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The Hester Hornbrook Academy students participate in the Victorian Careers Advice Inquiry

Photo of young students laughing 7 May 2018

Today, Principal of the Hester Hornbrook Academy Dave Wells and two students of the Hester Hornbrook Academy shared their ideas about improving school careers advice at a public hearing for the Victorian Government Inquiry.

Sinead, a current student, and Tnaysha, a former student who is now studying an Associate Arts Degree at Deakin University, talked to the Committee about the importance of practical work experiences at school, and receiving individualised and high quality information about the diversity of post-school options.

Speaking about the Hester Hornbrook Academy model, Dave explained that careers advice must open up possibilities and value the multiple and diverse pathways into further education, training or employment.

The presiding member Mr MELHEM stated at the end of the session:

“For the record, that is the best session we have had.”

Other highlights:

"… I think it is important if we go back to whether it is Year 9 or 10 and you go through work experience. You know going back to how far back we should start thinking about a career, I feel like it should be early high school because by the time you get to Year 9 or 10, and they are like, ‘Okay, let’s go do some work experience’, you have got kids that are not doing work experience in the field that they would be interested in. In her case she thought she would like to work in hospitality. She does not want to do that because she had a taste of it. So I think the school system is letting people down because they are like, ‘Okay, you want to be a lawyer, but sure, go do workplace in a Safeway’. They are not really getting a taste of, ‘This is what it’s like to be a lawyer. Do I still want to do it or do I not want to do it? Do I want to stay on the same career path or pick a different one?’. I think that that kind of factors in a lot—the support and being like, ‘No, you did want to do this, so how come you have gone and got a work replacement at the local nursery or whatever?’." – Tnaysha

On why careers advisors should speak to students about their psychological and mental health: "… a lot of young people do not actually realise they have mental health issues but they do know there is something wrong and there is something that is making them want to disengage. That is really what is making them disengage, because I believe they are not aware of what is happening. To be able to have someone to sort of help—it is really difficult when it comes to mental health because there are a lot of different factors that come into it, but really it is just so that they do not feel like they are the only ones who feel like that. Also they have an understanding and they can work around that so that is not holding them back sometimes, because that is what really brings people down. They feel sad and they do not know why. It could be for a lot of family issues and stuff." – Sinead

"We certainly believe that young people do not have low aspirations for themselves, and that bears out as soon as you get into a decent long-term conversation with young people. Start to identify opportunities, options, give them positive experiences, and very quickly their aspirations for themselves escalate. Young people are, I think, the victims, if you like, of the low aspirations of others for them, and they can very quickly turn that around with a bit of support. It is not actually that hard. It can take some time, but it has got to be an ongoing relational conversation." – Dave Wells

"The students from disadvantaged backgrounds do not necessarily get the ongoing kind of career conversation that you would get in a family, so how do you take that idea and professionalise it, if you like? Every interaction our staff have with students in our classrooms—we have 20 kids, a teacher and a youth worker, and it is the same group for the year, so it becomes their home community. Every interaction that our staff have with young people is about raising the possibilities, opening up aspirations, rather than shutting them down." – Dave Wells

The Committee will release their final report and recommendations in September 2018

Melbourne City Mission’s written submission to the Inquiry can be found here.

The full transcript of the day’s proceedings can be accessed here.

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