Central Regional TAFE is set to compete at the Australian Training Awards in Sydney this November after winning at this year’s WA Training Awards.
The Australian Training Awards are the peak, national awards for the vocational education and training (VET) sector, recognising individuals, businesses and registered training organisations for their contribution to skilling Australia.
Central Regional TAFE won the WA Industry Collaboration Award 2018 at the WA Training Awards in September for its Integrating Training and Biodiversity Conservation project run through the Batavia Coast Maritime Institute (BCMI).
The project saw a collaboration formed between Central Regional TAFE, Northern Agricultural Catchments Council, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, City of Greater Geraldton and the WA Museum.
Central Regional TAFE Portfolio Manager Dr Suresh Job said the multi-faceted nature of local environmental issues make them very difficult for any, one stakeholder to manage on their own.
“We saw a clear need for greater collaboration between stakeholders to increase organisational and community capacity to deal with environmental challenges,” Dr Job explained.
“We focused initially on two major initiatives, firstly restoring habitats at the Houtman Abrolhos Islands and secondly the management of invasive aquatic species in the MidWest.”
Work carried out at the Abrolhos Islands included installing erosion control matting, mangrove mapping and seedling germination, revegetation, weed removal, marine debris removal, mouse eradication program, and seabird and habitat monitoring.
Central Regional TAFE Abrolhos Project Manager Maryke Gray said the project was successful due to the outstanding collaboration between project partners and stakeholders.
“This project was a great opportunity for students to receive the theory in the classroom and then step out and receive real life practical experience. They also had many opportunities to network with project partners and those in the industry” she said.
Central Regional TAFE Managing Director Bill Swetman said the award was a great outcome for all those involved in the collaboration that proved to be very beneficial for students.
“We saw significant improvements in student outcomes throughout the duration of the project. For example the number of students who successfully completed their Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management increased by 33% between 2014 and 2016,” Mr Swetman said.
“The focus on learning through working on actual priority environmental conservation projects gave the students a sense of pride and accomplishment as they could see the value and the results of the work they were doing.”
Mr Swetman said other positives had resulted from the collaboration.
“As a consequence of these partnership we have developed new training programs that ensure that students have clear pathways from lower level qualifications into higher level qualifications, and then on to employment,” he explained.
“Students gained not only new technical skills and knowledge, but also grew in selfconfidence and motivation. Most of our students involved in these projects have come through the programs with a clear idea of what they want to do in terms of a career and what the next steps are to achieve their goals.”
BCMI student Kevin Tobler, who took part in the project as part of his studies, agrees that the partnership were very beneficial.
“During my involvement in the projects and thanks to the BCMI I have been able to build contacts with many different people from all walks of life. From volunteers that joined us to leading experts in their field,” Mr Tobler explained.
“This collaboration has enriched my personal live as much as it has my studies and my career.”
Corin Desmond, another BCMI student, said the project had opened up many pathways for him.
“The collaboration has been so wonderful for me and without it I would not be in the position I am now. My studies have advanced to a university level,” Mr Desmond said.
“I have increased opportunities for employment and have received offerings for such due to connections developed from the collaborations undertaken by the BCMI.”
Dr Suresh Job said the collaboration was also extremely beneficial for disadvantaged groups within the community.
“We worked together with the Department of Justice to provide on-ground CALM training for inmates who are allowed out of Prison during the day with a warden,” Dr Job said.
“The outcomes from the program have been simply amazing, with a number of inmates returning to Central Regional TAFE to continue their studies after release from prison. The partners in the collaboration have also helped to look for employment opportunities for the inmates after their release.”
Richard McLellan, who was the CEO of NACC during the time of the project, said these types of collaborations were beneficial on a number of levels.
“By working together we are able to effectively prioritise and efficiently use resources to protect the biodiversity in our operational area. The partnership approach between CRTAFE and NACC gives the best chance to achieve positive results for the conservation of threatened species and NRM in the Mid-West region,” Mr McLellan said.
“As part of the Abrolhos islands restoration project, NACC and CRTAFE have worked very closely together to offer students scholarships to study Conservation and Land Management at the BCMI. More than 30 scholarships were awarded throughout the project, with the scholarships proving to be invaluable for the development of local students. The successful recipients gained real ‘in the field’ work experience – with highly trained professionals – at a number of different locations.”
Regional Manager of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Ron Shepherd agreed on the benefits of a collaborative approach.
“As the land manager of the Abrolhos Islands, I have been impressed by the collaborative approach taken by the staff at Central Regional TAFE’s BCMI,” Mr Shepherd said.
“The multi-agency collaborative approach achieved cost efficiencies and resource sharing that enabled the project to be completed in a manner that was beyond any one agency.”
Central Regional TAFE Managing Director Bill Swetman congratulated all those involved Integrating Training and Biodiversity Conservation collaboration and acknowledged other students who had made it to the finals of the WA Training Awards.
“I would like to sincerely congratulate students Isabelle Croswell who was a finalist in the WA Apprentice of the Year category and Jazmin Hahn a WA School-Based Apprentice of the Year finalist. The college is very proud of your efforts,” Mr Swetman said.