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New education path for at-risk youth an Australian first

28 April 2021

Young people living with mental health conditions who have become disengaged from high school will receive additional care and mental health support to complete their schooling under a new flagship program being rolled out by the Victorian Government at MCM's independent school The Hester Hornbrook Academy.

Living Learning is a ground-breaking program that provides education and support for young people aged 15 to 21 who are disengaged from employment, education and training and who have a mental health condition.

The program will provide three years of education and extensive mental health support to 144 Victorian young people who face complex challenges to completing their education. The program is based at The Hester Hornbrook Academy across three campuses in the CBD, Prahran and the new HHA Sunshine campus which features state of the art facilities to accommodate up to 120 students.

The program is supported by the Victorian Government as part of its ground-breaking Partnerships Addressing Disadvantage (PADs) initiative. PADs bring together the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors to address deep-seated disadvantage through a social impact Investment model. 

The Victorian Government has committed up to $15 million for this PAD with the final level of investment to be based on results achieved. Further support has been provided by five of Australia’s leading philanthropic organisations  who have collectively invested $4 million to the Living Learning program – Gandel Philanthropy, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust, Paul Ramsy Foundation, Helen Macpherson Smith Foundation and RE Ross Trust.

Quotes attributable to Natalie Suleyman MP, member for St Albans

“We know that an education is crucial to the development of young people, but too often the complexities of family violence, financial hardship, mental health, learning difficulties and homelessness make that incredibly difficult. This program will give those young people a genuine chance at achieving a quality education”

“Any opportunity we have to invest in a young person's education is worth pursuing – particularly when they are facing challenging and complex circumstances as these young people are.”

Quotes attributed to Vicki Sutton, CEO, Melbourne City Mission

“Education is critical to improving life opportunities and we are excited to work alongside the Victorian Government and our investors at The Hester Hornbrook Academy to give our students a chance to graduate.

“The Living Learning program will empower young people to navigate their own pathway to a positive future.”

Quotes attributed to Sally Lasslett, Principal, The Hester Hornbrook Academy

“The addition of the Living Learning program has been instrumental in providing an even higher degree of wraparound support for young people who experience mental health challenges and have disengaged from traditional schooling.

“It is incredible to see just how much of an impact of Living Learning and our new Sunshine campus has already had on our students. For most of them, this is the first time anyone has ever been invested in their education, and the respectful and supportive learning environment that the academy provides makes them believe that they can work towards a hopeful future.”

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