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Youth Work students make waves for mental health

Gordon Youth Work students on placement at Ocean MindGordon Youth Work students, together with Ocean Mind, have taken to the surf to mentor at-risk youth experiencing mental health challenges, social isolation and disabilities.

Ocean Mind hosts a surf program for young people using a simple mix of surfing, mentoring and fun to create a therapeutic environment for youth to challenge themselves, learn new skills and flourish. Volunteering for the local not-for-profit, Gordon Youth Work students were given the opportunity to build upon their skills learnt in the classroom.   

Getting hands-on and using surfing as a tool to build mentoring and communication skills is a fun way to continue a student's learning journey while giving back to the community. 

Will Divine, Program Facilitator at Ocean Mind, said, "Now, more than ever, participants have needed to connect. COVID has placed additional pressure on young people, and we find that surfing is a great way to support the mental health of our clients. 

"I can see first-hand how the program also helps The Gordon students build their skill base, and we really hope they continue to volunteer with Ocean Mind once they complete their studies at The Gordon."

The Gordon's popular 12-month youth work course is offered in Werribee and Geelong, and is the first stepping stone in becoming a Youth Worker. Offering a rewarding career the course equips students with the skills and knowledge to work in a range of sectors, including community, government and education. Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to work effectively with young people as it entails sociology, psychology and counselling for the youth sector.

Many students like Arlieha Smith are ready to make a difference and can't wait to complete their course and enter the community services sector. 

"Volunteering with Ocean Mind was a great way to build my skills and provide mentoring to at-risk youth while applying the skills learnt in the classroom to real-life situations. If you really are passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of others, youth work is a great course to do", said Arlieha.

"Having started a university course, I have found TAFE really is a different and better way for me to learn. It is hands-on, which is very different from my uni experience, and it is a lot more enjoyable. I am learning so much from this course, and the great thing for me is I will be qualified in a shorter amount of time", continued Arlieha.

The course requires 80 hours of work placement, so what better way to complete your studies than volunteering with a local, not-for-profit like Ocean Mind.

For more information about studying Youth Work at The Gordon, head to