when the region was identified in the Glenelg Southern Grampians LLEN’s Environmental Scan as having the second highest rate of youth disengagement in the state.
In particular, Glenelg Shire is noted as being the 14th most disadvantaged municipality in Victoria. Almost 60 per cent of shire residents live in adverse circumstances in terms of income levels, educational attainment and vocational skills. It also has one of the state’s highest proportions of Aboriginal people and above-average rates of young mothers.
To address these problems, Glenelg Southern Grampians LLEN played a significant role in developing the Portland Re-Engagement Program.After playing a key role in establishing and launching the program, GSG LLEN has continued to be an integral player in its implementation.
|WHAT IS IT?|
The Portland Re-engagmeent Program is a flexible learning option which has emerged as an outstanding model of community and school engagement providing improved transition outcomes for young people.
The need for the project was further illustrated by local data collected through Landscapes for Young People program. From the initial meetings it was agreed that a new re-engagement program, separate to existing schools, was needed to support young people in the community.
While providing a fresh option for all disengaged students, it was particularly targeted towards vulnerable students in high risk areas, including Koori students and those with a learning disability.
The goal of the program was to re-engage students and give them an opportunity to complete their education which would improve their opportunities in life. It aimed to help students find a pathway back into mainstream education, further training or into the workforce.
The Portland Re-Engagement Program started in February 2011 and produced immediate results. Although students were enrolled as part of Portland Secondary College, the program was established away from the school in a central business district site. Twenty five per cent of students in the program are from Aboriginal families.
The LLEN brought together community partnership members, including education providers, industry partners, police, and health and welfare agencies. It’s involvement included:
- Identifying local need
- Recruiting local financial and in kind support
- Convening regular meetings of the working group
- Managing and communication with partnership members
- Development of a Memorandum of Understanding by the LLEN betweenPortland Secondary College and 16 community partner organisations.
- monitoring resource commitments by community partners;
- ensuring community principles are maintained;
- supporting a review and evaluation of program outcomes;
- developing a strategy and lobbying for government support to ensure the program’s sustainability.
The program has resources committed till the end of 2013 and government support is being sought for funding to maintain the initiative. The LLEN remains involved in continuing to support the program and to advocate for ongoing funding.
The program engaged 32 young people back into education in 2011 and a further 38 in 2012. Other outcomes include a:
36% decrease in absenteeism;
- 100% improvement rate in the number of student suspensions;
- A steady improvement in the students’ literacy and numeracy abilities;
- Improved self esteem among the students;
- Increased educational and vocational aspirations among students;
- Improved behaviour on the part of the students both within the program and in the general community.
Overall, 70 young people have directly benefitted from the program and the program has created many personal success stories such as Sharon’s story below:
At this stage the program will continue in 2013 but its future beyond that is still to be confirmed. GSG LLEN and other partners remain committed to ensuring it has a long-term future.