Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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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 brought 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 said.


  • The grant from HMSTrust assisted the team to build infrastructure including buying equipment, building templates, designing “How To” Guides and working closely with Harvester Technical College staff.
  • Key programs included: leadership programs; health and well-being workshops; camps, breakfast club, lunchtime café; student government and a girls’ project to enable a deeper understanding of gender within the predominantly male student demographic.
  • The project was evaluated continuously using an action research methodology and a comprehensive final report delivered. Researchers worked collaboratively with teachers, Harvester and VU students in order to build the project by learning about what was working and what was not whilst in the midst of it. The project involved frequent cycles of reflective practice which also modified and changed some of the tools and practices as the project evolved.
  • The program that was developed was not only sustainable but replicable with elements being used to establish a similar model at SEDA, a hands-on alternative education program.
  • VU also extended the program at Harvester Technical College to include teacher aid students.


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