Hand-ups help lower handouts

Rockingham PCYC Centre Manager, Justin Sambell, runs a tight ship with a big heart. It’s graduation day for a group of seven Rockingham youths. Receiving their TAFE accredited Weld to Life Certificate I in Metals and Engineering hasn’t come easily for any of them. Shuffling their feet, the attention of family and WA PCYC staff and volunteers isn’t everyday stuff for these young men. Interim WA PCYC CEO Paul Ferguson gives them a hearty congratulations. “It’s been 20 weeks and you have finished,” he applauds them. “This is a huge achievement.”

Paul assures them that Rockingham PCYC is their place, if they want it to be. “If there’s a hiccup at home, you’re feeling at a loose end, then you have an open invitation to be at the centre, whenever you like.”

Some youths may have attempted the course up to three times before succeeding. Their persistence is admirable. Most have not finished Year 10 but are keen to change their lives and get off the welfare cycle. More than 33,700 youths aged 10 to 16 years live with parents who rely on welfare. More than 330,000 young Australians are expected to join Centrelink before the age of 25.

Rockingham PCYC is helping by engaging youth early. The benefit to the community is a safer neighbourhood, with young people looking to the future with optimism. In other words, reaching out with a hand-up and not a handout is making a difference to Rockingham, one youth at a time.

Graduate Jeremy is 18 and completed Year 12 but when he asked his mum if he could go to TAFE, she said, “Son, I just don’t have the money. See what other opportunities you can find.”

Jeremy trawled the internet and came across Weld to Life, WA PCYC’s program that helps young people gain a valuable certification when they otherwise may not be able to. After back and forth chats on Messenger to the Rockingham PCYC Facebook page, Justin was convinced to enrol him when Jeremy pledged, “Give me a chance. I won’t let you down.”

And he didn’t. He missed the first day because his mum had to travel to Joondalup for urgent eye treatment and needed him there. But faithfully, he attended every single session after that. Not bad when the average attendance rate can be as low as 60 percent.

Receiving this certificate is a milestone for Jeremy. “It’s changed my life,” he said. Immigrating from New Zealand four years ago, as a young Maori, his mum taught him to always look for and take opportunities. His dedication to Weld to Life Certificate I Metals and Engineering course, which is also part of WOW – Certificate I Wider Opportunities for Work – has paid off two-fold.

During the graduation ceremony, Justin also awarded him with a WA PCYC Drive to the Future program certificate valued at over $4,000, including 50 hours of driving instruction. This means being trained from L’s to P’s and finally achieve a much-needed driver’s licence that he could otherwise not afford. It is a chicken and egg situation – it costs money to achieve a driver’s licence which is needed for work. There are many in Jeremy’s situation and Drive to the Future will impact more lives in Rockingham over the months ahead as the program rolls out with much-needed funding.

By taking the initiative, Jeremy is now in control of his future and looking forward to giving back to the community to inspire others to follow his lead.

Making the trip to Australia as a single mum with three children hasn’t been easy for his mum Lisa. She is proud as punch of her son’s latest achievement. There is no doubt that without the assistance of Rockingham PCYC, Jeremy could be facing an uncertain working life.

Mr Sambell explains why he believes in the youths of Rockingham. “I’m just a dad who cares about kids. During the (welding) course, we had our ups and downs, and I have to take the hard-line from time to time, but that’s because I care. I’m really proud of these boys.”

With programs like Weld to Life, Drive to the Future, archery, gymnastics, basketball and holiday school programs, Rockingham PCYC’s recent refurbishment and commitment to the young people of Rockingham will contribute to more engaged youths. In turn, this leads to lower juvenile crime rates, better self-esteem and getting out of the welfare cycle. Every young person has his and her own set of challenges, and WA PCYC is the helping hand, the community centre, that works with police to build strong communities.

“That’s the point of giving a hand-up,” explains interim CEO Mr Ferguson. “The more we put back into our community, the stronger it becomes. I believe the work WA PCYC is doing across the state, not just in Rockingham, is a big part of WA’s positive future.”

If you are interested in any of the programs as a young person, parent, teacher or volunteer, please connect with Rockingham PCYC on Facebook, email rockinghampcyc@wapcyc.com.au or call today on (08) 9592 1232.

If you would like to help build stronger programs by donating to WA PCYC, please click here.

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