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Introduction

More than 300 students with disabilities and mental health issues are “at risk” of not making a successful transit into post-school environment.

The Better Pathways Pilot Projectwas initiated in 2009 by the South Australian Social Inclusion Board to improve engagement, transition, and post-school outcomes for young people with disabilities and mental health issues.

The Better Pathways Pilot Project Program aims to:

  • provide the young person with ‘someone’ who can support  them in achieving their transition plan and navigating the school and post-school environment
  • mandate service collaboration between schools, disability and health services, and further education and training agencies with extra effort and longer lead times being granted to young people with special needs
  • bring service providers together to:

-       assist young people with disabilities to develop realistic plans for their life after
        school (incorporating assessments of their capacity to learn)

-       bridge service supports between agencies and sectors

-       fill service gaps

-       identify and resolve key transition issues around individuals

-       connect them to the appropriate aspirational pathways

Project Design

The Better Pathways Pilot Project aligns with National Disability Strategy priority Learning and skills, and South Australia’s Strategic Plan priorities: Our Community, and Our Prosperity. 

The Better Pathways Pilot Project aligns with National Disability Strategy priority Learning and skills, and South Australia’s Strategic Plan priorities: Our Community, and Our Prosperity.  The project is informed by concepts that underpin Strong voices: A Blueprint to Enhance Life and Claim the Rights of People with a disability in South Australia (2012-2020).

This cross- schooling sector and agency initiative was initially the joint responsibility of the Ministers for Education and Disability in Australia, in partnership with the Social Inclusion Board, transferring to the Minister for Education and Child Development (DECD) in July 2011. Since that time, and as an outcome of the recommendations of the 2011 project review, the Better Pathways Pilot Project has been guided by a small DECD Central Office team located in the Child and Student Wellbeing Unit.

More detailed information and an update of the DECD Central Office team as for 2012, here.

Outcomes

19 schools in the Port Adelaide-Enfield, Playford and Pt Augusta Council areas are formally participating in this project: 5 Catholic schools, 3 Independent and 11 DECD schools. The project is supported by DECD, Catholic Education SA (CESA), the Association of Independent Schools of SA (AISSA), the Social Inclusion Unit (Department of Communities and Social Inclusion), Families SA, Disabilities SA, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAHMS), Barkuma Inc., Uniting Care Wesley CountrySA, and the University of Adelaide.

The outcomes of the Better Pathways Pilot Project provided evidence of:

  • strong capacity to facilitate quality integrated transition planning and to improve students’ post school outcomes
  • an effective partnership between the DECD Project Team, the Barkuma Inc. Better Pathways Program Management Team which promotes unique opportunities that connect and bring the service providers and school staff together to share understanding, information, plan and review
  • strong stakeholder support for the continuation of Better Pathways, and the existing project and program model.