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TAFE to celebrate 100 years of practical skills and lessons for life

25 Mar 2013

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) will celebrate 100 years of delivering quality vocational education next year.

The Institute; which traces its origins back to the establishment of the Collingwood Technical School in 1912 and the subsequent amalgamation of the Preston and Collingwood Colleges of TAFE (formerly Preston and Collingwood Technical Schools) in 1988; has commenced planning for a big year of anniversary celebrations for 2012.

Part of the celebration will include the gathering of an oral history from past students and staff. Former students include Collingwood Football Club legend, Lou Richards (Collingwood Tech), former test cricket captain and commentator, Bill Lawry (Preston Tech), and (more recently) members of acclaimed Australian Indie Rock act, Augie March, but most of the stories will come from ordinary people for whom NMIT (and its predecessor colleges) has provided a pathway to skilled careers with a practical focus.

Years before his name became synonymous with Australian Rules Football, Ron Barassi was a student at Preston Technical School. The young Barassi enjoyed his time at Preston Tech, even if he did get bagged for wearing a Melbourne jumper at footy training.

“I can remember trying out for the football team - the House team and the Tech Team - I did my training in a Melbourne jumper which I had because my father had played with Melbourne. Preston was mainly Collingwood supporters and a little bit of Essendon and yes, I can remember ... the rubbishing I used to get because of that.”

However, Barassi's years at Preston Tech influenced him beyond the football field. With hard work, Barassi did reasonably well within the structured and relatively disciplined confines of Preston, particularly with committed teachers like his maths teacher, Dick Telford on staff. However, after three years at Preston Barassi, who had lost his father during the Second World War, went to study a Diploma of Engineering at Footscray Senior Tech.

“I couldn't handle the freedom at the Senior Tech ... it was like University and it was your own (choice) if you turned up to the class. So I failed my half year exams. I had my first failure at school and Dick Telford (who had also moved from Preston Tech to the Senior Tech) called me into his office one day and pointed out that he had heard that my mother was working two jobs in order to keep me at school. He said, 'What do you think of that Ron?'. That really hit where it hurt. Telford was quite right of course, he did it very well. So I stopped playing chess and table tennis and attended every class and passed all my end of year examinations. So that was a lesson I learnt from a Preston Tech teacher.”

In addition to capturing NMIT's oral history there are many exciting celebration events and activities being considered including:

  • musical events
  • a special centenary graduation ceremony
  • a centenary ambassador program
  • a centenary dinner
  • visual arts and jewellery exhibitions
  • historical mural
  • publications
  • a centenary webpage

Further information about the centenary will be available in the near future on the NMIT website.

For now, any former students or staff from NMIT, Preston or Collingwood Colleges of TAFE (including the Parkville horticulture campus) or Collingwood and Preston Technical Schools interested in submitting their memories to NMIT, participating in the Institute's oral history program or simply being kept up-to-date on the latest centenary plans should register their interest at .


Interview / Photo Opportunity

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 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.

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