Speech by Minister Fernandez at the Chrysalis Graduation
Good morning everyone
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start off by paying a special tribute all the graduates of 19 BRAVO and your parents, siblings and families who have made the journey from all over the province to be here today to participate in this auspicious occasion.
I would also like to acknowledge the following guests sitting before me today: Reagen Allen MPL, Gillion Bosman MPL, Lorraine Botha MPL, Mesuli Kama MPL, Dr Chance Chagunda (Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative), Marlene Le Roux (CEO of Artscape), Principle Kevin Velensky (Portia Primary), Director Desire Christian (Education), Director Bradley Lackay (City of Cape Town), Director Ashley Rampesadh (NPA), Judge Deon van Zyl (CA trustee board), Chief Director Yashina Pillay and Director Trevor Wingrove.
I would also like to thank Dr Lucille Meyer, the CEO of the Chrysalis Youth Academy, and her team, for the amazing work they do in changing the lives of young people.
Next year we will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Chrysalis Youth Academy. This was made possible thanks to the amazing foresight and vision of Mr Mark Wiley and I also wish to pay him a special tribute today. I can imagine that Mr Wiley is filled with great pride and a sense of a job well done whenever he attends Chrysalis’ Graduation ceremonies.
The young people standing to attention before us today will say for themselves how being here for three months has changed their lives. I want to remind everybody here today that Chrysalis is a Youth Academy that produces young leaders. It is not a place for naughty young people, as many people seem to think. There is a universe between the old Porter Reform School, which is what this place used to be called, and today’s Chrysalis Youth Academy. Mr Wiley’s foresight enabled the Western Cape Government to go beyond the old Porter Reform School and towards the Chrysalis Youth Academy.
As a result, on 31 August 2019, 206 young women commenced their three-month journey at the Chrysalis Academy. Today, on 23 November 2019, 206 students are graduating, with some having received medical attention, with the support of their families, for their physical and psycho-social healthcare. This ensured that 206 women commenced this life changing journey, and 206 graduated.
Many of the 19 BRAVO students took up the offer for counselling to address psycho-social challenges, attending up to five counselling sessions during their three months. For many, it would be the first time that they openly spoke about some of their challenges, particularly concerning domestic violence.
I wish to remind parents that Chrysalis provides a five year after care programme, so that should graduates require any form of psycho-social support, the academy will be available to assist. This is indicative of Chrysalis’ holistic approach to youth development which incorporates a continuum of support to young people, affected by unemployment, poverty and deep trauma.
The young women graduating today have gone through a three-month course that will change their lives forever. However, I want to say that it is critical that the support you provide them today continues and does not stop.
We are very proud to say that without a doubt, Chrysalis is the best Youth Development Academy of its kind in the country. There are many people, Ministers included, who have visited here from other parts of the country and have asked for advice from Dr Meyer and her staff on how to establish similar academies in their province. As usual, this Province is leading the way, as it does in so many areas.
The Academy’s students are from across the Western Cape, including Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Plettenberg Bay, George, Mossel Bay, Ladysmith, Hanover Park, Worcester among many others. The majority of the young people standing before me were unemployed when they joined the Academy in August 2019. However, through their participation in the programme, they will proceed immediately on Monday into a one year-internship, through the Department of Community Safety’s Expanded Public Works programme (EPWP).
Despite most students being unemployed when they joined the course, all of them will start their one-year internships on Monday 25 November 2019. Placements have been made at Municipalities, City Improvement Districts, Community Health Centres, Hospitals, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and at the Chrysalis Academy. From our reports received on past placements, the majority of Chrysalis Academy are doing well in their placements, and we have no doubt that 19 BRAVO will do the same.
Additionally, through the Academy’s MOU with the City of Cape Town Metro Police Academy, the City once again offered the Peace Officers’ Training at the Chrysalis Academy. Other courses offered included Hair and Grooming, Basic Cookery, Office Administration, Sports Leadership, Firefighting, Child and Youth Care, and Youth development.
I am also very excited about the establishment of two new placements. Four students will be placed at Portia Primary school, and through the Academy’s collaboration with the NCC Environmental Services, the first all-women firefighting crew, made up of 19 BRAVO students, will be stationed at the Chrysalis Academy as from Monday. We wish them every success.
The Western Cape Provincial Government is pleased that all students will be productively engaged for the next 12 months and we urge families to ensure that they go to work on time. Throughout their 12-month placements, should they get full-time employment, they will simply resign from their placements. We are grateful to all the partners of the Academy for these opportunities and we encourage them to continue supporting our graduates.
Chrysalis produces graduates who are courageous, have integrity, are resilient and are aware of the role that they play as ambassadors in their local communities. I cannot emphasise that point enough, because it is accepted that the young leaders we see before us today will also grow up to become leaders in their community.
Without putting unnecessary pressure on you all, I think it is important for me to challenge you as young women to become leaders who will provide your communities with the necessary strength, motivation and resilience needed to end the scourge of crime which plagues the lives of so many.
Do not underestimate the role that you can play in your community. As a Chrysalis graduate you will be joining the many young people who have also been at Chrysalis. Together, you will show other young people in your community that it is indeed possible to change your life if you put your mind to it.
Since 2000, more than 9000 young people have graduated from Chrysalis. Just think, what an influence this number of young people can have in their local communities, or wherever they find themselves.
On 19 September 2019, Premier Alan Winde launched the Provincial Safety Plan. This plan is the most comprehensive safety initiative undertaken in the history of this Province and country, and Chrysalis will play an important role in its implementation.
It is important to state upfront that the Safety Plan is not simply about policing. It recognises that if we are to succeed in making this Province safer for all its citizens, we need to address the issue comprehensively and not in a piecemeal fashion. This means that we must involve all thirteen Government Departments; but more critically, we need to ensure that the narrative of safety becomes owned by all in society. As safety ambassadors, you and other graduates will have a critical role to play in spreading this message, particularly to other young people.
One of the most important ways Chrysalis will implement the Safety Plan is through the establishment of youth hubs, led by Chrysalis graduate ‘Safety Ambassadors’. Such youth hubs will be based in many communities across the province.
Your participation in these hubs is very important because as role models, leaders and safety ambassadors you will engage with other young people in your community and instil in them the same values such as respect, discipline and integrity that you have harnessed over the last three months.
We know that young people often look to other young people for support and mentorship. That is what is expected of you. However, you will not be doing this on your own. You will be together with the other members of your hub and the dedicated Chrysalis Staff will continue to support you. It is vital that you work with trusted and responsible adults in your community because we need as many people as possible to assist in making the Premier’s safety plan work.
As you leave Chrysalis and Tokai, I want to remind you that you are supported in your role as a Safety Ambassador and that this is not your burden to bear alone. Your sisters here at Chrysalis, the Youth Academy, this Government and its stakeholders are all here to support you in the leadership roles that you will no doubt assume. I believe that by working together in this way, we will make this province the safest province in South Africa. The Western Cape Government is very proud of the Academy’s achievements and looks forward to its 20-year celebrations in 2020, lauding excellence in holistic youth development.
I want to finish off by recognising the tremendous achievement of each Bravo 19 graduate here today. Please can all graduates stand for applause.
Joshua Covenant Chigome
Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez
Tel: 021 483 9217
Cell: 083 661 4949
Private Bag X9112, Cape Town, 8000
14 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town, 8001