School’s in for young mums

Young Latrobe Valley mums and their children explored their future campus and daycare facilities, which will provide an opportunity previously not possible.

The Kurnai Young Mum’s Program, which will allow young mums to further their education while keeping their children close, hosted its orientation day at Ted Summerton Reserve, Moe on Wednesday.

The program, which is supported by a variety of agencies including the Smith Family, began as an idea Kurnai College student manager David Shields had to get young mothers disengaged from the education system back on track.

“I didn’t think it would get this far from a chat in the principal’s office. It’s amazing to see so many young mums, so many kids, and so many supporting agencies looking so enthusiastic about the program,” Mr Sheilds said.

“It just shows how real the need is in Latrobe Valley for something like this to happen.”

Many of the 23 girls enrolled in the program toured the Moe PLACE child care, where their children will be cared for at minimal cost to them, while the girls study four days a week in the neighbouring clubrooms.

The VCAL-based education course incorporates VET on Wednesdays, as well as professional career counselling.

Teacher Eloise O’Brien explained the program was targeted at girls aged 14 to 21 years, and did not follow standard year 12 coursework.

“We’re trying to engage the girls directly with what they are interested in, what direction they are trying to get to in terms of job skills immediately and a lot of practical parenting tips,” Ms O’Brien said

The mum-of-three said the course would also incorporate the children wherever possible, to ensure mums did not feel separation between their education and motherhood.

She said she hoped the girls enjoyed the social interaction and a clearer sense of their career path.

“Hopefully by the end of the year they know exactly what they’re into and what they’re good at. If I can achieve that then this gives them ample opportunity to go in that direction,” Ms O’Brien said.

Term one of the pilot program begins on 10 February, and Kurnai College principal Anthony Rodaughan said pending this initial year’s success, he saw the program continuing annually and expanding.