A program designed to identify at-risk students was described by the executive officer of the Shoalhaven Area Consultative Committee (SACC), Milton Lay as having produced exceptional results.
The scheme, which was funded by the Federal Government through the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, commenced in February 1999 and is funded up to the end of December.
Members of the management committee of the Shoalhaven Full Service Schools Program, (SFSS), Mr Lay, a leading teacher from Nowra Technology High, Wayne Price and co-ordinator of the program Simon King attended a Shoalhaven City Council works and finance committee meeting asking for $10,000 a year for three years to allow the program to continue.
Five local high schools are involved in the program, Bomaderry, Nowra, Shoalhaven, St Johns and Vincentia.
Mr Lay said the SFSS identifies at-risk students before they fall through the cracks, and helps them navigate the way ahead.
“This could be staying at school, getting a job, undertaking further education or training or being directed to another appropriate agency or program,” he said.
“The results from February, 1999 up to June 2000 have been outstanding, with more than 300 students, including 43 Aboriginal students assisted.
“Of these 18 returned to school, 39 proceeded to further education, 22 found employment, 29 students entered traineeships or apprenticeships, and more than 200 students remained at school.
“Only nine students became unemployed,” he said.
Mr Lay said the program had been so successful because the management committee was broadly representative, with the three levels of government, various agencies and industry represented.
The committee includes school representatives, Centrelink, SACC, Department of Education and Training, TAFE, the NSW Police Department and the Aboriginal community.
“In addition, co ordinator, Simon King worked with the management committee, the school system and other programs and agencies, such as Jobs Pathway, the Job Network, TAFE and the office of Juvenile Justice,” Mr Lay said.
“At the moment, the program is administered by the Department of Education and Training, (DET) with the Federal Government funding.
Councillors gave unqualified support for the program, and voted that $10,000 be immediately made available for the scheme with a provision that a further two years of funding be considered in preparation for the 2001/2002 budget.
Mr Lay admitted that as yet Federal funding had not been allocated to continue the scheme, but he said he has spoken to the Federal Minister for Education, Dr David Kemp, who has demonstrated his enthusiasm for the project.
“However, the State Minister for Education, John Aquilina has not responded, but the Member for South Coast, Wayne Smith supports the program and will continue to lobby for some state funds,” Mr Lay concluded.