Shelly Bayliss shooting goals for Western NSW youth

27 May, 2024

High school can be a challenging time for teenagers, and having strong support and connection during this period in their lives leads to greater successes. In Dubbo NSW, the Community Connector program has provided students with the space and security to make leaps and bounds. Shelly Bayliss is the dedicated Community Connector for the region, based at Dubbo Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC), Shelly is committed to helping high school students understand and recognise their potential, whilst overcoming any challenges.

Shelly took on the role of Community Connector in Dubbo in 2023.  She has a long history of working in her community, including her last role as the CEO of the Narromine Aboriginal Land Council.   Shelly, from the outset, identified how important the Community Connectors Program could be to many Aboriginal students in her region and that with the right support, students could form long lasting connections, identify their strengths and have the confidence to finish their schooling and plan for the future.

Shelly’s passion and advocacy are showing results. As she says, “Knowledge is power and we have to give our kids the skills to access these opportunities, connect them with networks and build the relationships that will empower them through education.”  

In this last year, since Shelly started her programs, she has mentored a number of students and supported them to complete their Year 10 certificates, as well as the HSC. In addition, this support has led to students taking up casual employment with local businesses.

Shelly’s passion and advocacy are showing results. As she says, “Knowledge is power and we have to give our kids the skills to access these opportunities, connect them with networks and build the relationships that will empower them through education.”  

She says that a couple of her students have said that “there is no way they would have got through without this program.” She goes on to say, “These are students who have been suspended in the first term and whose attendance is less than 20%. In one term alone, we have turned these kids around to 86 – 88% attendance, and they are looking toward finishing the year in a much better shape.”  

As part of her role, Shelly held Employability Workshops during the school holidays and taught participants how to build resumes, apply for positions and conducted mock interviews to build confidence in the students.

Shelly was able to demonstrate to the students that their own life experience, irrespective of previous employment, were actual real-life skills that were needed in the workplace. The students were able to understand that previous ‘babysitting’ experience and the ability to work in a team, were relevant experiences that highlight their skills and made them very much job ready.

Part of this process included Shelly taking the students to Narromine, where they approached businesses about available work – this cold canvassing helped 7 out of 12 participants secure after-school and weekend employment. One student was successful in obtaining a job at the Chinese restaurant at the Bowling Club and has now gone on to get work at the local Coles store. The success of one student encouraged more students to participate in the program, and Shelly is now fully booked for the next workshop, with an additional five wanting to engage. 

Shelly’s First Aid Certificate graduates Narromine NSW

As Shelly has continued to develop rapports and relationships with the students, she has observed how challenging the commitment to school and associated pressures are. Without the right support, a lot of students feel overwhelmed, leading to leaving school early.

As part of the program, Shelly has allocated funds by the Dubbo LALC to provide students with basic school necessities. At the beginning of the 2024 school year, Aboriginal students were supplied with a school bag full of stationery and supplies.  Out of this same budget, Shelly has allocated funds to provide clothing for interviews, including white shirts, black pants, and shoes.

Community Connector School Bags

“All my students are working on obtaining casual work to give them some independence and making informed choices through education to create a career, giving individual empowerment, experience and access to better employment opportunities.”  Shelly Bayliss

Shelly has also seen a gap in services for students’ health issues that becomes yet another barrier to doing well at school.  Shelly has connected the students to social services that they may not have been aware of, such as health checks, dental checkups, and eye health checkups.

“The health and well-being of these students affects everything they do, academically, socially and for the community. They are becoming role models for other kids, and this will have a knock-on effect on other kids who are struggling”, says Shelly. She has mentored students in healthy eating and exercise plans to help with concentration and energy to get through school.

One of her latest campaigns with the Community Connectors program, is to train individuals to become licensed driver instructors. This program will help students overcome the barrier of obtaining a license, find employment opportunities within their region, and develop their independence while pursuing their educational and career goals.

Employability Skills First Aid Course

If you believe you have a child in Year 10 – Year 12 from Narromine, Dubbo, Trangie, and other regions who need mentoring and assistance, reach out to Shelly Bayliss through the Dubbo Local Aboriginal Land Council. acc@dlalc.com.au

Acknowledgement

We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.

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