By RON BROADHEAD*
THIRTY-ONE local learning and employment networks were created across Victoria in 2001 and 2002 as one of the recommendations of the Kirby Report on Post Compulsory Education and Training in Victoria.
Northern Mallee LLEN came into being as a not-for-profit incorporated association in May 2001.
NMLLEN creates partnerships with schools, employers, local government and community organisations to strengthen pathways for young people leading to further education, training and employment.
There are over 4000 students enrolled in secondary schools across the Mildura LGA.
Some of the key partnerships NMLLEN has either created or played a major role since 2008 include:
• Created a partnership of 12 local secondary schools and a successful application for $12.8m to construct the Deakin and Riverside Trade Training Centres as part of the Mildura Region Trade Training Centre.
• Partnership with the Victorian Skills Commissioner (Neil Coulson) to link local industry and schools to better align school pathways and promote the local and regional employment opportunities.
• Working with employers and schools to run the Structured Workplace Learning Program where young people at school can undertake a work placement related to their VET studies.
• Supporting schools with School-Industry activities such as Industry Tours, Industry guest speakers and a range of Work Readiness programs.
• Securing the Navigator contract to provide intensive case management support for young people disengaging from schools across the Mallee in partnership with Mildura Rural City Council (MRCC) and Murray Mallee LLEN to link them back into education.
• Secure and implement the Youth Partnership initiative which saw the introduction of Flexible Learning Options (FLO) at five local secondary schools which was designed to provide a mix of curriculum and project based options for ‘at risk of disengaging’ young people at schools.
• A partnership with Schools, Red Cliffs S.C.,MRCC and DET Regional Office that secured funding to establish FLO Connect (an Alternative Education Setting) in the Mildura CBD for young people who had been out of education as an opportunity to reconnect with education.
• In conjunction with MRCC, advocate for the establishment of headspace in Mildura.
• In conjunction with SuniTAFE, schools, industry and MRCC advocate the need for a Tech School (Technology School) in Mildura as a hub for secondary students to access STEM resources and their application in local industry eg Ag Tech.
As an Incorporated Association NMLLEN holds an annual general meeting for its members but is also open to the general public.
NMLLEN has invited a wide range of guest speakers to Mildura to provide insights into key issues impacting on young people.
Some of these guest speakers have included Rosie Batty AO (2015 Australian of the Year), Neil Coulson (Victorian Skills Commissioner), Wendy Mc Carthy AO (Chair Headspace 2008-16), Emeritus Professor John Halsey author of the Independent Report on Regional, Rural and Remote Education (Flinders University).
I wish to also acknowledge and thank the Victorian Dept. of Education and Training for the funding of NMLLEN and LLENs in general for the important roles they play in their respective communities across Victoria.
NMLLEN has been very fortunate in being able to attract committed and effective board members from its member organisations across school principals, SuniTAFE, La Trobe University, MADEC, employers and a range of community organisations.
They have provided the strategic direction and guidance as well as the governance for NMLLEN. They have also been an immense support for the NMLLEN executive officer and staff since NMLLEN commenced. NMLLEN would not have been able to achieve its success without the passion and commitment of all its board members who do so voluntarily.
During my time as executive officer I would especially wish to acknowledge the vital role of the chairs and executive committee members in the success of NMLLEN and in particular the chairs Anne Mansell, Fiona Harley OAM and Gary Simpson.
NMLLEN is proud of the role it has played and will continue to play in creating partnerships to improve opportunities for young people across our region. The future of our region is very much dependent on the education, skilling and providing pathways to local employment for our young people.
They are our future.
* Ron Broadhead is the long-time NMLLEN executive officer who last week announced his retirement.