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Five enthusiastic young people recently attended a graduation ceremony, marking the completion of an eight week course called ‘Life Matters’ – a life and living skills course facilitated by the youth team at Gippsland Lakes Complete Health (GLCH) and featuring representatives from the business and community sectors.

“The Life Matters Course gives young people a chance to look at their lives and develop new skills for living,” explained Ben Cooper, Family, Youth and Children’s Services Manager at GLCH.  “The course aims to help participants develop skills and character strengths needed to contribute to positive change in today’s world and to explore and discover their own distinctive purpose”.

The Life Matters Course explores topics that matter to young people in their pursuit of independence and journey into adulthood.  These topics include creating group boundaries and rules;  exploring money matters and financial literacy;  housing and private rental strategies;  identity and your place in your community; your health and drug and alcohol education;  legal matters; and  problem solving in a complex world.

To strengthen the participants’ learning, the course also provided access and open discussion with representatives from Legal Aid and the Aboriginal Legal Service, real estate agents and drug and alcohol counsellors from GLCH; and also included the added bonus of unique access to local cafe’ The Wooden Squirrel.

“We were very fortunate to have the support from The Wooden Squirrel owner Jason Kaczkowski and his barista Peter Blake, who provided the course participants with hands on hospitality and cooking experience,” said Mr Cooper. “The group particularly enjoyed learning barista techniques and developing their own beveridge styles and flavours with Peter; and being shown how to prepare simple and healthy low cost meals to replicate in their homes with Jason.”

Threaded through all this hands on learning are the discussions around working in the hospitality sector and how a young person can improve their opportunities to land a job and be able to support themselves through school or TAFE. “Due to the in-kind support from the Wooden Squirrel and a successful funding application from Street Smart Australia, we are able to offer all graduating Life Matters Course participants with the opportunity to complete a Barista Course at Federation Training early in 2016,” added Mr Copper.

The youth team at GLCH are planning to run the Life Matters Course in 2016 and welcome enquiries from young people and local business interested in participating.

Pictured L to R at the Life Matters Course graduation held at the Wooden Squirrel in Bairnsdale are Warren Adair (GLCH youth team); venue owner and head chef, Jason Kaczkowski  ; Jenna Langlands (GLCH youth team); course participants Ben Vucic,  Corey Gischus,  Jayden Westhorpe,  Zach Gischus, Naomi Gordon (GLCH youth team) and participant Stephanie Walsh.

Life Matters Graduation photo 2015