Helping hand

Jesse went through the Hand Brake Turn program last year. Picture supplied

Tara Murray

A local group that helps disadvantaged young people through a pre-vocational automotive program is one of the groups to receive a grant from the latest round of the Brimbank Community Fund.

Concern Australia was awarded $7644 to provide scholarships for six disadvantaged young people from the Brimbank area to participate in the Hand Brake Turn program.

The program is a five-week pre-vocational automotive and life skills training course for people between the age of 15 and 21 to help them transition into education and employment pathways.

Concern Australia living, learning and earning manager Geoff Manton said they were fortunate to receive the grant.

“This grant will provide scholarships for another six disadvantaged young people in the Brimbank area to complete our Hand Brake Turn course,” he said.

“We’re reaching a group of young people who would otherwise fall through the cracks.

“One quarter of our students are 15-17 year olds that have disengaged from their schooling. Because of their age, they’re not eligible for funding to do other forms of training.

“Before COVID, we were taking these young people on and absorbing their course fees – that’s about $50,000 a year. But the economic impact of the pandemic means we can’t cover those costs any more.”

Hand Brake Turn’s Jonathan Sugumar said it wasn’t just about throwing students in a classroom but helping each student individually.

“Through the five-week course, we help them develop a sense of routine, responsibility and application, support them to create and refine their CVs, and build connections with potential employers.”

Jesse completed the program last year. He has now returned to school

“Before doing the course I was in and out of school,” he said. “Doing Hand Brake Turn, I learned how to do basic mechanics.

“Now I want to focus on school, and get a job working on cars. I like the people at Hand Brake Turn – they’re nice people, and it’s a good company.”

The Reach Foundation also received a grant through the fund. It received $27,000 for a three-year pilot program to support students studying at Victoria University Secondary College, St Albans campus.