Don't Leave Home Without One!
A Home Leaver's Survival Guide.


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"This book should be gifted by government to every Aussie youngster about to leave school. A quintessential component of every Australian household, school and library."
- The Adelaide Advertiser - Geoff Roach

"This book covers everything from cooking to setting up bank accounts, to even the new IR laws. Mea culpa - I actually boiled sausage rolls rather than putting them in the oven when I first moved out of home!"
- 612 ABC Radio Brisbane - Madonna King

"It's a really useful tool for anyone wanting to leave home - I reckon you've covered pretty well everything."
- 891 ABC Radio Adelaide - Spence Denny

"Dennis Bills, a former teacher and school camp leader, knows a thing or two about mentoring the young." - Notebook Magazine

"I'm going through the book and there's all sorts of great things in here. It's written in our language about our society. This book is going to fill a gap." - 774 ABC Radio Melbourne - Richard Stubbs

"A lot of parents say to me, "I think I'm going to buy this book and give (the kids) a hint to leave home!" Congratulations on the book." - Susie Eleman - 'Susie' WIN-TV

"Leaving home...it's harder than you think. You don't leave anything out, it's a VERY useful book. Congratulations on it." - 936 ABC Radio Hobart - Christopher Lawrence

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My concept for the transition of young Australians into work, training or study.

In the course of a young person's life there are few real opportunities to check in on their overall life progress and ascertain the things we may need to attend to in order to better their long term circumstances and opportunities. For example, early childhood is now widely regarded as a genuinely critical period in a child's life...and rightly so. But I'm of the firm belief that another critical period in a young person's life is the period of post secondary Transition, but especially that period of time when a young person begins to move away from the relative security of the schooling system and family life. There are so many things we can set in place during this phase of a young person's journey that will continue to serve them for their entire lives. I see this period as perhaps our last genuine opportunity to perform a series of final checks and balances on the overall progress of our fledgling adults, before they move out into the adult world and look to take charge of their own destinies.

But in recent years the period of transition has proven quite difficult for a large number of our young people. For mine though, the most important thing to note is that the majority of the circumstances that have complicated their transitions are not of their making, contrary to many of the negative stereotypes unfairly apportioned on our young. The jobs market is tight, but particularly for young people who are usually the last to be employed and the first to be 'laid off', the housing and rental markets are insanely expensive, tertiary education is at a premium and too many courses are overpopulated and don't lead to real employment. In one sense you could say that we've oversold the concept of 'career' to our young when reality dictates that perhaps we should be more focused on selling them the concept of 'work' or 'a job'. Let's face it; many great careers have been forged from humble beginnings, and in the current jobs climate, apart from a fair chance a getting into tertiary education, a foot in the 'jobs' door is perhaps the most important 'gift' we can give to our young school leavers.

In recent times the Federal Government has introduced its PaTH Program (Prepare Trial Hire) along with an Internship Placement Program that seeks to help more of our young people gain work experience. I think the concept has some merit, but unfortunately it offers a heavily stripped down version of a proposal I put forward almost three years ago. The problems I see with the PaTH program is that it doesn't engage the young people in question early enough in their disengagement, it doesn't spend anywhere enough time training and preparing young people through behaviour modification and the establishment of routine (so they can go the distance), and it doesn't reward them enough for their efforts, nor clearly outline the rules of engagement for both the employer and employee in a PaTH work experience/Internship arrangement. Unfortunately, the solution to helping our unemployed young people is not quite as simple as just getting them work experience. We also need to ensure that our young are more 'world ready', and more adaptable. And that's basically why I wrote my original program concept. (see The Concept)

When I originally completed my transition concept, I sent a copy to every member of parliament both Federal and State, and received a great deal of interest and lots of encouragement. But the Minister for Education at the time dismissed my concept by telling me that young people could get all the information they needed from a government website. Less than a year later the Federal Government released their own Transition concept, albeit a dramatically watered down version, containing many of my original suggestions.

So my offer to the Federal Government, (irrespective of date or party) is this.... once you're done with your paltry dalliances, and your ideological slants, and come to terms with the realisation that our current levels of youth unemployment dictate the need for a complete rethink about how we engage and utilise our greatest resource, I'm happy to take your call. What we as parents, carers, educators and voters need to decide is whether we want the transition of our young to consist of yet another short-term, subcontracted training program followed by a low paid work placement with sketchy boundaries (irrespective of what they call it), or do we want a genuinely national curriculum based approach, using a recognised, accessible, regulated and funded training institution that was originally established for this exact purpose (TAFE), whereby our young are prepared for work and life using an intensive but carefully structured program concept, and led by trained, qualified professional who are all reading off the same page...to deliver our young a nationally recognised accreditation that stamps them as having a comprehensive understanding of self management, and of what constitutes a working life.

And to those of you who've read this far, if you like you can keep on reading and get an overview of my original proposal, or you can click on The Concept, and download a copy. The basis of the programs originates from a Post Secondary Transitional concept (Program for Transition to work, training or study) I created two years ago.

Post Secondary Transitional Concept - An Alternate Strategy

Structured programs for young people between the ages of 16 and 24 transitioning between secondary school and work or further study, including those who may be experiencing unemployment, disengagement or underemployment, or just struggling to find their way. .

Using the core components of original Syllabus Outline (see heading), I designed a program that caters for young people with a range of needs, including target groups consisting of: early school leavers, disengaged young people and jobactive referrals. The program is designed to be delivered from TAFE as a Certificate III. It will run for 10 weeks, five days a week and approximately five hours per day. The rationale behind such a structure is that we want the program to help young people establish or re-establish a sense of routine and commitment, and the daily discipline that comes from having a regular schedule; a schedule that will also assist in promoting behavioural change. The consistency of the routine also promotes a sense of commitment and belonging, highlights and betters the need for the young person to improve their ability to self manage, promotes the concept of self improvement, and constantly reaffirms that they are working towards a tangible and achievable outcome. As explained, the program is designed to be delivered from TAFE, though it may be possible to deliver it from elsewhere, dependant on the availability and suitability of an alternate venue.

The following video presentations form the basis for my intentionally intensive approach to youth unemployment and disengagement. The first video addresses many of the facts surrounding the issue of youth unemployment and disengagement in Australia, while the second outlines my alternate approach to tackling the issue. In this instance the aim was to engage those young people who have completed their secondary education without moving into work or study in the months following. The objective was to deliver the program using a Post Secondary Transitional Concept delivered from TAFE campuses across the country, with participants completing a Certificate III in Transitional Education, including a subsidised post program placement in work, study or volunteerism.


Part One explains the facts about Youth Unemployment and Disengagement in Australia.


Part Two offers an alternate strategy for managing our young unemployed and disengaged.








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