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Joint Initiative To Meet Community Needs

01 May 2007

Preston Neighbourhood House has engaged the skills of marketing students at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE's (NMIT) Preston campus to conduct a survey and develop a marketing plan to help the House ascertain and meet the needs of the local community.

The House Manager Niel Gidman said its Committee of Management decided to undertake a needs analysis of the Darebin community to see if its current programs and services were still of relevance with the changing demographics of the community.

With NMIT part of the Darebin community and having developed a good partnership with the Institute over the years, Niel approached marketing staff at NMIT for students to assist with the project which would offer them learning outcomes and real work experience.

During last term, Niel addressed both first and second-year Diploma of Marketing students to impart information about the House and its services and training programs to enable them to devise a questionnaire which would then form the basis of a marketing plan.

The first-year students worked in groups to write the questionnaire which had 25 questions relating to issues such as did people know about the House and its services and what sort of services and courses would they be interested in.

The groups of students were stationed at various community locations including Preston, Reservoir, Northcote and Thornbury and interviewed people as they moved around the area.

Student Aldoreyn Francisco, 20, said he was initially intimidated by conducting the survey of the local community and approached about 30 people in different age groups for a survey result of 12 people at Northcote Plaza.

'I drive past the House every day but didn't know what it offered myself until we began working on the project,' Aldoreyn said.

'It has been a great opportunity for real world experience that's so much better than just learning things out of textbooks. It also enables us to make a worthwhile contribution to the community as what we do can directly affect what the House will do in the future.'

Niel Gidman said the role of the House, a Registered Training Provider (RTO), was to encourage and support the local community to live an independent, quality life by providing accessible services, promoting social interaction and mutual support and skill development.

The House staff has already conducted an in-House analysis and NMIT's contribution would provide the basis for its future direction.

Over the past year, about 3000 people have used the House in some capacity, Niel added.

NMIT Marketing teacher Alex Manzoni said the project gave students the opportunity to experience some of the real obstacles they could confront in their employment after they complete their studies.

'They're learning things for real which assists their skills and confidence where they can see a practical and direct outcome.'

The students will present their marketing plan to the House at the end of the year.

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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on 03 9269 1579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) – Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne’s north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce.  NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.