New Generations - 2003/2004
The main committee of the New Generations Directorate is the Welfare of the Young Committee. As in past years, this committee has continued to play an important role in the Club's activities. Perhaps even more appropriately in the year of "Lending a Hand", the Committee has continued to assist those most in need amongst our community's young people.
The activities of the Welfare of the Young are basically divided into those that are initiated within the Club itself, and those District Programs for which the Committee has responsibility. The programs initiated by the Club are as follows:
Northlands Secondary College Life Skills Program
Whilst now officially brought to an end, this program continued to involve considerable effort, as we struggled to try and have the Government adopt it as one of the options available to schools in Victoria. Despite working at the highest levels of Government, this objective was not achieved and efforts by interested organisations in the Lodden-Campaspe region of Victoria were similarly unsuccessful. The lack of appropriate action by the Victorian Schools Innovation Commission, with which body we had a partnership to develop this program, brought an end to that partnership as well. The Committee is now looking at a range of other activities for the coming year to continue our work with the most needy young people in our community.
Communities that Care and the Inner City Regional Youth Committee
These two most worthwhile projects continue to develop, and it is particularly rewarding to see more communities applying for the "Care" program. With the re-gaining of the fully trained trainer, we are confident that this program will continue to grow in the years to come. With the funding commitment made by the State Government to the Inner City Regional Youth Committee, this program is now well established and continues to grow in its essential role of providing employment opportunities for young people.
Mentoring Pha Porn
This extremely sensitive and difficult program has been handled virtually alone by Frank Bennett, who has brought this young man from a hopeless situation to one where he has completed his studies and is now employed in the industry - a heart-warming result, and one which truly demonstrates "Lending a Hand".
As usual, during the year under review, the Committee also assisted with a number of smaller but no less important matters typical of which was the arranging of a welcoming barbecue for young students coming down from the country to attend a competition at the Royal Show - a much appreciated gesture by the small communities that the students came from, and one which blended well with the Country - City exchange organised by the Community Welfare Committee.
Donydji Homeland Project Secures Important Funding
During the 2003-04 Rotary year the Welfare of the Young Committee continued to seek community support for its project supporting the applied research of LaTrobe University into an alternative model of Community Development for the indigenous young people of the Yolngu Homelands living in the small community of Donydji.
Having worked with the Keilor East Rotary Club in the previous year to secure funds for the building of a School / Community Centre, the Committee was impressed by the effect that this project had in seeing families returning to their traditional homeland in order to take advantage of the new educational opportunities. It was agreed that we should support the next phase of the program in two ways.
Firstly, the Committee agreed to assist in gaining support from the philanthropic community for the development of the "Life Skills and Vocational Training Program" aimed at encouraging the young people, particularly the young men, to return to their traditional homelands where they would receive training in the necessary skills to enable them to secure their long term futures, and at the same time giving them the skills to bypass the destructive influences of life in larger settlements without work or hope for their futures.
Secondly it was agreed that the Committee would seek the necessary funds to enable the building of additional facilities in the community, including a training workshop to operate in conjunction with the School, to teach trade skills and accommodation to provide for the needs of the single young men as they return to the community.
It is pleasing to be able to report that as a result of the Committee's efforts $140,000 has been raised. This will enable the first stages of the building program to commence and will also provide for the first year needs of the "Life Skills and Vocational Training Program" to begin. The Committee is grateful for the support received from an anonymous donor of $100,000, a gift of $25,000 from the Baker Foundation, $10,000 from the Grosvenor Settlement and $5000 from the Club. This is almost half way to the objective of $300,000 as the Rotary Club of Melbourne's contribution to this project.
Sydney Road Community School
With gifts of books from the Toorak Primary School library and the financing of a leadership program as well as architectural advice on how the school's National Trust-protected buildings may possibly be made more useful, the Committee continues to develop its relationship with this important Community School.
Possible new initiatives by the Committee for the coming year will include support for the Mirabel Foundation, which looks after the children of drug-affected parents and support for Youth Suicide prevention organizations.
Rotary Youth Leadership Award
Once more the Committee selected and funded two students to attend this program. Comments from this year's participants included "I have learnt so much and been inspired by every aspect of the camp. I have received renewed inspiration and motivation...". Surely exactly what the Club would hope for from this important program.
Rotary Youth Enrichment Program
As with RYLA, the Committee selects and funds two students to attend this program with similar results for the participants.
Model United Nations Assembly
This program, which is designed to give students practice in debating and political manoeuvring has been very successful, and this year we attempted to place two sets of two students each in the program. Unfortunately, due to illness, one group was unable to participate but we will continue to support this program in the coming years.
Lord Somers Camp
This training ground for future leaders continues to provide excellent training for young people and with it, the support of the Club. This year again we supported two young people to attend the Camp, including our exchange student, this practice becoming something of a tradition.
National Youth Science Forum
Unlike most of the other programs with which this committee is involved, this one focuses on gifted students and each year we select one boy and one girl (Usually from Melbourne High School and MacRobertson Girls High School) to attend this program in Canberra. As anyone who has heard our students speak at Club lunches will attest, the standard is unbelievably high, and we continue to be amazed at the high calibre of young people being produced at our schools.
Siemens Science Experience
This one-day program continues to be a great motivational experience for budding scientists, and on behalf of the Club we again supported quite a few students to attend this experience. A somewhat novel approach which boosted the numbers this year, was to ask the suburban groups if they wished to sponsor a student, which some did, giving them a "stake" in this program. We are hopeful of doing the same in the coming year.
Adventure in Citizenship
The Club, through the WOY, supports one student every year to attend this important development program.