Victoria Racing Club and Racing Hearts in new partnership to support pathways to learning for at-risk teens

24 May 2022 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) has today announced a new partnership with Racing Hearts, providers of equine-assisted therapy with retired racehorses for disadvantaged and at-risk youth, which will support a pilot program for secondary school students interested in pursuing a career working in the thoroughbred industry.

The Racing Hearts Secondary Schools Pilot Program provides learning pathways leading to meaningful employment opportunities for young people seeking an alternative to the Victorian Certificate of Education.

The program builds on the existing Racing Hearts services that assist disadvantaged teens by providing the help and support they need to heal from past trauma through equine-assisted therapy by equipping them with essential employment skills and setting them up for future success in the community with the VCAL qualification Certificate II – Racing Industry.

Victoria Racing Club CEO Steve Rosich said in partnering with Racing Hearts, the VRC was proud to support both young people and retired thoroughbreds in developing their careers.

“The work of Racing Hearts is incredibly valuable, not only in the way it supports young people and at-risk children, but also in providing retired racehorses a meaningful second career,” Mr Rosich said.

“The VRC is honoured to partner with Racing Hearts to ensure this valuable work can continue and grow.”

Racing Hearts founder and director and Racing Victoria Off The Track ambassador Lisa Coffey said the partnership enables Racing Hearts to expand its operations to launch the pilot program, reaching even more young people in need.

“Equine-assisted therapy is life changing for so many of these kids – the connection they form with horses develops their self-esteem, empathy and builds their confidence, and in return they feel the unconditional love of our horses,” Ms Coffey said.

“The Secondary Schools Pilot Program provides these kids with education and career opportunities while also helping them recover from past traumas and develop their sense of self.”

The pilot program has been designed with the Racing Hearts team of mental health practitioners and combines a year-long mental health program with a skills-based academic program. Upon successful completion of the program students will have gained a Certificate II in Racing Industry (stable hand) qualification through the Racing Industry Skills Centre RTO, equipping them with the skills required to work with racehorses in a racing stable.

Through its strong connections across the racing industry Racing Hearts will support students to develop a network within the industry, gaining valuable work experience in a wide variety of roles, from hands on work with horses to track maintenance, fashion, and administration, with the aim of assisting them to secure meaningful employment in the industry.

Further educational pathways exist with a Certificate III in Racing Industry (track rider or stable hand) qualification for students that choose to extend their schooling beyond the pilot program.

“The Racing Hearts Secondary School Pilot Program helps young people pursue a rewarding career working with horses, facilitate an expansion of Racing Hearts’ racehorse retraining program for retired thoroughbreds, and assist the racing industry in building skills and growing its workforce,” Mr Rosich said.

“We are delighted to partner with Racing Hearts to bring this pilot program to life.”