Meet Chloe Hanatschek, a young student with an intellectual disability who recently completed her Year 12 education at Thomas More College. Chloe’s journey took a transformative turn when she joined Barkuma’s Transition Program, an initiative to help individuals with disabilities transition from school to work.
We met with Chloe, her mum Chrissie, teacher Tayla and Vanessa, Barkuma’s Transition Program Coordinator, to find out about her experience.
But first … what is the Transition Program?
Available to eligible students in their final year of schooling, the program focuses on equipping individuals with the skills and confidence needed for transition from a structured school environment to the workplace. It covers various valuable topics, including employment skills training, industry-specific certifications, work experience and ongoing support. To find out more about transitioning from school to employment supports at Barkuma, visit the Transition Program webpage.
Chloe, a sports enthusiast and avid Adelaide Crows and The Matildas fan, completed her Year 12 studies in a special unit at Thomas More College.
Despite her initial reservations about the Transition Program, Chloe embraced the opportunity to become work-ready and develop the skills necessary for independent living.
Her ultimate dream is to work in childcare, showcasing her kind and nurturing nature.
For Chloe’s mum, Chrissie, the program was instrumental in preparing Chloe to move on from school life.
“The initial six months of the program were transformative for Chloe. She was used to the structured school environment with its routines and the support from teachers like Tayla, who played a pivotal role in keeping Chloe organised.
We knew this support level wouldn’t be available in the workforce or tertiary studies, so the Transition Program became a crucial bridge to adulthood.”
Semester I: Building Foundations
After some initial nerves, Chloe enjoyed employment skills training, which included career development activities and practical employment skills, such as mock interviews, resumé writing, career counselling and worksite visits.
Chloe’s parents and teacher, Tayla, noticed significant positive changes in her ability to navigate public spaces and engage with the community.
“In just six months, Chloe went from needing help in the mornings to doing things solo – getting on the train, hopping on the tram, and hanging out at the shopping centre. These are things she wasn’t doing beforehand.
Now, she’s grabbing lunch and handling everyday stuff on her own. It’s been a game-changer for her,” says Chrissie.
Chloe’s teacher, Tayla, noticed another key benefit for Chloe was the new social connections she made.
“Chloe really established some great resilient networks with people with shared interests and going through similar issues and struggles and learning new things. So that was good too because obviously making friends in a school environment is a lot different to making friends in a work environment.”
Semester II: Exploring Career Paths
During the second semester, Chloe continued her educational journey by pursuing a Certificate II in Cookery. Although initially uncertain about her career path, exposure to the hospitality industry over the years meant that it was a familiar environment for Chloe.
The program’s flexibility allowed her to explore this field, leading to a newfound passion for cooking. This interest extended to her coursework and translated into increased confidence and competence in everyday life skills at home.
Chrissie is delighted by Chloe’s increased self-assurance.
“Chloe’s interest has really grown, and even at home now, we see she’s keen to get involved in the day-to-day stuff when it comes to making dinners or lunches and those sorts of things. So it’s given her confidence not only in looking for employment in that area but also at home.”
Communication and Collaboration
The collaboration between Barkuma, the school and Chloe’s family played a crucial role in her success. Open communication channels ensured everyone involved was well-informed about Chloe’s progress, challenges and plans. This collaborative approach contributed to a seamless and positive experience for Chloe.
“Barkuma does an excellent job of keeping everyone informed. It was never a problem for the program team to have a chat and keep us across Chloe’s learning,” says Tayla.
For Chrissie, the well-planned program helped to keep Chloe feeling calm and positive.
“It’s really important that we know what’s going on so we can allay any fears or concerns that Chloe might have about what is going next. Chloe needs to know what’s happening next. We were always informed in advance of any plans, and it made such a difference.”
As Chloe prepares to embark on work experience with ‘Food on the Table’, a community-based program, her journey with Barkuma continues through Barkuma’s School Leave Employment Supports (SLES) and Disability Employment Support (DES).
The ongoing support and flexibility of the Transition Program have paved the way for Chloe to explore her interests and pursue her dreams.
Advice for Parents and Educators
Reflecting on Chloe’s experience, Christie encourages parents to consider Barkuma’s Transition Program for their children entering their final year of schooling.
“I would recommend it to anyone. This program provides incredible support for students unsure about their path after school.”
For teacher Tayla, the ease and benefits of incorporating Barkuma’s Transition Program into the student experience at Thomas More College have been effective and rewarding.
“It’s wonderful to see the students develop essential work skills and boost confidence beyond what traditional school environments offer … and Barkuma continues to make this a seamless integration.”
What’s Chloe’s take?
When asked whether other students should get involved, Chloe enthusiastically agreed. And her highlights? “Making new friends and going to the Graduation Ball.”
Parents and teachers, want to learn more about Barkuma’s Transition Program?
This comprehensive initiative is a beacon of support for students navigating the post-school transition. Barkuma’s commitment to providing tailored resources and insights empowers students in their journey towards independence. Explore the benefits of Barkuma’s Transition Program by phoning (08) 8414 7100 or visiting barkuma.com.au/contact-us/