[Sub ID 4499] Mentoring and contextual learning opportunities for Indigenous young people (RDA Wheatbelt Inc)

Submission ID: 4499
Organisation name: RDA Wheatbelt Inc
Contact name: Ms Juliet Grist
State: WA
Contact email: juliet.grist@rdawheatbelt.com.au
Contact number: 0428372179

Which priority group of the Try, Test and Learn Fund does your idea support?
Young carers, Young parents, Young students at risk of long-term unemployment

What need or issue are you trying to address?
Pathways to education and employment for the Wheatbelt Indigenous Population who are no longer within the formal school environment. RDA Wheatbelt has undertaken supporting research and confirms that for young adults who exit the school system (for whatever reason), there is little opportunity to access alternative pathways to gain education or work skills. Youth unemployment is more than 50% consistently. This then translates into ongoing unemployment (more than 25% adult unemployment) or disengagement (low workforce participation). The research we have conducted includes analysis of census data, engagement with Noongar elder groups, discussions with local government; discussions with training providers. There are no language and literacy programs on offer in this region (Skills for Education and Employment is not provided)and no contextual learning programs. This results in marginalization of this group of young people at an early age and an inability for them to re-connect to training and employment pathways when their personal circumstances change. Thus the disadvantage continues without a pathway to remedy. This is compounded by the desire to remain on country, and low internet connectivity (more than 50% of Wheatbelt Aboriginal households are not connected to the internet) which makes online alternative pathways comparatively inaccessible.

What is your idea?
Our idea is to provide a Contextual learning program pilot with individual mentor support within one of the four centres of Narrogin, Merredin, Northam and Moora which together comprise 44% of our Noongar population.

The contextual learning program would operate to provide individual education and employment planning with mentor support and a local contextual (experience based and hands on) learning program incorporating language, literacy and numeracy in a working environment. Depending on the individuals own circumstances, a volunteer working environment will be sourced for them that provides experience, or that recognizes experience being gained in their caring role, whilst providing a structured skills based training recognizing cultural learning preferences. The sourcing of the contextual learning opportunity will wherever possible be aligned to the young person’s own desires for their future had their learning journey not been interrupted. The addition of a mentor will enable close support to be provided and individual barriers to be identified and possible bridges over barriers to be built. This may involve organizing respite/child care so that the young person is free to complete some training. The mentor will also help in addressing the overwhelming ‘hopelessness’ often felt by Noongar youth in relation to their future. By helping to improve connections with community (we envisage the majority of contextual learning opportunities to be provided by local not for profit or local government bodies, and to this end have received some EOIs from groups willing to participate) we envisage this program will have flow on impacts to the whole community in repositioning the view of these young people as individuals with skills that can make good contributions to their local society. Mentoring will also help to keep the young people ‘on track’ and help them to meet their own and others expectations, thus increasing their chance of creating positive futures involving higher levels of education for use in their daily life, and improved employment skills.