Students learn surf safety

Girrakool School Outdoor Recreation Education Certificate II Group with staff Mark Tasi (left) and Luke Sullivan (right)Girrakool School Outdoor Recreation Education Certificate II Group with staff Mark Tasi (left) and Luke Sullivan (right)

Six students from the Girrakool Education Training Unit in the Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre have been learning surf safety for themselves and others.

The 16 to 21 year old students took part in a practical session on Wednesday, October 25, at Umina Beach. The session was part of their progress towards the Ocean Surf Safety Award Competency for the Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation and Education. Students who completed the session successfully qualified in demonstrating basic surfing manoeuvres in controlled conditions, and in demonstrating surf survival and rescue skills.

Girrakool teacher Mr Luke Sullivan said the boys who participated in the course were prerelease so they had been at Frank Baxter for some time and were gathering the skills they needed to re-enter society. Mr Sullivan said he expected four of the students to achieve their ocean life saving award at Umina on October 25. “The other two are just starting out,” he said. “The boys have been disengaged from education for a huge amount of time and we try to get them qualified,” he said. The Girrakool school offers other practical courses including brick laying, hospitality and horticulture and its student population ranges from between 60 and 100 offenders from all around NSW. “These boys are at Frank Baxter because they have faced fairly substantial sentences and the program is used as an incentive,” Mr Sullivan said.

“A lot have never been in the ocean or in the bush before. “I had a young boy recently who would not let go of me in ankle deep water so these programs totally bring them back to a whole new level.” Mr Sullivan said there is more emphasis on getting young offenders successfully back into the community when they are released. “We usually hear about the re-offenders but there are many good-news stories. “We received an email from someone who is on the Sunshine Coast who is now doing their teaching degree and specialising in outdoor recreation and he started with our Certificate II,” he said. According to Mr Sullivan, the boys who may end up in the surf at Umina often have challenging beginnings that result in them becoming juvenile offenders. “There are massive drug and alcohol problems all around them. “They come from low socio-economic and criminal backgrounds. “Some come from families with gang affiliations, even foetal alcohol syndrome,” he said. “They have many challenges to overcome and we attempt to give them a range of skills for when they are released,” he said.

SOURCE: Media release, 23 Oct 2017 Interview, 24 Oct 2017 Luke Sullivan, Girrakool Education and Training Unit Reporter: Jackie Pearson