Cire Community School acquires an additional campus in Monbulk

Cire Services, a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity in the Yarra Ranges is expanding its Community School to Monbulk. This expansion follows the acquisition of the former school grounds of Mountain District Christian School earlier this year. The new campus, located at 325 Macclesfield Road Monbulk and spanning 17.5 acres, boasts incredible facilities, including a full-sized oval, an indoor sports stadium and gymnasium, a stage, an internal canteen, a science room, and a library. These resources will allow the students to have experiences that were previously unavailable.

Cire Services’ CEO Gus Seremetis shared that other campuses at Yarra Junction, Mount Evelyn, Berwick, and Lilydale are currently at capacity and have waiting lists. With the acquisition of the new campus, Cire Services will be able to cater to more students and address the significant need for community schools in the surrounding areas. The community has shown great support and interest in this expansion, which will serve students from primary to year 12.

Cire Community Schools currently have around 360 students across their four campuses, where they offer co-educational schooling catering to young people who have or are at risk of disengaging from their education, requiring an alternative to mainstream schooling. The model will remain the same as what is currently offered in classrooms, with an average of 15 students per class and two educators in each class.

Gus said that the organisation runs differently from traditional models, providing a lot of support for students at different levels. Furthermore, with the fantastic support from key stakeholders, including Yarra Ranges Council, Mountain District Christian School, and the local community, Cire Services is well-positioned to offer community schooling, training, early learning, and community outreach services to more students across multiple locations.

If you would like to know more about the Monbulk campus; click here to submit your interest. With this new campus, Cire Community School will undoubtedly continue to provide its students with an exceptional learning experience.

Cire goes Bear Grylls, almost

While not with the same hype as a Bear Grylls or a Survivor episode, Cire Community School students have notched up their own achievements in the outdoors this year, well beyond their “wildest” dreams.

School camps and expeditions have enabled them to move well beyond their comfort zones and develop soft and hard skills they can apply to many aspects of their lives and have loads of fun.

Some of these opportunities were funded through the Victorian Government’s Positive Start program, designed the help address the impact of the harsh lockdowns and restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.

The program enabled Cire students to have a five-day paddling camp at Lake Eildon and the Snowy River near Buchan, putting to the test and further developing what they had learned from about 12 activities days in terms of building relationships, stamina and skills.

For Eildon, students co-designed the camp, which involved a five-day paddle along the Delatite arm of Lake Eildon.

Students learnt to put up tents, construct a good cooking fire, improved their already decent tarp skills, continued to improve their paddling skills, cooked over a fire and use stoves, and developed leadership, navigation, conflict resolution, and negotiation skills.

They also demonstrated great resourcefulness and creativity. Two students harvested pine sap from a plantation and heated it on rocks to make glue – and one made an axe with his glue, a rock, and a branch and found cable wire. Together the group made two fishing rods/apparatus, upcycling random items found, including hooks from ring pulls. While the fish managed to escape being caught, they enjoyed the corn bait.

Camp coordinator KD Skidmore said some amazing reflection and conflict resolution took place.

“We worked through some social division arising from conversation topics and created inclusive solutions … there was a great change in vibe and benefits, of which the whole group was able to articulate at some point.”

Particularly special moments included seeing the blood moon rise and then the eclipse over the water, climbing a ridge and watching the moon rise on another night and then sharing the nightly reflection with the mosquitoes.

The benefits of the camp were also captured in the following student comments:

Moss: Highlights were getting to know people better and having great chats around the fire; learning how to work as a team, paddle straight and even how to propagate a pine tree.

Rhylie: I learnt more about myself and how to work better with others. Also, how to consider everyone else’s feelings and opinions.

Melanie: I really enjoyed being with my classmates.

Mel: Being on camp, away from everything, was really good for my mental health. I enjoyed doing all the activities I usually would not do at home.

Bianca. I enjoyed canoeing, talking around the fire, and watching the moon eclipse and the solar eclipse.

Tristan: One of the highlights for me was finding connections with people I didn’t know I had connections with.

Matari:  I loved the whole experience of getting to know everyone better. It was a great experience overall, and I think we all really value what we got out of it. The view was really nice out on the water, everything was so flat and perfect, and the eclipse/blood moon was pretty epic.

Pictured: EACH Wild staff Tristan Sterry and Loui Callas (foreground), with students Matari Grace, Bianca Schyf, and Rhylie Scammell.


Changing Gears at Berwick

Cire Community School’s Berwick campus is helping bolster and promote road safety, with several students recently attaining their Learner Driver permits after successfully completing a Changing Gears program.

It was the first time the program had been delivered at our Berwick campus. Despite some last-minute challenges due to Covid, the four participants embraced the opportunity and greatly appreciated the tailored assistance and support.

Thanks to Department of Transport/VicRoads funding, the Changing Gears pre-learner driver course has been delivered at our Yarra Junction and Mount Evelyn campuses for the past eight years, with two more scheduled for coming weeks. Almost 100 per cent of participants have gained their L permits on the program’s final day or shortly after that. Cire has also been funded for Looking After Our Mates (LAOM) and has been part of a state-wide pilot for a safer vehicles innovation.

One of the proud new learners drives from Berwick, Jack, said the program really helped him understand the road rules and noted the practise tests were extremely useful. Changing Gears instructor Linda Lane worked through any incorrect quiz responses to ensure a thorough understanding.

 “Linda was incredibly supportive and understood where everyone was coming from. Her super energy and optimism made everyone’s nerves drop and positive thoughts flow, especially when we went to VicRoads to do our test,” Jack said.

 “After I passed the learners test, I was still very nervous because I had to drive on the road with more experienced drivers and try to remember everything I had learned so I would drive safely. The overall Changing Gears experience was extremely good for me. I would recommend it to anyone trying to get their learners because it helps you understand all the risks of driving.”    

In just a few days, fellow student Kayla gained “heaps of knowledge and learned so much” from Changing Gears.

“I am very grateful to Linda, who did an amazing job teaching us the basic road rules. I wasn’t confident at all, but she helped me through it and assured me I’d do ok,” Kayla said.

“I was very nervous on the official test day, but Linda made me feel heaps better about it. It was a big relief when I heard I passed, and I owe it all to the Changing Gears program. All students should take part in the program because it provides a wide range of important information that is easy to remember.”

Berwick campus teacher Digna Libera described Changing Gears as a tremendous confidence booster for the students who were very proud to have achieved their Ls, as were their parents. 

She said most Cire students would otherwise find it very challenging and intimidating to attempt the test without the program.

“Hats off to the trainer, Linda, who is very pleasant, kind and understanding. She has not only helped the students get their Ls but also prepared them to be safe drivers on the roads. The parents of these students are equally excited about what their children had achieved.”

Together with other Community Road Safety Program innovations, Changing Gears is a vital part of what Cire Community School offers. Changing Gears helps students achieve one of the” rites of passage” which may not otherwise be within easy reach and contribute to keeping our roads safer.

“Changing Gears gives students and their families the confidence to undertake their Learner’s permit test and then gain invaluable time driving under adult supervision,” explained Cire Community School’s Karen Swankie, who has been instrumental in securing the necessary grant funding and overseeing the program.

“It provides a supported environment that breaks down the road rules into manageable learning opportunities. As a result, our students have been incredibly successful in gaining their Learner permits over the years.” 

Students engage easily with Changing Gears instructor Linda. She effectively communicates the road rules using a range of digital and physical mediums such as videos, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations and physical maps to demonstrate traffic manoeuvres. The students particularly appreciate the practice quizzes, which help familiarise them with the learner’s test and further reinforce the road rules. 

Linda provides lots of support to the students throughout the sessions and regularly checks in on their wellbeing and understanding. Students were reminded that the Victorian road rules always look for the safest approach. The quizzes are based on common sense. Linda spends time with each student, helping develop that “common sense”.

Best wishes and safe driving to all those new Learners on the road!

Pictured: Proud learner drivers from Berwick, from left, Kayla, Jack, Lorcan and Joanne with Changing Gears trainer Linda Jane.

Cammy honoured with Cowey-Selman Kokoda Award

In following her personal mantra of embracing challenges, Cire Community School student Cammy Lilagan has been honoured with the Cowey-Selman Kokoda Scholarship Award.

The inspiring 17-year-old was announced the 2022 recipient at the Monbulk RSL Anzac Day Service on 25th April and may well be trekking the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea within just a few months.

Cammy honoured with Cowey-Selman Kokoda Award

Cammy with RSL sub-branch presidents Bill Ford (Monbulk), Bill Dobson (Lilydale), and Kokoda guide Russell Priest from Getaway Tours.

The scholarship is a joint initiative of the 39th Infantry Battalion (1941-43) Association Inc., Mt Evelyn, Monbulk and Lilydale RSL sub-branches to encourage young people to research and understand the sacrifice so many ordinary people made in World War Two to keep our nation free. It is open to Year 11 students enrolled at a secondary school within the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

Cammy took up the challenge of entering the competition, drawing on her love of writing to compose her winning essay describing the importance of the Kokoda Campaign in the Battle for Australia and why she would like to trek the Kokoda. Cammy captured the spirit of the award program, and the hearts of the selection panel with her understanding of the campaign and how her life’s journey to date was the driving force behind her wanting to trek the Kokoda.

“I massively didn’t think I would have a chance, but I was interested in finding out more about the Kokoda Campaign….I was pretty shocked but very happy to be the winner,” said Cammy, who described it as an eye-opening experience and a window to some amazing life-changing opportunities.
“Being involved was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me; something clicked. I just wanted to do this challenge and be stronger for the experience.”
With a love of all forms of writing to create a picture and move people, Cammy crafted her award-winning essay by walking in the footsteps of the young soldiers and experiencing their sacrifices, fears and challenges, and sharing her own life’s journey.
Although Cammy had little understanding of the Kokoda Campaign before the competition, she now believes it is imperative for all young people to appreciate the sacrifices made by those of a similar age who went to war to keep their nation free.

“It is so important for us to all get along, find peace and avoid war….the ugly situation in Ukraine really drives this home.”

Cammy said it was fantastic that Cire Community School encouraged and supported students interested in entering the competition and offered many other opportunities.

She described the school as unique and said words could not “talk up the teachers enough” for their encouragement and mentoring and being “super, super fantastic”! Originally from Healesville, Cammy spends up to two hours each way on public transport to reach the Cire Mt Evelyn campus – a clear demonstration of her belief in Cire.

Currently, she is undecided about her future pathways, but she knows she will be guided by her passions, whichever way they evolve. She counts the Cowey-Selman Award as a huge learning experience and is confident that many opportunities will emerge as a result. She is already looking forward to being an ambassador for the program, which could involve public speaking and presentations, leadership and mentoring.

In the meantime, Cammy is in fine form to undertake the Kokoda trek, with health and fitness being one of her passions.

The Cowey-Selman Award was launched in 2019, but unfortunately, it was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 and the closure of the Kokoda Trail. It is hoped the trail will be open for the 2022 trek season from April to November.

The award is named after two Yarra Ranges’ residents, James (Jim) Cowey and Harold Geoffrey (Geoff) Selman, who served with the 39th Infantry Battalion in Papua New Guinea.
Jim Cowey MC was born in 1890. In WW1, he served in Egypt, Gallipoli and across the Western Front. In Northern France, he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry near Hamel on 18th/19th September 1918, west of Bellinglise. He re-enlisted for WW2 and served as a staff sergeant with the 39th Battalion. A resident of The Patch, it is believed that Jim is the only enlisted man to actively serve at both the Gallipoli Landing and the crucial 2nd Battle of Kokoda. Jim passed away in 1968.
Geoff Selman was born in 1921 and served as a private in the 39th Battalion. A resident of Lilydale, he was killed in action at Gona on 14th December 1942. Geoff is buried in Bomana War Cemetery, Port Moresby and remembered on the cenotaph in Lilydale.

Good360 generosity continues

Cire Services and those in need within our reach have again benefited from the generosity of the expansive Good360 network.

Our Community School students recently welcomed a shipment of Lego with great enthusiasm. At the same time, a donation of Optus Donate Your Data SIM cards are being distributed throughout Cire to those doing it tough, particularly with the rising cost of living and ongoing impact of the pandemic.

Executive Manager of Education Peri Dix described Lego as an excellent learning tool, providing students of all ages and abilities to be creative, follow instructions and practice their spatial reasoning skills.

“This is all happening through ‘just playing with Lego’,” Peri explained.

And as one student added: “I love Lego; it helps me calm down and build my own things.”

Cire is part of a Good360 pilot in conjunction with Optus with the SIM cards, where people donate their unused data towards a giving program.

Cire has been distributing SIMs through the Community School, Community Hubs, First Impressions Clothing Exchange and Cire Training’s Reconnect program.

Some of the beneficiaries within Cire’s reach have included several single mothers, including an asylum seeker, an abandoned mum with a baby and young children and a mum and son in hiding with an active AVO order.

Alicia, a single mum of five and struggling on a weekly budget, said she was very grateful for the SIM cards she and her two daughters received.

“It means I have more money for food and bills for my family,” Alicia said.

Another beneficiary was a young person experiencing mental health challenges. The young person was living in a situation without Wi-Fi at home and only one phone with limited data available, so she could not connect to vital counselling, training and education. The Donate, Your Data SIM card has not only allowed her to progress with her study but lifted her mental well-being.

Good360 generosity continues

Cire is a key Victorian charity partner of Good360. This leading Australian not-for-profit helps Australian companies and manufacturers channel their surplus new products to charities that can assist with grassroots distribution to those most in need.

Rather than add to landfills, Good360 aims to help repurpose $1 billion of brand new goods to Australians in need by 2025. Good360’s approach aligns directly with Cire’s core values, including our 2022 theme of Sustainability.

Good360’s partnership manager for Victoria and Tasmania, Liz Henderson, said

Cire is recognised as one of Good360’s key charity partners because of its agile and strategic approach to supporting its diverse range of services and, ultimately, people of all ages needing extra help in the Yarra Ranges beyond.

If you’re an NFP looking for donations, visit Good360 today?

Click here for further information on Cire’s Community School.

Welcome boot up for students

WorkWear has again given students at Cire Community School (CCS) a boot up in the form of OHS-compliant footwear.

Students need sturdy work boots as part of their personal protective equipment (PPE) to gain hands-on experience at external sites for Vocational Education and Training delivered to Secondary School Students (VETdSSS) and other skills-based electives. VETdSSS areas include Building and Construction, Automotive, Horticulture, Public Safety (firefighting operations), Electrotechnology, Wine Operations and Animal Care.

CCS student Mim Smith was delighted with her new protective footwear and happy to use nature’s catwalk (see photo) to put her best feet forward to model them.

‘These boots are so comfortable and so great to have for my Horticulture placements,” enthused Mim who commenced VCAL this year and is undertaking Animal Studies and Certificate II in Horticulture.

Mim said her placements would not be possible without the WorkWear boots because of OHS-compliant footwear requirements. They have helped boost her confidence to get hands-on experience and explore realistic employment opportunities in Animal Studies or Horticulture close to home in the Yarra Ranges.

“It is so good to be able to be hands-on after all the Covid restrictions and knowing that I am getting on with my life. I love working outdoors,” Mim beamed.

Karen Swankie, CCS’s VET Careers & Pathways Leader, said protective, safety footwear is essential for students gaining off-site experience.  Steel toe boots and shoes provide protection and help prevent and/or reduce the severity of injuries that may occur in the workplace.

“It is important to wear safe and comfortable boots as they are worn all day long and can protect students’ feet from damp and soggy workplaces.  Wearing supportive and well-made work boots prevent injuries and the potential of long-term podiatry issues,” Karen explained.

She said CCS was extremely appreciative of WorkWear’s support, including a previous generous donation of quality work boots.

Many of CCS’s young people experience vulnerability at many levels, including socio-economic disadvantage and other challenges. They and their families struggle to cover the cost of extras such as work boots.

“Many families are doing it tougher than ever with the rising cost of living, but the need for protective footwear mustn’t become a barrier for our students to continue their learning pathways towards brighter futures, particularly given the impact of the pandemic and disruptions to their education.”

Having the correct PPE makes students feel the part boosting their self-esteem, confidence and enthusiasm in their work.

Click here to learn more about our Community School.

CCS in top gear for road safety

In recent weeks, road safety has been a focus for many students at Cire Community School (CCS).

Thanks to funding through the 2021/2022 VicRoads Community Road Safety Program, Safer Vehicles and Looking After Our Mates (LAOM) innovations have been delivered at the Yarra Junction and Mt Evelyn campuses. More are scheduled in the coming weeks, as well as at Berwick, including the pre-Learner driver course, Changing Gears which was also delivered for Cire students in November.

VET Careers and Pathways Leader Karen Swankie, who has been the driving force behind the program at Cire for several years, commended the opportunities and level of student engagement.

“It is so important for students to have access to this type of information as they prepare to sit for their Learner permits and buy their first vehicle,” Karen said.

“We are all road users, whether as a driver or a passenger, so all have a responsibility for the safety of everyone on the roads.”

Karen commended the Department of Transport for its ongoing support for Cire students through its Community Road Safety Program funding.

“Programs like Changing Gears, and now Safer Vehicles and LAOM have become an important part of what we can offer students and support them in responsibly achieving significant milestones like gaining their driver’s licence and making the right choices in life,” Karen added.

Cire is a pilot school for the Safer Vehicles intervention, and Margaret Walpole from the Department of Transport visited

CCS in top gear for road safety

William Laing with Safer Vehicles facilitator at Mt Evelyn campus, Linda Jane, who has also been delivering Changing Gears at Cire for several years.

as an observer for the recent Mount Evelyn innovation. Mrs Walpole, the Community Road Safety Coordinator for the Metropolitan South East Region, also visited Yarra Junction for the LAOM presentation.

Students who participated in the day-long Safer Vehicles program learned about ‘how safe is your car’, things to look out for when buying a car and making safer choices. Students learned about the differences between the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and used car star ratings.

The value of the Safer Vehicles program was captured by the following student comments:

  • The program was great; this information will help me choose a safer car.
  • This program is suited to young people who are ready to get their first car.
  • I didn’t know about the websites for checking the safety of cars, I am going to show my family.

Students also found the LAOM presentation by facilitator Greg Ryan from the Department of Transport, also very informative:

  • I really enjoyed the information; it was insightful, learning about the laws.
  • Really good; it taught me a lot about drinking and how long alcohol can stay in your system.
  • This is the second time I have seen this presentation; the person presenting was good. The videos were good, better than being spoken at.

Main image – students Zahra Mackie and Kyha Edwards with Karen Swankie, Marg Walpole from the Department of Transport and LAOM facilitator, Greg Ryan.

Click here for further information on our youth education programs.

L-permits for Christmas

Christmas came early for some students at Cire Community School who recently attained their Learner Driver permits after successfully completing a Changing Gears program.

It was a particularly exciting way to end the year and given the much anticipated Changing Gears pre-learner driver education program had been rescheduled three times due to COVID restrictions.

Twelve students participated in the pre-Learner driver education program at the Mount Evelyn campus with seven ultimately gaining their Ls on the final day. All 12 students learned valuable lessons in safety, persistence and practice and had a great time engaging with the course.

The following comments help capture the value of the experience:

It was a bit confusing at times but then it made sense.

There are lots of the questions that just take time to work out the safest option. It’s like a puzzle.

Changing Gears has become an important part of what Cire Community School’s offers and helps students achieve one of the ”rites of passage” which may not otherwise be within easy reach, as well as contribute to keeping our roads safer.

It has been made possible by support and funding through the Department of Transport and VicRoads as a safer driver and passenger intervention. Students have achieved 100 per cent success rates for almost every program.

“Changing Gears gives students, and their families, the confidence to undertake their Learner’s permit test and then gain invaluable time driving under adult supervision,” explained Karen Swankie who has been instrumental in securing the necessary grant funding and overseeing the program.

“It provides a supported environment that breaks down the road rules into manageable learning opportunities and as a result, our students have been incredibly successful in gaining their Learner permits over the years.”

Changing Gears gives students, particularly those with low literacy levels and self-confidence, the opportunity to achieve success by learning the road rules in a supportive environment with their peers. Facilitators work with individual students on areas where they may require extra support and students are able to learn with their peers, which further embeds the learning. Being able to sit for the test with a group, rather than alone, helps to alleviate nervousness associated with testing.

Students in the most recent Changing Gears program loved their instructor Linda who was able to communicate the road rules in an effective manner using a range of digital and physical mediums such as videos, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations and physical maps to demonstrate traffic manoeuvres. The students particularly appreciated the practice quizzes as they gave them valuable insights into the learner’s test and further familiarised them with the rules of the road.

Linda provided lots of support to the students throughout the sessions and checked in on their wellbeing and understanding on a regular basis. Students were reminded that the Victorian road rules always looked for the safest approach and that the quizzes could be completed with common sense. Linda spent time with each student, helping develop that ‘common sense’.

On the day of the test, many of the students were excited to finally sit for their Ls. They were all very encouraging towards each other even though some were not able to pass on the day. Overall, we had a high success rate and those who did not pass have the option to try again in February.

For future students completing this course, be sure to have the correct documents and identification.

Cire has again been awarded funding for Changing Gears in 2021/2022. Our school is also set to be the benchmark in the region for a new safer vehicles intervention which is being rolled out for the first time, as well as a Looking After Our Mates online session.

Best wishes and safe driving to all those new Learners on the road!




Youth award honours Rosie’s service to community

Cire Community School student Rosie Hellicar, who is passionate about the importance of the Arts to overall health and wellbeing, has been recognised by the Warburton Yarra Junction Community Bank for her inspiring service to the community.

The 17-year-old was a special guest at the bank’s recent AGM where she was officially named the 2021 recipient of the Ian De La Rue Youth Initiative Award which acknowledges a local young person’s positive contributions to their community.

Rosie was overwhelmed to receive the $1000 award and, in true form, plans to use the money to fund a VET Certificate III Music Industry (specialising in Performance) to further help the community.

Rosie believes investing in her education is investing in the local community and will benefit many more young people than just herself.

“A Cert III Music Industry would mean I could run my own program for people who can’t afford a course like this.”

The Ian De La Rue Youth award acknowledges Rosie’s community involvements and achievements including:

  • The Warburton-based MISFIT theatre project creates opportunities for youth development and empowerment, giving young people in the Upper Yarra particularly a voice and a place to belong Rosie is an assistant and has co-directed shows in the past.
  • Koha Café. Koha brings people together who might not otherwise be able to provide food for their family. Rosie helps out as a volunteer.
  • Rosie has volunteered as a disability support worker, attending camps and day activities helping children with disabilities participate in the program

In nominating Rosie for the award, teacher Kelly Taylor stated:

Rosie is truly deserving of this award because of her unwavering philosophy of service to others and the community. She is a true role model to so many other young people, having overcome many challenges in her 17 years. She is wise beyond her years

The work Rosie does to better her community has given her a sense of purpose and belonging and has enabled her to grow into the young woman she is today. Rosie takes on roles and responsibilities that are beyond her years and always has a smile on her face. She is more than capable of anything she sets her mind to.

Rosie would never self-promote herself or her abilities and always puts the needs of others first. With a quiet and shy disposition, Rosie avoids attention but her contributions and effort are worth recognising as she inspires other young people in the Yarra Valley to be true to themselves and have a sense of purpose by giving back.

With a calm and supportive demeanour, Rosie engages easily with the young people in the programs in which she is involved. Through her own lived experience, she knows how drama and music help overall health and mental wellbeing. She draws on her own experiences to help others initiate the changes they need to make to move forward with optimism and purpose and self-esteem.

Rosie has made positive contributions to her community and will continue to do so because of her giving and selfless nature. Rosie is involved in and attends many different programs and volunteers her time on youth camps and other activities. Rosie is kind and supportive and any young person attending these camps or programs would feel loved and accepted by Rosie without any judgement.

The $1000 Ian De La Rue Youth Initiative Award was first made in 2012 to honour the memory of the late Ian De La Rue OAM, first Chairman of the Warburton Community Bank and a member of the Steering Committee.  It is presented in the spirit of his commitment to community, and his passion for encouraging young people to strive for excellence and to be active in and contribute to their local community.

The activities and passions of award recipients are varied but they all help to strengthen and better the local community.

Ian was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his community service, in the Australia Day Honours List, 26 January 2008 (the year after he passed away).

Photo: Rosie hugs an avocado pillow – she loves avocados

Kicking goals to be AFL photographer

Aspiring AFL photographer Dylan Schafter is already kicking goals to realise his dream and has used COVID as an unexpected springboard.

The talented almost 17-year old launched his online photography business, Dyls Photography, three years ago and in his biggest career highlight to date, completed a coveted internship with the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns earlier this year.

He has won several awards for his work and one of his photographs was 11th in the Australian Photography Magazine’s Top 20 Junior Category. Further showcasing his versatility, Dylan has entered a nature photo in the Upper Yarra Community Bank’s 2022 Calendar Competition. His main motivation for entering was to highlight and share the natural beauty of the Upper Yarra.

“It is also a way of showing what I have learned in photography classes at Cire Community School’s Mount Evelyn campus,” said Dylan adding that he would have dropped out of school at Year 9 had he not switched schools to Cire. “The school is incredibly supportive.”

Dylan first developed an interest in photography at just 13, watching his brother race at BMX events and capturing “riders doing their thing”.

“When I held the camera, I saw something, my calling through the lens of photography,” he said, with his passion, willingness, determination, motivation and drive for sports photography fast-tracking him to where he is today.

Even COVID shutdowns and restrictions have failed to de-rail his quest to become an AFL photographer. He has used the time productively by sourcing and undertaking the internship with the Gold Coast Suns media team which saw his supportive family head north for their first holiday in 12 years so he could take up the invaluable opportunity. During COVID he has also explored volunteer gigs, secured a part-time job as a photographer; and further deepen his research and understanding of the profession and the pathways of the top practitioners.

Dylan says the most rewarding part of photography is holding down the shutter button and realising “you’ve captured the perfect photo”.

“Through sports photography, I’ve seen things through the lens that not many people get to see,” said Dylan whose favourite photographers are Chief Photographer of AFL, Michael Wilson and Hayden Pedersen, a freelancer/YouTuber.

“A good sports photo is based on timing, being able to follow the action; a good lens and knowing your camera.”

Dylan’s journey to date has not been without the critics having their say like, “You shouldn’t be doing photography, as you won’t get anywhere in life”.

“These words are jarring to hear,” said Dylan, adding that it was so important to follow and work towards your dreams, “Just go for it, as nothing is impossible if you put your time and mind into it.”

Describing his journey thus far, Dylan explained:

Last year during COVID-19 and lockdowns l contacted Field Of View Sports Photography based in Croydon about volunteering my time learning the ropes on how to take photos at sports events. Obviously, as COVID had hit hard there were no sporting events being played, so no photos were needed at this time. The owner, Jo loved my work but couldn’t take on a volunteer at the time. As soon as that lockdown was lifted l contacted Jo, to ask her when I could start. l have now been working for her for the past eight months. 

My greatest achievement has been my internship with the Gold Coast Suns in July. I was able to experience taking match game photos, team photos, press conferences, Captain’s run, AFLW draft selection, video and edit a team building session with the players, gym sessions and a photoshoot with some players. 

Sam Flanders - Gold Coast SunsI’m proud of all the photos I took at GCS, particularly of resigned key player Sam Flanders. It was the first time l had organised a photoshoot and they came out great…I am now a super keen GCS supporter!

My GCS experience has made me more determined than ever to reach for the stars and one day become a sports photographer for the AFL. Watch this space!!

Note. Voting closes on Sunday for the Upper Yarra Calendar Competition. For more information and to view Dylan’s beautiful On the Top image visit Upper Yarra 2022 Calendar Competition and Online Exhibition