June 23, 2023

Fuelling a better future

Four months ago, western suburbs teen Jaxon Brewer was attracting police attention for all the wrong reasons, but an innovative automotive program has got him out of trouble and on track to an apprenticeship.

Flip My Ride, developed by AGA, is a free program for at-risk and disadvantaged young people in Brimbank, Melton, Wyndham and Maribyrnong to get them out of the justice system and positively engaging in the community.

Participants, aged 12-24, spend four months restoring a car and learning vocational and life skills along the way.

In the program, participants learn about automotive trade skills, First-Aid, money management, taxes, anger management, and nutrition.

Jaxon was one of 18 participants who recently graduated from the latest round of the program.

The 15-year-old had a few run-ins with police and was referred to the program by his youth worker,

“I thought I’d give [Flip My Ride] a go and I’ve stuck to it since,” Jaxon said.

The program sparked a new passion for Jaxon who now wants to pursue an apprenticeship with AGA.

“As soon as I turn 16 I want to get an apprenticeship either as an electrician or a chippie and once I get more knowledge, I want to start my own business. It’ll be tough but I’ll give it a shot,” he said.

With the majority of participants coming from Victoria Police’s offender management program, Senior Constable Jonathan Loizou said police have seen a boost in confidence and school attendance since the program began last year.

“A lot of students are now open to assistance and coming for help, engaging with family, and are more supportive of our intervention as well. Being at school is not for everyone, myself included, but getting out there and learning a trade is what is getting these kids engaged,” he said.

Lual, 18, is another participant and found employment after the program as a removalist at Elite1 Group.

He was a high risk offender but Senior Sergeant Andrew Tsokallos is extremely pleased Lual is now on the right path.

Lual purchased the restored car, a Mercedes Benz E Class, with the proceeds being donated to Salvation Army in Derrimut, a charity of the students’ choosing.

Since finishing the program, six participants have expressed interest in pursuing further education and seven participants have re-engaged back with school.

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