Exciting opportunity for TAFE

By Emma Prior

A potential TAFE facility in Yarrawonga is gathering considerable momentum after a positive scoping study was completed to assess the possibility of an adult tertiary facility in town. 

The Education Options in Yarrawonga Scoping Study was conducted to explore the opportunities that are complementary to existing school-based Vocational Education and Training (VET) as well as expanding post – school adult education. 

The findings from the study reported that Yarrawonga has great potential for a Goulburn Ovens TAFE (GOTAFE) service with a focus on a water sports academy. 

Although the scoping study looks promising, a great number of logistics need to be completed before a timeline could be established for the building and opening of an institute with a number of stakeholders stating it would be in the interim.  

Yarrawonga College P-12 Principal Damien Keel has been the main driver behind the study and said it was exciting that Yarrawonga is being looked at as a possibility.

“Yarrawonga College P-12 have been the main driver of the initiative with a clear 0-99 year old learning philosophy driving the conversations with Sacred Heart College, Yarrawonga Neighbourhood House, Moira Shire and GOTAFE working in conjunction with each other to realise the potential this great town has,” said Mr Keel.

“The GOTAFE CEO, Moira Shire CEO, local politicians and representatives of each of the aforementioned organisations have had round table conversations and it is looking promising.

“The Yarrawonga Mulwala population combined is bigger than that of Benalla which has their own TAFE and our population is continually growing.

“It is about the education vision for Yarrawonga.”

Although Mr Keel admitted the possibility of a potential TAFE was looking promising, he said if it were to happen it will take time, beginning with course offerings such as the Certificate 3 in Water Sports’. 

GOTAFE Director Student Pathways Student Attraction and Community Engagement Jon Lee has been working in collaboration with the local education institutes and council to create a Project Control Group (PCG) to establish how all the institutes could work together to expand options.

“GOTAFE established a PCG in partnership with Yarrawonga College P-12, Sacred Heart College and Moira Shire Council to explore enhancing pathway opportunities in greater Yarrawonga and surrounds,” Mr Lee said.  

“The PCG engaged an external consultant to steer the group to determine how in collaboration with local schools, council and existing education partners, Yarrawonga GOTAFE could bring a range of complimentary offerings to the local adult education market so that locals can “stay, play, learn and earn locally” with a focus on expanding options and post-school adult education. 

“A number of areas have been considered for further exploration, including: emerging local workforce demand for child care workers, mechanics, aged care and disability workers, electricians, retail workers, farm hands and cooks.

“A range of methodologies and models were considered throughout the consultation process. 

“The PCG has a commitment to investigating sustainable pathway opportunities locally, whilst GOTAFE continues its exploration of establishing a presence in the greater Yarrawonga area.”

For many years the P-12 college have had a clear vision to work towards developing a 0 – 99 years learning profile, which a centre to expand tertiary studies could help accomplish. 

The Yarrawonga College P-12, 9 – 12 campus was also discussed as a possible site for the potential TAFE with the entirety of the college to eventually be located on the one campus.

In the scoping study a focus was put on a water sports academy as Yarrawonga Mulwala is known as one of the best sites in the world for water skiing.

The hypothesis to be tested in the report states: “The Water Sports Academy would specifically focus on water ski and wakeboard activities and disciplines. The academy would aim to deliver a program that allows recreational skiers and wakeboarders access to training in the sport while completing a range of related qualifications.”

Mr Lee further explained the ideas behind how a water sports academy may work and the significance it would have to the twin towns. 

“Local secondary students could study sport and aquatic disciplines whilst at school doing VCE or VCAL, thereby attaining skills, competencies and credit towards their schooling and to enable them to be employed locally during and after school,” Mr Lee said.

“This project scope is to be significant to Yarrawonga, its existing assets and infrastructure and support Yarrawonga’s significant seasonal tourist and visitor demand for the water recreation industry.”

Local wakeboard professional and P-12 teacher Travis Osborne has also been a part of the PCG and believes a GOTAFE with a focus on a Water Sports Academy can offer something unique that is suited to the area.

“The prospect of a water-ski and wakeboard academy is really exciting here,” Mr Osborne said. 

“Yarrawonga and Mulwala feature some of the best water-ski locations and coaches in the world and Bundalong is famous internationally as a training ground for some of the best wakeboarders in the world.”

Alongside Yarrawonga College P-12, Sacred Heart College are assisting in the study.

Sacred Heart College Principal Lew Nagle said it would be a great opportunity for local students to not have to travel for further study.

“We have been working with the stakeholders on the viability plan with a focus on creating options for our students to access opportunities locally as opposed to traveling to the larger regional centres,” Mr Nagle said. 

“The potential for developing high performance centres for water sports attached to VET Sport and Recreation qualifications, for example, would also attract people to the area if it became a reality. 

“The projections on population for the Yarrawonga Mulwala area are very positive and we need to start thinking strategically regarding provision of further education in the town. 

“This work links in well with the partnership between Yarrawonga P-12, Yarrawonga Health and Sacred Heart College to deliver Certificate III in VET Health. This course is fully subscribed for 2020.”

23 VET programs were undertaken in 2018, showing the need for a closer adult education institution with the main opportunity for young people in Yarrawonga.

Three of Yarrawonga Neighbourhood House’s courses relate to the high demand or job vacancies identified in the Hume region report.

Yarrawonga Neighbourhood House Executive Officer Pauline Wilson said it would be great for the town as the qualification training could be extended. 

“Yarrawonga Education & Training is excited to see the results of the Scoping Study for Education Options in Yarrawonga,” Ms Wilson said.

“We are very keen to work with all TAFEs to provide the best education options for Yarrawonga.  

“Whilst Yarrawonga Education and Training delivers a range of nationally recognised qualifications such as those required for work in early childhood and personal care roles, we are keen to work with TAFE to extend the range of qualifications that can be delivered in Yarrawonga.  

“We are also able to add value to courses being offered by TAFE with our Learn Local pre-accredited funded programs including Prepare for Study and Career Planning.  To demonstrate how this is working, Wodonga TAFE is currently taking enrolments for TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment to be delivered at the Yarrawonga Education & Training Centre in 2020.”