Ballarat young parents program wins major state award

Father Bob Maguire with young mums and their children during a visit to the Link-Up program. PICTURE: JEREMY BANNISTER

Father Bob Maguire with young mums and their children during a visit to the Link-Up program. PICTURE: JEREMY BANNISTER

A BALLARAT young parents program has been recognised as one of the best education initiatives in Victoria at an awards ceremony in Melbourne.

The Ballarat Secondary College's Link-Up Young Parents program was one of 14 winners of the 2014 Victorian Education Excellence awards announced at the Crown Palladium on Friday night.

"There was a lot of celebrating, a lot of jumping around," said Link-Up campus principal Roger Gale.

"There was a lot of excitement from everybody, including representatives from our region who were there.

"There were six of us up on stage and another fourteen with us down at the award ceremony."

Mr Gale said the award was fantastic recognition of the hard work of teachers and volunteers in the program.

"It means recognition for a program that provides opportunities for young parents that they haven't had in the past," he said.

"We're setting up a system where young children can see that their parents are learning" - Link-Up campus principal Roger Gale

Mr Gale said a $20,000 grant attached to the award would help with trying to expand the program to other schools, as well as staying up-to-date with the best practices for working with young people.

"We're a bit different in a lot of ways from other young parents programs – a lot of young parents programs, the parents can't take their children with them. Our girls bring their children with them.

"We're setting up a system where young children can see that their parents are learning."

Program co-ordinator and Ballarat councillor Peter Innes said winning the award was a spectacular experience for the whole team.

"It's eight years in the making," he said.

"We've got a wonderful team of staff and volunteers who work with these young mums.

"From our point of view it's just extraordinary."

The Link-Up program's award was in the category of Outstanding Partnerships with Families and Communities, and was presented by education minister Martin Dixon.

Cr Innes said Mr Dixon was coming to tour the program in July, and he would be speaking with the minister about opportunities to take the program to other schools across the state.

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