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Students provide safety at Schoolies

It’s supposed to be a big, fun party for teens celebrating the end of their schooling — but some are in crisis. That’s where TAFE Queensland Gold Coast students come in.

Almost 60 TAFE Queensland community services students spent two weeks assisting with the Chill Out Zone to enhance the safety and wellbeing of young people who headed to Surfers Paradise to celebrate the end of their schooling.

Ian Pirire who studies a Diploma of Child Youth and Family Intervention (CHC50313) at the Southport campus said it was an experience that enriched him personally and professionally.

“Work placement at Schoolies was a valuable experience and it was so fulfilling to give much-needed support to young people going through their rite of passage into independence and adulthood,” said Ian.

“One incident that sticks out to me involved a young female who was in significant distress having a critical self-image issue relating to other issues in her life. Together with the professionals, we were able to not only create a safe place for her, but also offered comfort and counselling.”

“As an extension from that we provided support to her six school friends who were able to gain an understanding into some of their friend’s issues and how they can support her and deal with things themselves.”

Following a downturn in work after more than seven years as a communications contractor for Foxtel, the 53-year-old accessed the State Governments Job Seeker funding to study at TAFE Queensland, allowing him to change careers and pursue more meaningful work with job security.

“I wanted a career that engaged my personal inclinations to help others, but I never expected that just a few months after enrolling into my diploma I would be standing in front of youths equipped with the skills, knowledge and confidence to help them through their distress,” he said.

“Not only did I get to put the theory I have learnt into practice but I also got to build relationships with industry professionals who offered experiential insights and potential connections to work opportunities.”

Since the Schoolies vocational placement opportunity Ian has been offered and started a job as a Youth Support Worker at Diamond Class Social Services and can’t thank TAFE Queensland enough for leading him there.

“I credit the experience for kick starting my career and giving me the opportunity to see the various avenues of diversity in the sector which will provide me with the fundamental skills for longevity in the industry,” he said.

“TAFE Queensland equipped me to be able to work in a trauma informed way and to have a more defined understanding of youths who may be dealing with a lot more in their lives than just having too much to drink or taking too much of something.”

The Chill Out Zone is part of the Queensland Government’s Safer Schoolies Response, and operates a range of services across the precinct

The TAFE Queensland students not only acquired crucial vocational placement hours as part of their qualification but got real-world experience in areas such as immediate care for intoxication, first aid, psycho-social support, mental health, working with at risk young people and more.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) there are currently around 13,200 Welfare Support Workers in Queensland with national employment in this field expected to grow up to 17% in the next five years.