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Australian Business Award win for Volunteers and Events Training Program

TAFE Queensland's Volunteers and Events Training Program (VETP) has taken out the 2022 Australian Business Award for Training Excellence.

The award recognises organisations that have successfully implemented initiatives that demonstrate leadership and commitment to education and training.

The tourism industry in Western, North, and Far North Queensland was severely affected by record-breaking flooding in 2019 during the monsoon trough. As a key industry in the area, the resulting downturn in tourism impacted the employment and incomes of many residents in the area, leading to both short and long-term problems for the wider community.

The goal of the VETP initiative was to boost the skills and confidence of volunteers in the events sector and support them to reinvigorate the tourism industry in Western, North and Far North Queensland.

Working side by side with the local community, TAFE Queensland helped build resilience and capability through training and upskilling, equipping affected communities with the skills they needed to assist in their recovery from the natural disaster.

The program included three separate components:

  • A bespoke training program for nominated event volunteers and staff designed to build customer service, resilience and leadership skills through both online and face-to-face delivery
  • Study tours giving event workers the opportunity to learn from leaders in hospitality and tourism across the state
  • 12 scholarships worth $5,000 for people living in one of the 39 disaster-affected local government areas.

TAFE Queensland worked closely with regional stakeholders and industry to understand their local needs, determine key events and tourism issues, and identify learning opportunities and case studies for the customised face-to-face training.

The program made a significant difference in helping affected communities recover from the natural disaster and provided real and tangible benefits to residents who accessed the training.

Community Activities Officer at Cloncurry Shire Council, Emmy Lou Gallagher was one such person who benefited from the program. She was a recipient of a $5,000 scholarship that enabled her to study a Diploma of Event Management (SIT50316).

"The scholarship helped me to not only take the leap in furthering my studies but also financially allowed me to be able to study. Without it, I don’t think I would’ve considered studying the diploma at all," she said.

Putting her new skills to good use, Emmy rallied her community together during the aftermath of the disaster through a series of local events.

"I have seen firsthand what events can do for small towns and their community groups, and I love being able to contribute to that," Emmy said.

Another community member who participated in the program was Jolene Robinson — a resident of Eungella, a small rural town an hour west of Mackay with a population of just over 200.

After recovering from Tropical Cyclone Debbie which brought devastating floods to the Pioneer Valley in March 2017, the Eungella community was then struck with the worst bushfires on record in November 2018.

Jolene volunteered in the aftermath of the bushfires and for many years has volunteer to help coordinate large-scale tourism events for the region, including the iconic Motorcycle Beach Races at Grasstree Beach.

She received a VETP scholarship which allowed her to formalise her years of experience with a nationally-recognised qualification.

"It was an opportunity to formalise the skills and experience I’ve gained in my current roles and also learn new skills to better support my community. My TAFE skills have given me the confidence to throw myself into coordinating events for the community, often at short notice, and taking on things many people think are too hard or impossible to manage,” she said.

Jolene's love for her community runs deep, and the value she gets from the events she helps bring to life is clear to see.

“I do what I do to benefit the community. The way I see it, the work we do provides experiences for everyone in our community. These events get people off the couch, out of the house and brings them all together which is such a positive for our mental health,” she said.

The VETP initiative was jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. TAFE Queensland is proud to be the delivery partner for the program and to help support the recovery of disaster-affected communities.