Transforming lives with education

Every day, Margaret sees first hand the power of education in transforming the lives of young people in detention.

Margaret is deputy principal at the Cleveland Education and Training Centre (CETC), which sits inside the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Townsville.

“It’s really exciting to be able to help a young person to see they can achieve, learn and have a better future,” she said.

Like all other public schools in the state, classes at CETC are delivered by Education Queensland.

But unlike other schools, students are highly likely to have been disengaged from education, meaning classes in detention have to be tailored to give individuals the best chance of turning their lives around.

Preparing young people for when they go back into the community is also critical, with the centre providing vocational education and training to get them job-ready.

Ken, an automotive teacher at CETC, said students learn valuable skills in his classes, such as doing wheel alignments.

“The young people love it when we bring a whole car in and put it up on the rack,” he said.

“They learn how to do things the way you would in the industry and even if they don’t work in the industry, they’ll learn the skills to take care of their own cars.”

If young people want to pursue a career in the industry, they are encouraged to complete a Certificate II in Vocational Pathways—Automotive.

Hospitality is another key area in which young people are being trained to prepare them for the workforce when they leave detention.

Qualified chefs, Anita and Bryan, teach them how to cook and with the help of a commercial coffee machine in the centre, they can also complete a barista certificate.

“They want to build up the hours that they need for their certificate,” said Anita.

“They are eager to learn those skills and prove themselves.”

For other young detainees, art provides a form of expression as well as a potential career path.

CETC’s art teacher, Danielle, is passionate about helping young people unlock their creativity. She and local artist Nicky Bidju Pryor (whose public works are visible across Townsville) have worked on projects with the young people.

Danielle says some of her students have the talent and potential, but need guidance on how to establish themselves as artists.

“It’s important for them to understand how to protect themselves as artists,” Danielle said.

“We need to help them be prepared for their future.”