Cathy Freeman Foundation and UNICEF Australia team up for youth

 The Cathy Freeman Foundation is set to expand its program work and provide greater educational opportunities for young people living in remote communities in partnership with UNICEF Australia.

Students in the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of Woorabinda will make great strides towards their future goals with a new 12-month ‘Sprint Passport Program’. The initiative is designed to empower 15 to 18-year-olds to plan and build on their innate strengths as they transition from secondary school to tertiary education or the world of work.

With the support of UNICEF Australia, the Sprint Passport Program will provide training and skills development for up to 80 local students, with 10 to receive tailored personalised guidance, as part of the partnership which prioritises adolescents in remote communities.

In announcing the partnership today, Cathy Freeman, whose father was born in Woorabinda, said: “I believe education does change lives and I am happy to see our Sprint Passport Program being piloted in Woorabinda this year. We look forward to seeing its successes and learnings along the way.

“The foundation has been working for 14 years to implement community-led, long term partnerships with Indigenous communities, employing local people and working in a sustainable way. We’re proud to partner with UNICEF Australia to launch the first Sprint Passport Program in Australia to support young people in Woorabinda on their path to lifelong fulfillment and personal satisfaction.”

Nicole Breeze, Director of Australian Programs for UNICEF Australia, said: “UNICEF Australia and the Cathy Freeman Foundation are united in our belief that all Australian children should have an equal opportunity to realise their developmental potential.

“We are thrilled to announce a long-term partnership with the Cathy Freeman Foundation, starting with the Sprint Passport Program in Woorabinda. The program will be implemented at a community level and enable young people to access the support, skills, and education they need.”

The program is run by Cathy Freeman Foundation Program Coordinator, Ivy Yoren, a Rockhampton local whose parents were both born in Woorabinda.

“When I moved to Woorabinda there were no other youth organisations delivering short courses, helping students with basic life skills and setting them up for jobs in the near future,” said Ms Yoren.

“This program will give students and their parents confidence in what they want to achieve.”

Almost half the population of Woorabinda is under 20 years of age and it is important we support these young people to have the best education outcomes and optimal opportunities in life. Through the Sprint Passport Program students can complete ‘micro-credentials’ such as obtaining their driver’s licence, a first aid certificate or skills that will help them on the path to the world of work, or to pursue further study.

CEO for the Cathy Freeman Foundation, Jade Colgan, said: “I think the work of the Cathy Freeman Foundation is really important because it’s Aboriginal run and led. We employ local people in each of our partner communities to run our programs locally. It’s about empowering young people and students on their education journey and connecting more and more families to their child’s education. We feel very privileged that we’re able to be part of that education journey with each of the young people that we work with.”