HIS Royal Highness, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex KG GCVO visited Australia to attend the Commonwealth Games and undertake additional engagements to promote and recognise The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Australia’s commitment to supporting disadvantaged and marginalised youth across the country, including those from rural and remote areas, and the growth of funding projects in this area.
In support of youth experiencing disadvantage, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in Victoria has formed significant partnerships to assist in this area. The first of which is a partnership with the Victorian Government to provide increased resources and support to facilitate the running of the award in remote and rural areas of the State.
EO of the award in Victoria, Stephen Mason said, “The benefits of the award for any participant are significant. But what really motivates our team is when we see what impact the award can provide for those that don’t have the access to the same opportunities of the more privileged youth.
“It’s energising to see how exposure to new experiences and networks can open doors and empower young people to create opportunities they might not have otherwise had. Our partnership with the Victorian Government allows us to widen that impact and benefit more youth living in rural and remote areas.”
Another significant initiative in rural and regional Victoria is the award’s partnership with Victorian Police Youth Engagement officer, Marcia Parry of Ararat Rural City Council, Northern Grampians Shire and Yarriambiak Shire. The Youth Resource Officer program is a policing youth framework that increases the capacity of police to deal with police and youth issues; meeting the needs of modern policing, operational police, the local community and government.
Marcia said, “As youth officers in rural Victoria, we’re focused on crime prevention and reducing recidivism through initiatives that best support the needs of our youth and that drive positive engagement with the community.
“The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award development program sits perfectly within that umbrella. As a rural regional area, many of our school’s resources are limited, which is why I have approached Duke of Ed Vic directly to partner on providing extra resources and support to get the program in place. I have also seen the amazing impact the award has on building kids’ self- confidence, resilience, self- worth, leadership skills and goal setting. These attributes and other outcomes of the program are instrumental in improving kids educational and employment opportunities, paving a positive pathway alternative to crime.”
Direct examples of the positive impact of the award for youth in remote areas can be seen in the stories from some of the Gold Award holders who were recognised last Friday at the Gold Award Ceremony at Government House. Gold Awards were presented to 70 participants by Prince Edward, who recognised long serving volunteers by awarding 13 Long Service Medals and two Distinguished Service Medals. Amongst those being recognised were two students and an assistant principal from Edenhope college; a regional state school located in Edenhope – a small town 400km west of Melbourne with a population of just under 1,000.
Penelope Caldow, one of the Gold Award recipients from Edenhope College applied to La Trobe University through the Aspire program and is currently undertaking her first year in a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Penelope said, “The internationally recognised awards program helped me get as far as the UK, and benefitted me while I was travelling and meeting new people. The university that I study at also recognises the significance of how beneficial the program is.
“The university allows early applications for awards goers and gives the chance for a certified place in your dream course. The award also helped me immensely when moving from a town with a population under 1,000 to the big city. I now have the people skills that made the transition easy, and the confidence to be myself.”
Assistant principle at Edenhope College, Trevor Mclure was presented with a Long Service Medal for his substantial involvement with the award.
Trevor said, “I’ve been involved with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for over 12 years and been running the award at Edenhope College for the last 10 years. In that time, I’ve seen the tremendous impact it can have on a student’s life. Not only does it open doors to further education and employment, but perhaps even more importantly it gives students the confidence and self-belief to pursue their hopes, dreams and aspirations.”