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Author: kristie

At CCG, we believe that an educated community is a strong community. We celebrate this sentiment, and the life of former Board Member Terrylene Marks, with the annual presentation of the Community Builder Award.

Introduced by the Board of Community College Gippsland, this prestigious award honours Terry’s outstanding community building work and her tireless promotion of education for all in her community. It is a tribute to Terry’s dedication to supporting her community to thrive through learning – a passion she pursued right up to her passing in 2021.

It is awarded to an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the community of Community College Gippsland, or the broader community, and celebrates those who value education and equity for all. 

The 2022 winner of the Community Builder Award is Luana Brock, who perfectly personifies the transformative power of education for all.

Photo: CCG Board Chair, Marianne Shearer, award winner Luana Brock with Terry’s son, Russell Dow and daughter Sheralee Dow.
This award was sponsored by CCG Board.

Luana has made significant contributions to both CCG and the broader community.

In her work with CCG, she ensures that our Learn Local program is inclusive and inspiring. She helps to develop foundation level courses that help people build skills for work and life in a friendly and supportive environment.

Beyond the classroom she volunteers her time to create opportunities for people who are often excluded from participation. She works with a local disability service to provide theatre classes for people with disabilities, as well as coordinating the Drouin and District Netball All Abilities Association (learn more about Luana’s involvement in All Abilities Netball: watch the Better Homes and Garden’s feature on Luana) .

Through these volunteer roles, Luana has not only impacted the lives of the participants, but also their families and the community at large. Her contribution shows the enormous value in embracing people for who they are and believing in their potential. Her work has helped to create a more inclusive, equitable, healthy and joyful community.

Tuesday 29 November was a night of celebration, with students from ECG Secondary College and Community College Gippsland coming together in recognition of outstanding achievement.

Thirteen student awards were announced in eight categories, followed by the presentation of the CCG Community Builder Award.

ECG Secondary College


Community Builder Award

ECG Secondary College

Overall Achievement

Kasey Dunn
Leongatha Campus

Kasey is an exceptional young person who, in spite of being faced with great adversity this year, has completed both her Intermediate and Senior VCAL certificates in 2022. This is an enormous achievement, and a great credit to her character. In addition to her schooling effort, Kasey is dedicated to helping others. She has taken on an ambassador role with Headspace, and employment as a nanny while completing her studies. Kasey has been a very valuable member of our school and a positive role model for other students in showing what is possible.

Photo: ECG College Lead Teacher, John Barrow and student Kasey Dunn. This award was sponsored by TAFE Gippsland.

Calina Dechezeaux
Pakenham Campus

Calina has overcome significant challenges in her life to not only complete her Senior VCAL, but achieve a truly excellent result. Her calm, positive and friendly demeanor and outstanding contributions to the school community have made Calina a joy to have in the school. With her commitment to achieving her goals and never give up attitude, we know that she will be successful at all that she turns her hand to. We can’t wait to see what the next chapter has in store.

Photo: ECG College Lead Teacher, John Barrow, student Calina Dechezeaux, and 2021-2022 Board Cadet Jared Slater. This award was sponsored by the CCG Board Cadet Program.

Jessie Francis
Warragul Campus

Jessie has shown great persistence in his schooling. He has overcome significant barriers to pursue his education, including huge travel distances, a lack of public transport and Internet coverage – so critical for student success in recent years. In spite of these challenges, Jessie has always worked to the best of his ability, and shown kindness, respect and acceptance to all in the school. It has been a pleasure to see Jessie grow in confidence.

This award was sponsored by Gippsland Forest Masonic Lodge

Attendance and Engagement

Natasha Pavloff
Warragul Campus

Since commencing with ECG, Tash has shown incredible consistency in her attendance, participating enthusiastically even when she is the only student in the classroom. Her engagement is exemplary, and in group projects, Tash has paved the way for other students, encouraging and motivating them to get involved. This year, Tash commenced a Structured Workplace Learning Placement at Little Saints Early Learning Centre. The staff were so impressed with her performance and initiative that she will continue on to a school-based traineeship there in 2023.

Photo: ECG College Lead Teacher, John Barrow, student Natasha Pavloff and award sponsor, Heath Jones of Warragul Country Club.

Jakeb Taylor-Smith
Leongatha Campus

Jake is the kind of student who makes our school a better place. He not only participates wholeheartedly himself, but also creates a safe space for others to step outside of their comfort zones and join in on the activities. Jake will always help out anyone in need, and the first to provide a hand when needed. In his time at ECG, he has consistently achieved his goals, finishing this year with his Senior VCAL, driver’s licence and employment.

Photo: ECG College Lead Teacher, John Barrow, student Jakeb Taylor-Smith and award sponsor, Chris Drennen of BD Legal. 

Asharnti Barnes
Pakenham Campus

Of all the students at Pakenham Campus, Asharnti has been a stand-out in her commitment to learning. She is not just on time, but early to class. On the very rare occasion that her attendance was disrupted, Asharnti would always let the team know why she could not be there. Her dedication and professional approach has served her well not only in the classroom, but also at Limebox Café, where Asharnti has been completing a school-based apprenticeship. Asharnti is friendly, passionate, accepting and an excellent baker. The College doesn’t feel the same when she is not around.

Photo: ECG College Lead Teacher, John Barrow, student Asharnti Barnes and award sponsor, Chris Drennen of BD Legal.

Most Improved

Ronald Kamoen
Warragul Campus

Ronnie is an exceptional young person who has overcome the odds to create great opportunity in his life. In order to attend school at ECG, Ronnie has needed to live independently from his parents to overcome the barrier of distance. This has involved periods of couch surfing and navigating adult milestones to access the support he needed. In spite of these huge challenges, Ronnie is an incredibly optimistic and generous person who continuously makes the world a better place through his actions. He has raised funds for charity, organised a beach clean-up and taken on a Structured Workplace Learning Placement with Berry Street. The team was so impressed that they are looking for opportunities to employ him next year. We are so proud of you, Ronnie.

Photo: ECG College Lead Teacher, John Barrow, student Ronald Kamoen and award sponsor, Heath Jones of Warragul Country Club.

Isabella Hockley
Leongatha Campus

When Bella first came to ECG, her mental health made attending and engaging difficult. Over time, with the support of the ECG team, Bella has made enormous progress against her personal and academic goals. She has gone from being unable to attend, to attending with a support person, to attending independently. This demonstrates enormous personal growth and a willingness to move beyond her comfort zone. It has been a joy to watch Bella bloom and become fully engaged in the classroom.

Photo: ECG College Lead Teacher, John Barrow, student Isabella Hockley and Chris Drennen, presenting on behalf of award sponsor Traffic Technique.

Mitchell Susac
Pakenham Campus

In just two years, Mitchell has evolved enormously at ECG. He has overcome personal challenges to grow into a student who demonstrates maturity, commitment and initiative. Mitchell has progressed from a modified timetable to a full-time study load and taken on new academic goals in the subjects he finds most difficult. We have been particularly impressed with the way that Michell has proactively assessed his learning and asked for specific tasks that will bring him closer to his aspiration of working full-time in mechanics. We know he can do anything he puts his mind to.

Photo: ECG College Lead Teacher, John Barrow, student Mitchell Susac and Chris Drennen, presenting on behalf of award sponsor Traffic Technique.

Baw Baw Shire Education Sponsorship Award

Starr McGee

Adversity and setbacks are part of life, but it is how we respond to those setbacks that sets us apart. This year, Starr McGee broke her ankle – an event that would have meant a major setback for many students. But for Starr, it brought out her determination and strength of character.

Starr demonstrates all of the skills and attributes of leadership and works with intention and purpose. When a challenge arises, she does not get overwhelmed, but remains focused on the goal, readjusting her timeline and drawing others in for support. She is also a great motivator and inspiration for her fellow students.

Starr has a clear career path and has enrolled in a Creative Writing course next year with the plan to pursue a career in teaching. She is a very worthy recipient of the Baw Baw Shire award and we are so proud of the person she has become.

Photo: ECG College Lead Teacher, John Barrow, student Starr McGee and Mayor McCabe of Baw Baw Shire Council.


Trainee of the Year

McKenzie Tingay

Certificate III in School-Based Education Support

McKenzie has been totally dedicated to her course since the start of the year. Her attitude towards learning is exceptional, and she is a great influence on other trainees in her workplace. She consistently goes above and beyond when demonstrating her practical skills. Her written work is detailed and considered, with evidence of further research.

In the workplace, she is friendly, approachable, adaptable, respectful and patient. It is no surprise that her teachers enjoy the tone she brings to the classroom, supporting the students with a kind but firm approach. We know that McKenzie will go far, and positively change many lives along the way.

Photo: CCG Director of Education and Training, Julie Dennis, student McKenzie Tingay and award sponsor, Heath Jones of Warragul Country Club.

Classroom Student of the Year

Alison Hardy

Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care

Alison joined CCG as a mature-age student, taking a leap of faith to follow her life-long passion for nurturing and educating children. She demonstrated great dedication to this pursuit, leaving her secure retail position to take on a casual role at Waterford Rise Early Learning Centre. Her work ethic, passion and ability to build relationships with the children saw her quickly become a valued member of the team.

Alison managed to complete her classes, assessments and placements while working nearly every day. She also impressed our trainers with her interest in authentically embedding the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures into children’s learning programs – we know any service lucky enough to have Alison will benefit greatly from her passion.

VETDSS Student of the Year

Kayla Hardy

Certificate II in Salon Assistant

Kayla came to CCG one day per week as part of her secondary school program. She was very passionate about hairdressing and eager to learn, always seeking constructive feedback about how she could improve her skills. Kayla was a great contributor to class discussions and consistently went above and beyond to help others.

She absolutely thrived in the CCG Salon and always had a positive impact in the classroom. In a testament to her capabilities, Kayla has now taken up an apprenticeship with a local salon in Warragul where she will flourish with her natural talent and flair for hairdressing.

Drop in to our Warragul Campus to learn more about what is on offer, from our pre-accredited programs to our nationally recognized courses.

Our team will be on hand to chat to you about your options and answer any questions you might have about student life at CCG.

Open Day Sessions:

  • Tuesday 13 December , 11am – 6pm
  • Monday 16 January, 11am – 6pm 

Warragul Campus, 71 Korumburra-Warragul Road

Start exploring our courses now:

A brand new schooling option will be available for local secondary students in 2023, with the introduction of the Victorian Pathways Certificate (VPC) at ECG Secondary College.

The new curriculum is specifically designed for secondary school students aged 15 and over who are not ready or able to complete the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE).

The VPC will replace the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) and give students an alternate pathway into the new hands-on VCE Vocational Major, further training or employment.

ECG Secondary College Principal, Katy Grandin, said that the VPC is critical for ensuring that students didn’t fall between the cracks of our education system.

“The Victorian Pathway Certificate is a really great option for a lot of our young people,” Katy said. “It is inclusive, flexible and engaging, designed for students who are at risk of disengaging from education.

“They may have felt disconnected because they needed additional support in the classroom, the ability to learn at their own pace, or missed a lot of school due to things like anxiety or illness. The VPC gives these students an accessible way to learn and progress towards their goals.”

According to Katy, the VPC shifts the focus from academic achievements to real world skills for life and work, while keeping the door open for students to progress to VCE.

“The VPC includes literacy and numeracy, but also work-related skills and personal development skills,” Katy explains. “Students can also study vocational qualifications, VCE units or even spend some time in a workplace as part of their learning. The curriculum is customised for each student.”

The new curriculum option is being introduced from January but will not be available at all schools. ECG Secondary College is excited to be offering this opportunity to our young people.

“We are encouraging students and families who may be interested in the VPC to reach out now, to learn more about the study options and see if it is the right fit for them,” Katy said. “Our numbers are limited, so we want to make sure that the students who really need us have the opportunity to learn in a location where they can thrive.”

For more information on the VPC, contact ECG Secondary College on 5622 6000, or visit

Local education and training organisation Community College Gippsland (CCG) has announced the appointment of Dale Gemmell to the role of CEO.

CCG Board Chair, Mrs Marianne Shearer, said the move heralded an exciting new chapter for the organisation, which has well over 40 years of history in the region.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dale on board,” Mrs Shearer said. “Over the last 12 months, CCG has focused on developing strategies that position us to deliver on our purpose – positively changing lives and enhancing social inclusion through education and training.

“Dale has significant experience in implementing strategy and driving innovation. His skills, knowledge and dynamic approach will be invaluable in harnessing our organisation’s innovative thinking and energy to reach our goals.”

Dale brings over 12 years of experience in the education and training sector to the role, as well as expertise in effective leadership, financial management, stakeholder relations and funding acquisition.

“This varied skill set, familiarity with the sector and previous work with complex cultural, corporate, highly regulated and not-for-profit organisations has perfectly prepared Dale to succeed as CEO.
We know he will drive even more positive change for the benefit of our community,” Mrs Shearer said.

Having grown up in Gippsland, Dale also has the benefit of local knowledge, so important in regional areas.

“I was born and raised here,” said Dale. “My background has given me a passion for both the region and for the transformative power of education. I am a real advocate for the not-for-profit sector, and the power we have in supporting those that may be facing barriers to achieve great outcomes like meaningful employment.

“I am delighted to be joining CCG. I am looking forward to working with the entire team and our industry stakeholders to build on CCG’s existing reputation of delivering quality education outcomes for all.”

Thank you, friends! With your support, we have raised $1,475 towards the development of our outdoor sensory spaces. With one month left to go on the fundraiser, we hope to hit the target of $5000 and kickstart this important project.

The initiative aims to provide a safe space for ECG Secondary College students to retreat when they are feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated or anxious. A space is planned for each ECG College campus, at Warragul, Leongatha and Pakenham.

Kirstin Fox, Chair of the CCG Philanthropic Fund Committee said, “We are really excited about creating inclusive, purpose-built spaces where our students can recover from sensory overload so that they can return to learning.

“We are so grateful to each of our donors for helping us make this possible. Every dollar goes towards creating what will be a valued resource for student wellbeing, and great tool for our teaching staff.”

Katy Grandin, Principal of ECG Secondary College said that a project like this takes many hands to deliver.

“We are so pleased to see our community stepping in to help make it happen,” Katy said. ““It has been wonderful to see Bunnings Wonthaggi lend a hand, donating plants and timber towards our local space.” 

A separate sensory space will be designed for each campus, developed over time to reflect the individual needs of each site and school community. According to Katy, the impact of these spaces cannot be underestimated.

“Having a therapeutic space where students can restore a sense of calm and re-engage in learning has never been more important,” Katy said. “So many students – particularly in a school like ours – are needing that extra support to thrive.”

This sentiment is backed up by research, with a recent ABS study of Mental Health and Wellbeing revealing that almost two in five people aged 16-24 had a mental health disorder, with anxiety being the most common.

“The past few years have had the additional stressors of the pandemic, with many students impacted by distance learning and lock downs,” Katy said. “Returning to some kind of post-COVID normal has come with a variety of challenges for students. During times of anxiety or distress, we really hope to see these sensory spaces become a resource for each of our campuses.”

According to Katy, the teachers, wellbeing team, students and volunteers will all be involved in bringing each space to life.

“It truly is a team effort, and we are excited for our school community to help us bring the vision to life as funding becomes available,” she said. “We are so grateful to the donors who believe that together we can make a difference in combating youth mental health. This project demonstrates the real desire of CCG and ECG College staff to build resilience in new and innovative ways.”

Please consider donating to help us reach a milestone target of $5,000. Be quick! The appeal closes on September 30.

A unique opportunity is now open for people who want to learn how to be an effective Board Member while contributing to the board of a successful not-for-profit organisation.

Community College Gippsland (CCG), a local education and training provider, is reopening the Cadet Director Observer Program for applications. The innovative program enables two new people to join a 12-month director development series, which provides an introduction to key aspects of the organisation’s board through deep-dive sessions, participation in monthly meetings and invitations to join specialist sub-committees.

Board Chair, Marianne Shearer, said that it was important to build the skills of future leaders in Gippsland.

“Here at CCG, we are all about building skills, knowledge and experience to help people and communities thrive – we wanted that to extend all the way to the Board,” Ms Shearer said. “The cadet program provides a rare opportunity for people to participate in a fully-supported way.”

2021-2022 cadet, Jared Slater, said the program was a professional development opportunity like no other.

“The Cadet program is a unique experience, and one that very few organisations make available,” Mr Slater said. “You get to learn how boards operate from highly diverse, skilled and professional directors, in an organisation that makes a real, tangible difference in people’s lives. That’s quite an amazing opportunity.

“I went in with high hopes, but the experience offered so much more than I thought,” he said. “I found myself learning at every stage of the journey. It really helped me understand the role and responsibilities of a board director, and affirmed how I could use the skills I learnt to contribute in the future.”

For fellow 2021-2022 cadet, Marie Downie, the pull was personal as well as professional.

“The opportunity really stood out to me for two reasons,” Ms Downie explained. “Firstly, the Cadet program gives you the rare opportunity to build practical experience on a Board in a supported way. Secondly, my own career started with training at an RTO just like CCG, and the idea of being able to contribute to an organisation like that really appealed to me.” 

Now an experienced professional in her field, Ms Downie was looking for ways to share her skills and knowledge, as well as continue her own learning.

“I was interested in joining a Board but would not have applied for a Director position, because I wasn’t sure that I had enough experience to deliver to their expectations and I wasn’t sure if it was the right fit for me,” Ms Downie said.

For those who are considering applying for the program, both cadets agree that you should not hesitate.

“Do it,” Ms Downie said. “The impact has been huge, personally and professionally. It has been an amazing experience, and I can’t speak highly enough about it.”

“I would absolutely encourage others to take part,” Mr Slater agreed. “Jump in and have a go. You won’t regret it.”

Expressions of interest for the cadet program are open until Monday 5 September 2022. Adults of all ages are welcome. People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those who have experience with disability are encouraged to apply.

Each year in August, senior secondary students across Gippsland make plans to supercharge their studies through the VDSS program. 

VDSS stands for ‘Vocational Education and Training Delivered to Secondary Students’. It’s a hands-on program designed to give secondary students a head-start in life by completing a nationally recognised qualification while still attending school.

For former VDSS student, Rachael Lawry, it was an opportunity too good to miss.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career when I was in school, but my Dad encouraged me to complete a business qualification because he thought it would be a good addition to my resume,” Rachael said.

“The course covered lots of skills that are useful in any role, like communication, teamwork and customer service.”

While Rachael didn’t go on to work in business, the experience of studying gave her the confidence to take on a higher-level qualification when she decided to pursue a career as a personal carer.

“I felt really good about returning to CCG because I really liked the learning environment,” Rachael said. “The classes are small, you get a lot of support from the trainers and they have such great professional experience to share. The training really prepares you to succeed in the industry.”

Rachael went on to complete two additional qualifications – Certificate III in Individual Support and Certificate IV in Disability. She is now employed in work she loves, providing aged care and home care.

“If someone was considering VDSS, I’d tell them to do it!” Rachael encourages. “It’s great to leave school with further qualifications. It can help you a lot, and you have nothing to lose.”

VDSS Manager for CCG, Gordon Talty agrees. “There are so many benefits to completing a qualification while still in school,” Gordon said.

“Not only does it boost your resume, but it gives you an opportunity to try out potential careers before you commit to a particular pathway. You can build the skills and knowledge that employers look for and experience an adult learning environment.”    

VDSS students attend classes at Community College Gippsland on a Wednesday or Friday and participate in their regular school program for the rest of the week. VDSS courses include Community Services, Horticulture, Retail Cosmetics, Salon Assistant and Workplace Skills, all at Certificate II level.

One of the few bright spots of COVID has been the development of new skilled workers for Latrobe Regional Hospital.

The month of May saw five trainees complete their qualification in medical administration with Community College Gippsland (CCG), with all five receiving offers of further employment in the medical industry.

The trainees were brought on in 2021 to support the important work of the Gippsland Regional Public Health Unit (GRPHU) in responding to the pandemic.

Michelle Papp, who is employed in Workforce Development at the GRPHU, said that the partnership with CCG made a challenging time a little easier.

“The trainees were employed in a range of roles, assisting with the vaccine rollout, contact tracing, pop-up clinics, home deliveries and logistics,” Michelle said. “It has been a very fast-paced and constantly changing environment.

“We were so thankful to be working with Community College Gippsland to build the skills of our trainees throughout this time. The trainer, Robbie, was so responsive to our needs, adapting the course to be suitable to our workforce needs and pivoting to online learning to keep the students on track during lockdowns.”

For Michelle, having a local training provider was really important.

“Having Community College Gippsland just up the highway is so convenient,” she said. “Our trainer has been able to come to the hospital and provide the customised training on-site for us. We have been able to develop a great relationship and work alongside one another to get the best results out of our team.”

With the current trainees graduating, plans are underway to enrol another trainee in Certificate III in Business Administration (Medical).

“The health industry is always looking for talented new staff and this is a great way to keep building the skill set of our team over time,” Michelle said. “We have been 100% delighted with the results we have been able to achieve with CCG.”

For CCG CEO, Sue Geals, the partnership with the GRPHU was a great example of Gippslanders working together.

“We really love supporting local organisations to thrive and traineeships are the perfect way to do that,” Sue said. “For students, they provide the opportunity to learn while they earn, and for businesses, they offer a cost-effective way to build their team and access tailor-made training on-site. It’s a great way to build the pool of professional talent in the region.”  

‘Better together’ is the unofficial mantra of My Support Australia, a people-focused organization providing participant-centered health care support right across Gippsland.

“We aim to be two things – a service provider of choice and an employer of choice,” explains My Support Australia CEO, Sophie Morell. “We put people at the heart of everything we do. That’s why we chose CCG as our training provider. It’s a true partnership, designed to give our staff the very best skills, knowledge and experience so that they can support our clients to live their best life.”

My Support Australia currently has five trainees enrolled with CCG, each completing the Certificate III in Individual Support qualification. For the organisation, CCG’s flexible approach to training has been a real benefit for the team.

“We love that CCG not only provides training for trainees in the workplace, but welcomes them into the classroom, too,” Sophie said. “This has given our staff, who normally work independently in a home care setting, the invaluable opportunity to learn together. They can share their ideas and experiences with one another, build team connections and rapport, and deepen the skill set they are developing on the job.

“There is also support and understanding for our team members when they need to take time out of the classroom to meet the needs of our clients,” Sophie continued. “The trainers make time to catch up with them and ensure that they have everything they need to succeed. The flexibility and assistance CCG offers enables us to provide better outcomes for our clients.”

According to Sophie, My Support Australia has been so pleased with the quality of training provided that they have also partnered with CCG to provide placement opportunities for classroom students completing the course.

“We were delighted to give a student the opportunity to develop hands-on workplace experience.” Sophie said. “They performed so well during placement that we offered them a role with us.

“It’s clear that CCG are the right fit for our organisation. They are small, friendly and focused on meeting industry needs. We look forward to having a long relationship into the future.”

At the CCG Celebrates Our People event in June, My Support Australia was presented with the Partner of the Year award. The inaugural award was presented by Board Chair Marianne Shearer, in acknowledgement of their collaborative partnership approach, which has enhanced the teaching and learning experiences of their trainees.

In typical fashion, Sophie reflected the win back to her team, saying “Our team don’t work for us, they work with us. This award belongs to all of us.”