37th edition eDIN newsletter, February 2017 now available.
37th edition eDIN newsletter, February 2017 now available.
This month I caught up with Kelly McGregor, Adult English Migrant Program teacher at Wodonga TAFE. This thirty minute session continues my investigation into the CALD further education and employment experience. In this months episode Kelly walks me through the process of arrival and initial integration into local communities undertaken by refugees and migrants. We also cover some of the demographics, common and not so common experiences. Big thanks to Kelly for given me her time and also sharing her valuable insights. Click here to access the audio file.
I attended parliament this week (13th Feb to 16th Feb) as part of the member for Indi, Ms. Cathy McGowen’s volunteering program. In this instance I was primarily invited via the NELLEN group of which I sit on the board of directors. Let me add by way of clarification, I did vote for Ms. McGowen and I have often been an advocate for her and her team and the work they do for the seat of INDI. Having said that, it would be remiss not to mention the other hats that I carry with me during this trip to Canberra. My principle job as the National Disability Coordinator Officer fully encompasses the seat of INDI and there are many community development issues that I seek to investigate where the opportunity arises. I also sit on a number of other boards and committees linked with disability services and Aboriginal communities where complex questions are always in debate. Not sure exactly what I expected before attending but I very much walked away with a new appreciation that good culture trumps strategy every time.
DAY 1– The first part of the morning begins with an early arrival where the place is already humming. With the day breaking I walk through the background of a doorstep interview featuring Senator Mathias Cormann. My first thought; ‘normally I would be eating breakfast and watching ‘sunrise’ not being a prop on the other side of the screen as the sun rises.’
Through security we make our way through the large hallways and meet the wonderful team and are warmly welcomed. An overview of expectations and briefing of the upcoming day helps to settle some nerves and excite the palate. This is quickly followed by the tour of the building by the parliamentary staff which gives gravitas to the atmosphere and energy of the experience of being somewhere meaningful. The occasional passing of a well-known senator or minister only adds to the sensation of feeling influential. The number of little insights re-the architecture and history are too numerous to include here and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise of undertaking the tour yourself. One little tip to share – if you get lost there is always the five dollar note in the pocket to help find my way around.
With the tour complete, it’s down to business. Learning the phones, understanding roles and planning activities. Note one of the harder aspect of the morning is not having a security access card for the first part of the day. This meant having to be escorted by another staff member which leaves one feeling hamstring especially after the initial tour which made one more apt to want to explore further.
Question time comes soon enough. As someone that has previously spent some time watching the televised components of these sessions I was not surprised by the format or processes but one cannot help but view it in different terms given the live ‘performance’ that it is. I make my notes and explore my thoughts as to what this all means in the context of all the hats I bring to the event.
The day continues to flow as we finally receive our access passes. I head back towards our office unconstrained by the company of others for the first time that day. The Senate and house bells chime as the red and green lights of the clocks flash around me. This signals a rush of activity as Senators and members of the lower house rush to find their seats for a division. This occurs at the same time I passed offices of the Liberal party and I am a little taken aback as I passed the Prime Minister and several of his front bench. I smile and try to catch their eyes nodding a polite hello. There is a glint of acknowledgement in their eyes and even a hello smile back from some of them. Regardless of whatever hat I wear, if I had seen myself from outside myself, I would’ve of noticed a definite strut in my walk.
Back at the office we consider our next move through the evening’s program. Having a previous life working as a police officer I’m naturally drawn to the ‘Friends of Police Association’ gathering. This a chance to learn and improve my networking skills I soon find myself excelling at the task although I feel slightly unprepared as I fail to remember the names of some of the attendees who I have seen via various press offerings in the past. As the mixture of Ministers, Senators and Police figures from across the country mingle in the garden of the President suite I am drawn to John Laird from Vic Pol. It was this off chance meeting that gave me some closure from some leftover PTSD still rumbling around from the history of my previous work life. Big thanks John. The significance of the presentation of the united association flag bearing the names of all those officers that have died in the line of duty is not lost upon me having worked along some of those whose names I recognise.
Humbled by the experience, I meet the rest of my group at the other events happening in what seemed all parts of the Parliament grounds. For the rest of the evening my disability hat was clearly visible as I sought connections to the NDCO program from targeted guests and I walked away with several valuable connections. Hope I wasn’t too annoying as I pointed out things like the fact that the house of representatives and the senate both have big steps built into their structure. I long to see the day universal access is considered right at the very top. Do we have to wait for a wheelchair user to reach the front bench? (maybe).
Day 2: Starts with purpose and a clear understanding and expectation of what’s ahead. Lots of thank you cards to be prepared and mailed. Reports from last night’s network meetings to be completed. Administration tasks which leads me to several quests around the building and, one big highlight for me, arranging my own very own ministry meeting for the next day. Preparation for this meeting is punctuated by other small duties followed by a visit to hear business in the House of Representatives, especially the close the gap statement address where I proudly don my Aboriginal hat. Speaking of question time my second day of sitting in on the ‘questions without notice’ brings a strange sensation of déjà vu is the same or very similar questions are asked by the same people with guess what, the same answers or non-answers.
The rest of the afternoon is made up of representing Ms. McGowen at various lobby meetings or briefings. The first of these being a group from e-cigarettes. Whilst I enjoy the process of the networking and use the opportunity to seek insight into the process there is not much to be gained for the time spent, unless you count the unexpected opportunities that just happen. In this instance it was my decision to leave when this opportunity presented itself. As I hurried down the hall I ran into a staffer from Senator Parry’s office, Leanne whom I had met the previous day at the friends of police function. In a setting that sometimes appeared very much corporate it was great to meet someone so generally interested in helping me, not for any other reason than she wanted to help and give me her time and insight. A truly wonderful person that I will never forget. Through this interaction she made me aware of the details and the process on how to make the events happen that I was busily attending. Something very concrete for my many hats to take away as part of the experience of being there.
So off to the next meeting where I meet the most worldly and wise elders of a past era, briefing the Senators and Ministers (and me) about Mawson’s Hut and everything Antarctica.I am not necessarily a celebrity idoliser type of guy but nevertheless was humbled by being surrounded by the most senior of Ministers and Senators, regardless of whether they recognise my input or not. I glance over the shoulder of a front bench Minister who is about to leave. He writes on slip of paper to pass to his colleague and this gives me a real understanding of where the political mind considers issues. In this instance the question to be asked was, ‘where is the money coming from? Make sure they’re not cutting it from the other budget.’ Given the lateness of the day and the dignitaries that surrounded me I do decide not to stay for drinks and nibbles. Sometimes retreat is the better form of valour. After this decision to leave I find myself attending to an overview of the day’s activities and make sure any matters of relevance are distilled and noted for further consultation if required.
The last order of the day is to attend a nearby office for a musical fundraising event. This is where I can relax and the authentic networking happens. Given the fundraiser is an event for mental health I don my disability portfolio hat and firm my links with the host performer.
As the night proceeds there are no hats left to wear. It is just me; son of a hard-working civil servant who would bristle with pride to see his son walking the corridors of Federal Parliament; the brother of four hard-working man cut from the same cloth as their father; and finally, the father of two young boys (men) with whom I can’t wait to share my experiences with. To make them as proud of me as I am of my father. To give them a role model that inspires them to fully participate in a caring community where belonging matters and everyone belongs.
God bless you Cathie for providing the opportunity for me to participate in the journey of INDI and may the cultural change you have brought to this institution grow and last forever, which I am sure it will do.
Big thanks to the following for making this truly wonderful Professional Development opportunity a reality.
Now available at the NDCO region 15 webpage, eDIN 36th edition (January 2017)
Late last year I sat down with Commercial Cookery Teacher and good all round egg Sarah Whitling from Wodonga TAFE to discuss her recent experience working with a group of African students. This recording goes for around 30 minutes and covers a range of topics, challenges and successes as she endeavours to bring new skills to the students, and more importantly, find a meaningful work experience opportunity for them. Please enjoy my first outing in the world of podcasting and a special big thanks to Sarah for letting me pick her brain and sharing her time.
You can download the file from the following link – click where indicated in the appropriate article: http://www.ndcovictoria.net.au/region-15#updates
eDIN newsletter Special end of year edition (#35) – now available
PATHWAYS 13 Conference – Changes, Challenges and Choice.
The Realm Hotel Canberra ACT. 30 November – 2 December 2016
Key takeaway number 1: Acknowledgement of country has now become a standard address by nearly all speakers – however I think this can be better enhanced if more awareness was made of the lands on which we met (Note Canberra, original spelling ‘Koyenberra’ means ‘Meeting place’) – For the record, as mentioned on the http://www.ngunawal.com.au/ website: “The Local Aboriginal people, the Ngunawal, have occupied the area in the vicinity of the present town of Yass which was central to the clan boundaries of the Ngunawal people. The clan boundaries encompassed the area from Goulburn to the north, Gundagai to the west, Cooma to the south and Braidwood to the east.”
MC for the event Genevieve Jacobs.
Opening keynote for the event was Drisana Levitzke-Gray, young Australian of the year.
Her conversation touched on the idea that deafness is not a disability, they are not second class citizens but just speakers of another language. It is estimated that there are 72,000 people with hearing impairment of which 80% are living in developing countries with only 3% receiving bilingual education.
Accessibility versus reasonable accommodation, in my opinion having a teacher that signs as well as speaking gives you full inclusion. We need more teachers that are deaf so we have equal access to the knowledge just not the medium. Examples of after thoughts include, movies on planes that are rarely captioned. This is because accessibility is, in a majority, an after-thought not a preparatory consideration. Or as a keynote speaker Ms Levitzke-Gray indicated that interpreters had not been considered prior to her services being engaged and once highlighted those services have been rejected.
Challenges- Auslan is not universal. We need to be aware of adjustments within the adjustments. The education sector is notoriously difficult for the deaf community. In reality I had to work twice as hard.
Choice/opportunity. We have a great opportunity to make improvements. Reframing our attitudes when it comes to people with disability. Question of choice for deaf babies. The only true disability in life is a bad attitude.
Key takeaway – There is a lack of social supports in the university because interpreters are not provided outside of the classroom. So the deaf community misses out on a crucial part of the university life experience.
Jessica May CEO, enabled employment: https://www.enabledemployment.com/
Whilst they are a for profit organisation they very much have a culture of sharing and collaboration. Size of footprint not an issue as they will cover any area wherever required. The large bank of people registered are categorised by skills and ability. People self-serve access to be part of the program via the website. This program is very much getting noticed domestically and internationally for its ground breaking work. I will be following their progress very closely and will be recommending it as a matter of course.
Key takeaway – If this organisations is winning awards and getting results, what is it that they do different to the DES providers?
David Fintan, Branch Manager, Quality and Access, Department of Education and Training (Federal)
The participation rates in higher education have increased and continue to increase. This includes students with a disability.
This than throws up challenges particularly around financial sustainability. So we need to get the policy settings right. Our department is about getting the system right to meet a myriad of needs. Reforming the higher education reform package, the HEPPP, the NDCO program and the disability support program are all under review and these unknowns should be known next year, so this is a bit of a timing issue. Success rates 5% below par and retention rates 3% below par.
Broadly speaking students with disability are satisfied (but). Graduates with disability, are struggling to find employment (full time). There is a focus that students meet a meaningful outcome so this reality is important. This is where the policy mechanisms really matter.
Re higher education reform generally, ‘drive innovations discussion paper submissions, under considerations ‘ including changes to the DSP.
This is not necessarily just about more money but efficiencies with the money being allocated. This is not just a government problem but a whole of system issue. Some changes indicated, the way the administration process creates inefficiencies, the range of activities that should be available for access, this is really about universal design learning initiatives rather than targeted individual support. We note that this has inherent problems regarding disclosure but also the variance of disability type. But we need to get as close as we can re a formulaic approach. We also note that this is only one mechanism.
Key takeaway – the consultations are a real process and not a tick the box methodology.
Cleveland McGhie. From AIME. (Non transcripted)
“AIME is a dynamic educational program that is proven to support Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education at the same rate as all Australian students. AIME gives Indigenous students the skills, opportunities, belief and confidence to grow and succeed.”
Aboriginal Power within is infinite. Positive relationships empowering students to be more responsible for their learning.
The education sector (along with everything else) is evolving. But without sustainable support mechanisms this evolution can’t last.
AIME, is about building positive relationships to empower and inspire indigenous young people.
Using his own story to inspire other ATSI students, “I was disengaged, in trouble, and I didn’t see a future for school in my life. What I did have is commitment to sport. I started AIME as a participant and then decided to investigate a possible apprenticeship- plumbing (because it paid the most). I continued onto year 11 and 12 and took control of schooling journey. I did receive a contract to play with, train with Canberra Raiders junior program, which brought me to Canberra. I did go to university, the first person in my family. I did defer and took on a position with AIME, to give back to the program that changed my life. But it wasn’t the construct of the program it was that one mentor that authentically inspired me. This power of a true relationship is much more important than any technology.”
Mr. McGhie went on to talk about his experience as being a mentor. The story of Jay boy, with the takeaway message, is find the positive. The power within is infinite and tunes any other support mechanism.
Q & A: What is the ratio of mentors to participants, what role does culture play in the mentoring program, is there a way to replicate this in other programs. Note, not necessarily indigenous mentors. Large numbers of mentorees can be done, because there is a set program, that are structured
Note many stories on the AIME web page.
Key takeaway – The most powerful support mechanism is self-support and the power of the individual. Follow up required with local Universities in my region and promoting where applicable.
Job access has been revamped. Consultation process was undertaken and the revamped information portal now stands as the result. The national hub for workplace and employment information for people with disability, employers and service provides. These include design considerations, in particular for people with autism. Note the categories, PWD, EMPLOYERS, and SERVICE PROVIDERS.
There is also a feedback mechanism so that continual improvement is a reality. There is an assumption that it works if people don’t tell us otherwise. Try the search function!!
Note that there are CALD specifics. If you can’t find what you want you can default to the JobAccess advice service. The employment assistance fund does have an easy to follow flow chart. Other features include –
Complaints resolution and referral service and a National disability abuse and neglect hotline.
Key takeaway – Information sheets. Ten new sheets a must checkout. Perfect for career advice offices or information spaces such as Skills and Jobs Centres.
Jackie French. Author. Why every person can read. Why every person must read.
Books matter- they engage people in life. The impact of poor literacy from a lifestyle point of view and social point of view. It has real flow on effects to all community engagement services. Type of dyslexia.
A major problem can be the ‘snake Oli’ schemes or treatments. I find this similar to the Autism sector where the reality is about living with the issue not trying to cure something that isn’t necessarily curable.
Key takeaway – Do not give false hope.
Leanne Cover, showcasing the student experience at CIT. (Canberra Institue of technology. Tafe Canberra)
Movement to funding only on completion. Where does the disability services fit within a competency based system? Note that we should have a focus on strengths and we need whole of life considerations. Encouragement towards independence but individual supports are always in the background. Use of accessibility resources mentioned.
Key takeaway – Professional development is a priority underpinned by universal design for teachers making sure we capture those that non-disclosure.
Craig Hamilton – ABC. BECOMING RESPONSIBLE FOR IMPROVING OUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH.
…Easier said than done. When you are in the grip of an episode you cannot be self-responsible. You need external help. Mr. Hamilton went into his own journey of mental health; a journey to reduce the stigma of mental illness. People will think what they want. That is not my issue. Education and awareness is part of that and hence my current role as an advocate and a speaker. When I was well I needed to make some changes to ensure that I have better control in the future to avoid the episodes where possible. I have the Craig stay well plan and it goes like this. (I am not a mental health expert but I am a Craig Hamilton expert).
You learn a lot things, like who your friends are.
I need to walk the talk. Quote, “our lives begin to end when we remain silent about things that matter.” MARTIN Luther King.
Key takeaway – Having a management plan matters.
The day started with a Lifelong members induction to ATEND – the facilitators of the event. Please refer to day 2 transcript for details or visit the ATEND webpage.
Matt Brett. Senior manager HE, La Trobe University.
25 years of a ‘fair chance for all.’ Celebrating progress amid unfinished business.
101, 600 students with disability attending university versus 60,019 = students disclosing disability at enrolment.
Where is our focus? Particular mention of the ‘fair chance for all’ book which has been the go to book for government. But we need to reframe the discussions.
Strategies used to achieve better inclusion rates:
Mention – a framework for promoting student mental wellbeing in universities. A participation focus gives insufficient focus on outcomes.
Stats, 16% have experienced discrimination. 12 months. 23% indicated lecturer as the source and is the highest sector for discrimination overall.
Why measurements matters. Because funding matters.
Key takeaway – A fair chance for all exerted significant influence. It is time to move beyond the framework. We need better data and we need a stronger focus on outcomes.
Natalie Collins. Media Access Australia. The digital accessibility path to inclusive learning. (Non transcripted)
How accessible is your learning resources or portals?
What are some of the adjustments currently? Note taking, captioning, interpreting, audio books and large print…
What students need?
Do I need to audit and rate?
SO what is the pathway?
The Deakin university pathway. Media access is working with them. Setting up the digital accessibility project. Note the appointment of a dedicated project manager.
Digital accessibility maturity assessment. (DAMA) scorecard.
Video accessibility assessment. Where and how material is created and the options for catering.
Key takeaway – Note the resources available at their website. Especially the one for students.
Jim Sprialis from Sonocent (Non transcripted)
Digitising note taking accommodations. Sonocent is only a small part when you consider text help and dragon for example.
Better notes lead to better grades.
Note taking is a highly complex task. Not easy for everyone and there are a number of additions that make it even harder, e.g. anxiety & dyslexia.
Note taking is one of the biggest concern for a student with disability.
Note taking is most effective when done independently.
Capture / annotate / review /’engage. These are the manageable steps.
Note the importance of the highlighting facilities embedded which encourages active listening. I highly encourage checking out the video demonstration.
KEY takeaway – Sonocent will be pushing their marketing campaign into the east coast starting early next year – this includes Melbourne and surrounds.
Shaun Corcoran. Kangan BRIT. Is this the right time for you to study? The collision of external services and student supports. (Non transcripted)
Myriad of support services which can actually hinder not help. When s/he arrives at the RTO does s/he know what s/he really wants? This is a complex framework and the issues are often complex and diverse. What can we do to simplify or wipe away the complexity?
Whilst education is a critical right to a good life, sometimes we have to question whether education is in fact coming in at the right time given other circumstances, by accepting them and offering them a further layer of supports are we just making things more complex and difficulty. In the myriad of this where is the person’s goal? You need to reflect on your practise. Where can we respond and we’re is a response really needed?
KEY takeaway – The importance institutes need to place on the WHY question of engaging in the education or training.
Strengths 4 Success. Tania Willis ANU and Sue Hancock (Non transcripted)
Journey toward excellence. A pilot program to engage students with each other to enhance a sense of belonging within the institute.
What motivates you?
The program focusing on strengths although we do acknowledge weaknesses.
What happens when we focus on what is right with people rather than what is wrong with them?
The greatest impact appears to be for STEM students re the total level of campus engagement.
“It is okay to do what you want to do until you discover what you were meant to do” from the Rookie.
Sue Hancock, talked about the delivery of the 5, 2 hour workshops re discovering top 5 talents. 40 minutes for test and provides a report.
KEY takeaway – Creating a sense of belonging – matters. Right from the outset.
Marine Hughes Warrington ANU. Universal Design Education
“I have come to the ends of so many old things…” Is education enabling or disabling.
Why is it that all the education spaces love steps with the single person out the front talking?
Higher education spaces are not disability friendly. And more so, able bodied students are not using the space.
This is not the lecturer’s fault (it’s in their name) they are just doing what they have also been doing. Things have changed, the access to the web has changed all.
Dis aggregation and disintermediation. E.g. Khan Academy – accessible when I want and what I want.
The greatest challenge of education is not to be defined by who we do not teach.
The question of badges, block chains and lecturers becoming facilitators of information not repositories.
KEY takeaway – the disruption to the education sector has already commenced. Finding the balance over the next decade will be a challenge.
Michele Fleming – ANU
High rate of disability in this cohort. Noting the underestimate of proper data figures. Aboriginal people with disability has been described as having a double disadvantage.
Higher education statistics.
Health sector qualifications most popular.
Relatively small proportion of ATSI with disability being represented.
KEY takeaway – Are we doing our best?
David Miller, ACT Government policy in VET sector.
Overview of current statistics. Main reason for students with disability undertaking the training.
Key takeaway – The inevitable push that will be placed on University to secure employment outcomes as part of the program delivery.
Leona Holloway. Access to graphics by vision impaired students, Monash Uni. (Non transcripted)
OLT study. Vision impairment
National survey and interviews with students followed by pilot studies and workshops.
Best practise principles, key points.
Key takeaway – mention of the http://accessiblegraphics.org/. Includes notation of GravVITAS. GraVVITAS is short for Graphics Viewer using Vibration Interactive Touch and Speech. GraVVITAS is a multi-modal presentation device that uses touch screen and haptic feedback technologies to give blind people access to graphics. Follow-up investigation required.
Anita Raftey, North Coast Institute of TAFE. Reaching for the cloud: can cloud based software, and Google environments assiststudents who have a disability?
Mention of the read write gold product. Having an institute wide product is probably preferred. Note that universal design approach and bridging the gap of disclosure. Note that the product is only as good as the marketing to support the use of the product. Eg good for CALD, indigenous etc.
Look for a license that also has a take home version.
Note the ease of transition as local schools were already using google classroom technology.
Key takeaway – Note the sandpit session concept, how can we extend this so that various stakeholders across various environments meet together, eg high schools, TAFE, Uni’, and build a better understanding of what will best suit future students. Working outside or own spaces.
Big thanks to all the organisers. Great to catch-up with so many dedicated hard working people. I even feel like I sort of belong.
Special mention goes to Greg O’Conner and Barbara from Texthelp who help guide me through their product and providing me with a tool to help one of my children. Can’t thank you enough.
Note that not all areas or topics presented at the conference have been covered by the above notes – please refer to the Pathways webpage for more information or: as displayed on the ADCET webpage: Monday 5 December, 2016: PRESENTATIONS WILL BE UPLOADED AS SOON AS WE RECEIVE THEM.