School To Work program delivering success

The School To Work Program is an education and employment program that utilises the positive profile of the game of rugby league to support and encourage young Indigenous Australians to stay at school, get a job, and be a legend for themselves, their families and their communities.

The NRL School to Work program is support by the Federal government to help close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage in the community.

The Parramatta Eels were one of four NRL clubs to help deliver the initiative when it began in 2012, and Brianna is an example of how young people are better off for having taken opportunities in the School To Work program.

Brianna, supported by the program from year 10, is studying a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science at the University of Sydney.

"I have a few older sisters and when they were in school they all dropped out by year 11. They never really cared about school," Brianna said.

"I started high school and just did what I had to do. I struggled a lot with exams. I stuck to the books as much as I could. I was never really good at remembering everything. Freaking out in exams made it worse.

"One of my goals was to finish high school. I went through all the different programs I could do, that's when I applied for School to Work."

Greg Waddell, Brianna's project officer from the NRL, remembers distinctly meeting Brianna for the first time.

"At our first meeting I brought along our transition officer to meet Brianna and we were blown away with everything she's doing," Waddell said.

"She's put herself out there. She developed her skills, is very self driven and continually growing within herself.

"I think it's having a ripple effect within her community and family. Even for me, I'm overwhelmed by her achievements."

Her responsibilities extend further than her university commitments, as the resume constructing service helped her become a part-time employee at Woolworths.

"If you have applications that need to be handed in, they'd help you get through them. They'll help you write out your resume. I didn't have a resume and I really needed a job, so my old project officer helped me write one out. It was really helpful."

Brianna has carried through a motto from getting involved with the School to Work program and recommends it to anyone else who is struggling in high school.

"Just take opportunities. Any help, any support... just take it. Do what you got to do to help yourself.

"The school to work program definitely gave me avenues. I would apply for any sort of tutoring, they'd say 'you can get this'. That really helped, especially when I was trying to pass all my subjects.

"The Youth Summit helped because I got to meet so many new people. There was different camps I could sign up for. Just any sort of programs/open days they had available for me."

"I was the first of my sisters to finish high school. If I couldn't get into uni (so be it). If I could, I (told myself I) would go for it.

Now a university student, Brianna is considered a post-secondary person and has regular catchups with Greg.

The check-in could be a phone call, contact over social media, texting or a face-to-face meeting.

"I definitely recommend this School to Work program to anyone. Even if it's just to keep you on top of things (if you don't feel like you're in need of help straight away).

Greg has also been able to help Brianna follow her career aspirations.

"We had a meeting with CareerTrackers today, they organise paid internships in the relevant area she wants," Waddell said.

"That's going to be gold."

To see whether the School to Work program is right for you or someone you know, click the link for more information.