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    Robbie Millar.

Centre for Participation picks up gap in education

By Michael Scalzo

A leader of a crucial community and volunteer hub in Horsham has noted his organisation’s flexibility as key in transitioning students from discontinued adult-education courses. 

Horsham’s Centre for Participation, after discussions with Federation TAFE, will provide a unique one-day-a-week course for students who were part of the Wimmera campus’ previous courses. 

Federation TAFE highlighted declining enrolments in its transition and adult education courses as key in its review and eventual term three discontinuation. 

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Centre for Participation executive officer Robbie Millar said the centre had accommodated 12 of 27 students from Federation TAFE Wimmera campus’ Transition in Education and General Education for Adults certificates, who were keen to continue their education in a similar program. “We have made a one-day-a-week program for them, and they are welcome to enrol in our other courses, but 12 students will start in a specially designed course with us,” he said. 

“We are lucky and fairly flexible with our program delivery. There are not a lot of organisations that have the capacity to do that sort of thing in Horsham.”

Mr Millar said the aim of the new program was to provide meaningful learning opportunities that helped people transition to further study or into the workforce. 

However, he said the challenge remained that some people were unable to transition into a future role after one program. 

“We have some groups that have studied for multiple years and they need that level of support,” he said.

“We are fairly flexible with it, but not all organisations are, or could be. 

“But we get funding to do this type of work and if people are happy to come here, like this group from Federation TAFE, we are happy to have them.”

No new enrolments

Federation TAFE Wimmera campus director Christine Brown said the organisation needed to ensure the TAFE met the needs of students, industry partners and communities ‘today and into the future’, and there had been no new student enrolments in the courses in 2022. 

“The TAFE will be meeting current and prospective students and their parent, guardian or carer to identity the best option to help them achieve their individual reason for study,” she said.

“We are working with other organisations, particularly those that specialise in the disability field, to transition students to get the best education outcome, including the Centre for Participation.

“This will give students more options and better learning outcomes. Many local providers run programs specifically for students with disabilities that support pathways into work with social enterprises or volunteering programs and a range of other exciting options not provided through TAFE.”

Ms Brown said the organisation wanted to ensure its students had opportunities to progress into further training, a job or a volunteering opportunity, and transitioning 12 students into other programs would ‘expand their experiences and open new doors to learning and development of new and varied skills’.

“The best way to do this is in collaboration with other agencies that specialise in disability support services,” she said.

“The four sessional trainers and one part-time teacher that deliver this course will be offered new positions if appropriate, or we’ll assist them into employment with another local provider.

“Working together with other agencies with specialist capabilities will improve options and outcomes for this cohort.”

Mr Millar said the centre’s new program and others it operated remained important because they ‘picked up the gap in education’ in this specialist area. 

“It is not just about learning adult education. What we do here is we talk about how far students have ‘travelled’. It is about getting students along the continuum to better participate in life and community. It is not just literacy and numeracy, but how they can contribute meaningfully to the community,” he said. 

“It is about getting the most out of their lives and we do a lot on building self-esteem and confidence, because it is also those intangibles that make a difference when people apply for a job or further education. 

“Everyone needs some self-esteem and confidence.”

The entire June 22, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!