Cape York Partnership is working to empower Indigenous Cape York families and communities to strive for lives of value, freedom, and prosperity through a number of interconnected organisations and initiatives.
Cape York Employment, one of these entities, works throughout Cape York to create pathways to meaningful, real employment. Cape York Employment is working with job seekers and school leavers to identify job opportunities, provide access to training, improve job-readiness and break down any barriers in their path to employment.
The School to Jobs (S2J) initiative is one of many led by Cape York Employment and aims to address the major barriers for youth transitioning from education to employment. It provides a foundation of support for students, helping change their view of themselves and how to affect personal change through active participation in the job market. S2J ensures students maintain their cultural identity and connection to family and promotes an aspirational culture that motivates and encourages students to take control of their future and become the drivers of change in their local communities.
Jordan Hobson Harding, a recent graduate of Cape York Girl Academy, another entity in the Cape York Partnership, is one such student. Jordan, a young woman from Lockhart River, left school in 2021 and found herself drawn into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol in the Lockhart River Community. Jordan’s family members supported her to make the decision to apply to attend the Academy at Wangetti Beach, just north of Cairns, where she successfully graduated in 2022.
After graduating, Jordan was supported by Cape York Employment to develop a resume, video application and the confidence to apply to Rio Tinto as an Apprentice Diesel Fitter. With the support of Cape York Partnership and her community, Jordan was accepted and made the difficult decision to move to Weipa as a first-year apprentice.
“It’s 12 hours of me sweating in a shed, but it’s an experience,” Jordan says.
Jordan shared her inspiring journey to overcoming personal challenges at the 2023 International Women’s Day Luncheon, hosted by Cape York Partnership Group CEO Fiona Jose. She was joined on stage by Cape York Institute CEO, Kirsty Davis and Chair of the Puuya Foundation, Dorothy Hobson, who both expressed their admiration for Jordan's achievements.
I was given a second chance at Girl Academy. Leaving home was hard. There were a couple of times last year when I went through depression and wanted to go home. But I went to school and ended up graduating.– Jordan Hobson Harding
Jordan was also announced as one of the 2023 winners of Heywire, an annual storytelling competition run by ABC, showcasing the stories of young Australians from remote locations. Jordan’s story, titled ‘I hate what’s happening in my community, so I’m changing it’, describes the challenges faced by young Indigenous Australians in remote communities and her desire to contribute positively to her community.
Jordan is now considered a mentor to other youth in her community; an example of the success to be realised by accepting support, making difficult decisions and committing to education and employment. In the closing words of her Heywire story, she encourages her peers to follow in her footsteps and focus on their future, because in her words, “We need you.”
Listen to Jordan reading her Heywire submission or read the transcript here.
Cover photo: Jordan Hobson Harding on site in Weipa. All photos courtesy of Cape York Partnership.
Cape York Employment is an initiative of Cape York Partnership, supported through the Resilience stream.