16. Cheryle Michael

20 Jan


Cheryle Michael is the Youth Planning and Policy Officer at Banyule City Council.  She has worked in Youth Services at Council for a number of years and in addition to the planning and policy role has had other positions including the Employment Education and Training Officer role and has worked as a Team Leader.

Cheryle also worked at the Banyule Community Health Service as a JPET (Job Placement, Employment and Training) worker based in Greensborough and West Heidelberg. JPET was a program to assist homeless young people to find accommodation, training and work.  Most of the young people she assisted came from the northern suburbs. Cheryle has fond memories of working at the Community Health Centre as all the staff were really friendly and keen to help whenever and wherever they could. The best thing about working in that environment was knowing that the people you were referring your clients to were helpful and respectful of young people. This meant that young people could feel confident and comfortable about the help they got and that they were able to ‘get back on track’ quickly.

Prior to her time with JPET she was a secondary school teacher and student welfare officer at a number of local schools. Cheryle found her work in schools very rewarding, particularly enjoying the planning of school camps and outdoor adventure activities. She has been from one end of Victoria to the other and interstate toTasmania and NSW.  From horse riding in Gippsland to canoeing down theMurray, she’s done it all.

Cheryle volunteers her time to sit on the Board of Management of Catchment Youth Services which is a youth refuge and accommodation support service for young people who are homeless. Cheryle described the refuge as a ‘home’ for these young people. Residents have their own room, share chores and share the space with 5 other young people. She also volunteers her time to sit on the Board for PRACE (Preston Reservoir Adult Community Education).

Back when Cheryle left school she was planning to be an Occupational Therapist but changed her mind a few weeks into the first semester. She then changed to Social Science (Economics, Politics and Sociology).

Cheryle said she enjoys working with young people. They are honest and grateful! Sometimes she feels young people have taught her more than she has helped them. ‘Young people have taught me to be tolerant, non judgemental, respectful and grateful and that everyone can achieve their goals, no matter what the barriers are.’ Some of the best moments of her career have been the thank you cards, the letters, the hugs of appreciation and the smiles.

In April of 2012 Cheryle is due to retire because, as she explained, it is time to achieve some of her other goals that she can’t achieve while continuing to work.

Frances Gianinotti, Cheryle’s Co-ordinator at Banyule Council, says Cheryle will be thoroughly missed by many people including residents and colleagues from across the community sectors. “Cheryle has enormous capacity for work and is tireless in her commitment to the Banyule community. Cheryle is very community minded and committed to positive outcomes for young people and the community. She has built strong partnerships across the service sector and is respected by her colleagues and peers”.

Words By:William De Maio

Photo by: Sean Porter

© Sean Porter 2011



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