Going to school on beautiful Flinders Island is fine until you finish Year 10 but from thereon your education has to progress elsewhere. Most students move to Launceston to continue their education. At present, the Flinders Island District High School has 67 students from Kinder to Year 10. Twelve of those students are in the secondary school and thanks to the efforts of Holly Barnewall, they now have access to a substantial school-based Transition Program.

Flinders Island - View from Furneaux Tavern

Lady Barron: Flinders Island (photo by Roger Findlay)

Transition Program: Flinders Island Students

by Roger Findlay

Holly Barnewall is a Flinders Island girl who has first-hand knowledge of the routine and knows of the challenges confronting those who have to move off the island to complete schooling and then university. I was reading the Mercury and an article listing Tasmania’s finalists for the Australian of the Year. There were four nominees for Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year and Holly Barnewall was one of them.

Transition Program - Holly Barnewall

School teacher: Holly Barnewall (photo supplied)

Holly is 27 now and (after completing university) came back to be a teacher at Flinders Island District High School where she teaches English, History and the Transition Program.

Originally a Transition Partnership was set-up between the High School and the Flinders Island Council but it has since been strengthened through introduction of the Newstead College and Tasmanian Life Long Learning as a partnership broker. The mission is to support the island’s students in their transition to further education and employment and to lessen the impact on the island community.

What Does the Transition Program Offer?

  • basic life skills
  • work experience exchange program with students from Newstead College (Launceston)
  • orientation trip to Launceston
  • youth camps and other activities to promote independence, confidence and awareness with the aim to make them feel supported and able to succeed
  • mentoring by Newstead College students in their first term of Year 11

In the past, before the Flinders Island Transition Program commenced in 2009, students experienced numerous difficulties with continuing their education and/or employment.

Transition Program - Lady Barron, Flinders Island

Transition Program: Flinders Island (photo by Roger Findlay)

A survey of students prior to the Transition Program attracted the following responses:

  • 25% did not complete year 11 and 12 in Launceston
  • 75% encountered issues in this transition
  • 82% of past students did not feel supported in their transition
  • 100% were not aware of support services in Launceston
  • 73% had concerns and anxieties about leaving the island
  • 100% believed that the Transition Program now in place would have been beneficial to them
Transition Program - Whitemark Beach, Flinders Island

Flinders Island (photo by Roger Findlay)

Twelve students are currently enrolled in the on-island Transition Program and were surveyed about what they believe the program has given them:

  • 83% – more skills in order to succeed
  • 67% – increased confidence
  • 100% – more independence
  • 73% – more supported
  • 91% – more aware of support services
  • 67% – more able to live, study and work post year ten
  • 100% – recommend the program continues
  • 100% – would encourage other students to take part in the program
Transition Program - The Docks, Flinders Island

Flinders Island, Tasmania (photo by Roger Findlay)

The success of the program is already showing as follows:

  • 18 students have completed the Transition Program from Year 10 since commencement in 2009
  • 10 are in full-time study (2 of those are at university)
  • 1 is in part-time study
  • 2 in full-time employment
  • 5 in full-time apprenticeships (4 of those are school based)

Holly Barnewall, Leading the Way on Flinders Island

With the help of others, much of this Transition Program has been driven by Holly Barnewall and the awards have been flooding in:

  • NAB Schools First Partnership Award – State Impact Award for Tasmania ($60,000)
  • Southern Cross Tasmanian Young Achievers UTAS Teaching Excellence Award
  • Finalist in the RBF Department of Education Award for Best Innovation & Encouragement
  • Nominee for Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year

Just like any other level-headed girl, Holly Barnewall is thankful for the support of her parents, Butch and Judy, as well as Stacey Wheatley, the Flinders Council Community Development Officer.

Transition Program - Butch and Judy & Holly Barnewall

Holly Barnewall with parents Butch and Judy (photo supplied)

I’m thankful to Holly in giving me the opportunity to write her success story and to wish her well in her exciting life ahead. Well done, Holly Barnewall. You’re a credit to Tasmania and to Flinders Island.

Roger Findlay spends all his holidays in Tasmania, then writes about the experience for Think Tasmania. If you’d like Roger to visit you in the name of research (so we can publish information about your business), please contact us. Some photos supplied.

If you like this article about Tasmania, and you’d like to read more, just subscribe to our newsletter or join us on social media via FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram. If you really like this article, and you want others to see it, you can choose one of the “share” options below. We’d love that!

Comments relevant to this article are always most welcome, just leave a reply below. But first… please confirm the date of this article. Have you found something current, or is this ancient information? Either way, thanks for your company and come back again soon.

Map: Flinders Island District High School, Tasmania…

My location
Get Directions