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New Educational Initiative for Public Housing Tenants

13 Jul 2007

Public housing tenants in the northern suburbs of Melbourne are receiving training in aged care under a new educational initiative by the Victorian Government.

As part of a Public Tenants' Employment Program first introduced in November 2004 by the Government's Department of Human Services, 15 long-term unemployed tenants are studying Certificate III in Aged Care at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT).

Victorian Minister for Housing, Richard Wynne, said that the Public Tenants' Employment Program was an initiative that aimed to develop opportunities for public tenants to get work and training.

'The training is designed to address the tenants' disadvantage and provide them with a formal qualification to enhance their employment opportunities,' Mr Wynne said.

'Employment was a key factor in assisting people out of disadvantage by providing them with an income for their material needs as well as helping boost their sense of self-worth and confidence.

'Since 2005, the program has employed nearly 200 tenants, including 52 in traineeships and apprenticeships,' he said.

DHS Public Tenants' Employment Program Manager, Anne Minos approached NMIT to deliver the training in aged care as it was 'an area of need with many employment opportunities and at a good entry level of training.

'It's a good, solid qualification that's nationally accredited and can provide a good pathway into employment and/or further study.

'NMIT can offer flexibility in training to cater for a range of different people, some of whom had not studied for several years.'

The 15 tenants, with 30-40 per cent male and aged from 20 years through to those in their 50s and from ethnically diverse backgrounds, had applied to undertake the training after the DHS advertised it to them.

The training started in July and runs for six months at NMIT's Preston campus which includes three full days as well as a five-week industry placement.

With NMIT's modern training facilities, students will gain practical experience and their knowledge and skills will be assessed in a range of different ways including practical demonstrations.

NMIT Aged Care Program Coordinator Sam Spadafora said training also included role plays and case studies as well as theory.

'We are sensitive to and aware that some of the people need support services through their training in areas such as literacy and just returning to study. Interviews were conducted with the tenants to ascertain their individual needs and strategies were implemented to assist them.'

Sam added that many participants would be able to draw on their life experiences and in some cases, their experience as carers, to help them get through the course.

Anne said DHS staff would consult with the tenants every two or three weeks during the training to ensure they were coping and in attendance.

DHS in conjunction with NMIT, would also be assisting the tenants in their transition from study to employment.

'The training will help prepare them for employment as it requires that they get up on time to attend classes as well as adhering to a routine and a time-table. It will help introduce them to a workplace culture.'

She added there would also be support during employment

Anne said the Public Tenants Employment Program was first introduced as DHS recognised the profound levels of disadvantage many public tenants experienced.

'Many have lacked access to educational opportunities and don't have the qualifications and skills to compete in the marketplace which is compounded by a lack of self-esteem and confidence that comes with being long-term unemployed.'

The first national conference on Public Tenants Employment Programs would be held in Melbourne on Friday 21 September.


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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.