The secret of success: The program keeping Cherbourg youth on track

17 December 2020

Young people from Cherbourg have become the latest to graduate from a Queensland program helping at-risk youths get their lives back on track.

The Queensland Department of Youth Justice’s Transition 2 Success (T2S) program helps young people who are involved with the youth justice system – or are at-risk of entering the system – to change their story. 

“T2S aims to ‘change the story’ for young people by helping them build a future that’s not defined by their past,” says Gaye O’Sullivan, manager of the Cherbourg Youth Justice Service Centre. 

“The program delivers alternative vocational training and education to young people aged 15 to 18 years. It encourages them to complete nationally recognised certificates to develop the behaviours, life skills and confidence required to build capacity, learn real-world skills and boost self-esteem. This helps them to find and keep employment, while re-engaging with the community.”

More than 400 young people throughout Queensland have now participated in the program, and of those graduates, 95 per cent have gone on to get a job or move into further education, and more than two thirds did not offend or reoffend within 12 months of completing the course. 

Cherbourg recently became the 16th location to take part in the program. Administered by the Cherbourg Youth Justice Service Centre, the 10-week course included educational components aimed at helping participants earn their White Card (the work card required in order to work on a construction site), learner’s licence and first-aid certification, and also covered crucial literacy, numeracy and life skills. 

“Strong local partnerships with other organisations are vital in enabling us to deliver the program,” Gaye says. “Young people received mentoring and completed a woodwork project at the Cherbourg Men’s Shed, and engaged in a therapeutic program to build their capacity to manage their behaviours and emotions. Young people also engaged in work site tours and completed work experience at the Cherbourg Recycling Plant.”

At Stanwell, we aim to partner with communities and groups who are responding to their challenges in ways that improve everyone’s quality of life. 

That’s why Stanwell was pleased to be involved with the program by sending two Meandu Mine employees to talk to Cherbourg youth about their work, the types of jobs on offer on-site, and the skills program participants need to learn to become employment ready. 

Meandu Mine, owned by Stanwell and operated by Downer Mining, is a major provider of jobs for the region. For this reason, Stanwell Marketing and Communications Coordinator Karen Wall says it was important for representatives of the mine to assist with the program’s delivery. 

“Young people in Cherbourg have come to know the yellow shirts of the mine’s employees well, and many aspire to work at Meandu themselves,” Karen says. “Programs like T2S make that goal more achievable for local youth.”

Gaye says the participants had a positive reaction to the presentation, and were surprised by the range of jobs that happen on a mine site. 

“They were particularly interested in the presentation on heavy machine operations,” she says.  “They also learnt about the safety requirements of working at a mine site.

“Young people engaged in T2S have often had limited exposure to different job options, so they benefit enormously from seeing the different kinds of work available within the South Burnett. Because Stanwell is a major employer in the South Burnett, our future goal is to prepare young people so they can undertake work experience with the company. Ultimately, this will increase their ability to gain work, which benefits them directly as well as the wider community.”

Karen attended the graduation ceremony at the conclusion of the program, and was pleased to see the progress participants had made in a short amount of time. 

“It was great to see how much pride the families of the graduates took in their achievement,” Karen says. “This program is going to help these young people so much as they move through their lives, and I’m just grateful that we were able to play a part in it.

“Programs like T2S are crucial to developing leadership capacity, enhancing educational opportunities and building resilience in the communities surrounding Stanwell’s power stations.” 

After the success of the first round of the program, Gaye says planning is already well under way for 2021. 

“We are in discussions with interested community partners, such as the Murri Rangers, to build a program that’s engaging and gives young people the chance to learn new skills,” she says. 

“The next T2S program is likely to begin in February 2021.” 

There are many ways to be involved with T2S as a partner or volunteer. If your organisation is able to assist with providing time and expertise; employment pathways; industry contacts; tangible resources and equipment; support with day-to-day program delivery; or support and mentorship for participants, email the T2S team at