FAIR GO: Ipswich teens Jemma Evans, 18 and Tahlia Elliot, 17 left high school before finishing year 12.
FAIR GO: Ipswich teens Jemma Evans, 18 and Tahlia Elliot, 17 left high school before finishing year 12. David Nielsen

Why these two Ipswich teens didn't finish school

THESE Ipswich teen girls have a few things in common.

They both live in Leichhardt, both want full-time jobs and both left high school before finishing year 12.

But, they have very different reasons for their decisions.

Jemma Evans, now 18, left school during Year 11 and never looked back.

She had dropped out at the end of Year 10, then last year returned to the mainstream schooling system after a 12-month break, to try again.

"I wanted to get my year 12 certificate but when I went back I realised it wasn't for me," Jemma said.

"I do wish I had my senior certificate because I think it would be easier to get a job if I had that qualification.

"It was my personal choice. I didn't like the people at school. I hated it."

Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals 67 per cent of Gold Coast students finished year 12 in 2016, 66 per cent finished on the Sunshine Coast and 62 per cent in Ipswich.

Jemma said more diversity in programs and opportunities to focus on practical education might have influenced her decision to stay in school.

For Tahlia, the situation was very different.

She chose to leave school at just 14 years old after being bullied by classmates to the point where she developed mental health issues including social anxiety.

"I left to work on my mental health," Tahlia said.

"I had gotten through Year 8 but then in Year 9 I was badly bullied.

"I constantly thought I was being judged and laughed about. It got to the point where I couldn't be around people.

"I feel like there is next to no punishment for people who are bullying others and making them feel bad about themselves.

"We need more of a crackdown on bullies and more support for those who are being bullied, so they don't make the choice to leave school like I did."

Tahlia regrets not achieving her Year 12 certificate, but she doesn't regret taking the time to deal with her mental health. She is much better now and works as a casual at a fast food restaurant, but that's not the career she wants.

Without a senior certificate both Tahlia and Jemma have struggled to secure full-time work.

Jemma is qualified in beauty and passionate about the industry. Although she has applied for many jobs in the past two years, is yet to be given a chance to practice her skills.

Jemma is also ready for a position in retail or hospitality, which is the industry where Tahlia hopes to land a job.

Both believe not having a Year 12 certificate is hindering their job prospects and have been involved with Ipswich youth organisation 'yourtown', which helps jobseekers connect with employers.

Can you offer either of these two Ipswich teens an opportunity to learn and grow their skills? Tell us, email helen.spelitis@qt.com.au



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