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Measures of success

The Tamworth Opportunity Hub’s suite of programs and what we can offer to students is constantly developing, based on the opportunities and lessons that grow out of the work we are doing with our consortium partners, schools, students and community.  Everything we do is being constantly refined and documented and is working towards developing a transferable model.  We hope that by sharing our successes we can benefit even more Aboriginal young people, right across NSW.
The fact that the Tamworth Opportunity Hub’s work is gaining ground is evident in the amount of community involvement that we are getting across all areas of our programming – from parents attending the Hub with their children, to our work within schools, in special programs such as Midnight Basketball, and at community events.  Thank you to everyone who supports the Opportunity Hub and spreads the word about the work we are doing.  We couldn't do it without you!

Read more about some of the fantastic outcomes we have been a part of creating below...

In this edition:

  • Standing-up against bullying
  • Mt Yarrowyck site visit
  • Nestle development opportunities
  • Twin wins for Alana
  • Midnight Basketball: Our Volunteers in the Spotlight
  • Tamworth Ice Action Group
  • Sites officer experience
  • More schools on board
  • Jacob Stanton: Updated!

Pictured right is Camille Fernando who recently commenced a school-based traineeship at the Commonwealth Bank - congratulations Camille!

Standing up against bullying

The Opportunity Hub took an anti-bullying message to the streets of Tamworth on Thursday 17 March. Marching beside our Consortium and event partner headspace Tamworth, as well as Centacare NENW and local students, the Opportunity Hub was proud to take part in the event “Make a noise about bullying” which ran after school hours at Bicentennial Park and included a march through the main street, barbecue, activities and educational resources.  

Delivering a strong anti-bullying message in schools has been a key focus of the Opportunity Hub this term. Bullying is a serious issue that is raised by many Opportunity Hub students as a barrier to school success, and so the team has taken a lead in equipping students with tools and skills to identify, report and take a stand against bullying when they see it. 

This term alone, the Opportunity Hub staff have run seven workshops attended by 177 students who made posters for the march while openly discussing the personal impact of bullying on them.  The anti-bullying message is one that the Opportunity Hub will focus on throughout the whole year.
The "Make a noise about bullying" march was well attended with good coverage by local media. Opportunity Hub worker Patrick Strong featuring twice in the evening TV news coverage! – A full clip of the piece can be watched via this link

Student Jacob Brown with Opportunity Hub worker Tarran Snape with signs made by local students for the March
Connecting with culture - Mt Yarrowyck

Building young people's knowledge and understanding of their culture is among one of the special privileges of our work at the Opportunity Hub.  Prioritising students' connecting to culture and Country as part of their education recognises the critical role that these experiences and knowledge play in the development of strong personal identity and engagement. 

In March, Opportunity Hub worker Patrick Strong and Anaiwan Elder Uncle Bruce Cohen took a group of Parry School students and staff to Mt Yarrowyck, west of Armidale.  Mt Yarrowyck Nature Reserve protects a significant rock art site within natural bushland. 

The students have been learning about the art styles and characteristics of different Aboriginal nation groups, as well as the different meanings of the art in relation to traditional stories.  The site visit was a great opportunity to explore that learning further, and as students had previously visited the boundary site at Moore Creek, it was a chance to compare the two. 

Parry student Jordan Atkins trying to create stone artefacts using a technique called rock napping.

Nestle development opportunities

The Opportunity Hub has been slowly developing its relationship with Nestle over the past year to encompass more and more opportunities for local young people.  On 21 and 22 January, staff from Nestle's Aboriginal Youth Development Program (AYDP) returned to Tamworth to explore and expand opportunities over the coming year.  The successful planning days commenced with a sites tour and introduction to local culture, and was followed-up with a planning session with local high schools and key departmental staff.
Ideas to be explored further in the coming year include mentoring, masterclasses and retreats for local students as well as looking at how Nestle staff can support and resource Tamworth young people on their path to pursuing their career dreams.
Already underway is a plan to include five students, identified through Midnight Basketball, as volunteers during the Nestle School Holiday program to assist them in building their skills and portfolios.  Each student will be paired with a Nestle staff member for the duration of the school holiday program and work alongside them to coordinate and run aspects of the program which comprises a week long schedule of activities for 60 young people.  The initiative will not only benefit the young volunteers directly but reinforces another of the Opportunity Hub’s core messages - promoting volunteering to young people as an excellent way to build your portfolio and employability.

The Nestle school holiday program will run during the second week of the April school holidays and available places are already full.

Twin wins for Alana

Alana Russell has the Opportunity Hub to thank for assisting her to gain not just one - but two opportunities! Alana's determination and commitment to her education has paid off and she has just completed her HSC at the age of 19. Opp Hub staff worked with Alana on a number of employability skills including presentation, interview techniques and communication skills for retail.  While Alana missed out on the first job she went for, the relationship she had built with the Opportunity Hub meant that Hub staff had built a strong knowledge of her interests and abilities.
New opportunities were identified, and the Opp Hub are currently supporting Alana while she gains experience at Azalea Florist 2 days per week, AND after a short trial, she was successful in gaining a job at West Leagues Club working alongside experienced kitchen staff who will mentor her to develop her skills. Alana and her family are absolutely thrilled and we are too!

Midnight Basketball: Our Volunteers

The first tournament of the year was a resounding success with 87 young people participating and benefiting from the workshops and support throughout the term. None of it would be possible without our precious volunteers.  Many volunteers continued from previous tournaments while others joined us for the first time.  

Pictured below are just some faces which will be very familiar to players by now - Tournament Managers Ray Berry and  Tenielle Cutmore, Northern Regional NSWALC Councillor Charles Lynch, Tamworth LALC Board members Elders Yvonne Kent and Trevor French, and Doug "Buster" Kirk, community driver and youth worker Teangi Knox, and volunteer Andrew Nguyen.  

NSWALC Councillor Charles Lynch reflected on the important role of volunteers in the program.  "
The success of the Midnight Basketball is a testimony to the many volunteers, workers and community who have invested their time to ensure our Youth have the opportunities for interaction and social inclusion at such a vulnerable time in their lives. Over the past two years I have witnessed firsthand the changes in many who have attended regarding a positive attitude, respect for others and self confidence investing in our Youth and giving them a voice is a positive investment in our future and our future leaders”.

Maroon team coach and workshop presenter Uncle Trevor French is excited about the number of new volunteers participating now, particularly local teachers, as well as the kids' engagement in the workshop topics. "It is bringing a lot of respect back," Trevor said.

White team coach, Aunty Yvonne Kent, says that what she loves about Midnight Basketball is seeing all of the schools get together, and watching the kids enjoy their time with each other.  "The other thing I love is, when there is a break, seeing how the kids dance, they love their dancing," she said.  While Doug "Buster" Kirk gets a thrill from the kids recognising him in the street... "You see them down the street and they sing out to you," he said.

So keep making our volunteers feel like celebrities kids! - because its clear that the volunteers enjoy Midnight Basketball as much as you do, and its great that it puts a smile on everyone's faces.
Tamworth Ice Action Group

The Opportunity Hub has attended initial meetings and will continue to participate in the Tamworth Ice Action Group which has been established by Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and NSW Minister for Justice and Police, Troy Grant in partnership with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet.  The group will address community concerns about the increased effects of the drug Ice in the community through a focus on education, support and rehabilitation.  The Tamworth Opportunity Hub’s involvement will allow us to provide input from what we see that impacts our young people and families we are working with, as well as ensuring young people who need support are being referred to the right services within the community.

Sites officer experience

Ben Kent is a 15 year old young man who is currently in Year 9 at Tamworth High School and has shown an interest in Aboriginal cultural heritage and site inspection work.  As part of an opportunity facilitated by the Opportunity Hub team, Ben was given the opportunity to work alongside Donny Fermor, the Tamworth LALC’s site inspection officer and Archaeologist Pat Gaynor.

Ben and Donny conducted an inspection of a local site, where they uncovered a number of artefacts.  As part of his experience, Donny taught Ben what to look for and how to identify and protect significant artefacts. Ben then met again with Donny and Archaeologist Pat Gaynor to learn how to catalogue his finds. The Opportunity Hub will be looking out for other opportunities for Ben to further his interest in Aboriginal artefacts and undertake more work experience in the future.

More schools on board    

The Opportunity Hub Team have extended our work into a number of new schools who have commenced the 8-week Aspirations program in 2016.  Nineteen schools are now engaged in this program including a number of new small rural schools around Tamworth including the Manilla and Barraba Central Schools.

Opportunity Hub worker Patrick Strong presenting to Nemingha Public School

Jacob Stanton: Updated!

In our last newsletter we let you know that Jacob Stanton was on his way to reaching his goal of joining the Defence Force as he started his 6-week Indigenous Pre-Recruitment Course (IPRC) on Friday 12 February.

Well! A very excited Jacob Stanton rang the Opportunity Hub on 21 March to tell us that despite graduating his HSC with a low pass, he had achieved 85% on the maths test as part of his IPRC and had been accepted into a position with the Airforce.  Jacob will start as a Personnel Capability Specialist with the Airforce, with an enlistment date of September 2016. 
Very meaningful to us was that Jacob rang the Hub first – before he rang his family – with this life changing news.  Jacob recognises the work that the Opportunity Hub has put into supporting him on his chosen career path, and is genuinely grateful.  And we couldn’t be prouder.

What Jacob said:

"The experience was challenging but life-changing:I learnt lots of new things and made many friends.

"The most challenging part was the 3 day bush phase. It was challenging because we had next to no sleep and it was physically demanding unlike anything I've experienced before. We had no tents, only hoochies. We learnt how to adjust our eyesight to the dark which was really interesting.

"The best part about it was the new things I learnt. I learnt how to run with proper technique, how to tread water for 15 minutes and many other valuable skills. I am now well adjusted to a good routine of getting out of bed at a reasonable hour and making the most of every day. Another good thing about this experience was the friends that I have made. I had the opportunity to meet many great people who will no doubt become lifelong friends."

As for the next step: "I'm most looking forward to learning more new skills, meeting more people and making more great friends."

The Tamworth Opportunity Hub coordinates and matches training and career opportunities with Aboriginal students, providing incentives to finish school and transition into sustainable jobs. 

Tamworth Opportunity Hub can be contacted at:
Address: 123 Marius Street, TAMWORTH NSW 2340
Phone: (02) 6766 9028; Fax: (02) 6766 9036
Facebook: Opportunity Hub Tamworth or via the link below

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