86. Rebecca Lonie

11 Sep

Bec Lonie is bubbly and animated. It’s easy to imagine her in her role as Jets Team Leader, running the Banyule creative arts space and working with young people.

The Jets facility is responsible for delivering a range of programs and activities for young people in and around Banyule. It presents young people with an opportunity to train in and and to access a range of professional music and multimedia equipment, be involved in creative arts workshops and help coordinate events, including the annual Banyule Youth Festival.

With a background in education and performing arts, Bec was naturally a very good match for Jets.

“I studied art therapy, yoga, opera – I did a lot of weird things! It started to link together through my career in education,” she says.

“Then, [Jets] is one of the first places I’ve worked where all of those disparate practices and philosophies I’ve studied have come together.”

Bec originally thought she might become a performer herself. “I soon realised my personality wasn’t showcase-y enough!”

Despite this, it’s clear Bec has a real love for creative arts. When it comes to her work, Bec speaks eloquently and with passion.

“The benefits of creative arts are self expression and building confidence. Those are transferable skills for other areas of life. Young people get to develop confidence and their sense of self, while having heaps of fun… They leave in a much better place because of that.”

“The idea of having a creative space as a vehicle for self expression and development is something I get really excited about,” Bec says.

“The fact that the Banyule Council has a facility like Jets as part of the work of the youth team is amazing in itself. It can be an awesome alternative for young people who might not fit into the footy team, or might not yet have found their niche.”

What exactly awaits young people who join Jets?

“It’s a choose your own adventure!” says Bec.

“If you’re interested, and you’ve got an idea, we’d love to help you realise that and support you in having an awesome time while you do it.”

Bec also tells me that when young people are applying for jobs, it can be difficult to put together a resume with little experience.

She says, “Jets offers opportunities for [work experience] placements, mentoring and support which can help young people get into employment. We recognise that it’s a gap and it’s one that we’re uniquely placed to meet.

“The culture is ‘less scores, more skills’, so we’re aiming to deliver on that.”

When I ask Bec what her favourite things are about Jets that keep her coming back each day, she takes a moment to mull it over.

“That’s a good question! I think having a really inclusive culture at Jets is one of the things we’re most proud of.”

At Jets, young people from all backgrounds can come together to work on projects – this includes people with a disability, people who identify as LGBTIQ, people who have mental health issues, or those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“That sense of community, of being like-minded creatives, unites everyone because of their similarities, not their differences,” says Bec.

Most importantly, Bec keeps coming back because she sees young people achieving great things.

“There are lots of individuals who have gone through Jets who have become very successful – whether that’s going on to study in a creative field or being employed in a creative role.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we don’t just talk about it – things happen,” says Bec.

“[Young people] may come to us feeling a little lost or unsure about what they’re good at and [through Jets] they’ve been able to follow their passion and ‘make it’… Some people may have joined for social reasons, but everyone leaves with such great skills.”

“We’ve had a young person move onto the Arts Centre to be involved in a bigger project… This maturity, personal growth and skill-building is awesome to be a part of.”

For Bec, the smaller moments can be just as rewarding.

“It’s all the little wins and the conversations we have at Jets. Hearing someone say ‘I feel safe here’ – that is amazing. It shows the impact we can have on someone’s life. If young people can feel confident in a group here, it can make them feel confident elsewhere – then their world starts to open up,” she says.

“Particularly now days, it’s not about ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’. It’s about what awesome things do you want to create, or what kind of person do you want to be, holistically?

“I think these are things we can help support [young people] to be confident about. We can help them to be confident in themselves and in the gifts they can share – because we all have one!”

Words: Annabelle Pendlebury

Photo: Nicole Squelch




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