Many youth fall through the cracks of our current education systems, especially in rural and remote areas where alternate schooling opportunities are lacking or inaccessible due to distance, transport or financial restrictions. In Far West NSW there are very few options for young people who struggle with mainstream educational environments and this problem was exacerbated when the only accredited alternative high school had to close its doors. Young people who learn best in more personalised and interactive educational spaces had few options for continuing an education or engaging with meaningful work opportunities.
The Western Landcare Schools Network links with high schools across Far West NSW to engage students in an educational initiative that focuses on agriculture and natural resource management, providing students a space to access training in these fields while being mentored by industry professionals who can guide the students to further education or work opportunities. In 2017 Western Landcare NSW initiated the program through their Local Landcare Coordinator in Broken Hill with the aim of filling the gap for young people in the region to access hands on, practical learning in an environment that caters to the varying learning needs across a range of learning types.
A total of 13 students engaged in the 2017 program with 5 of those students being youth at risk. One student who was on parole after serving time in the juvenile justice system was able to complete the program and find full time work directly afterwards on a local station. All the students in the program received workwear that would help with them with further training or starting work. Many of the parents and guardians of the participants gave really positive feedback with all commenting on how proud they were of their children and the spark that had been ignited in their child as a result of their involvement.
For more information and PDF download please visit: https://landcare.nsw.gov.au/groups/Western_landcare/linking-young-people-to-the-land/