​​​​​​​​​​​Skills build bright​​er futures for young offenders

​​Yo​​ung Queenslanders engaged in the justice system are building better lives thanks to a Skilling Queenslanders for Work program called Youth Sk​​ills.

"I learned that, in the right conditions, I could achieve anything I dedicated myself to."

In a community-based setting, Youth Skills​ participants access both nationally recognised training and integrated learner support, including career advice, job preparation skills and case management.

Training and support is tailored to meet partici​​pants’ needs, helping to address underlying issues and increase their chances of success.

Successful graduates include Sara*, a 16-year-old whose offen​​​ding history included a series of serious charges, ranging from fare evasion to common assault and armed robbery.​

Shy and distrusting, Sara had a very low opinion of herself and her educational experiences before taking part in a yourtown Youth Skills project in Ipswich, which was run in collaboration with Youth Justice Services.

“I thought that I was dumb and couldn’t achieve anything,” she said.

At school, Sara said she faced severe bullying and had limited support, causing her to withdraw and fall behind in the classroom.

Sara’s story was similar to other project participants, according to vocational trainer Dave, who advocates a strength-based training and support model.

“What underpins the program’s success is the incorporation of a safe and supportive environment,” he said. 

“This setting helps draw focus on the student’s individual strengths, and build on their self-esteem and confidence.”

Dave said the project’s students undertook a Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways, otherwise known as foundation skills, in addition to life skills workshops and activities delivered by youth workers over a total period of 12 months.

Activities included adventure-based learning, gym visits and art therapy — all designed to expand students’ skills and talents while building their sense of self-worth and decision-making processes.

For Sara, the project helped her develop more respect for herself and others.

As she progressed through her workbooks, she became more confident in her capacity to learn. Her knowledge and communication skills also improved, which was clear in the support she started to provide to other students. 

“I learned that, in the right conditions, I could achieve anything I dedicated myself to,” Sara said.

​After graduating from her certificate II, Sara enrolled in a new yourtown program which will bring her closer to her employment and further education goals — and a brighter future.

Over 12 months, yourtown expanded its Youth Skills project to other South East Queensland locations, working collaboratively with Youth Justice Services in Ipswich, Brisbane and Redlands.

Youth Skills is one of seven programs that make up the Queensland Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work (SQW) initiative. The initiative represents a significant investment of $240 million over four years to support up to 32,000 Queenslanders.

Across the first three SQW funding rounds, a total of 27 community-driven projects worth $2.42 million were approved under Youth Skills to assist 697 young Queenslanders. 

Youth Skills projects support young people aged 15–19 years, who are engaged with Youth Justice Services or Queensland Corrective Services, to gain nationally recognised skills and vocational qualifications up to and including a certificate III level.

* Some identifying details, likes names, have been altered to protect the privacy of individuals.

​Article written January 2017. 

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/ )
Last updated
19 March 2018