Hope for Success

Warracknabeal year 11 student, Hope Dempsey is celebrating her success which all began with a mock interview at school. During the interview she made a positive first impression on interviewer, Bernie O’Connor.

Woodbine’s CEO Bernie O’Connor commented, “Hope presented well and on time and was clearly taking the interview as a genuine opportunity to learn more of the job seeking process. Towards the end of the interview, my fellow panel member, John Aitken, asked a completely unscripted question of Hope. He asked what three positive learning experiences she could say about her casual work at McDonalds. Immediately, Hope replied along these lines; to dress neatly in uniform to present a positive image, work diligently and never serve food I wouldn’t be prepared to eat myself- There was the next School Based Apprentice.

Woodbine provides a comprehensive range of services and day activities including supported employment, shared supported accommodation, outreach and respite, and recreation and  leisure. The range of day activities includes the popular adventure and discovery program, information technology, communication, commercial catering, plant nursery, craft shop, arts, music, retail clothing shop, opportunity shop and meals on wheels, to nominate a few. All Woodbine services are managed with a genuine philosophy of maximising inclusion and seeking to contribute to the local community.

Bernie explained, “The School Based Apprenticeship is one half of Woodbine’s trainee program. The program involves the nomination by a secondary college of a finishing year 12 student who does not plan to continue on to tertiary studies. This trainee will be supported in real full-time employment for two years whilst they are fully assisted to obtain Certificate IV in Disability. At the same time, comes the nomination of a finishing year 10 student to take up the School Based Apprenticeship. “

School Based Apprenticeships allow young Australians to get a head start with their careers by beginning an apprenticeship while still working towards their senior secondary school certificate. School-based Apprenticeships are a great career option, allowing young Australians to commence training for a vocational qualification and earn a wage while still at school.

Hope said “I love it here. I have two days of on-the-job training and a half a day of working, so it’s 19 hours all-up in a week.” Hope is studying for her Vocational Certificate of Applied Learning at school. “I struggle with classrooms—I always have, but being out in the workplace, I’m learning more than I was at school. It’s a lot more hands-on.” she said.

“I started here in October of 2015 and was thrown in the deep end.” she said. “No two days are the same.” Hope assists clients with daytime activities. “We go out into the community, we go out to Pharmacino and have a coffee and a scone or we’ll go for a walk up the street and get the newspaper. I had my first day in the kitchen last week and today was my first day in music and it was really good.” she said.

Hope has been on steep learning curve. “One of the things I’ve been learning is patience. Some of the clients are a bit slower at completing tasks than others, so you’ve got to be really patient with them and give them time.” she said. Life just keeps getting better for Hope. “A couple of weeks ago I was doing lunchmaking and Bernie, the CEO, called me out and offered me more work!”

Asked if he’d recommend School Based Apprenticeships to other businesses and organisations, Bernie replied, “This program seeks to support a healthy balance of experience and youth at Woodbine. Only a few years ago, there was just one staff member under the age of 30 years. With this measure and its flow-on message, there are now 35 people in the younger age grouping. If you are interested in maintaining a line of youth to match experience and see it as a long term plan, then a is a very workable and extremely rewarding solution. It is not necessarily a solution to address immediate skill deficiencies in your business. For Woodbine, it is a strategy to balance the workforce in a way that is a real support to the community and individual young people whilst enhancing the perception of people with a disability.”

Life’s Good

Eddie Nsanzimana and Nexus

Life’s motoring along pretty fast for 19 year old Eddie Nsanzimana from Rwanda.

He spent his childhood in a refugee camp in Tanzania after being forced to flee from the Rwandan genocide in the mid 90’s, before moving to Australia in 2006 with his mother and siblings. Eddie’s now studying Certificate IV in Community Services and has gained a full-time traineeship at Nexus Youth Centre in Horsham.

First living in Adelaide, Eddie remarked “It was all a bit new for us, just a little boy from a refugee camp, living in the big city”. Eventually the family moved to Horsham. “I never wanted to come to Horsham. I hated the idea of moving here. I asked what do teenagers do here?” he said. “I’ve been here for the last four years. Now I love this place. There’s no place I’d rather be than Horsham.”

Eddie has certainly fallen on his feet of late. “It was 18 months ago that I came across Nexus at the Careers Expo. I didn’t have a Structured Workplace Learning placement and my teacher encouraged me to try Community Services at Nexus. So I spoke to Alois and he said he’d love to take me on board, so I’ve worked here as part of my schooling every Tuesday from mid 2014 to the end of 2015.”

During that time Eddie assisted with organising events. “They let me lead a project- a camp at Lake Mungo in the outback for Young G and Freeza kids” he said. “The main idea of the camp was to get the multicultural Young G kids together with Australian kids to spend a whole week together and learn about each other and their cultures” he said. “Lake Mungo was crazy-no phone, no showers, no nothing for two days. I was surprised. The kids didn’t care about phones though and we just sat around the campfire talking and playing games. There was a bit of storytelling and it was amazing. We discovered a lot of talents in each other.”

Eddie’s now moved into a full-time traineeship at Nexus and is studying Certificate IV in Community Services after finishing Year 12 last year. “What I like about Nexus is the culture here-it’s really chilled.” he said. His favourite part of the job is the satisfaction he receives when an event comes together after lots of planning and organising. “It feels good seeing the reaction on the kids’ faces. Seeing them happy keeps me going” he said.

Eddie’s manager, Alois Kneibess had only good things to say about him. “Eddie’s been fantastic. He connects really well with the young people. I think it’s really good having a young person, on the staff in a training capacity. Work placements are a great opportunity to invest in a young person’s life and they bring a fresh dynamic to your organisation. As a youth centre, it’s good to be involved with young people that are starting to transition from education to employment. It’s exciting to have someone like Eddie on board- he’s dynamic and enthusiastic.”

“Eddie’s done a lot of work coordinating our Youth Week activities this week, working with different musicians, artists, logistics, catering, accommodation and transport,”Alois said.

Asked for his advice for other students thinking of doing a work placement, Eddie replied, “It’s all about having a passion and sticking your neck out. Sometimes you can fail but just keep trying. When you stick at it and keep going. It may lead to traineeships and apprenticeships. Just keep going and don’t give up.”

Some facts about Structured Workplace Learning

  • The minimum payment for students completing structured workplace learning is just $5 per day.
  • Students completing work placement are covered by Work Cover
  • A Working With Children Check is NOT REQUIRED if the student is over 15 years of age
  • If the student is under the age of 18 and paid less than $112 per week the employer is NOT required to withhold tax, collect a TFN declaration, issue a payment summary or payslip or report payment details to the ATO.
  • Structured Workplace Learning allows students to gain hands-on skills related to the course they are studying at school as part of their VET or VCAL qualifications
  • Placements for structured workplace learning can be undertaken in one week blocks or on a one day per week basis.

How do I find out more information?

Contact Structured Workplace Learning Officer/coordinator at Wimmera Southern Mallee LLEN by email or phone 5381 0122.

Talk About Lucky

Lauchlan McKean, Lucky to his mates, has had a cracking start to 2016 securing a full-time apprenticeship with Mick Cramer Smash Repairs.

Lauchlan enrolled in the VET in Schools Cert II Automotive program in 2015 through Skillinvest, as part of his VCAL qualification through Horsham College. During his work placement Lauchlan was able to demonstrate some of the basic skills he had learned in his VET course, a good attitude to work and an ability to follow instructions and work well with others. This resulted in Lauchlan successfully securing a school-based apprenticeship, leading to a full apprenticeship in 2016.

“I never pass up opportunities for work. I just tried to get into the work force a lot quicker because I couldn’t handle school. I found it really stressful, but at least here, we’re all free and get to do our own thing,” Lauchlan said.

“I’d never even thought about being a spray painter. I wanted to do automotive and work on light vehicles, Genni Smith from school said I should suss out my options and see what’s around.” Lauchlan said that within a couple of weeks, he loved it. “It’s hard work, but at the same time it’s part of the job, you’ve got to suck it up and do it and the guys around here make it enjoyable. Mick’s a really good boss, but you’ve got to get the job done right. He’s willing to teach you if you want to learn. You have to listen and take in what he’s saying, if you’re not going to show him that you want to listen then he’s just not going to bother trying to teach you. I’ve learnt a lot from Mick himself, by showing him that I’m listening, I’m dedicated and I want to learn.”

Mick loves having Lauchlan as part of his team “I personally believe youth are the future, therefore they must have a chance to create,’ Mick said. “School based apprenticeships are a great way for the employer to have a good look at the possible future employee and vice versa. It gives the student a chance to have a good look at the trade.”

Lauchlan said he had learnt a variety of skills “Even the way I sweep floors or wash cars, has all changed,” he said. “You surprise yourself with how much you learn. I got to spray paint my first couple of things the other week. I painted Mick’s bird aviary for him and did all the preparation. I painted the door of my first car recently. They’ve taught me how I should be standing, how far away I should be holding everything and the speeds and how loose my body should be. To pull off the perfect job, you have to get all of that perfect.”

“Attention to detail is really important to us, so if your car is wrecked, come to Mick Cramer’s and we’ll fix it for ya!”

Interested in finding out how your business can benefit from hosting a student on work placement? Email the Structured Workplace Learning Coordinator at Wimmera Southern Mallee LLEN or call 5381 0122.

Global Pop-up Trend

The Wimmera is at the forefront of a global ‘Pop-Up’ trend with the creation of Pop-Up libraries across the region. The first Pop-Up library in Horsham is located at Wimmera Uniting Care’s Early Parenting Centre in Darlot St.

Pop-Up libraries take books to the people. They will be located in places where families go, including playgroups, shops, Maternal and Child Health centres and waiting rooms. Children and families can take a book, enjoy reading it and then return it to any Pop-Up library in the town.
The books for the Pop-Up libraries were donated by Horsham and district residents through a Let’s Read book drive. The book drive was suggested by Horsham Rural City Councillor, Robin Barber. Donation bins were set up by the shire at the shire offices, Horsham library and the Horsham Plaza. More than 740 children’s books were donated. Another 200 books were purchased from the recent Horsham College book fair. The Wimmera Southern Mallee LLEN has sorted and branded the books and set up the Pop-Up library tubs for use throughout the shire.
The first Pop-Up libraries were successfully set up in Warracknabeal early in 2015 by the Warracknabeal Oral Reading Development Strategy (WORDS) group. The Wimmera wide Pop- up libraries are an initiative of the Let’s Read programs set up in the Hindmarsh, Horsham, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack Shires.
Coordinator at the Early Parenting Centre Wendy Brown said “This will be great for our families. We read books to the children every day and they will now be able to take their favourite book home to read. Reading and talking to children is really important for their development.”
The Pop-Up libraries will ensure that all families have access to a wide range of books. They will also increase the community’s awareness of the importance of reading daily to children.
The Let’s Read program provides families with a Let’s Read bag at 4 different child age points. The bag contains a new book, a ‘read aloud’ DVD, a reading tips sheet, a recommended book list and a Library flyer. Families receive the resources and support from Maternal and Child Health Nurses for their children at 4 months, 12 months, 18 months and 3 ½ years.
Let’s Read is an early years literacy program designed to support families to read to their children from birth to improve their language and literacy development. The program was developed by the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The Smith Family have partnered to implement Let’s Read with communities across Australia.
Pop Up libraries will be progressively rolled out to Wimmera Southern Mallee communities in the new year. It is an exciting initiative that will see thousands of books made available to all families in the region. This initiative will encourage families to join their local library and access the wide range of books, DVDs, CDs and online resources available at no cost.

Talk for Success

When my children were little, they were full of questions. What’s that? Why is the sky blue? Why do dogs bark? Where is Grandma? As they got older the questions got harder. What is electricity? How does a car work? And harder. How big is the universe? If something is watertight is it also airtight? Is it possible to go back in time? Thank goodness for Google.

Most of us get a bit frustrated by children’s constant questions and curiosity. This is how they learn and they are asking you because they love and trust you. Speaking and listening to your children is an important way to help your kid’s language and literacy development. As you children learn how to talk, their brains are making billions of connections which also support the development of their literacy skills.

I didn’t fully realise how important language is to literacy development until I attended a recent presentation at Warracknabeal Primary School by Rosy Wallis. Rosy now lives in Nhill and is a former student of Warracknabeal primary and secondary schools. Rosy has spent much of her working life teaching literacy to children and has completed extensive post graduate study on literacy and language development.

Rosy spoke about a recent project that she undertook as part of her research. Rosy’s thesis was about Oral Language in the ‘Everyday Life’ of Young Rural Children. The key messages from the presentation were that families need to talk to their children about a wide range of subjects and, importantly, listen and respond to their questions. Introducing new words and extending children’s vocabulary are essential for literacy development and good performance at school.

By talking, listening and reading to your children you are helping them to reach their full potential. Children are born ready to learn and the best learning occurs early in life. Parents are children’s first and most important teachers.

Reading with young children is the single most important activity that you can undertake to develop a child’s future reading and writing skills.

The experiences your child has in their early years set the foundation for lifelong learning, behavior, and health. Everything you do with your baby shapes their brain and their capacity to learn and to get along with others.

Building strong reading skills starts very early in life. Kids who are read to from birth, will do much better in reading and this helps them to succeed at school. Children who read well do better in education, and this leads to getting a good job, higher pay and having a good life. Kids who read succeed.


Wimmera leads the way

The Wimmera Southern Mallee region is leading the nation in an effort to improve literacy. The Let’s Read program will be implemented across the region throughout this year. This is the first time that the program has been rolled out in every community across four shires. The program will support all families across the 28,500 km2 covered by the Hindmarsh, Horsham Rural City, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack shires.

So, why is improving literacy important? Low literacy levels generally lead to poor education and life outcomes.   A 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics study shows that 44% of Australians, aged 15-74 have literacy levels below level 3. Level 3 is considered as the minimum level to meet the complex demands of life and work in the 21st century. The Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey also found that 600,000 Australians fall below level 1 reading level and a further 1.1 million Australians are at level 1.

What does this mean for our communities? The future prosperity and well being of the region (and the nation) depends on having a skilled literate workforce.   Our local businesses and our communities need people with good reading and maths skills to ensure that the Wimmera Mallee continues to grow and thrive. Poor literacy skills are associated with generally lower education, earnings, health and social outcomes as well as being linked to high rates of unemployment, welfare dependence and teenage parenting.

The Industry Skills Council 2011 paper, ‘No More Excuses’, highlights the critical need for improvements in language, literacy and numeracy skills and noted the following key points:

  • Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) are the essential skills that enable people to be productive in their work, to continue to learn and develop, and to participate fully in society.
  • Literally millions of Australians have insufficient LLN skills to benefit fully from training or to participate effectively at work
  • The situation looks as if it could be getting worse, not better: the LLN performance of Australian students has, over the past decade, worsened in comparison to other OECD countries

The Wimmera Southern Mallee LLEN is working with Maternal Child and Health nurses, schools, kindergartens, playgroups, local government and community organisations to implement the Let’s Read program across the region. Let’s Read is an early years literacy program aimed at promoting the importance of reading with young children from birth to 5 years. The program was developed at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The Smith Family have partnered to implement Let’s Read with communities across Australia.

The program delivers support, books and resources to families at 4 different child age points. Maternal and Child Health nurses provide support and the resources to families when their babies are 4 months, 12 months, 18 months and 3½ years.

Parents are children’s first and most important teachers. Try to read at least one book a day to your child. Your children will grow to love books and become strong readers. The earlier you start, the better, and remember, kids who read succeed!

8 Easy Ways to Help Your Child Succeed

Reading has always been an important skill. In our modern world it is more important than ever.

Children learn about the importance of reading as they watch family members use reading and writing for everyday purposes.

Reading with young children is the single most important activity that you can undertake to develop a child’s future reading and writing skills. Reading aloud to children also supports their development in other ways – it supports language development, promotes parent/child bonding and helps parents relate positively to their children.

Reading with your child at home will help your child in all learning areas of school. You can also read to your children when you are out and about. You can read shop signs, shopping brochures, traffic signs, billboards and junk mail. Children see you reading and writing in everyday life – reading for pleasure, sharing a story with your child, using a recipe, making a shopping list, writing a birthday card or reading road signs. This teaches them that reading and writing are useful skills in today’s world.

Here are eight great tips to help your child succeed at school:

  1. Be yourself. Involve children in everyday conversations
  2. Read aloud to children. It helps them to learn the language of books and will encourage them to enjoy books and reading
  3. Talk about books, read together and make reading an enjoyable, shared activity
  4. Make sure there is a wide range of reading material for your child at home
  5. Try not to let television intrude on reading time. Make a special time for reading with your child, away from interruption (bed time is great)
  6. Listen to your child read every day, even for a short time
  7. Give books as treats and presents
  8. Join your local library – It’s free and they’ve got lots of books for you to borrow

So when do we start? You should begin reading to your babies from birth, or at the very least, from 3 or 4 months of age. You can’t start too early. The first five years are the most important development years in your child’s life. Every time you read to your baby it helps to create those important connections in the brain that support good language and literacy skills.

By age 3, kids spoken to, and read to more frequently have an IQ that’s 1.5 times higher than that of children who weren’t. By the time they’re in primary school, they will develop stronger reading, spelling, and writing skills.

Children who are not read to on a daily basis start kindergarten and primary school behind their peers. There is significant research that says that most kids who start behind, never catch up. By reading to your children on a daily basis you are giving them the best possible start to life.

You are your child’s first and most important teacher. Read daily to your child. The earlier you start, the better, and remember, kids who read succeed!

Reading to Babies

When do I start reading to my child?

We all want the best for our children. If our kids are happy, healthy and doing well, then life is good. Our children are born with 100 billion neurons in their brains, and the key development stage is from birth through to age 8. During this time, our kids’ brains are a hive of electrical activity, with brain cells and neurons making connections at astonishing speeds of up to two million connections in a minute.

What can we do to make sure that our children are developing the required skills for them to succeed at school and at life? Reading with our children is the single most important activity that you can undertake to develop a child’s future reading and writing skills. Reading aloud to children also supports their development in other ways – it provides intensive language exposure and supports language development, promotes parent-child bonding and socialisation, and helps parents relate positively to their children.

It doesn’t matter what you read. It can be books, newspapers, magazines, comics, street signs, catalogues or shop signs. Your child will develop important skills that will enable them to thrive at kinder and school.

So when do we start? You should begin reading to your babies from birth, or at the very least, from 3 or 4 months of age.

Children love the sound of your voice, and soon enjoy the pictures and stories contained in books. Nursery Rhymes and singing songs are also great ways to help your child’s brain develop.

Books are a great present for children, so if you are a parent, an aunt or uncle, grandparent or friend and you can’t think of what to get for a birthday or Christmas, then a book is a great option.

Here are some great tips for reading to infants aged around 4 months to 12 months. These tips from the Royal Children’s Hospital Let’s Read program are helpful for older babies as well.

Whe reading with babies, they like:

  • being close to you
  • watching your face and lips move
  • hearing the sound of your voice
  • listening to different sounds and music
  • hearing same words, rhymes and stories over and over again
  • looking at books with colours, faces and pictures of other babies
  • touching and tasting books

How you can help your baby grow into a strong reader:

  • smile and hold your baby close so they can see your face and the book
  • copy the sounds your baby makes e.g. “da-da-da”
  • help your baby bounce and move to the rhythm of your voice or music
  • talk or sing about what you are doing when caring for your baby
  • notice what your baby is looking at and name it
  • share stories with your baby in the language you feel most comfortable with
  • start at the front of a book—you don’t have to finish it, a few pages is great!
  • keep books in easy reach of your baby
  • join the library—it’s free and fun. We have got great libraries right across the Wimmera Mallee and they have lots of books for you to borrow. You will be made very welcome and your local librarian will help you select some great books for you and your children.

Succeeding at School

How to help your child succeed at school

A 2006 ABS study shows that 46% of Australians, aged 15-74 have literacy levels below level 3. Level 3 is considered as the minimum level to meet the demands of life and work in the 21st century. Many people with poor reading skills have lower paid jobs and poorer health outcomes.

We know that:

  • Not all children arrive at school ready to take advantage of the learning opportunities provided at school. In Australia 22% of children are developmentally vulnerable in one or more domains of development
  • Children who fall behind in the first few years of schooling often find it very difficult to catch up to their peers even with appropriate intervention.
  • Many families are not aware of the importance of promoting their children’s early literacy or the strategies to use to ensure its development
  • Year 4 children ranked 27th out of 45 countries in reading making us one the lowest ranked English-speaking countries in the world.
  • Many of our children, across the Wimmera Mallee, are below the national benchmark for reading, writing and language skills. Our kids don’t do as well at school, on average, as their city cousins.
  • But, here is the good news. There is a simple way to help our children succeed at school. We should read to our children from birth every day. Aim to read at least a book a day. The more reading and books, the better. It’s always a great bed time ritual to read to your children.

Literacy is a vital skill in today’s world. Reading with children from birth is probably the single most important activity families, communities and professionals can undertake to improve their child’s future ability to read and write.

Sharing stories from birth gives children a great start to life. The best way to get children ready for their future is by helping them build a solid early language and literacy foundation well before school. Reading with children helps protect them from later reading problems, supports vocabulary (word) and brain development and helps strengthen adult-child bonding.

Children are born ready to learn and the best learning occurs early in life. Parents are children’s first and most important teachers. Building strong reading skills starts very early in life. Kids who are read to from birth, will do much better in reading and this helps them to succeed at school. Children who read well do better in education, and this leads to getting a good job, higher pay and having a good life. It doesn’t matter if it only takes one minute, five minutes or ten minutes. Any time is better than no time at all.

Every time you read to your baby it helps to create those important connections in the brain that support brain development and good literacy skills. Reading skills are skills that will serve your child well, for life. Reading a book in your child’s early years is so much better for them than playing on a ‘screen’.