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Teenagers gear up to go thanks to unique MercyCare program

A group of North Metropolitan teenagers are getting a helping hand in their start to working life thanks to a unique program offered by local service provider MercyCare.

As part of the innovative Geared Up To Go program run through MercyCare Mirrabooka in collaboration with the Department of Education, 24 teenagers aged 16 to 17 years from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds who might otherwise not be at school or participating in the workforce, are learning important skills to help join the workforce or continue their education.

Thanks to the program, the teenagers have access to education, training and participation support – a much-needed resource given many of the young people face social and economic problems which prevent them from accessing education or participating in the workforce.

Since kicking off in February this year, the referral-based program has assisted 24 migrant and refugee teenagers from a variety of CaLD backgrounds including Burma, Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya.

MercyCare Geared Up To Go case worker Nicolle has her hands full looking after the teens – but it’s all worth it to see the results, even after just eight months since the program was put in place. 

“The aim of Geared Up To Go is to re-engage these young people in training, employment or education, but realistically in order to do that we also deal with a multitude of everyday issues that might be getting in the way of them doing so,” Nicolle explained.

“For example, some of the participants have no stable accommodation, so we need to address these issues and barriers before we can even begin to think about engaging them in education or training, because it’s very difficult to go to school without a house to sleep in.”

As part of the program, the young people have access to career expos, training workshops, and can engage with mentors, while being supported to re-enter schooling, training or formal work opportunities.

For Nicolle it’s a demanding but ultimately rewarding role.

“I find it hugely rewarding to see the outcomes, even after just eight months, in the lives of our young clients,” she said.

“The biggest result I’ve seen is in one client who was completely disengaged, who wouldn’t even speak or make eye contact with strangers. Now this young man is at the point where he is working part-time while studying at TAFE, and he recently took the initiative to ring an employer for a job interview, which was a huge thing for him to do.