Young Parents Education Program aims to reduce school dropout rates among young mums and dads in Melbourne

An evaluation of the program by Monash University researchers called for its expansion to more high schools across the state, arguing that wider adoption would reduce the number of young parents leaving school early and stigma society around adolescent parenthood.

But these students will need much more intensive support than their peers to complete their education, the report authors said.

“They may be surrounded by other teens whose concerns may seem unimportant or insignificant, compared to those of teenage parents,” wrote lead author Dr. Penny Round.

Nivea Perenise is a recent graduate of Hallam Senior College’s Young Parent Education Program.Credit:penny stephens

“Many are likely to be marginalized, resent the awkwardness of stares and respond to inappropriate comments. These young parents need support to re-engage with their education to ensure that their future aspirations can become reality.

But Round warned that not all schools would be able to meet the special needs of young parents, including academic, social and emotional support, and advice on parenting skills and career development.

In Hallam, there is a dedicated learning space for VCAL classes attached to a children’s crèche.

There is a teacher in the classroom and a parent educator in the other room, which is separated by floor-to-ceiling windows so that students can supervise their children.

“When I first welcomed him as a teenager you feel like you’re being judged, but once I walked in and saw other young mums I got the I felt like I wasn’t alone in this, I had found my community,” Perenise said.

She got her grade 12 certificate last year and wants to go back to school to become an early childhood education teacher.

Greg McMahon retired as principal of Hallam Senior College last year, but oversaw the introduction of the program. He supported the call to expand it to other schools.

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“If these young people don’t get the support and encouragement they need to complete [year 12] then their potential to move forward in terms of employment and education diminishes and the future cost to society is enormous,” McMahon said.

Young parents education program manager Mary Tresize-Brown said eight young mothers have completed grade 12 at Hallam since 2020 but no fathers, despite it being open to men. They went on to work in areas such as nursing, rail making, office administration and as a travel agent.

A spokesperson said the Department for Education and Skills is working with all public schools to put in place supports for vulnerable pupils, including those who are embarking on parenting while still at school. school.

The Victorian Budget for 2022-23 invested more than $37 million in the Navigator scheme to support young people at risk of dropping out of school, the spokesperson said.

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