The Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) in Port Vila has begun the delivery of the first Certificate IV in Youth Work training program. Twenty youth workers from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands have commenced a five-month program, which when successfully completed will provide them with an internationally recognised qualification as youth workers. These students have brought to the course, a diverse range of skills and abilities in working with young people, families and their communities. It has been this excellent background and commitment to making a difference in their communities that makes this student group exceptional.
Within the first week, the class group designed a banner that would represent their priorities throughout the course and the theme "Our Culture, identity, young people, our hope" was born. This statement has been the basis of many musical and artistic representations.
The course focuses on the key themes of Working Safely, Effective Work Practice, Communicating with Young People and Colleagues, Working with Young People and Health and Wellbeing, which explores the issues of alcohol, other drugs and mental health.
The students are undertaking a work placement in various government and non-government agencies throughout Port Vila for two days a week to enable them to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom.
The APTC Certificate IV Youth program has formed an exciting partnership with the Vanuatu National Youth Council to develop a National Youth Services directory. The purpose of the directory called Y Connect is to provide information about the various youth services and youth groups in Vanuatu. The students have been undertaking a broad range of research through face-to-face interviews, telephone, email and mail to publish information about as many organisations as possible. Plans to have the guide published in November are underway.
The trainer of the course, Annie Dares, shares with her students a strong philosophy of the principles of action learning. This model is based on the premise of "tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand". It is this philosophy that underpins the Y Connect learning experience as the students will gain many skills in undertaking a community project which they can apply in their own communities.
Throughout the course, the students have access to broad range of national and international expertise. For example, the students recently attended a two-day workshop facilitated by a renowned Australian Child Psychiatrist Dr Stephen Stathis. The workshop was hosted by WAN Smol Bag on the topic of Alcohol and other Drugs and Mental Health.
The knowledge and skills gained throughout this program will help to make a difference to the lives of young people and their families and communities in the Pacific.