Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

Closing date for this current Grant Round is 31.08.2017 View Grant Dates

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Case Study: Victoria University

ProjectHarvester Technical College and disadvantaged students




This grant was approved under our previous grants policy
Building capacity Support upwards of 200 Year 10 and 11 disadvantaged Harvester Technical College students to stay engaged and complete their course.
Extending opportunity Victoria University students support younger, disadvantaged Harvester students. Regular breakfasts, mentoring, employment advice and social contact.
Collaboration and partnership Partnerships developed with Visy Cares Hub, Kellogg’s Vic Relief, Second Bite and Brimbank Local Learning and Employment Network.

New Youth Work Centre improves education and employment outcomes for disadvantaged youth

Harvester Technical College delivers VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) and VET (Vocational Education and Training) programs to many disadvantaged western suburbs students who are at risk of failing to complete their basic education. Established by the western region’s Victoria University (VU) and supported by university student mentors, the new Harvester Youth Work Centre encourages students to improve their education outcomes, community connections and employment opportunities.

Image Harvester Breakfast Club

Completion of basic education is essential if disadvantaged young students are to achieve further education success, improve their community connections, develop personal skills and ultimately find employment.

Believed to be the first model of its kind, the Harvester Youth Work Centre brings together a range of competing needs in a win-win situation, according to Victoria University (VU) Associate Professor Robyn Broadbent, who coordinates VU degrees in youth work and youth service management.

“We have western suburbs young people moving through their university degrees who need experience and practical work, while Harvester College has a diversity of young people who can really benefit in education from role models, mentors and extra programs,” she says.

The project includes development of a student representative council, a student action team to coordinate programs including a breakfast club, weekly lunch day, cooking, health and nutrition programs for all year 10 and 11 students plus weekly employment assistance.

Students participate in leadership programs, health and wellbeing workshops, a community project pilot and outdoor activities.

Project aims

  • 70% student participation in 2013
  • 80% of Harvester students connected with a VU student
  • A Youth Work kit to enable development of a sustainable, replicable project
  • Connect the college to other education resources and community services
  • Equip students to cope with a range of educational barriers
  • Ensure all students start the day with breakfast (20% currently don’t).

The project may well have a wider impact, with a national alternative education program already interested in developing a similar model with VU.


"The Harvester Youth Work Centre brings together a range of competing needs in a win-win situation". says Victoria University Associate Professor Robyn Broadbent,