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Guides provide better access to coastal parks for all

08 Jul 2010

More people from non-English speaking backgrounds will be able to access and enjoy Victoria's coastal parks following the training and graduation of a new group of bilingual tour guides. Part of the Federal Government's Caring for Our Country initiative, the Bilingual Tour Guides Project is a partnership project between NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) and Parks Victoria.

Fifteen students graduated from the course and received their certificates at a presentation held last Thursday 1 July at Werribee Park. Parks Victoria's Volunteer and Community Programs Coordinator, Sjaan Field said that getting out and about in Victoria's marine national parks and marine sanctuaries and coastal areas serves to encourage, welcome and orient newly arrived migrants in their local communities.

“We're very proud of our graduates on what was the first day of free entry to many our parks,” said Ms Field. “The overall goal of the course was to link more multicultural communities with nature. Visiting parks increases the depth of people's social connection and enhances mental, emotional and physical health.”

Ms Field said that the program will hopefully lead to future opportunities for the Bilingual Coastal Park Guides to lead some guided tours for the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre members following the event.

The course, following the success of the inaugural Bilingual Guide Program in 2007, was run by NMIT.

“Parks Victoria approached NMIT to develop and deliver the training,” said NMIT Faculty of Further Education Development Officer, Anne Giddens. “Our Industry and Initiatives Unit has extensive experience in working with CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) communities and understands their needs.”

“One of the main objectives of the course was to provide people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities with improved knowledge about the recreational opportunities in our coastal parks and how to access and make the most of those opportunities,” said Ms Giddens.

The graduates are from a range of backgrounds, including the Chinese, African, Russian and Greek speaking communities, participated in 10-weekly sessions plus Saturday field trips to coastal recreational areas such as the Point Cook Coastal Park, Rickets Point Marine Sanctuary and the Queenscliff Marine Discovery Centre. As a final assessment, each student organised their own field trip for members of their community.

Students were trained in tour guiding and in relevant aspects of coastal environments including caring for coastal environments, safety, researching and accessing recreational resources and activities in coastal parks. NMIT's Industry and Initiatives Unit (Faculty of Further Education) developed the curriculum for the Bilingual Park Tour Guide Course and delivered the training.

Media contacts -
Parks Victoria David Petty 0427 031 264; NMIT Jude Whelan 9269 1253

Photos: Bilingual Tour Guides Project students graduate - 2010


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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, 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.