Regional co-ordinator to help drive south-west year 12 retention push

Great South Coast Group chief executive Karen Foster.

Great South Coast Group chief executive Karen Foster.

THE CAMPAIGN to fix the region’s poor year 12 rate will step up significantly in the next four months. 

The efforts, now branded under the name Beyond The Bell, will have a project co-ordinator to oversee six working groups operating in each of the Great South Coast councils. 

The group, covering Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton and Camperdown districts are expected to have finished plans by the end of the year to be put into action by the start of 2015. 

 Education and community leaders are still at a loss to explain why so few south-west students reach the end of school. 

The most recent census data from 2011 shows only 57 per cent of people had obtained year 12 or equivalent, significantly lower than Melbourne (77.7 per cent) and regional Victoria (61.6 per cent). 

Great South Coast Group hopes to have a regional plan to put to either the state or federal governments by February next year.

“We hope the groups have a plan of attack by the end of this year,” Great South Coast Group chief executive Karen Foster said.

“It’s about changing the entire culture of the region.” 

Beyond The Bell will ramp up surveys and public consultation next month before analysing the pooling the information into a community action plan in October. 

Warrnambool City Council is taking a role in the Warrnambool area project. 

“This is the highest priority,”  council director of community development Vicki Mason said.

Ms Mason said many people thought the problem rested entirely with schools,

“People think it’s just schools or that the schools have failed,” she said.

“We want to highlight that it’s not just school, it’s life after the bell.” 

Ms Mason said the project co-ordinator had been hired as a consultant until February.

 “It’s to bring work from all the local groups together and identify key themes across the region,” Ms Mason said.