New program teaches young people to REACH for the stars
25-May-2016 11:00 AM
Thirteen young people in western Sydney recently celebrated their graduation from the REACH project, developed by Life Without Barriers and Western Sydney University, designed to encourage young people to consider third level education post-18 years.
Research has shown that young people in out-of-home care are less likely to go on to further education at 18. With this in mind Western Sydney University’s Widening Participation Unit approached Life Without Barriers to develop the program to encourage young people aged between 15 and 17 years, to consider university or other third level options.
The aim of the REACH project was to encourage young people to build a favourable outlook on higher education, develop a connection with a local university, encourage positive self-esteem and positively impact their current studies by showing them the opportunities third level education affords people.
Participants developed a connection with the local university, understood the importance of self-esteem and were encouraged to understand the importance of their current studies on their future careers and personal development. They also learned practical tips such as understanding the financial support available to young people – especially those who have been in the OOHC system, many of whom have little or no parental support – who without financial support, third level education would be impossible.
The three month program included one-to-one personal development, group sessions about financial management and presentation skills, and career coaching by Western Sydney University.
At the graduation event, Life Without Barriers’ NSW Director of Operations Rod Best said there are so many barriers for young people in care considering university, from confidence to finances.
“What’s most important is that we identify how to make third level education accessible to absolutely everyone, no matter what their background may be,” Mr Best said. “We need to develop information and support networks so that young people know that help is available to them throughout their educational journey.”
Western Sydney University’s Emma Dart represented the university’s Widening Participation Unit, adding that the University was attracted to and supportive of the goals of the program: “The University’s Lodestar Program has been developed to provide opportunities for a wider cross-section of the population, such as young people coming from out-of-home care” Ms Dart said.
“The REACH Program has addressed exactly that and we are very proud to have been a part of the Program. I see so much potential in this group of REACH graduates and I hope to one day stand in front of you at another of your graduations as you move along your education journey.”
For more information please contact:
Mary Cassidy, Life Without Barriers
02 9307 9320/ 0417 210 690
NOTE TO EDITOR
About Life Without Barriers
Now in our 21st year, Life Without Barriers has supported thousands of people to live the best life possible and we are proud to champion opportunity for all. We are a not-for-profit organisation working in more than 305 communities to support more than 11,500 people to live their best life possible.
Our services include family support and out-of-home care, disability services, home and community care for older Australians, support to refugees and asylum seekers. We also work in the areas of mental health, homelessness and youth justice and we have a strong commitment to Reconciliation and delivering culturally sensitive programs.
Today, we are one of the largest providers of social services in Australia. We work with individuals, their carers and others in the community to ensure the best care and support is developed for each individual’s needs. This includes working in partnership with the community, elders, government and private sector to improve the lives of the people we support. We believe in the rights of people and the importance of relationships. These foundations shape our unique approach to care and underpin our values.