Students who are disengaged and not going to school are changing their lives and increasing their attendance up to 100 per cent under the Navigator pilot program that we are running locally in north-east Victoria using funding from the Victorian Government.
In its first seven months, we have supported 26 disengaged students to return to mainstream schools, 29 to flexible education, five to further training and four to paid employment.
We were last year selected by the Department of Education & Training as one of eight service providers across the state to deliver the Navigator pilot program. In great news for Navigator, the recent State Budget included an additional $7.8m to extend the pilot by 12 months until December 2018.
Our Navigator team are working, in conjunction with Department of Education and Training, to support young people aged 12 to 17 years in the Ovens Murray Area (Wodonga to Mansfield) to re-engage with an education or training pathway.
Our Specialist Adolescent Services Manager, Michelle Fell, who manages Navigator locally, said that when young people disengage from school and stop attending the effects could be life-long, harming their job prospects, self-esteem and life skills. The main reasons for lack of attendance at school are inadequate family support, lack of value placed on education and mental health issues.
“Our team work with the young people to develop re-engagement plans which links to the school’s individual learning plans,” Michelle said.
We use a holistic approach, exploring all aspects of the young person’s life and offer support and advocacy for the students and their families.
– Michelle Fell, our Navigator manager
Some of the students are carers for other members of their family, suffer from anxiety, do not have transport or are dealing with family violence at home.
With Navigator’s support, 16-year-old Cheyanne has improved her school attendance from 2 per cent to 90 per cent. She was at a mainstream secondary school but felt disconnected, overwhelmed and was experiencing anxiety. She started missing more and more days and then felt like she was being left behind.
“You start to get a sick feeling in your stomach and it’s even harder to go back,” she said. “Gradually it got to the point where there were days I could just not be bothered going.”
Cheyanne was referred by her school to the Navigator program and is now studying at Indie School, based at Albury Wodonga Community College.
“I found Navigator fantastic because I didn’t feel like I was overwhelmed with anything,” she said. “Where I am now there are fewer students, it’s casual dress and I feel like I can be myself. I get a lot of work done now and I’m really enjoying it.”
Cheyanne’s confidence and self esteem has increased so much that she is now seeking employment and volunteer work.
If you know a young person who could benefit from Navigator, please contact the Local Navigator Coordinator Colleen Drury on (03) 8392 9605 or firstname.lastname@example.org