I grew up believing everyone has a right to a decent education, a basic right. And although many young Australians are halfway through the first academic semester of 2019, it’s sad that not all our youth are getting that education. Exam results are not the sole focus of their future career direction but if they are denied the occasion and sense of achievement from graduating from school, they start adult life with an immediate disadvantage. One in four students drop out before the end of high school, leaving them vulnerable young people, with isolation from their communities and barriers to employment and affordable housing.
Keeping our teenagers in school is what most parents desire but as these young people grow, asserting their own preferences and choices, it is not always within parental or educators’ control.
Even with the best support networks, getting through high school is a challenge. According to the latest Mission Australia Youth Survey, the top three personal concerns for young people are Coping with stress, School or study problems and Mental health.
Family relationships and friendships are what they most value (though maybe they don’t always show it).
So, what are the benefits of graduation?
- A brain full of useful, relevant information
- A sense of achievement and completion
- Recognition within a community
- A reason to celebrate
- A platform to jump to the next place – further education or employment
For those who don’t graduate, they are left to their own devices. If they have support, they can do well but it’s harder. If they don’t have support, they are limited by isolation, limited by employment choice which then limits the amount they earn.
The majority of our rehabilitation students at Triple Care Farm have not finished year 10. That’s why we celebrate their graduation from the Residential Rehabilitation Program. We celebrate their commitment, their growing independence, their achievement and their belonging. This is often the first time they recognise their own value and potential.
Graduating is a shared experience of celebrating learning, courage and commitment.
In the words of Research Professor Brene Brown, “Be here. Be you. Belong. This classroom belongs to all of us”.
If you are in crisis, please call Lifeline 13 11 14
Sir David Martin Foundation is a national charity, dedicated to helping young people in crisis. We take young people from risk of suicide to seeing opportunities and building a future.