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First graduates transition to success

5 November 2015

First graduates transition to success

Caption: Ben Malley from Youth Justice (left) congratulates student Aman Meles, after the ceremony.

A desire and determination to help youth disengaged from education and employment saw the establishment of a new program, called Transition to Success, earlier this year at Forest Lake Salvation Army in Brisbane's south-west.

On Friday 7 August, 21 young people graduated from the program with Certificates I and II in Agri-Food and Horticulture, with more now studying hospitality, or moving forward with employment.

Transition to Success is a community partnership with The Salvation Army, the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General (Youth Justice) Centre, Education Queensland, and BoysTown Employment Service.

“Many of the students came to Forest Lake Salvos to complete their community service hours or were recommended through Youth Justice or four local high schools,” said Karen Sagala, Cadet in Appointment and Senior Mission Leader, Forest Lake Salvos. “They were disengaged from education and employment and at risk of engaging with the Justice Department. We wanted to do more than just provide their hours of community service – we wanted to see them live lives of freedom and purpose, have access to opportunities and reach their goals. We wanted to mentor and speak hope into their lives.”

The community partnership, and generous support of local businesses, enabled the project to begin, and the first graduates to receive their certificates. “Today we celebrate the achievements of these wonderful young people and the partnership that at first made this project seem impossible,” Karen said during her graduation address. “We also have a class and a team that are there for each other, are invested into the work here at Forest Lake and we see how government and non-government organisations can work together for our youth.”

As part of their certificates, the students constructed, planted and maintained large vegetable gardens, with generous donations and mentoring help from local businesses. The produce from the garden will be used in the Certificate III in Hospitality, using the corps café. Dig-It Landscaping offered landscaping apprenticeships to two students. More than 70 per cent of students have found employment or are continuing with further education.

Aman Meles graduated with the two certificates and is now completing a Certificate III in Hospitality. “This is a great opportunity for me to achieve my goal – to become a social worker,” he said. “I have had many bad experiences in life, including prison, and I know it’s not worth it and I want to help others who are going down that path. I am very thankful to all of the workers and teachers here.”

The major sponsors of Transition to Success include Tankworks, Dig-It Landscapes, Centenary Landscaping and Bunnings Warehouse.

By Simone Worthing

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