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“You go this way but once,” were the words former Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP shared with the Subiaco PCYC group of Cert I Leadership students this morning. Her mother would repeat this to her regularly, Ms Bishop explaining that this meant to, “choose your path carefully, make the most of every opportunity.”
The students are part of the PCYC and Department of Training and Workforce Development’s Leadership and Development program which began at Subiaco PCYC in 2018. The current course finishes in two weeks. Students come to the program because they have not fit into the mainstream education system, or are referred by police or the Justice Department. However, Alana, the course trainer, says, “They aren’t bad kids. Having someone to help them learn teamwork, volunteering, to communicate, it all makes them job-ready.”
Ms Bishop is there to talk to the young people about leadership. “They asked if you would come because I‘ve been talking about modern leadership with them,” explains Alana to Ms Bishop. “I kept using you as an example so they said, ‘Miss, why don’t you ask her to come talk to us about it then?’”
The conversation rolls from topic to topic, as the young people eagerly ask Ms Bishop about anything from leadership to her favourite famous person. She engages easily, asking what they want to do after the program. One young person, 16 years old, tells Ms Bishop he has just received notice of an apprenticeship in auto. “That’s fantastic! You’re on the journey,” exclaims Ms Bishop, “Getting an apprenticeship is a big deal, it gives you the opportunity to get a trade. That’s like a passport.”
The young person explains how he came to be on the PCYC program. “They found me, I found them,” he shrugs. When asked what he likes about PCYC, he said not once, but twice, “The people.”
A former student of a well-regarded high school, he felt that school wasn’t right for him. Another student agrees, saying, “I’d rather be outdoors than stuck in a classroom.” This student is aspiring to be a landscape gardener. “Like Jamie Durie,” quips Ms Bishop.
The auto apprentice says that the Cert I Leadership course helped him through the long and competitive process to be offered a position with a Balcatta organisation. “There were 100 who applied,” he tells Ms Bishop. 30 got an interview and then only 15 get an apprenticeship.
Ms Bishop reminds the students that no matter who a person is or how famous they become, they started out like everybody else. “It’s what we do with opportunities,” she says. “Breaking through barriers. Work hard, take a few risks, you’ll get what you want.” The most important thing about meeting important people, she adds, is what you learn from them.
The students are quick to engage. There is a collective ‘wow’ when she says she’s met Hugh Jackman and Dwayne Johnston. Then, a ‘whoa’ when she mentions Donald Trump and President Obama.
Ms Bishop tells the students that she looks for character and determination in the female leaders she looks up to. Out of 38 Australian Foreign Ministers, Ms Bishop has so far been the only female, so she looked to world leaders for leadership examples, such as former US Foreign Secretaries Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. “I can always gain impressions and lessons from them.”
One of the students, who aspires to join either the army or navy, volunteers, “I look up to Youth Workers. And,” she adds, “Chelsea Randall, too.” She trained with her when she played AFL with Swan Districts.
The Cert I Leadership students are picked up early and brought to Subiaco PCYC four times a week and stay from nine until two in the afternoon. They are given breakfast and a hot lunch, which they help prepare as part of their volunteer work.
The students have also built an outdoor seating area, which Ms Bishop is keen to see. One of the students explains, “We taught the teachers how to brick lay.” It’s obvious he’s proud of this. He learns by doing, and says that PCYC helps him learn with ‘life stuff’. “I want to get work where I learn by doing. Reading about it goes straight through (me).”
Asked after Ms Bishop had left what they thought of the talk, they were enthusiastic. “Awesome, she’s pretty cool, eh?” A police officer has dropped by to share the story of another PCYC Learning and Development student who gained employment after completing the PCYC Leadership and Development Course, Cert I Auto, at Midlands PCYC.
Acting Sergeant Johnson is stationed at Ellenbrook Police Station and referred a young student into the PCYC program. “He was having problems at home,” he explains. The young person could easily have found himself in a dire situation for many reasons and been on the wrong side of the law. He is not alone.
Area Manager, Jackie Abbott, adds of PCYC and its programs, “Young people come to us for many reasons. They are not all bad kids. Things happen in the lives of young people, even in secure homes, and they feel isolated. They need support.”
The young man, now 18, first came to attention of police when he was 16. Acting Sergeant Johnson reached out and rather than putting him in the lock up overnight, instead drove him to a backpacker hostel. He followed up with him later to see how he was and recommended he go to Midland PCYC. This young person followed his advice and recently graduated from the Cert I Auto program.
Yesterday, Ms Abbott was excited to learn that because of his involvement with PCYC and successful completion of the program, as well as being exceptionally bright, honest and personable, he had the opportunity to be paid and trained to fly Boeings. He applied for the competitive position with Qantas and will leave for Melbourne in 2019 to start training. These are the results Ms Abbott loves seeing come about through the pathways to employment provided by PCYC.
Acting Sergeant Johnson hangs around to talk to the Cert I Leadership students, who are enjoying the chat and clearly buoyed up by the visit from Ms Bishop. Executive Manager Marketing, Fundraising and Communications, Clare McAlaney, shares she was once a police prosecutor and that her responsibility was to make sure there was enough evidence before proceeding to a court hearing.
One of the student’s looked relieved, saying, “That’s good to hear.” Acting Sergeant Johnson adds, “You’ll find if you ask a police officer for help, most will be all too happy to help.”
The students graduate in two weeks, another step closer on their pathway to employment.
One of the students turns to Ms McAlaney and says when she asks what he thought of the day so far, “Meeting Julie Bishop, a cop and all this? Not a bad day in the office, eh?” he grins.
Certificate I Leadership and Certificate I Automotive courses run by PCYC are Department of Training and Workforce Development (DTWD) funded programs.
Tags: Accredited learning, Julie Bishop, Subiaco PCYC, WA PCYC
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