Youth workshop an educated future for Bass Coast
Bass Coast Shire Council recently hosted a ‘Tertiary Advocacy Forum’ designed to explore challenges and opportunities around access to tertiary education for young people in Bass Coast.
The forum was attended by students from Wonthaggi Secondary College, Newhaven College, Council Trainees and young people who have started and deferred from University Degree courses in Melbourne.
Students participated in a two-hour workshop, followed by a presentation to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and CEO, Paul Buckley.
The workshop identified barriers, issues and concerns young people may have when considering if, where and when to go to University.
Issues identified ranged from being able to afford the cost of living in Melbourne, social isolation when moving away from home, navigating public transport, to leaving family and pets.
Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield, attended the forum and was very interested to hear what the young people had to say, particularly from an advocacy perspective.
“A key advocacy priority for Council is to improve access to post-secondary education, so it’s critical that we listen to what young people have to say when understanding the challenges and possible solutions,” Cr Rothfield said.
“We know, for instance, that many young people in Bass Coast are carers in their homes – they may look after siblings, parents or grandparents. For them, attending University can be a near impossibility.”
“Students spoke about their connection to the land and to the environment. Many of them don’t want to leave home, or leave the farm, and said that if given the option of studying locally, they would.”
Students explored different options that might alleviate some of the challenges. One such option was a University Hub where education providers could deliver courses based on numbers, and where students studying online could access safe and quiet study spaces, reliable Wi-Fi, tuition and peer support.
Cr Rothfield explained that limited access to higher education in our area is leading to a shortfall in skilled workers and low completion rates when compared to the state average.
“Bass Coast students are less likely to complete year 12, less likely to go to university and less likely to complete a degree they start at University,” Cr Rothfield said.
“What we heard at the forum was really encouraging. We know that many young people in Bass Coast are driven to succeed and aspire to go to university.”
“A University Hub model could mean that more people in our community could complete University degrees and still live in Bass Coast. It’s vital that we explore this option through a detailed business case.”
Bass Coast Shire Council’s advocacy priority is requesting $300,000 from the State Government to prepare a business case, which would explore the feasibility of establishing a University Hub model in Wonthaggi.
The model has been successful in similar rural towns around Australia, such as Cooma, NSW, which experienced similar challenges.
To view the advocacy priority list in full, visit Council’s website basscoast.vic.gov.au/advocacy.