Education is key to ending Benalla’s cycle of disadvantage and it is only a matter of time according to the Tomorrow Today Foundation.
Benalla Rural City Council recently announced a joint investigation with Benalla Health in to the town’s stagnant position as one of the state’s most disadvantaged following the release of the report Dropping off the Edge 2015 — Persistent Communal Disadvantage in Australia.
While Benalla has shown limited improvement since the previous report, Liz Chapman from Tomorrow Today said it was not a quick-fix problem.
‘‘We took a really close look at what the 2007 report said,’’ she said.
‘‘There was only one indicator that impacted on every other indicator — that indicator was level of education attainment.’’
Focusing on reducing high dropout rates, Tomorrow Today launched the Education Benalla Program in 2010.
Starting with mums and babies, the program includes projects and interventions for different age groups designed to ensure children get the best start to their education and are motivated to stay in school through mentoring, hands-on learning, career planning, tutoring and connection the to the community.
While people were beginning to reap the rewards of the programs, the first children introduced to the early years program are yet to begin school and Ms Chapman said its full effects were years away.
‘‘What we’re aiming to do is over a 10-year period measurably change the number of young people completing Year 12 and the number of young people completing their diploma, their degree or their apprenticeship and we’ll also measurably improve the NAPLAN results,’’ she said.
‘‘We know we’re on track; measurable change will start to be seen in the next couple of years and then they’ll start to compound, but we won’t really see the long-term effects until 2030.’’
With 110 organisational partners, Ms Chapman said change would not be possible without Benalla’s strong social cohesion and volunteer base.
‘‘There’s no way the program would ever be successful without the partners,’’ she said.
‘‘No matter how good Tomorrow Today is or how well researched the program is, it works because of the collaboration across all the different organisations.’’
By Jessica Ball, Benalla Ensign, October 14 2015