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We wanted to share with our supporters an incredible story about one of our participants Olivia Saron. Olivia is 21-years-old and has been supported by Ganbina since she was in Grade 6. During that time she has accessed support with her education, including accessing the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), also enrolled in the Driver’s Program for help to obtain her licence, the employment program for help getting a casual job at KFC while she was still in high school as well as completed the Youth Leadership Program.

During her time on the Youth Leadership Program, she expressed a desire to become a police officer. She graduated Year 12 from Greater Shepparton Secondary College (GSSC) and took on a permanent part-time role at KFC.

In 2022, she decided she was ready to pursue her dream of becoming a police officer. Olivia is currently enrolled in the Jobs4U2 Employment program and is looked after by Ganbina Project Officer Dayna Seymour.

It was a long and complicated process to apply for the Police Academy, and unfortunately it has led to some disappointing setbacks for Olivia. However with the support and guidance from her Project Officer Dayna, Olivia is well on her way to her dream of becoming a police officer – although perhaps not in the way she initially expected.

In the below interview, Dayna speaks about how Olivia has come back from a disappointing rejection to take on a new opportunity and fulfil her dream of living in Melbourne.

When did you start working with Olivia? How long has she been a client of yours and how did you start supporting her with her dream to become a police officer?

Olivia was transferred to me in 2022 and that’s when I became her Project Officer. She mentioned to me that she would like to be a police officer, so I supported her with her application to the Police Academy. It was a very long process, we had a lot of one on one meetings and worked on it together for most of 2023.

In December of 2023 we were waiting on the results of her application. While she was waiting on the results of her application I checked in with her on the phone every third or fourth day.

When did you find out about the results of Olivia’s Police Academy application?

She came into the Ganbina office at the start of 2024. As soon as she walked in I could see on her face that she was upset. She let me know she had not been accepted. It was a big blow and sad for all of us. It took such a long time to apply and there was a panel interview, a waiting period… But it was my job to not steer her away from her aspirations.

That must have also been really hard for you to hear as her Project Officer that she didn’t get in.

It was shocking! You don’t expect the kids to come in with disheartening news. She was clearly upset and at first, you let them feel those emotions, you don’t want to take that away from them. But then you remind them – ok, this is your aspiration. You don’t get everything first hand, let’s look at how we can get a foot in the door.

What was the next steps you took following Olivia’s rejection from the Police Academy?

She came into the Ganbina office and had a meeting with us. We said to her, ‘ok, what is our next step?’ I spoke with the team and also spoke with Anthony (Ganbina’s CEO) because one of his daughters is a police detective. I had a yarn with her on the phone about what the process looks like for someone like Olivia who has been knocked back and she highly advised she apply for a PCO (Police Custody Officer) position.

A PCO supports with arresting people. When someone is arrested and they go into custody at the police station, a PCO helps support them while they are held, makes sure they have water and supports them until the police officer comes in.

When I spoke to Olivia about applying for the PCO role, she was intrigued by it and put in her application straight away. I found out she will be starting in July. The job is based in Melbourne so she gets to relocate there, which was one of her other goals.

That’s great news for Olivia! Once she gets to Melbourne and starts working as a PCO, what are her future plans?

Her aspiration for getting into the Police Academy has not waivered. She will re-apply for the academy one day, but for now she will be a PCO.

How are you supporting Olivia as she makes this transition to a new career?

I’m making sure she’s got everything sorted before she moved to Melbourne. She has finished up with a role at SPC (she was working there just for the peak season) and she’s currently looking for somewhere to live in Melbourne. We’re helping set her up and letting her know Ganbina’s support doesn’t end when she leaves Shepparton.

We’re here for her, to support her as we usually do in whatever way we can.

I think this story really highlights the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth having that mentorship and someone to guide them when it comes to their career aspirations – what are your thoughts on that?

It obviously make a big difference for the kids. They have their family support of course, but not all families have the ability to offer that support. I also came into this without any knowledge of how to apply for the police force, but I learnt with her and now I know a lot about it. This means in the future if a participant wants to go into this type of field, I feel more comfortable helping them with that. It makes such a major difference that we Project Officers have a genuine and authentic relationship with our kids. I think about what if she didn’t feel comfortable telling me she didn’t get in? She might not be on the path she’s on today.

I’m very proud of Olivia and the resilience she has shown through this process and I can’t wait to see how her journey and aspirations progress in the future.