Westpac CEO, Gail Kelly, Westpac CEO, Gail Kelly, dedicated the morning of her last working day at Westpac to opening Good Shepherd’s Waranara Centre for disadvantaged youth.
On Friday January 30, in acknowledgement of the power of education in breaking the cycle of poverty, Westpac CEO, Mrs Gail Kelly, chose to dedicate part of her last day at Westpac to officially open the Waranara Centre, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand’s school for disadvantaged and marginalised young people.
The Waranara Centre provides secondary school education for students in year 9 and 10 who cannot thrive in the mainstream. Students who attend the Waranara Centre have access to intensive, ongoing learning support from a team of specialist teachers supported by a team of counsellors who are on-site to assist with mental health and behavioural challenges. Students are provided with the opportunity to achieve the Record of School Achievement credential and to work towards other vocational goals.
Mrs Kelly asked those in attendance to consider the true value of alternative education with mental health support. She said:
“Coupling case workers with social workers, with wonderful teachers, and the care, the thought about that one individual and what that particular individual may need at the time. Think of the value of that for that one individual.
The Deloitte Access research and the facts there that $1 of funding that goes into schooling for a young person will actually deliver $7.60 direct return to government, and $23.60 direct return to the broader society. I think that understates it. That’s an economic value, but what about the human value? What about the sense of pride that a human being has in a sense of achievement in actually fulfilling their schooling? What about the sense of confidence that they actually receive that breaths within? and then, the multiplyer effect?….Through education, you break that intergenerational cycle of disfunctionality, the cycle of poverty. So my congratulations to you, Good Shepherd and the work you do here to break that cycle in that particular unique way that you go about it. I’m so honoured to be here today to open the centre.”
The Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand organisation exists to disrupt the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage with a focus on women and girls. According to Good Shepherd CEO, Dr Rhonda Cumberland, the Waranara Centre is a leading example of how the organisation achieves its aim: “We can provide no more powerful an opportunity for a young person to escape the cycle of poverty and disadvantage than when we can successfully address the complexities in their lives, through combining mental health support with a safe educational environment.”
In Australia, education is especially important for young women, where females who do not achieve year 10 education are three times more likely to remain disengaged in the long term from education or employment than their male counterparts.[i]
[i] “I Just Want to Go To School: Voices of young people experiencing educational disadvantage”, Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service, Jesuit Social Services and Mackillop Family Services, 2012