A journey of growth and impact: 36 years at TAFE Queensland – comment by Mary Campbell

A journey of growth and impact: 36 years at TAFE Queensland – comment by Mary Campbell

As I reflect on my 36-year journey with TAFE Queensland, the last 20 years spent in leadership positions and the most recent six as the Chief Executive Officer, I am filled with a profound sense of pride and gratitude. While TAFE Queensland shaped my professional life, I most admire the pivotal role it has played in the economic and social prosperity of our communities across Queensland.

Throughout my tenure at TAFE Queensland, I have witnessed first-hand the transformative power of education and training. TAFEs across our nation are the backbone of the VET sector and provide an unequivocal commitment to accessible and quality education that empowers countless individuals to upskill, reskill, and pursue their dreams. From school leavers seeking vocational training, to adults looking to enhance their careers, the public provider has been a beacon of hope, delivering the knowledge and skills necessary for individuals to thrive in a rapidly changing economy.

TAFE’s impact on economic prosperity cannot be overstated. TAFE has been instrumental in producing a skilled workforce that meets the demands of the job market. The practical, hands-on training offered by TAFE ensures that graduates possess the relevant skills and knowledge sought by employers, bridging the gap between education and employment. As a result, TAFE has become a catalyst for economic growth, driving innovation, entrepreneurship, and productivity across all of our regions.

TAFE’s commitment to social inclusion and diversity has been a driving force behind our success and positions us at the heart of the VET sector. By fostering a culture of inclusivity, celebrating diversity, and creating a supportive environment for students of different backgrounds, abilities and ages, TAFE has not only enriched the educational experience for our students but has also contributed to the social fabric of our communities.

I step down from my role as Chief Executive Officer at TAFE Queensland at the end of this month with immense pride and admiration for the staff who work tirelessly for our great organisations and their dedication to transforming lives, empowering individuals, and shaping the future for all Australians. It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to work with so many of you for the betterment of the VET sector.

With gratitude

NSW set to commence VET review

The NSW government will shortly announce a panel to undertake a full review of vocational education and training in the state.

The Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education, Tim Crakanthorp told the Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT last week that he would soon announce the person to lead a panel that will undertake a review that will examine structural issues facing VET.

He said the review will address three main questions: “What does our state prepare for now? What do we need to do differently to prepare people for the future? And how does our provider and TAFE system, from schooling to tertiary, need to operate to deliver it?”

“The Minns government has been very clear on its commitment to rebuild TAFE NSW because TAFE NSW isn’t just a provider, it is the provider. It is the public provider,” he said.

“And, in line with our election commitment, I’ll soon be  commissioning a full vocational education and training review across the entire sector.”

Stories celebrate First Nations students and communities

TDA has curated a story collection, ‘First Nations Focus’, to recognise and celebrate the vital work that members nationwide do with First Nations students and communities to help them achieve their goals.

Australia’s First Nations people are renowned as story tellers. The power of story has been used for over 65,000 years to share culture and the challenges and triumphs experienced.

TDA members in every state and territory contributed to the First Nations Focus story collection. All the stories are owned by TAFEs and republished by TDA with their permission.

Continuing on from the previous weeks, we are looking at two stories this week that showcase the transformative power of education and creativity.

The Laverton Story – Changing Lives
The collaboration between the Kalgoorlie Campus of Western Australia’s Central Regional TAFE (CR TAFE) and Laverton Training Centre (LTC) in Western Australia has brought about positive change in the lives of remote Aboriginal communities.

Through meaningful and culturally appropriate training, the partnership has empowered students to pursue vocational education while still honouring their cultural and family traditions.

With a focus on the northern Goldfields’ job opportunities, the training pathways provided by CR TAFE have enabled many students, including those from remote locations, to successfully complete nationally accredited vocational courses.

The partnership has achieved outstanding results, with 100% completion and attendance rates, giving students the opportunity to find employment in their chosen fields and become role models in their communities. Read the full article here.

Family is at the Heart of Lara’s Art
Badu Islander artist Lara Fujii, pictured, combines family stories with natural elements in her acclaimed cultural artwork. Starting her artistic pursuits at a young age, Lara’s passion for art was nurtured by her mother’s support.

Despite being a busy mother of six, Lara continued to develop her artistic skills and built an impressive portfolio. Seeking further training, she enrolled at TAFE Queensland, where she obtained qualifications in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Island Cultural Arts. The training provided Lara with new mediums and techniques, boosting her confidence and expanding her artistic horizons.

Her art practice is deeply connected to her family life, with her sons inspiring her work through their stories of marine life. Lara’s talent and dedication were recognised when her work won the 2022 People’s Choice Award at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

Through her journey, Lara encourages others to pursue their passion for art and emphasises the importance of lifelong learning. Read the full article here.

Kazil Imaik (child is born), Lara Fuiji, 2022, natural Earth pigments, galyuwin (bloodwood sap) and synthetic fixative on canvas, 77cm x 61.5cm, Badu Art Centre. Photograph by Michael Marzik, courtesy of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

Former Victorian apprenticeships chief appointed new SA skills commissioner

The South Australian government has appointed Cameron Baker (pictured), the former head of Apprenticeships Victoria, as the state’s new Skills Commissioner.

Mr Baker was appointed to the role after the inaugural commissioner Renee Hindmarsh stepped down to relocate interstate due to family reasons.

Mr Baker is a senior consultant in skills and labour for the National Transport Commission. He headed Apprenticeships Victoria, and  has also served as the Director and Acting Skills Commissioner of the Victorian Skills Commission.

In addition, the following appointments to the Skills Commission have been made for a period of two years:

  • Helen Gibbons, Director (Early Childhood Education), United Workers Union
  • Louise Nobes, CEO, KIK Innovation
  • John Chapman, Former Small Business Commissioner
  • Leonie Boothby CEO, Regional Development Australia Barossa Gawler Light Adelaide Plains
  • Andy Keough, Managing Director, SAAB Australia
  • Ian Horne CEO, Australian Hotels Association
  • Michael Luchich, State and Territory Director (SA and NT), Optus
  • Adrienne Nieuwenhuis, Commissioner, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency
  • Stuart Gordon, SA Assistant Secretary, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
  • Robyn Verrall, South East farmer ( Bully’s Meat), 2022 SA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Winner.

See more

TAFETalks: Skills development for the clean energy economy, Wednesday 21 June 2pm AEST

TDA invites you to this Wednesday’s TAFETalks, which will focus on skills development for the clean energy economy.

TDA will be joined by Eleanor Newby from Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA), who will provide an overview of JSA’s clean energy workforce capacity study which will support Australia’s transition to net zero as well as some early reflections from JSA’s interim report to government.

We will also hear from three TAFE speakers – all experts in their field – who will present on the vital role that TAFE is playing in partnership with industry, in skilling the clean energy workforce. Ross Digby from Holmesglen Institute, Bill Mundy from Federation University and Shawn O’Sullivan from TAFE Queensland will discuss the barriers and enablers for TAFEs in terms of skills development to support Australia’s ambition of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and perspective in this fast-evolving field.

To register, please click here.


TAFE leaders recognised in King's Birthday honours

Longstanding VET teacher and researcher, Professor Emerita Berwyn Clayton (pictured left) has received one of the highest awards in the King’s Birthday Order of Australia honours.

Professor Clayton, who worked for many years at Canberra Institute of Technology, was named a Member (AM) in the Order of Australia for significant service to the vocational education and training sector.

Also receiving the AM was Dr Caroline Hughes (pictured right), previously Director of Canberra Institute of Technology’s Yurauna Centre, for significant service to the Indigenous community of Canberra.

The Medal (OAM) in the Order of Australia was awarded to Leonie Burrows, a past CEO and Chair of SuniTAFE, for service to the community of Mildura.

Patrick O Brien, Director of Hospitality, Tourism & Culinary Arts at WA’s North Metropolitan TAFE was awarded the OAM for service to the hospitality industry.

Also from North Metropolitan TAFE, Eugenie Jelly was awarded the OAM for service to nursing as a clinician and educator.

TDA extends its congratulations to the recipients of these prestigious awards.

SuniTAFE appoints new CEO

SuniTAFE has announced the appointment of a new CEO, Brett Millington, pictured right, currently the CEO of  Mildura Regional Development.

Brett has served at senior levels in the utilities sector, including as Program Director with Intelligent Water Networks.

He is also a member of the Mallee Regional Partnership, the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre Strategic Advisory Panel, the Mallee Hydrogen Technology Cluster and the Northern Mallee Leaders Community Leadership Program Board of Management.

Brett replaces retiring CEO, Geoff Dea, who leaves on June 30 after seven years in the CEO role.

A former SuniTAFE alumni, Geoff studied accounting at the institute and went on to forge a successful career as a public accountant in Mildura.

“I truly believe we are in the business of changing lives at SuniTAFE and I am extremely honoured to have worked with the Board, leadership team, and staff in a sector so important to the success of our region and the wellbeing of our community,” Geoff said.

SuniTAFE Chair Neth Hinton said Geoff’s time as CEO has been marked by many high points, including the awarding of Large Training Provider of the Year in 2019.

TDA extends to Geoff the very best wishes on his retirement, and offers warm congratulations to Brett on his appointment.

Near-perfect score for TAFE 'tradie-to-teacher' program

The TAFE NSW team at last week’s AEN NSW & ACT conference in Sydney.


TAFE NSW has seen a near-100 per cent completion rate among experienced trades workers recruited to become TAFE teachers under an innovative program designed to boost the TAFE teaching workforce.

TAFE NSW Managing Director Stephen Brady told the Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT conference in Sydney last week that the Pay-to-Learn program has attracted about 150 experienced trades workers since it commenced earlier this year.

The 12-week program provides fee-free training to obtain the Certificate IV Training and Assessment, a wage and an internship.

“You can come and work with us for three months, study full time, have a very experienced trade support mentor who supports you, experience life in the classroom as you develop your training skills, and then move seamlessly into delivery,” Mr Brady said.

From 150 trades workers who commenced, the first cohort of 15 trades teachers is about to enter the classroom, with the remainder to start next semester.

“We see around 70,000 hours of training delivered through this new program, so it’s a really significant change,” Mr Brady said.

“The story of its success lies in a completion rate of almost 100 per cent, because of the wraparound supports we provide to these trades people as they become skilled educators,” he said.

Three more JSCs announced

The federal government has announced the formal establishment of a further three Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs), with a another six expected to be unveiled within weeks.

The Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor announced the establishment of:

It follows the announcement of the Agribusiness JSC, Skills Insight, in May.

“These new JSCs will act as a source of intelligence on issues affecting their industries and provide valuable leadership and advice in addressing skills and workforce challenges,” Mr O’Connor said.

See more

Don't miss the VET National Teaching & Learning Conference!

The VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023 to be held at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre on 17 & 18 August promises to be the biggest and most dynamic VDC conference. It’s less than two months away and tickets are selling fast.

Tickets are $565 (inc GST) for the two days, and there is a TAFE group booking discount of 10% for groups bookings of 10 or more.

Over two days there will be an abundance of professional learning opportunities with a focus on VET practitioners, as well as a stream of sessions featuring VET applied research for other VET sector professionals:

The conference will be held in conjunction with the WorldSkills Australia National Championships. VDC has partnered with WorldSkills Australia to provide VDC conference delegates with access to international WorldSkills guests and participate in bespoke guided tours of the championships at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Register now, tickets are limited. Contact info@vdc.edu.au for information on group bookings or visit the Conference webpage

DEWR seeking feedback on SEE language, literacy and numeracy tender

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) has released the Market Preparation Paper for Stream 1 of the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) Program.

The SEE program provides language, literacy and numeracy assessment and training to eligible job seekers to enable them to participate in training or work.

The paper seeks feedback on arrangements for the future delivery of Stream 1 services of the SEE program prior to releasing a Request for Tender to deliver SEE services from 1 July 2024.

The paper and instructions on providing feedback are available on AusTender and the department’s Employment Services Tenders webpage. Feedback closes on July 6.

DEWR has scheduled a webinar on 26 June, 3-4pm (Canberra time). See Employment Services Tenders for further details.

For any questions, contact: espurchasing@dewr.gov.au

Diary Dates

TAFETalks: Innovations in Clean Energy
21 June, 2 pm AEST
Register here

Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) Conference
13-15 July 2023
Keble College, Oxford, UK
More information

32nd National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference ‘No Frills’
19-21 July 2023
RMIT University, Melbourne
More information

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
TAFECreates 23
26 – 28 July 2023
Mildura, Victoria
More information

National Apprentice Employment Network 2023 National Conference
‘New Skills for a New World’
15-17 August 2023
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
More information

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
More information

Victorian Training Awards
18 August 2023
More information

National Skills Week
‘What are you looking for?’
21-27 August 2023
More information

NSW Training Awards
September 2023
Sydney Town Hall
More information

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Annual Conference
Building ACE Futures
10-11 October 2023
More information

Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
More information

VDC World Teachers’ Day Event
27 October 2023 – save the date

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More Information

Australian Training Awards 
17 November 2023
Hobart, Tasmania
More information