Damien Llambi’s varied life experiences contribute to enriching work alongside young people, in a program that is achieving great success.
Youth justice funds a number of support services and programs to address identified needs of the young people they work with. One program currently making waves is – T2S which started in Brisbane’s western suburbs. The program is impressing everyone with its flexible and committed approach, allowing meaningful engagement, education and training for the youth involved. Since 2015, a total of 46 young people attended the T2S program achieving a total of 64 certifications across 5 nationally-accredited courses, including hospitality.
The goal of youth justice is to provide a fair and balanced response to young people in contact with the youth justice system. This response holds young people accountable for their actions, encourages their reintegration into the community and promotes community safety.
When I left school I wanted to be a social worker but somehow I got side tracked, as you do. I found myself working in a kitchen, and because I loved it, I trained as a chef. That training opened up the world for me. I’ve cooked my way around the world – the UK, Sweden, Spain – and all around Australia.
Then I trained as a scuba diver and a scuba instructor. That took me even wider to Mexico, Thailand and Malaysia.
When I got married it was natural to head back to Australia. I decided that neither of my careers were really family-friendly and I looked for another possibility: I became a trainer, intending to train apprentices. My company asked me to run some hospitality training for kids in the Youth Justice Transition to Success (T2S) program. When I saw what the T2S team were achieving with these young people I was hooked. I really enjoyed it. I eventually approached the T2S team to see how I could work more closely with them.
Kids are referred into the program via several referral pathways including Youth Justice service centres, non-government organisations (NGOs) and local schools because they’re at risk or have a youth justice history. They may be disengaged at school, acting up, skipping school or they may be young offenders. T2S is an alternative education setting for youth at risk and disengaged youth, delivering real world outcomes, nationally-recognised certifications and soft skills required for young people to continue their journey into adulthood. The program originated out of Brisbane’s Western Districts Youth Justice service centre as a response to an identified need in the local area.
The purpose of T2S is to reduce risk factors associated with disengagement from education, training and employment; contact with the justice system and/or continued offending due to a lack of pro-social opportunities. The program achieves this by engaging youth at risk in vocational education and training to do certificate courses in hospitality, horticulture business, engineering and others with the intention of reintegrating young people into mainstream school or providing pathways to further education, training or employment.
Young people attend the program four days a week and also have the opportunity to engage in literacy and numeracy training. Other aspects of the program are delivered through partnerships with NGO’s such as The Salvation Army and Headspace.
I was a bit of a rascal as a teenager I suppose, hanging out late at night where I shouldn’t have been. That helps me relate to the kids in the program, they respond well to me and I feel like I’m really making a difference. I love my role in T2S because it gives me the opportunity to work with young people and open up possibilities for them that they may not otherwise get. I also get to learn new skills along the way working alongside the students. As a youth worker on the program I have the opportunity to role model pro social behaviours and work through issues with the young people as they come up. I trained as a youth worker and now I’m closing that circle that opened when I left high school: I’m doing a social work degree at Griffith.
For more information, visit: http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/youth-justice