The South Australian Government’s Skills for All program, which was launched by the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (DFEEST) on July 1 2012, was especially good news for young people under the guardianship of the Minister. Under the new arrangements, people from the age of 16 years who were formerly or are currently under guardianship of the Minister, will be eligible for a full fee waiver for all subsidised courses that attract a course fee. This removes the former 25 year cut-off age and promises access to a lifetime of fee-free further education through service providers approved by DFEEST.
‘We know that many people who have been in the care system may take years to decide what career path to take or to achieve the personal skills, confidence or stable life circumstances to enable them to commit to and stay in further study,’ explains Families SA Senior Policy and Program Officer, Lisa Henderson.
‘When DFEEST released it’s Skills for All discussion paper a couple of years ago, Families SA, through the Rapid Response initiative, took the opportunity to put forward the particular needs of guardianship young people in great detail.
‘We were delighted with the support we received from within DFEEST – it was clear that they grasped the social justice issues and understood the needs of our young people.’
One person who will benefit from the new provisions is Wallaroo resident Tamica who is studying for a Certificate 2 in Community Services.
‘Year 11 didn’t really hold much for me and I left about half-way through.
‘After that though I studied for certificates that let me work in a bar and in a gambling venue. I have my name down everywhere, but there is not a lot of work here so I decided to do some more study.’
Tamica studies part time by correspondence and is more than half way through her current course. She likes to work in intensive bursts when there are few distractions and it fits around caring for her young son and looking for work.
Like many people today, Tamica expects to have more than one career in her life.
‘I don’t want to be stuck with just one option. I might think about studying for something that will enable me to work in the mining industry and let me travel around Australia and give me the money to buy a house.’
Lisa acknowledges that the launch on July 1 was only the start of the work for Families SA.
‘Since the offer of support for further education and training is retrospective, we now need to ensure people who have been under guardianship are aware of this opportunity. This will need to be done in a sensitive way, recognising that some people will not want to be identified.
‘We also need to make sure that other practical supports are in place to give people returning to study the best chance to succeed.’
‘This initiative from DFEEST gives the Across Government Guardianship (Rapid Response) Steering Committee a great deal of encouragement and we continue to look at other areas of opportunity in areas such as housing and health,’ she said.
For more information call the infoline on 1800 506 266 and ask about fee exemptions for people who are or have been under guardianship of the Minister.
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