New Community and Education Partnership to support students

Sunshine Beach State High School students will have the support of a network of Coast organisations with the signing of the Sunshine Connect Partnership agreement today.

The new community and education partnership, brokered by Queensland Youth Industry Links Inc. (QYIL), brings together a range of support services to provide immediate and specialised support to help vulnerable young people stay engaged with the education system.

The partnership was established when the local Youth Connections Coordinator, Dee Mitchell of United Synergies, presented a pilot program to QYIL to develop a new interagency model. QYIL, as the Partnership Broker, then helped identify and connect other organisations that delivered services or programs that would support the partnership.

Partnership Broker Lee Shea said the signing of the partnership between Sunshine Beach State High School, United Synergies Ltd and multiple other local professional services would see the organisations work together to provide evidence-based support to vulnerable parents and young people.

“The partnership will include early intervention by school services referring to support programs, a parent support program, personal support and skills development for parents and young people, and a youth and community combined action plan,” Mr Shea said.

“Working together the partnership will provide support for parents who can find it difficult to manage the complexities of parenting, including teaching their teenagers coping skills and encouraging school attendance.

“This partnership provides a solid wrap around support for young people and their family and builds the capacity of the school to keep its young people engaged, reducing absenteeism,” Mr Shea said.

The new Partnership Agreement would create ongoing sustainability for the Sunshine Connect Pilot Program, which started in September 2011, with 28 young people taking part so far.

Mr Shea said once the at-risk young people were identified, the School Support Services invited the young person and their parent/s to participate in the program.

“From there, a plan of specialised professional support for the student and parent/s was tailored to suit their situation and reviewed regularly.

“The program can include one-on-one counselling, mental health, drug and alcohol support and financial planning,” he said.

Already the Sunshine Connect Program has had an extraordinary impact with school attendance by participants increasing by 85%, and 92% remaining engaged either at school (60%) or alternative learning environments including traineeships, apprenticeships or distance education (32%).

QYIL is the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay region provider of the Partnership Brokers Program, funded by the Australian Government, to build partnerships with schools, businesses and community groups and develop partnerships at a strategic level which influence the region’s response to youth Attainment and Transition. The National Program consists of more than 1,450 active and self-sustaining partnerships involving more than 4,700 partner organisations. New Partnerships continue to form every week across Australia.

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