Back in March, we travelled out to Alice Springs. When we got there, we hit the Gap Youth and Community Centre, where we started training up some youth workers on how to deliver our flagship program BikeRescue.
The trip was part of Dismantle’s BikeRescue License initiative, which is aiming to get the Bike Rescue model up and running on a national level. The idea is to give youth workers and other mentoring bodies the tools to run BikeRescue programs themselves, keeping everything within a structured framework to maintain consistency and quality. It’ll mean more BikeRescue in more places, and more support for kids doing it tough all across the country.
We were in Alice for five days. In the mornings, we trained up five adult Youth Workers on how to deliver the program. In the afternoon, young people showed up and the fresh mentors got their hands dirty running the program under our facilitation. By the end, the kids were burning up the roads of Alice on their new rides, and the new BikeRescue Mentors were ready to run their next program independently.
Danny Sgro, Curriculum Coordinator for the Gap, said the kids got stuck into the program pretty much immediately. “There was engagement from the start, because these kids either ride bikes or ride scooters as a mode of transportation. Bikes are very popular here. They might have lifts from parents, or whatever, but for their own autonomy, they use bikes to get around.”
He also said the program provided a sense of ownership for participants. Bike theft is an issue around town, he says, so for the participants to build the bikes themselves, it lends the program integrity. “Even though the program, in essence, isn’t really about the bikes, it’s about mentoring,” he says, “bikes are a good vehicle, literally, to run a program with.”
The success of BikeRescue comes down to the combination of both soft and hard skills taught throughout the program. Technical skills keep participants engaged and give them a practical base, while interpersonal and mentoring support is offered alongside to improve their self esteem and emotional resilience.
One of the budding youth workers at the Gap involved in the project was Naum, resident bike enthusiast and a very charismatic, very engaging youth worker. Naum is taking the lead in this project, and will be running more BikeRescue programs into the future. Initially, Naum wasn’t sure BikeRescue would work out. “At first I thought bike building was gonna be gammon [lame] for the young fellas,” he said. “But now I see they properways get into it”
It didn’t take long for the results of the project to become apparent. A couple weeks later, The Gap Youth Centre successfully ran their first Bike Rescue Licence Program. It’s the start of many more to come.
When Lachie and Byron were selected for ReNew Property Maintenance they were stoked. Byron had graduated from BikeRescue and was looking for something else to sink his teeth into, and Lachie wanted something to help him achieve long term employment.
ReNew was a good match for both of them. The new social enterprise is a property maintenance service that provides funds to support Dismantle’s programs, and functions as a step towards work readiness and self sufficiency for young people at risk of long term unemployment. Participants complete at least ten sessions of a Workplace Development Program (WDP), during which they go out to residential and commercial properties and complete tasks such as garden maintenance, basic landscaping, handywork and window cleaning. In addition to gaining valuable work experience, they’re supported to set up their own professional email address, CV, template cover letter, bank account, TFN, superannuation fund and any other required documentation they need to secure a long term job at the end of the program.
Lachie is at Anchor point, an alternative educational opportunity run by Youth Futures, designed for young people who have disengaged from traditional high school. When he had his first interview with Georgina, ReNew Property Maintenance’s WDP manager, he was shaking in his boots. “First day we met I was nervous as hell,” he said. Since then, he’s not only grown in confidence, his overall mental health has improved. “I feel less nervous in general, I don’t get that much anxiety as before, don't get anxiety attacks like used to.” ReNew Property Maintenance is Lachlan’s first job, and he’s gained a lot in terms of work readiness skills. “From then to now, I’m a lot more confident, experienced and I’ve gotten more efficient… Renew doesn't just teach you to garden, it teaches you to be organised, to be on time.”
Byron has had a similar experience, and now has a much clearer vision for the future. At the start, Byron says ReNew simply made him feel good. “It felt good finally doing something with my time,” he says. “I like making other people [the residents] happy, and I feel good about myself at the end of the day.” He’s stoked that he now knows how to write a cover letter and has now got some solid experience to go off. The next step for Byron is to move out of home, and to do that he knows he will have to afford rent, bond, and living expenses. He’s motivated to get long term work, especially now that he has the experience and tools to back him up. “I’m feeling good that I can get more experience and try out different stuff,” he says. “The reviews we got [for work they did] were amazing.”
Last year, the Kennards Hire Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Kennards Hire, came on board as a partner and major supporter of Dismantle. It’s been a brilliant match, with both organisations working passionately to support young people doing it tough. The Kennards Hire Foundation’s mission statement sounds like it was written for Dismantle:
“The purpose of the Kennards Hire Foundation is to make Australia and New Zealand a better place for future generations by significantly improving the ability of disadvantaged young people to be independent, self-sufficient contributors to society.”
The support provided by both the business and the foundation has been varied and broad reaching. First up, they’ve been providing program subsidies for organisations in low socioeconomic areas to run BikeRescue where they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. That’s 12 programs that wouldn’t have gone ahead, and up to 120 kids who wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance to participate. Additionally, they’re in the process of helping us order a bulk amount of parts and consumables, to further reduce the inherent costs involved in running BikeRescue.
Kennards Hire are also helping us out with equipment and storage. We’ve so far purchased an ex-hire ute, trailer and some other pieces of equipment from them at radically reduced prices, which have been invaluable to our operations. They’ve provided a large storage area in Malaga, where we can store our rotation of 500+ bikes. And, each quarter, Kennards Hire staff have been facilitating OHS and other induction activities at Kennards Hire Branches for each new round of ReNew Property trainees.
We are also investigating the possibility that Kennards Hire branches will also act as collection points for donated bikes to be used for BikeRescue. Watch this space.
Dismantle is very fortunate to have been picked as a partner and beneficiary of the Kennards Hire Foundation, and we’ve been incredibly grateful for their support. We’re keen to develop a close relationship with Kennards Hire staff over the next several years, and excited to see where the partnership will go.