The Salvation Army Joblink gave their HELP program a new lease of
life by adding a photographic component. Modules were purchased
from TAFE, staff received specialist training, students were more
motivated, more girls joined the HELP program and overall participation
rates increased. What started as an experimental bridging project
now has the potential to expand into accredited pre-vocational training
with articulation into TAFE courses.
The Salvation Army Joblink's general HELP program focuses on communication
skills, literacy, numeracy and job search. Where necessary, sporting
activities are incorporated into the program for early school leavers.
Young people who are potential participants, often lack the basic
educational skills required to obtain employment or undertake structured
training programs. Self-esteem is low and they lack the social skills
necessary to remain in employment or labour market programs.
Staff at the Centre believed that a more focused vocational component
to the HELP program would help motivate young people exhibiting
By introducing a photographic component into the general HELP program,
more participants to the program
the self-esteem of participants
the motivation of participants
industry and community links
outcomes for participants
client consultation procedures
a more flexible approach to the program.
The Centre adopted a professional approach to the introduction of
the new course component. They organised specialist guest speakers
and paid for their staff to receive training in photographic techniques.
They also purchased photographic equipment and established a dark
The addition of a photographic element made recruitment easier,
particularly given the high cost normally associated with photographic
training in mainstream services. It also led to an increase in the
number of young women in the HELP program.
Consultation with the target group was both formal and informal.
Methods included group goal setting and program formulation, feedback
on program content and strategies, and participant evaluation of
The Centre ran three nine-week programs for 30 participants.
The greater maturity of participants meant that staff and clients
were better able to negotiate their needs and preferences. The addition
of an artistic and creative component allowed more space for participants
to express themselves, to follow their areas of need and interests,
and to shape the program.
The project clearly created space for dialogue on careers and vocational
options. Some students now want to be photographers. With permanent
facilities available in the Centre, many students use the program
as a way of developing the skills necessary for acceptance into
TAFE photographic courses. Project staff provide assistance to clients
in developing portfolios, and ex-students who proceeded to TAFE
still have access to the darkroom.
Even for those clients who recognised that photography was not a
career option, the project proved beneficial. Self-esteem and confidence
increased and they were introduced to a creative pastime that may
stay with them as a hobby throughout their lives.
Staff professional development led to an increase in the motivation
of teachers and improved relationships between staff and students.
A heightened sense of enthusiasm pervaded the Centre.
The local photography shop has since referred students to the program
and photography is likely to be a feature of all future HELP programs.
Local retailers provided advice and discounts to students involved
in the project, and a number of students joined the Blacktown District
The Centre initiated discussions with other HELP programs about
having an exhibition, and as part of the International Year of the
Older Person, undertook a joint project with the local neighbourhood
centre to establish a photographic record of the changing nature
of the local Bidwill area.
The project succeeded because it provided a change in direction
that offered new opportunities for staff and students to develop
skills and explore their potential. It skillfully integrated creative
activities within a bridging framework that established links with
the mainstream VET sector.
The development of relationships and local community networks also
strengthened the project and clearly contributed to its success.
Increasing the age requirements for HELP programs from 15-17 to
15-24 allowed older participants to join and their maturity contributed
to the project's success.
In future, referral processes will be expanded to include further
contact with TAFE and other providers. The number of guest speakers
from the industry and workplace visits will be increased to enhance
the photography component.
As the program
becomes more established, staff would like to establish direct articulation
arrangements between the HELP program and TAFE photographic courses.
For this to occur, curriculum will need to be purchased, and staff
may require further professional development.