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Inclusion commitment recognised among Victorian Training Awards finalists

Bendigo TAFE is a finalist in the Victorian Training Awards for Inclusive Training Partner of the Year.

The award recognises exceptional training providers within the Victorian Government's vocational education and training (VET) sector that have demonstrated outstanding improvements with regard to the achievement, engagement and well-being of students with disability.

Bendigo TAFE chief executive Sally Curtain said the announcement was a welcome endorsement of the institute’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This commitment is outlined in Bendigo TAFE’s Accessibility and Inclusion Plan 2020-2025.

“This is a commitment to ensure students, staff and volunteers will be treated equitably, creating a TAFE community that embraces inclusion,” Ms Curtain said.

“Embracing diversity and inclusion is simply the right thing to do. But it also yields better outcomes for Bendigo TAFE and for employers. “Increasing employment opportunities for people with a disability is one of the most important tasks Bendigo TAFE has, so I’m proud these efforts have been recognised.

“We are proud to be a finalist for the Inclusive Training Provider of the Year for our innovation and approach to inclusivity within the TAFE network. But to us, it is more than just an award, it’s a social responsibility that we take very seriously.

“The nominations are an acknowledgement of the calibre of all the finalists, and recognition of a strong VET sector in Victoria.”

Bendigo TAFE individual support coordinator and teacher Julie Kramer is also one of three finalists for Teacher of the Year, also part of the Victorian Training Awards.

“I feel really humbled to be nominated, but also very appreciative of the recognition of many years of service to a profession I am extremely passionate about,” Ms Kramer said.

From aged care to disability and palliative care, providing personal care to some of our most vulnerable people in the community requires just the right balance of skills, confidence and emotional readiness.

One of the most impactful initiatives led by Ms Kramer include the introduction of real world simulations to every unit of the Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community Care) – a move inspired by her 20 years of industry experience in aged care.

She began with palliative care, replacing a video presentation with a practical exercise that involved transforming the classroom to replicate an aged care facility.

“I wanted to ensure students were receiving practical training that was no different to the real world,” Ms Kramer said.

“I set up the classroom to replicate an aged care facility, including a mannequin in bed, dim lighting and soft music, so that students could physically learn how to provide adequate care. “Supporting people at their end stage of life is often emotionally confronting for personal workers, so I also use this practical setting to encourage student to express and learn to manage their feelings within a safe and honest environment.

“The feedback from students was extremely positive as they felt more confident to take on real-life situations and provide professional, empathetic and respectful care to clients.”

Ms Kramer says creativity is often required when coming up with practical simulations. “My students found practicing on mannequins in the lifting machine unrealistic as they were too light. So I now encourage students to lift each other in the slings to gain practical experience in moving people of different shapes and sizes,” Ms Kramer said.

“I also received feedback in class that dressing oneself is very different from dressing someone else with physical restrictions. So I incorporated a practical exercise where students dress and undress each other using clothes from an op shop.

“These practical exercises help students experience both the perspective of a client and the important role of the carer.” Bendigo TAFE Chief Executive Sally Curtain congratulated Ms Kramer on being named state finalist for Teacher of the Year.

“The Victorian Training Awards celebrates the best in the TAFE and training sector, and we’re immensely proud of Ms Kramer for being shortlisted for Teacher of the Year,” Ms Curtain said.

“TAFE is about preparing students for careers in the real world – it’s more than the skills and knowledge we impart, it’s also about helping our students gain confidence to succeed.

“Ms Kramer’s passion, initiative and innovations have made a significant difference to our students’ journeys and we wish her the very best at the upcoming awards.”

Results for the Victorian Training Awards will be announced on 16 October, with the Teacher of the Year award recipient to receive $5,000 in prize money and represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards.​​

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