You can walk in and get a wash, style and blow-dry at John Willcock College in Geraldton.
As the 2011 winner of the Milton Thorne Award for WA Outstanding School Initiative for Aboriginal Students, the Year 9 female Aboriginal students learn real life work skills as part of the college’s workplace program, SHINE.
The innovative program which was designed to address poor school attendance has engaged the students and aims to increase the student’s level of confidence and overall wellbeing.
It has halved the number of school suspensions and prevention of violent behaviour from the group of participating students.
“Winning the Milton Thorne Award for WA Outstanding School Initiative for Aboriginal Education was a win for the whole College community. It recognises the efforts of all teaching staff and students to work together to improve student outcomes,” says Principal and member Julie Campbell.
The students who become more engaged in the education system are able to learn skills which are transferable to the workforce.
More than 50 students participate, training one day a week on top of their usual school requirements and learning a range of business skills such as phone etiquette, customer service and business management.
Since its inception a more than 50 students in the Year 8/9 cohort have been involved and many positive links have been created within community groups.
The Year 9 female indigenous students were classified as the most at risk in education, attendance and achievement; the program is built to specifically target this group along with assisting in the transition to Year 10 and education beyond school.
Whilst the astonishing figures from 2010 school records indicate that only one Year 12 Aboriginal girl graduated.
The program has since inspired many students to increase their attendance with 70 per cent of SHINE students attending school more than 80 per cent of the time. Senior Constable Jonine Harrison with the Western Australian Police Force Frontline Services spent some time with SHINE students to further build and develop their personal community support network should they need these services in their future.
"I would just like to congratulate all three groups of young ladies that attended. Their behaviour was exemplary. They all followed my instructions without question or faltering. Their interest and genuine questions were a credit to SHINE, their teachers and John Willcock College,” said Constable Harrison.
Students engaged in the program say it’s the reason they get up in the morning and come to school. “Thankyou… you’ve made me realise a lot more by giving me the chance to be in such a great program,” says one student.
Another said, “If I didn’t have SHINE I would have been in fights by now. Having someone that really listens just makes me feel safe and happy.”