Building a trusting relationship with Nathan helped Steven reengage with school

Steven is a Koori kid who’s had a difficult life.

He’s had some conflict in his family, and when he was young he felt like no one understood him. He has a diagnosed learning disability, but he isn’t receiving any extra help at school, and his confidence is low. Steven’s mother is supportive and attentive, and has tried hard to get him extra support in the classroom – but Steven never got the individualised learning plan that would have helped.

Steven came to Jesuit Social Services’ Navigator program, which helps young people aged 12 to 17 who are disengaged from school to reconnect with education or training. In the year before he engaged with Navigator, he had only attended three days of school.

Steven’s Navigator case worker, Nathan, was ready to help. They spent time together, building trust, and slowly Steven opened up – giving Nathan a deep understanding of the challenges he faced.

Nathan was able to link Steven with culturally safe services, and helped him enrol in a flexible learning centre. There, he got the individual learning plan he wasn’t able to get at his mainstream school, and had better access to support for his unique and individual needs.

Nathan continued supporting Steven, and two years on, Steven is now attending school regularly – around 80 per cent of his school timetable. His confidence had grown to the point where he applied for casual work, and he has taken on work experience through his school.

Steven’s story demonstrates the importance of long-term case management support, with a focus on health and wellbeing, and the need for culturally sensitive and respectful work.

We use stock photos and pseudonyms to protect people’s privacy – Steven and Nathan aren’t their real names, and this isn’t a photo of Steven.