SOUTH West TAFE has appointed two Koori community education officers to help nurture education, training and career pathways for Koori students.
Denise Lovett and Anne-Marie Banfield will provide key links with the Koori community, sharing co-ordination of the role across South West TAFE’s Hamilton, Portland and Warrnambool campuses, and will network partnerships to encourage more Koori people to return to study and shape a career pathway.
The roles not only aim to assist existing students, but also encourage secondary school students and other Koori community members to consider opportunities for education and training at South West TAFE.
Ms Lovett has a vibrant background in negotiating opportunity for Aboriginal communities as a former chairwoman of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council and Victorian Aboriginal Owners’ Corporation, and has worked extensively in cultural and heritage and native title.
But it was her involvement in the Koori Court in Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland over the past two years where she recognised opportunities for more Koori people to engage with an educational institution.
For Mrs Banfield, the new role follows extensive background in working with indigenous people and lecturing with the Australian College of Psychology, primarily in cultural diversity with a specific focus on indigenous issues within the community.
Originally from the Riverland, Mrs Banfield is particularly passionate about taking a proactive approach to overcoming issues facing indigenous people.
“I’m particularly passionate about disengaged youth and have a strong background in community service work and working with high risk youth,” Mrs Banfield said.
“To do something positive and proactive rather than working at the tail-end of it I thought was a positive move by TAFE.”
There are 50 Koori students enrolled across the three campuses with about half these enrolments from secondary school and half from mature age students, a number Ms Lovett and Mrs Banfield aim to grow as their roles develop.
“It’s about increasing the number of Aboriginal students in higher level education and training and ensuring that our existing students are completing studies and then finding a career path,” Mrs Lovett said.