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Bright new beginnings

GOOD WORK: Charlene Paulson (centre), who has graduated from the Latch-On program, is supported by her brother Jackson and mother Debbie.
GOOD WORK: Charlene Paulson (centre), who has graduated from the Latch-On program, is supported by her brother Jackson and mother Debbie. Mike Knott

FIVE Bundaberg students with intellectual disabilities have just brought to a close two years of study to gain accreditation in an area that is a national first.

Jill Lyle, co-ordinator of the Latch-On tertiary education program, said the group was the first in Australia with a disability to receive a Certificate II in Literacy and Technology.

"It is a wonderful achievement," she said.

Ms Lyle said the program aimed to provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to continue their literacy development.

"It gives the students an opportunity to grow in self-confidence too," she said.

Katrina Erb, one of the graduates, said she had learnt a lot in her time at Latch-On but would miss her friends the most.

"But I know how to use email now so I can keep in touch," she said.

Ms Lyle said she was enormously proud of the students and their achievements over the past two years.

"It has been very rewarding teaching them," she said.

"Before Latch-On, there had not been a program like this anywhere so this course provides them with an opportunity they may not have had otherwise."

Ms Lyle said the course was run by Endeavour Foundation and developed by University of Queensland.

She said the course provided students with basic computer and writing skills.

"Students attend two days per week for two years," she said.

"It paves the way for them to further their education and also greatly improves their employment opportunities," she said.

Ms Lyle said the course allowed students to leave with TAFE qualifications.

She said she was extremely grateful to have the funding support from the Talbot Family Foundation.

"They have provided significant funding for the last three years," she said.

Ms Lyle said the funding was one of the reasons the program had been able to extend its reach through to Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville.

Talbot Family Foundation trustee Courtney Talbot said she was very proud of the efforts of students and teachers.

"It is wonderful for us to be associated with such an amazing group of people," she said.



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