GOTAFE CEO sleeps out to tackle homelessness


On the 20 June, GOTAFE CEO Travis Heeney joined the fight against homelessness by participating in the 2019 Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
The Melbourne event saw more than 80 business, community and government leaders sleep without shelter to help change the lives of Australians experiencing homelessness.

Mr Heeney said he was alarmed to hear the statistics for the regions GOTAFE operates in. More than 750 were homeless. More than 16,000 people were living in poverty.

“To better understand homelessness, I met some students from Berry Street who were willing to share their stories with me, all of which were profound. The challenges that these students experience were far beyond what many of us experience or understand. That is why this initiative is so important, whilst obviously to raise funds, but importantly to raise awareness.”

“Last night was the first time I have slept rough. It was extremely cold. For me it was one night but the hard part is knowing that there are people in our community who do this every night with nothing. I luckily had a sleeping bag and some cardboard. It really makes you consider the people in our society who experience homelessness.”

Our GOTAFE VCAL students put together a video message of support that was really meaningful. In it, they said that each year in every VCAL class, at each of our campuses, there are one or more students that are affected by homelessness. They wanted to let me know that they supported me in raising funds to help tackle the issue of homelessness. This really drove home the importance of participating in this event and doing all we can to highlight this issue.

I have found the whole experience to be truly humbling and I’m glad to have done my part in highlighting this issue and raising much needed funds. As part of the work for our social justice charter, this issue will be one we will continue to shine awareness on within the communities that GOTAFE operates in.”

Mr Heeney sincerely thanks those who contributed to this cause as part of his experience. So far, Mr Heeney has raised $7,000. Donations can still be made at https://www.ceosleepout.org.au/fundraisers/travisheeney/melbourne

Infoxchange’s Tech Ready launches in Wangaratta


Supported by the Victorian Government, Infoxchange’s Tech Ready launches in Wangaratta in July 2019 to help young people gain the digital skills they need for the jobs of the future. As part of the program, Infoxchange are covering all costs of tuition and material fees for the Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology.

This is an opportunity for eligible 17-25 year olds to kick start their career in technology and furthering their digital skills to gain employment.

Students will be connected with industry professionals and assisted to improve confidence applying for work with practical job-readiness workshops from Digital Springboard, our program with Google.

Tech Ready students will also benefit from Industry tours and guest speakers, mock interviews with technology professionals, digital workshops.

Places are limited, we encourage anyone interested to visit Infoxchange’s Youth Tech Ready Program website.

GOTAFE CEO fundraising to tackle homelessness


On the 20th June, GOTAFE CEO Travis Heeney is joining the fight against homelessness by participating in the 2019 Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

The event will see more than 80 business, community and government leaders sleep without shelter to help change the lives of Australians experiencing homelessness.

Mr Heeney said he was alarmed to hear the statistics for the regions GOTAFE operates in. More than 250 people across the Werribee region were homeless. In Shepparton it was more than 320 people, in Seymour 67 people, Benalla 42 people and Wangaratta 79 people.[1]

More than 4,400 people were living in poverty[2] in the Wangaratta region. In Werribee it was 5,700 people, Shepparton 3,880 people, Seymour 900 people and Benalla 1,300 people.

As business leaders it’s important to do all we can to highlight the plight of the most vulnerable members of our community. Through our actions and fundraising efforts, we hope to help to improve the lives of people who live within our communities.”

The funds raised will assist the St Vincent De Paul Society with projects across Victoria.

Mr Heeney stated “GOTAFE is committed to providing a welcoming, respectful and inclusive environment for all, in the communities that we serve. To ensure these principles are embedded in everything we do we are developing a Social Justice Charter to guide and inform our programs and priorities.”

The development of the Social Justice Charter will be guided by a community reference group incorporating a broad range of representatives.

The CEO Sleepout will allow participants to hear first-hand from people experiencing homelessness and experience what some people endure each and every night. “I am sure it will be a very humbling experience.” Mr Heeney said.

This year, Vinnie’s fundraising goal is $1.1 million. Mr Heeney is calling on industry, business, community organisations and individuals to donate to this cause. To help support Mr Heeney’s fundraising please visit https://www.ceosleepout.org.au/fundraisers/travisheeney/melbourne

[1] Source: ABS 2016 Census Data – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-20/homelessness-mapped-australia-by-suburb/9551556

[2] Source: Victorian Council of Social Service Data – http://www.povertymaps.vcoss.org.au/

GOTAFE beauty graduate opts to stay local


At only 24 years of age, GOTAFE alumni and beautician Vanessa Sibio has opened her own beauty salon, Ciao Bella Beauty Lounge, in Shepparton.

Vanessa began as a GOTAFE Vocational Education and Training in Schools (VETiS) student, which sparked her passion for the industry. By end of Year 11 she was a fully qualified beautician.

After completing her Victorian Certificate of Education, Vanessa continued to build on her VETiS knowledge and completed both a Diploma and Certificate IV in Beauty Therapy.

Vanessa said she had benefited from the ability to study locally at GOTAFE.

“I chose to enrol in GOTAFE because it was the most convenient and offered flexibility that let me continue to work while studying at home,” said Vanessa.

“Not having to move away made it a lot easier and I was able to save money.”

A week after completing her studies with GOTAFE, Vanessa began full-time employment with Wellsprings Day Spa in Shepparton.

She said the skills and hands-on industry experience gained from her studies ensured a smooth transition into a real-world environment.

Her time at Wellsprings Day Spa further encouraged Vanessa to take the next step of opening her own salon.

Since opening Ciao Bella Beauty Lounge, Vanessa has been kept busy with appointments.

Ciao Bella Beauty Lounge is in Fryers St, Shepparton, across the road from GOTAFE’s campus.

“I love the fact that GOTAFE is where I trained and now I have been able to open my own shop just across the road,” she said.

GOTAFE trainers attend PD workshops during April


Pictured: GOTAFE Trainers Anne Leavette-Brown and Amanda McInnes with guest facilitator Shauna Farey.

During April, GOTAFE teaching staff had the opportunity to attend one of 10 on campus professional development workshops. The workshops were an initiative of the team responsible for the Educators Passport.

Interim Executive Director of Education Louise Pearce said: “The aim of the professional development workshops was to assist teachers to continue to develop their VET knowledge and skills to meet the unique features of VET education and its students.

“The workshops were held on campus during the school holidays to give staff the best opportunity to attend, 198 registrations were received for the three days which is a wonderful result.

“We had three fantastic facilitators Andrew Douch, Karen Dymke and Shauna Farey all with educational backgrounds, who ran the workshops at Shepparton, Wangaratta and Benalla campuses.

“The workshop topics ranged from Determining competency of students to Using Apps to facilitate learning and Creating a dyslexia friendly classroom.

“We are thrilled with the success of the workshops, the fact that we offered them in convenient locations for staff and that each workshop provides credits to staff for their Educator Passport is contributing to the competency and development of teaching staff.”

Further workshops will be offered during May.

2018 graduates celebrate their success


2018 nursing graduates from GOTAFE’s Seymour campus​ celebrate their success at the graduations held During March

More than 250 GOTAFE graduates were honoured during March, at ceremonies held in Wangaratta, Benalla, Seymour and Shepparton.

The 2018 graduates, from a wide range of courses, were entertained by MCs Tim Campbell and Ella Hooper and enthralled by keynote speakers Tom O’Toole (from Beechworth Bakery) and shark attack survivor Paul de Gelder.

GOTAFE CEO Travis Heeney thanked the graduates for entrusting GOTAFE with their education and training needs, and said he was proud they had been given the opportunity to study locally and stay connected with their community, friends and family.

He said GOTAFE was determined to ensure the best possible training and employment outcomes for every student, and said the ceremonies were an acknowledgement of the work by students and GOTAFE’s educators.

“If our region’s future prosperity rests with the skills, knowledge, talent and spirit of our people then it is in good hands,” he said.

The graduation ceremonies recognised students who successfully completed their studies in 2018 across a range of study areas including business and IT, art and design, community services, health, animal sciences, and building and construction.

GOTAFE students access world-leading technology


An almost $170,000 synthetic human has made the long trip from Florida to Benalla – to benefit students studying Health & Community Services courses at GOTAFE.

The human anatomy technology model, which was developed by American company SynDaver Labs, was purchased with funding from the Victorian Government’s Regional and Specialist Training Fund (RSTF).

A Sectra Table, which is an interactive learning and teaching tool that uses real anatomy and clinical cases to develop critical thinking in critical training was also purchased through RSTF grant funding. This will be used for all applications across the health educational sector.

The RSTF program supports training for specific skills in regional and specialist areas that are not being met by the current training market.

GOTAFE’s interim education executive director, Louise Pearce, said GOTAFE was fortunate to be the only registered training organisation in Australia to have the SynDaver resource. “We are also the first VET training organisation to utilise a Sectra Table in our training programs. Up until now, it was a resource only available in university degree programs.”

“Our students will benefit enormously from being able to learn with the anatomy model and the interactive workstation,” said Ms Pearce.

The SynDaver Anatomy Model is an alternative to human cadavers in basic anatomy classes and has been designed to mimic the physical properties of live tissue.

The Sectra Table is a large, multi-touch medical display that uses real anatomy and clinical cases and allows students to interact with an image. Students can navigate inside the images, as well as remove layers of skin and muscle and dissect the body with a virtual knife.

“GOTAFE is proud to provide students with the opportunity to study locally, and having access to world-class facilities helps ensure they are job-ready when they finish their training,” said Ms Pearce.

GOTAFE seeks a dynamic and energetic executive team


After an extensive organisational review, GOTAFE are now seeking a dynamic, energetic executive team to lead the organisation through an exciting and ambitious transformation.

To learn more about these exciting opportunities, contact Melanie Pecanek (03) 9929 9587 or Jarrod McLauchlan (03) 9929 9515 from Davidson Recruitment Company.

To review the executive jobs available, please visit Davidson Recruiting Company.

Beechworth students tour GOTAFE’s National Equine Centre


Pictured: GOTAFE Trainer Rhonda McCallum with Beechworth Secondary Students Matilda, Ayla and Keely and ‘Jarvis’.

Sixteen students from Beechworth Secondary School toured GOTAFE’s National Centre for Equine Education in Wangaratta last week, to learn about study pathways and career opportunities in the equine industry.

The students, aged 12 to 17, also met GOTAFE trainers and explored the facilities at Wangaratta’s Regional Study Centre.

GOTAFE interim executive director of education Louise Pearce said: “The students toured our purpose-built equine facilities and stables, talked with, and learnt from, our trainers about horse health and horse care and were given an insight into studying equine with GOTAFE.

“We offer Certificate II in Equine Studies for Secondary School students through our VET in Schools program where they gain introductory, hands-on practical skills that set them up for a career in the equine industry.

“GOTAFE trainer Rhonda McCallum encouraged the students to think broadly about the careers available in equine, from event management for horse events to stable hands and veterinary nursing.”

Beechworth Secondary School teacher Laureen Barnard approached GOTAFE with the idea of the students visiting GOTAFE after she recognised the students had an interest in equine studies.

“A number of students showed an interest in learning more about horses, so I introduced an elective in equine studies,” she said.

“We have had a number of experts come to speak to the students and so when the students expressed an interest to learn about careers in the industry, I contacted GOTAFE.”

Year 7 student Matilda said: “I liked the tour of the facilities, the hands-on activity and taking photos of the horses. I thought studying equine would be fun and I was right.”

GOTAFE has various equine courses on offer and more information is available at www.gotafe.vic.edu.au

GOTAFE Announces Animal Science Winners


Pictured: GOTAFE Animal Science Student of the Year Linsey Bell with Stuart Kennedy from Ellar Laboratories (Major Sponsor).

Seven GOTAFE Wangaratta students scooped the awards at a dinner on Friday 22nd March, held to celebrate the achievements of the organisation’s animal sciences students.

The awards were presented by GOTAFE Board members Joanne Dwyer, Christine Riches and Angela Verde, CEO Travis Heeney, and teachers.

Graduating students from animal studies, pet grooming, companion animal services, veterinary nursing and pet styling were honoured at the dinner, which was also attended by families, friends and industry representatives.

The major winner was Linsey Bell, who received the Ellar Laboratories Student of the Year Award for 2018 and was awarded a $1000 travel voucher.

Animal sciences team leader Lesley Sanderson described Linsey as a quiet achiever and said: “Linsey was always the first to assist other students and her practical skills and theoretical knowledge are second to none.”

Linsey is now continuing her studies at GOTAFE, while working at ACE Veterinary Hospital in Euroa.

The award winners were:

Award  ​Student Home town​
​Ellar Laboratories Student of the Year Award ​Linsey Bell ​Tongala
​Rotary Club of Wangaratta Arthur Vickers Animal Studies Award ​Sarah Lyons ​Wangaratta
​Outstanding Achievement Award – Veterinary Nursing ​Jane Plunkett ​Lavington
​Outstanding Achievement Award – Grooming ​Brianna Cook ​Kennington
​Outstanding Achievement Award – Animal Sciences ​Mo’Eesha Saunders ​Yarrawonga
​Outstanding Achievement Award – Companion Animal ​Kayla Hall ​Wodonga
​Most Dedicated Student Award ​Tiffany Lacey ​Kinglake