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ID a passport to personal goals for Woorabinda students

[by Belinda Skridlova]


Dakota is one of the students participating in the Sprints Passport Program. Image: supplied

Accessing basic identification documents has opened the door to further education and training for students in Woorabinda.


More than half (51%) of students participating in the Sprints Passport Program in Woorabinda did not have basic identification documents when they registered for the program, designed for 15–18-year-olds to build on their strengths and support their transition into the community from high school.


As part of the program, run by Community Spirit Foundation (formerly The Cathy Freeman Foundation) in partnership with UNICEF Australia, the students complete short courses or obtain ‘micro-credentials’ that enable them to secure employment or pursue further study, but without the appropriate identification documents, many of the goals the students seek from the program are unable to be reached.


Senior program coordinator, Khanita Sukaserm, was born and raised in Woorabinda and as a resident herself, knows the challenges that the students face every day.


“I want young people in our community to be proud and our team walks the journey with them every day to support them in navigating the next stage of their lives beyond high school. They face many of the same fears and worries that many teenagers do about the right path for them after school, but they are also challenged by the remoteness of our community, and issues such as accessing identification that will assist them in pursuing further study, training, or employment,” Khanita said.


“When we realised the barriers the students were facing, we worked with them to obtain the identification they needed to get the most out of the program. Just by facilitating this right, we have already started to send these young people on the right path into the future.”


Over the first 12 months, the Sprints Passport Program team supported 15 students to obtain a Unique Student Identifier, which enables them to enroll in further education and accreditation, and supported 20 others to obtain other forms of identification.


With the support of the program, students have been able to access essential documents and tools including birth certificates, Medicare cards, 15+ identification cards, tax file numbers and bank accounts. 


Once they had their identification elements in place, 12 students have earned a driving qualification, 8 students completed a Barista course to support themselves during future studies, four students obtained a White Card to work in the construction industry, and three students obtained a Blue Card to work with children.


Year 12 student Gerald said: “I remember one of the program coordinators taking me to Transport Main Roads and they turned us away six times because I didn’t have enough identification points. But she wouldn’t give up. I told her many times, ‘It’s a waste of time’ but she never listened. It took me three weeks to get all the right identification so I could get my licence. If it wasn’t for the Sprints Passport Program, I wouldn’t have the skills I have.”


The support provided by the program has become an integral part of the community, which has few resources for young people.


Student participant Dakota said her favourite part of the program is having someone to talk to about any challenges she faces.


Fellow student Assarn added, “We’re like a family and we can talk to the program coordinators about anything”.


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