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Sherrise George ONLINE






blog.tafeeast the success stories of MAKE the Blog shares East Coast students, our TAFE Queensland graduates and staff.

the amazing le insight into some of MAKE gives you a valuab ing every day. things our people are do rcoming led tales of heroes; ove We’re all familiar with fab odds to the g llenges, and defyin adversity, conquering cha Like heroes, d. goo r ate ays for the gre emerge victorious — alw y much the same. duates and staff are ver our TAFE students, gra . They’re every day heroes bullet or possess faster than a speeding While they may not be they do possess ldings in a single bound, the ability to leap tall bui have it in spades. y the and passion… and resilience, perseverance e defied the odds h the hard times. They’v They’ve pushed throug to achieve success. at blog.tafeeastcoast.ed Read their stories online


APPRENTICESHIPS: BUILD YOUR OWN FUTURE How to build your career as an apprentice with James Thompson.


CULTURAL WALK. CULTURAL TALK. Kimberley Appo is following her Aboriginal storyline.




ONLINE BUT NOT ALONE Sherrise George started her education online so it’s no surprise that she’s now working in the online learning space.

FIND YOUR LEADING ROLE Event Management is big business. Bindi Balazs has found her leading role working behind the spotlight.

PUBLISHED BY TAFE Queensland East Coast Media and Marketing


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MANAGEMENT Working behind the spotlight




BINDI HAS FOUND HER LEADING ROLE. Event management is big business; behind every champagne flute, every microphone, and every finishing line around the world, someone is working tirelessly to bring an event to life. After a lifetime of learned experience working in the performing arts and entertainment industry, 2015 TAFE Queensland East Coast Student of the Year, 28-year-old Bindi Balazs, decided to move away from the spotlight and is now working in the leading role she was destined to star in. Bindi is the Athlete Services Event Coordinator at the renowned World Triathlon Corporation, IRONMAN. She is responsible for managing the athlete experience from start to finish. Bindi organises registration and accreditation, arranges racing kits, coordinates presentation ceremonies, visits schools and consults with communities about things like planned road closures, parking and noise. Every day is different and it’s her job to make sure that people not only leave IRONMAN with fond memories, but keep coming back. “To be a successful events manager you need to be an adrenalin junkie with a stomach for seriously hard work, the ability to keep a level head when things go wrong, and most importantly… a comfy pair of shoes,” Bindi said. “I live for those little moments when you see an event come together. Little moments that might be over in a blink of an eye, but may have taken months of planning and hours of coordination to execute successfully,” she said. For as long as she can remember, Bindi has always been extremely goal orientated and determined to find her dream job.

school, Bindi was busy learning lines and building props for her next show. Performing soon became her passion and after high school she went on to complete an Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts at TAFE in Hervey Bay. “I loved bringing characters to life. There’s a part of me in every persona I portrayed,” Bindi said. “I felt so alive stepping into character and performing for people. It’s an amazing experience being able to make people laugh, make them cry and sometimes both at the same time; seeing the looks on their faces as they connect with the story and immerse themselves in my performance, hanging on my every word — it still gives me goosebumps.”

“To be a successful events manager you need to be an adrenalin junkie with a stomach for seriously hard work, the ability to keep a level head when things go wrong, and most importantly… a comfy pair of shoes.”

“We were only a small group so we had to take an active hands-on role in every show. We would organise the staging and lighting, create costumes and props, and pound the pavement putting posters in shop windows to advertise each show. We even sold tickets in the box office before the show, and at intermission we would quickly duck out to the foyer to sell drinks and snacks,” she said.

“The hardest part is knowing what you want to do. Your dream job is out there once you know where to look. Define your goal, and then go after it,” she said.

From the hinterland of Hervey Bay, Bindi packed her bags and headed to the glitz and glamour of the Gold Coast taking on a job as a Performing Character Waitress at Dracula’s Comedy Cabaret Restaurant. Renowned for being a crazy live cabaret club show with singing, dancing, burlesque, magic, juggling, and aerial performances, Bindi revelled in her new role.

As a teenager, Bindi discovered drama school and fell in love with the performing arts. While others were out playing netball, footy or soccer after

“It was amazing. I could be crass to customers and get away with it. There’d be very few other jobs anywhere in the world like it I’d imagine,” Bindi said.

“The best jobs aren’t always advertised. You’ve got to put yourself out there to not only develop your skills, but also build vital networks in the industry you enjoy being in,” Bindi said.

“I made the most of my opportunities and went from waiting tables to training staff and managing the box office. But hospitality is a lifestyle and after three fun years it was time to move on,” she said. Unbeknown to Bindi, she had built an incredibly valuable repertoire of event management skills throughout her working life. She had made a habit of entering the workforce at the bottom and working her way up into management roles. It was time to combine a lifetime of learned experiences into another qualification and find the role she was seemingly born to play. “I’d already had a great experience at TAFE, so I returned to undertake a Diploma of Event Management,” Bindi said. “It really opened my eyes. The scope of coordination and planning behind events is so much broader than I had imagined. Managing events is so much more involved than I had expected.” “The hands-on practical nature of the course really helped fast track my knowledge and understanding of the course content. Not many courses can teach patience, common sense, and the ability to stay calm and collected when chaos swirls around you, but I gained these skills from working in the event industry while studying.” “Volunteering at some of the Sunshine Coast’s biggest events and putting everything we’d learnt into practice has literally opened doors for me,” she said. Bindi studied at TAFE with one goal in mind, and that was to get as much out of her course as possible and take every opportunity that came her way. Her event management qualification has allowed her to work in an industry that she loves and rapidly progress into a management role. While her final act remains unwritten, when it’s time for her curtain call there is no doubt that Bindi’s legacy will live on quietly, away from the spotlight. Her hard work will have touched countless people all over the world and will live on forever through the memorable experiences they’ve had at one of her events.



Interaction and inclusion is incredibly important throughout early childhood; increasing a child’s sense of belonging, connectedness and wellbeing.



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l w a r a u lt Cultural tlak.


Kimberley is following her Aboriginal storyline.


imberley Appo is a proud young Aboriginal woman who is bringing her Gurreng Gurreng family knowledge, spirituality and wisdom into the early childhood classroom.

She aims to not only teach children and colleagues about cultural diversity and imbed cultural resources into early learning curriculums, but also promote the importance of education in early childhood to all families in the community, especially Aboriginal families. One of only a handful of Aboriginal early childhood educators in Bundaberg, 23-year-old Kimberley’s love of children developed from a young age after growing up, living and learning, in a big family. “My father is one of five children; my mother is one of eight; I’m the youngest of nine; and I have 21 nieces and nephews, not to mention countless cousins,” Kimberley said. “I live and breathe for my family. I’ve grown to become independent, assertive and confident. But I’ve always been extremely family orientated.” “I’ve been changing nappies and bottle feeding for as long as I can remember. I’ve watched all of my nieces and nephews grow; helping them to develop into amazing little humans.” “There’s no greater satisfaction than seeing young children grow and develop, knowing that you’ve had a hand in where they are today,” she said. At 19, Kimberley followed her heart and her storyline and found a pathway into early childhood education and care, studying a Certificate III in Children’s Services at TAFE.

“Childcare isn’t easy. It’s something you need to really want to do. It can’t be something you want to have a go at just to see if you’d be good at it,” Kimberley said. “Working with children, parents, families and communities requires passion and patience, time and attention, and love and affection.” “At TAFE, I gained valuable knowledge and skills and learned how to program for a child’s needs. Working with children really keeps you on your toes. Each day is so very different. Each experience requires careful thought and planning; putting ourselves in their shoes and trying to think how they would think.” “My industry placements allowed me to get a hands-on practical feel for course content. I really enjoyed putting theory into practice,” she said. Kimberley excelled during her placement at Bundaberg’s Eastside Little Learners Child Care Centre and was offered a full-time position. With the support and guidance of Centre Director Joanne Gleeson, Kimberley progressed her education, completing a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care; and is now implementing Aboriginal perspectives and involving Aboriginal people in classroom experiences to educate young children about culture and diversity. “Joanne is great to work for. She’s open to the ideas I bring to the table and is accepting of all cultures. She’s embraced how important my Aboriginal culture and identity is to me and is allowing me to integrate my culture into the classroom and the children love it,” Kimberley said.

Corporation has taught everyone traditional Aboriginal greetings… we even learned how to sing English songs like heads, shoulders, knees and toes in our traditional language.” “I’m privileged to be given the opportunity to incorporate my culture into classroom experiences and give the children the chance to try new things,” she said. By sharing her family’s history, identity and experiences with both children and other childcare educators in the community, Kimberley hopes to break down barriers and promote acceptance and inclusion of Aboriginal culture into early childhood education to secure a successful future for all children. “Many Aboriginal parents feel reluctant to send their children to school. I want Aboriginal people to understand what childcare is and how it can help benefit their children,” Kimberley said. “We can help young Aboriginal children establish healthy habits, learn the importance of routines, and form valuable social and communication skills. Interaction and inclusion is incredibly important throughout early childhood; increasing a child’s sense of belonging, connectedness and wellbeing.” “Ensuring Aboriginal children and their families feel safe in the classroom will close the gap between the life outcomes of Aboriginal people and other Australian children, guaranteeing a successful future for all,” she said.

“We’ve invited local Aboriginal dancers to dance with our classes; children paint with Aboriginal artists; and the language coordinator at the Gidarjil Development









As a toddler he would fasten his tool belt tight around his waist and, with a plastic hammer in one hand and a plastic screwdriver in the other, he’d put himself to work alongside his father Ross as he tinkered in the shed and around the house. “Dad’s been a Draftsman and Builder for around 40 years and growing up I wanted to be just like him — designing, building and creating things with my hands,” James said. “Dad did his Carpentry and Joinery Apprenticeship in the Army and now has more tickets [industry qualifications] than you can poke a stick at,” he laughs.

On his 9th birthday, the plastic toys were replaced by the real deal as his father gifted James his very first ever nail bag— a momentous occasion in a family of builders—and set him to task helping put up pergolas, build verandas, form gardens and archways and numerous other DIY projects around the home. “In my school holidays, dad would take me out with him on job sites and I’d help build frames, lift beams and lintels, and pitch rafters—it was the best,” James said. “I loved working with my hands. I also loved working with dad; he’s my best mate,” he said. Growing up, James’ parents stressed the importance of education, supporting and challenging him to set goals and reach his potential. “Good grades, great life,” James said. “Foundations are the most important part of any build and like foundations, education and knowledge is the most important part of life,” he said.


After school James wanted to pursue his passion for building while exploring ways in which he could learn skills to solve problems and design and create new things to help make life easier for others; enrolling in a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at University. “At that stage of my life I thought I was doing the right thing, but after 2 years at Uni I decided to defer my studies and do something a little more hands-on,” James said. “I’m more of a visual and hands-on learner. I learn best through doing and, for me, an apprenticeship offered the best of both worlds — theory combined with on-the-job practical training,” he said. Optimistic, James took to the streets and spoke to a variety of Group Training Organisations in the hope that they’d help him find a carpentry apprenticeship. “East Coast Apprenticeships were amazing. They called me back within an hour of handing them my resume and told me they’d organised an interview with a Host Employer in two days’ time. I couldn’t believe it, it all happened so quickly,” James said. “Now in the final year of my apprenticeship, I’ve really found my feet working full-time with Mick Devlin of Braeden Constructions. Mick’s supportive, understanding and challenges me to further myself — a bit like my parents.”

Foundations are the most important part of any build and like foundations, education and knowledge is the most important part of life.

“But not every Host Employer experience is going to be the same. I’ve learned a lot from my apprenticeship over the years and Craig Harrison, Alan Sparks and the team at East Coast Apprenticeships were there to support and guide me through each of them — the good and the bad.” “They made sure I was always paid on time and I was never without work; I was guaranteed to finish my apprenticeship. Job security is a comforting feeling for everyone, especially a young apprentice who’s taken a risk to change careers.” “East Coast Apprenticeships made it really easy for me; they handled all of my paperwork. They took care of my pay, tax, workers’ compensation, superannuation, and sick days as well as arranged my annual leave and time off for my TAFE blocks,” he said. Last year, James was selected for a monthlong work and study scholarship overseas as the 2016 East Coast Apprenticeships

Canada Apprentice Exchange Ambassador. The four-week exchange saw James based in Vancouver working with acclaimed Group Training Organisation SkillSource British Columbia where he participated in a nationwide apprenticeship forum delivered by the Canadian Government, spent time at major vocational education training provider British Columbia Institute of Technology, and undertook two weeks of hands-on practical training at premium Canadian framing company Dalmore Constructions. “It was easily the best experienced I’ve ever had. It’s changed my life forever, both professionally and personally,” James said. “The Exchange taught me a lot about myself, the job, how other countries operate and how people of a different culture interact with each other,” he said. Rejuvenated, re-energised and refocussed, James returned to Australia determined to design a successful career in building and construction. He won the 2016 Construction Skills Queensland Apprentice of the Year, the 2016 Master Builders Sunshine Coast Apprentice of the Year, the 2016 Housing Industry Australia (HIA) Sunshine Coast and Queensland Apprentice of the Year, was a 2016 WorldSkills Queensland Gold Medallist and went on to compete in the finals of the 2016 WorldSkills National Competition in Melbourne. In 2017 James is juggling full-time work, final year TAFE blocks, and resuming his university studies part-time undertaking a Dual Bachelor of Civil Engineering / Bachelor of Environmental Science at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). “I won’t be able to do carpentry forever. Being on the tools is taxing and physically demanding. It takes its toll on your body,” James said. “Growing up on the Sunshine Coast I’ve always had a close affinity with the ocean, our waterways and unique coastal environment and as a civil engineer, my work will influence where people work, relax, learn and live.” “I plan to combine all of this with my carpentry skills and experiences in building and construction to make life a little easier for others for years to come,” he said.







ONLINE But not alone Online learning is fast changing the education landscape. People now have the freedom and flexibility to learn online in ways that work for them; self-directed online learning now allows people to study what they want, where they want and when they want.


hether you’re a child growing up in remote locations studying via distance education or an adult working late into the night after work to upskill or change careers, online learning is reshaping the training and education space.

Born in Nambour, Sherrise George relocated with her family to Far North Queensland, living in Malanda (an hour away from Cairns) and grew up surrounded by beautiful World Heritage listed Wet Tropics rainforest. While her picturesque surrounds were unparalleled, her remote location meant choice and access to training and education was limited. “I completed my schooling online and tele-conferences with the Cairns School of Long Distance Education,” Sherrise said. “My school day typically started with an hour phone lesson with my teacher and other students (some often up to 300kms away) before breaking out into whatever area of study I wanted to do for that day.” “I enjoyed not only the flexibility, but also the challenge of personalised self-directed learning. It’s made me who I am today,” she said. Growing up Sherrise was captivated by computers and information technology (IT). “Dad was always on the computer. He was an electrician by trade, but has qualifications in IT; training and assessing; and workplace health and safety. He’s the most qualified person I know,” Sherrise said. “I was 3-years-old when I got my first computer. It was white and bigger than I was — so different from today’s mobile devices I see little ones using. I remember mum would push my high chair up to the screen and I’d start tapping away on the keys — just like dad — learning about counting, colours and shapes through online learning games. I loved it,” she said. Throughout her formative years, Sherrise followed her fascination with IT and started exploring its many applications and uses across a variety of platforms and devices. “I’ve always had a passion for art, photography and design. I used to sit on my laptop for hours editing and manipulating photos in Adobe,” Sherrise said. “I can’t draw, I can’t sketch, and I can’t paint. I can’t put what’s in my head down on paper. But using digital tools like Adobe I can. I can somehow create exactly what I see in my mind onto the screen.”

“I knew I’d found what I wanted to do and it was time to pursue my passion,” she said. Enjoying the freedom and flexibility of studying online at school, Sherrise decided to enrol in an online course at TAFE. After completing a Certificate IV in Information Technology she has found her home working in IT, moving back to the Sunshine Coast to work at Lightbox Radiology in Noosaville. “I started my education online so I guess it’s no surprise I’m now working in the online learning space — I’ve been doing it my whole life,” Sherrise said. “I work closely with doctors to design and develop both online and face-to-face medical courses for a range of levels - from medical students and nurses, to specialists. I convert technical content from doctors into something interesting and interactive for industry professionals.” “Online learning development never gets boring for me. There are always new and exciting ways to enlighten and engage learners through interactive design. Software updates all the time and there will always be new features, new tools and new ways to design and learn things,” she said. Balancing study with everyday life can be difficult, but from an early age Sherrise learned to take control of her own learning and it’s paying off.

“PEOPLE CAN ACCESS THEIR LEARNING SPACE 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK AND, LIKE ME, BE SUPPORTED BY TEACHERS AROUND THE CLOCK.” “Online learning is perfect for those who work, lead hectic lives and would rather not take time off to study or train. People can access their learning space 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and, like me, be supported by teachers around the clock,” Sherrise said. “For me, it’s the perfect way to learn. It allows you to work at your own pace. You’re in charge of your own workload. You determine your priorities, you develop your goals, and you set your deadlines. You’re responsible for your learning outcomes and you’re responsible for your success,” she said.





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MAKE Magazine issue 6  
MAKE Magazine issue 6