Posts

Engaging the Community through Social Media

The response to the COVID-19 outbreak has created many changes in the tertiary education space. Students have rapidly transitioned to remote learning, while institutions worked to set up virtual classrooms and upskill their training staff. Perhaps the most difficult challenge for students during the transition has been attempting to complete their work placements in the Community Sector when most organisations have sent the workforce home. Indeed, the prospect of completing placement on time has been grim for some. However, for the students doing placement at Cire Training and Hubs, the experience has been quite different thanks to their ability to adapt to the changing landscape of community need.

As with many organisations, Cire Training and Hubs shifted a number of its services to online delivery and offered social and educational programs via Zoom or social media. The transition to this medium provided an opportunity for placement students to engage with the community in a new and exciting way. A handful of students jumped on board with the experimental venture and produced a “Social Isolation Survival Guide” filled with activities and information on personal wellbeing. The survival guide was distributed as a free resource to dozens of organisations and community groups with hospitals, early childhood education centres and schools among those who provided their clients with the guides, receiving an astoundingly positive response.

Following on from the success of the survival guide, students were eager to set up a program consisting of community interaction and engagement. After many planning sessions and Trello cards filled with ideas, the group came up with the concept of running an evening Zoom session for the community with special guest speakers. The name of this project was “Friday Night Live” and after a number of sessions, it became a hit with guests ranging from Pat Boucher from Yarra Ranges Life TV to Neal Taylor, CEO of Holy Fools. The program gave members of the community an opportunity to log on and ask the special guests questions and discover ways to become involved in their community.

The placement students have expressed the value they have found in learning how to deliver community programs in an online format. The process of adapting to new ways of doing things alongside our staff has helped immerse the students in what it is like to work in the community services sector. Furthermore, the ideas they have developed and the projects they have implemented have served ongoing needs within our community in a fun and inventive way. The possibility of delivering an online placement would not have been possible Box Hill Institute’s trust and support in the placement program at Cire Training and Hubs. For our students, this may have been an unusual placement, but they have risen to the challenge and delivered amazing results. Thank you!

Jarred Kellerman – Business Support Manager  – Training & Hubs

Welcome to Term 3 – Chirnside Community Hub

Welcome to issue #8 of OurHub term 3 Guide. As you can see we’ve moved to an online version for Term 3. Don’t worry the much loved printed version will be back for Term 4, and we will also continue to deliver this online for those of you who prefer to check out what’s on offer on your phone or tablet (it’s even better for our beloved planet).

What a whirlwind the last three months have been for not only for our community but for all communities worldwide. We have had to learn to adapt to many changes in our day-to-day routines with everything but essential services closed. For me, these changes meant that I had to adapt to working from home, homeschooling four children and being thrown into the world of virtual meetings and catch-ups. Reflecting on the past few months, I am really grateful for the experience as it has given me the opportunity to spend quality time with my family, enjoy a slower pace of life and gain the confidence that I can adapt to any situation and come out stronger.

We closed the Hubs on 23rd March and I was very unsure of how I was going to support the community and provide courses and programs, without being able to deliver them in the centre. I am very grateful for my amazing team and together we kept coming up with innovative ideas to support the community. Our Fit 4 Life program was the first to be delivered via Zoom and with the members that did not have access to technology, we sent them an exercise DVD and exercise information sheets. We connected our Wednesday morning craft group together on Zoom, and despite some technical challenges, with patience and persistence, we got there in the end. The weekly catch-ups have kept the ladies feeling connected during this isolating time.

Some of the other programs that went virtual included our Book and Movie Club which meets on the last Wednesday of the month and Majickal Belly Dancing launched a four-week course. Friday Night Live, a program created by our placement students from Box Hill Institute of TAFE, welcomed guest speakers each week and incorporated a question and answer section at the end. Guest speakers included Patrick Boucher and Danny Field from Yarra Ranges TV, David Shepard a Tai Chi instructor, and Emily Webbers, an Indigenous educator.

Two weeks before closed our Hubs, we welcomed Naomi to our team as the Chirnside Park Community Hub Coordinator (pictured above left). You may have already seen her on our weekly Cuppa and Chat sessions on our Facebook page, where she has kept us updated with what is going on at the Hubs. Naomi started the hugely successful Lock Down Lego Challenge on Facebook, reaching around 800 members. The group was created and new challenges were set up daily to engage families to get creative and build Lego. Due to the success of this group we are excited to be launching our Lego Group at both our hubs.

Level Up is unlikely to return to the Hubs in Term 3, or while limits on social gatherings are still in place. Level Up is extremely important for our young people however, we do not want to create a situation where some young people may need to be excluded from our programs. We are eager for Level Up to return as soon as we are able to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all. Gamers Lounge transitioned to an online format in May and will continue to do so for Term 3. Those interested in becoming involved can do so by joining our Facebook group.

We look forward to welcoming you back to our Hub and as always, please feel free to stop in for a cuppa and chat and let us know what you would like to see in our programming.

If you would like to subscribe simply click the Sign Up! button above.

Enjoy OurHubs online
Jenelle Strachan – Manager – Cire Community Hubs

 

 

Family Learning Partnership Grant

As part of our Term 3 schedule, Cire’s Community Hubs are proud to be introducing initiatives under the ‘Family Learning Partnerships’ Grant. This funding will help our team support local families to connect over a variety of projects.

At Cire, we LOVE learning! Our schools, courses and programs all provide opportunities for people to gain more skills and specialised knowledge. Developing family learning partnerships will help us introduce these opportunities to young people, parents, grandparents and carers throughout the community.

Our new “Create, Play, Grow” will inspire children and their carers to connect with nature. Cire’s very own ‘Farmer Jill’ has developed an exciting program to encourage everyone to use their senses, develop fine and gross motor skills, and improve investigation and questioning skills.  All of this, plus more, while enjoying the wonderful local environments at our Hubs.

We will be bringing our successful Lock Down Lego Challenge to the real world, with our Lego Group coming to the Hubs in Term 3. This program will see families working together on weekly builds, promoting team-work, communication and bonding over a common interest.

Our Yarra Junction Hub will be partnering with the Ben’s Shed to run woodworking workshops, with families learning basic building skills to create a project to take home. This series will be a great chance to get to know others in the Upper Yarra community, with various ages coming together to share their knowledge.

At our Chirnside Park Hub, we will be teaming up with our friends at Cire’s Community School in Mount Evelyn expanding our veggie garden to create a “learning landscape”. This project will open up more opportunities for locals of all ages to enjoy fresh produce.  We are also looking forward to featuring harvests as part of our upcoming Pop Up Café and community meals.

If you are looking for great food and fantastic company, come along to our Hubs for our monthly Community Lunches. Supporting the benefits of life-long learning, these meals will feature guest speakers covering a range of topics to keep your family happy, healthy and safe. A highlight is sure to be the lunches during school holidays, where we will be incorporating a range of fun activities for all ages!

The Family Learning Partnerships programs will also include a variety of outreach activities. We are very excited to be working with local schools to promote important themes like gender equity and healthy relationships. These sessions will allow us to meet with students, as well as their parents and carers, to inspire discussions and lead change. If you would like your school to be considered for our incursion program, please get in touch.

Over the coming year, our team will be attending and coordinating a number of events to interact with local families and groups. We will be connecting with people to dig a little deeper, to gain insights into how members of our community want to broaden their knowledge.

Plans are already underway for our annual Twilight Christmas Market. In addition to a huge range of stalls to cover all of your gifts, we will be on hand to hear from you what 2021 could bring for you in terms of personal and professional growth, and how, through a variety of courses. Pop Friday, 4 December in your calendar, as this is an event you will not want to miss!

The Family Learning Partnerships funding is helping Cire open many doors, and we are keen to hear what you would like to see in your community. Our Hubs team is here to create programs and activities to help everyone learn, connect and grow.  If you have an idea you’d like to share, give us a call on 1300 835 235, or email us at communityhubs@cire.org.au.

Nina Bekker – Business Develpment Manager – Cire Training & Hubs

 

Education and lifelong learning during COVID-19 times

Welcome to issue #3 Cire Training SkillsHub. As you can see we’ve moved to an online version for Term 3. Don’t worry the much loved printed version will be back for Term 4, and we will also continue to deliver this online for those of you who prefer to check out what’s on offer on your phone or tablet (it’s even better for our beloved planet).

As the end of Term one was fast approaching so was the Victorian Governments initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the weeks leading up to the Easter holiday’s Cire training were concentrating on setting up our online training platform. We decided to go with Google classroom and Google Meet, as the adult students were somewhat familiar with this platform. So while the students were rewarded with an extended school holiday break, from the 21st March staff worked tirelessly to prepare for remote learning for the start of term 2.

On the whole Term 2 has been a success, much reliant on this preparation from the Cire training staff. I know that I am now quite the expert at uploading resources, videos, weblinks and classwork to the Google classroom and can even insert a virtual background to a Zoom online meeting. I can appear to be in my lounge room or on a beach, complete with colourful umbrellas and clear blue skies. I mostly choose to be seen in my lounge room due to the poor internet connection, but I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with internet issues.

During this term I have indeed worked from home in my front lounge. I had a large window to work next too and have enjoyed the comings and goings of traffic, both vehicles and humans in and out of my street. I have loved watching people and small family groups going for their daily walks, and all the different dogs that have accompanied them. In particular, there is a large golden retriever who runs ahead of his family and bounds onto my lawn and driveway with such delight that I can’t help but smile. My cat, Monty, is not quite so impressed! I had a tree just outside my window, which was at the beginning covered in bright green leaves. Over this time it transitioned through autumn into beautiful leaves of yellows, oranges and reds until now it stands bare with not one left remaining.

I have been increasingly proud of how all of our Cire students have continued their learning journey during Term 2. Many of our students had issues with access to suitable devices, internet access. They needed to juggle other responsibilities such as working and caring roles, but they still signed in to their sessions to stay connected and learn new skills.

It was with such pride that the First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE) re-opened its doors on Wednesday 10th June, celebrating with a 50% off sale. During Term 2 the FICE shop was closed, but training and support for community continued online. Although this was a fantastic way to stay in touch, the team are over the moon to be open and trading and supporting the local community.

Now, as Term two is coming to a close, and we look forward to Term 3 and the changes that it will bring to our training space. Where possible we will return to in class, face to face learning, maintaining COVID safe guidelines. This will significantly improve some learning journeys and bring our students back together to continue their connections. A number of our courses will continue to be delivered remotely; some will be blended (online and on-campus) as we continue to comply with social distancing.

I would like to finally thank all of the Cire family, both students and staff, for sticking together during what has been a challenging time. It has been truly amazing to be part of a team who just got on with the job at hand to enable our students to continue their learning journeys with Cire.

If you would like to subscribe simply click the Sign Up! button above.

So onwards and upwards, watch out, Term 3 here we come!

Enjoy SkillsHub online
Nina Bekker – Business Development Manager – Cire Training & Hubs

 

Working from home – a student’s perspective

COVID -19 has disrupted the lives of everyone in the world. While schools were closed and other support services were finding new ways of operating,  it’s important to still stay healthy both physically and mentally.

No chance to say goodbye

As humans we are social beings, being taken away from that social interaction hits most people pretty hard. Not being able to go see your friends or even just people at work & school can be difficult. I found it hard not getting out every day and seeing people at school. It can be pretty hard at some points as we go through this time being at home, there will be times where it’s hard and stressful, but you have to remember that feelings don’t last forever. Also making time to see people in person whether that’s a walk or talking over the fence, making time to still see different people is really important.

Thinking creatively and problem-solving

Working from home can be tough, and there will be times that you will have to think out of the box and come up with an alternative to something you are doing. For example, doing school work from home takes you away from that sense of being taught, and not having someone there to ask questions to in person. But there are some good things too like being able to be more concentrated on your work with fewer distractions, being able to get more work done and have time to really think about your work.

Organising your day

Being at home all day doing school work can feel like there are lots to do, making a solid plan/timetable of your day can really help with managing your work and getting it all done in time. Making time for breaks and snacks. I found that I needed to make time for a walk each day to get out in nature and have some fresh air. It is really important making yourself stay focused and motivated to get yourself through the day and getting the job done.

Trying something new

Trying something new that you wouldn’t usually do can be a great way to learn new skills and learn how to be better at existing skills. I have learnt how to write better emails and how to communicate online better. Also, I’ve enjoyed getting better at participating and showing up for online classes. I’ve also learnt how to manage my time and how to stay motivated.

Working at home can be difficult at times, but overall I’ve found it not too hard. And I quite enjoyed working from home and I’d be happy if I had to do it again.

VETis Tourism student 2020

Education Support – learning during COVID-19

Term 1 2020 saw the Lilydale group of students come together as learners to undertake Certificate IV in Education Support at Cire. During the term, we developed positive relationships by learning about each other, taking part in team activities and working together to build our skills ready for Term 2 placements.

However, early in Term 2, we had to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions which involved changing our approach and continue with our studies virtually rather than face-to-face.

We were unable to undertake our planned placements and could not meet in person in our Lilydale training room – the space that had become so familiar to us each Thursday and Friday.

The transition to online learning has been a steep learning curve! We now get together via Google Meet to work through our units, covering the requirements of our course.  This has enabled class members to show the qualities they will need to be effective and capable education support workers.

Many of the students have astounded themselves with their vastly improved abilities with technology. Back in February, several students had no knowledge at all of the programs they are now accessing and using. Have there been high levels of anxiety? Yes. However, to their credit, all students are still in the course, using the online resources and completing their assessments online. They have also all presented a project using our online platform. The class has demonstrated excellent perseverance, communication skills and great examples of overcoming fears and rising to the challenge when overwhelmed.

We could dwell on the frustrations and the many adaptations we have had to make to ensure we keep on track, but we have focused on the positives, supporting each other and working to complete the units. Because we had developed a supportive team relationship before COVID-19, we have been able to reach out and support each other. We have shared a laugh about the lags in video production, the sending of multiple meeting links, and the talking over each other as we try to ‘read’ the best moment to make a contribution.

Teaching online requires a different preparation, different resources and is exhausting but the participation and interest of the group make it all worthwhile. I am so proud of the students for their adaptability, flexibility, perseverance and resourcefulness and know they will take these skills into the next part of their course and to the workplace when they move into their new careers.

Julie Legione

Cire trainer

My experiences with Cire

Hi, I’m Irene, currently studying Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care with Cire. I am from the Philippines and moved to Australia four years ago. I have a Certificate III in Individual Support and currently, work as a personal care assistant for an aged care facility in the Yarra Valley.

After some time working in the field, I wanted to expand my career options so enrolled for Certificate III Early Childhood Education. Why this course? Because I’ve always had a passion for working with and relating to children and have dreamt of becoming an early childhood educator. Why Cire? Because Cire’s local; the course cost is reasonable; the class size is small; delivery is flexible and Cire was very helpful and accommodating when I enquired about the course.

I am confident a career in childcare will be rewarding and worthwhile and I am confident about future employment opportunities in the sector. According to an article published by Rhianon Gent in training.com.au on the 19th December 2019

“Childcare is an incredibly fast-growing industry. It’s estimated that there are likely to be a whopping 184,000 job openings in childcare over the next 5 years. This is most likely due to the growing population and the increasing demand for both parents to return to work after maternity leave.”

 I believe I have been successful in the course so far by submitting assignments on time and getting through the first two sets of placements. Our trainer has a friendly and approachable personality and teaching style and Cire provides excellent resources for the course which greatly benefits the class and enhance learning.

My main challenges have been overcoming my nervousness during placement and building my confidence so I can express my thoughts and participate better in the class

Due to COVID-19, we transitioned from face-to-face classes to online delivery. It was a bit overwhelming at first and I was worried because I didn’t have home internet. I have surprised myself with how well I have coped. Cire has done a tremendous job in transitioning to online delivery and the support from our trainer has been amazing.

Cire named top community training provider in Victoria

Cire Services has been named the top community training provider in Victoria, validating Cire Training’s leading reputation for excellence and its innovative programs designed to enhance the employment pathways of people of all ages throughout the Yarra Ranges and beyond.

Cire claimed the coveted title when it won the Community Training Provider category at the Victorian Department of Education and Training’s 65th Anniversary Victorian Training Awards evening at Crown Palladium on Friday 6 September.

The awards are the most prestigious event on the TAFE and training calendar, showcasing the ‘best of the best’ in the sector as well as highlighting how Vocational Education and Training (VET) is making a powerful and enduring difference to individuals and communities.

Further reinforcing its reputation, Cire was a recent finalist in three categories in the 2019 Learn Local Awards: Learn Local Legend; Victorian Learn Local Practitioner Award – Nina Bekker, Cire Training’s Business Development Manager; and the Victorian Learn Local Creating Local Solutions Award – Women’s Warehouse Essentials.

Cire’s CEO, Gus Seremetis said the string of award accolades was a thrilling acknowledgement of Cire’s work, with much to look forward to in the future. She noted the true measure of Cire’s success was the high number of participants who find employment after undertaking training at Cire and the huge increase in course enrolments.

 ‘We are proud of our quality and innovative approaches to upskilling people to enhance their employment pathways, and the positive difference this makes  at so many levels and well beyond the classroom,’ Mrs Seremetis said.

‘Our award successes are a particular tribute to the hard work of our team at Cire Training and the way all our services work in collaboration to deliver to people of all ages within our extensive reach.’

Cire Training prides itself on a try before you buy approach to its programs, and being agile in order to assist and be accessible to cohorts experiencing disadvantage.

The Try a Trade tasters, run in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology, have been extremely successful with more than 36 per cent of participants enrolling in pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships. Cire’s accredited and pre-accredited courses combine practicality and entrepreneurship with subjects such as cooking, literacy, computer skills and financial literacy. The Women’s Warehouse program empowers long-term unemployed women; 70 per cent of participants have achieved employment.  Cire’s pre-accredited enrolments have doubled in the past three years.

Executive Manager, Cire Education and Training, Anna Louise Allen commended the team at Cire Training for its strong commitment to the people of the Yarra Valley by developing programs that support re-engagement in work and learning.

Students showcase Yarra Valley gourmet delights

Yarra Valley’s stunning culinary delights were showcased to perfection at a recent Yarra Ranges Linking Learning dinner, thanks to the magnificent master cheffing of four students from Certificate II in Kitchen Operations and their trainer Jeannette.

“Everyone raved about the food, the students were awesome in the way they catered for about 50 people who enjoyed the evening,” said Gus Seremetis, CEO Cire Services.

Students can undertake Certificate II in Kitchen Operations as part of the VET program in VCE. The course,

Linking Learning dinner delights prepared by the students

Linking Learning dinner delights prepared by the students

delivered by Cire Training in conjunction with Upper Yarra Secondary College (UYSC), provides an excellent stepping stone to career prospects in the hospitality industry in the region or much further afield.

The course is. It is based at the Trade Training Centre commercial kitchen at UYSC which offers training for students from the Yarra Valley VET Cluster.

Cire Training has proactively negotiated catering jobs for students so they gain structured workplace experiences with paying customers. Cire school buses are used to help overcome local transport issues, particularly in the evenings.

Linking Learning dinner prepared by Kitchen Operations students

Left to right – Paige, Alice, Jeanette (Trainer), Shae and Lilybeth

After a term’s study for three of the four students, the group presented the wonderful array of Yarra Valley foods (pictured) at the Linking Learning dinner. Ingredients were sourced from Sanders Orchard, Gladysdale and Three Bridges, Victorian Strawberry Fields in Silvan, the Smokery in Lilydale, Yarra Valley Dairy, Yarra Glen and the Flying Apron in Wesburn.

The students will be providing further community support throughout the year with a range of catering jobs which involve cooking, presenting and serving food to support a variety of events. These will include a pop-up café at Chirnside Community Hub on the last Wednesday of the month, community dinners held at the Cire Community School church, Cire Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) at Yarra Junction, and the Biggest Morning Tea  

Make sure you look out for one of these events near you.

If you would like to know more about Cire Training call 1300 835 235

Cire scoops two awards for Mount Evelyn garden

Cire’s Community Garden at Mount Evelyn has starred in the 2018 Victorian Schools Garden Awards (VSGA).

It topped its category for the most engaging school garden, awarded by Catholic Education Melbourne, as well as winning the secondary schools section for North Eastern – Regional.

The dual awards are a testimony to the hard work and creativeness of staff and students as well as highlighting the flexible and quality learning opportunities Cire provides people of all ages.

The VSGA recognises the importance and value of gardens and outdoor spaces in progressive modern education. Established by Paul Crowe OAM and the late Kevin Heinze in 1977, the program helps promote the joy of gardens and gardening to school-aged children.

‘VSGA is a great way for us to showcase the types of flexible learning opportunities that Cire provides people of all ages, including our students. We are very proud of our awards, particularly because they publicly acknowledge what we have accomplished and aspire to achieve in the future.’Said Anna-Louise Allen, Executive Manager Education and Training, Cire

Revitalised from a previously neglected community space, Cire’s garden at the Mount Evelyn is a well-organised hub of activity for hands-on learning and engagement for students from the school, Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and kindergarten. As part of our paddock-to-plate program, our VCAL students use the produce to create deliciously healthy meals in cooking class.Cire-Community-Garden Award

It is a constant work/creation-in-progress with the change of each season and the ongoing input from different waves of students who are constantly thinking of improvements/new initiatives.

In addition to the lush range of produce and the resident chickens, there is a focus on sustainability with a water tank and composting, as well the resourceful reuse and recycling of most of the materials used.

We have great plans for the future with a focus on creating a sanctuary for students to connect with nature, their health and wellbeing; a safe space for animals, and a green and productive area. The garden also facilitates greater connection with the wider community through the availability of surplus produce and volunteer assistance.

Recent achievements include:

  • Resource Smart School accreditation with Cire setting an ambitious goal to gain our first two stars including one for waste management. The Vasili's Garden MagazineVictorian Government initiative assists schools to embed sustainability in everything they do, encourages real-life sustainability learning and helps schools save money.
  • Our garden has been featured in the nationally-distributed Vasili’s Garden magazine which promotes healthy and sustainable lifestyles

If you would like further information on our Community Garden please call 1300 835 235.

Pictured: Award-winning Cire gardeners, from left, Hannah, Luke and Rohnan with
Maria Minto- Cahill from Catholic Education Melbourne.

Pictured: with Paul Crowe OAM, VSGA co-Founder and Patron, are award-winning Cire gardeners, from left, students Hannah, Rohnan, Luke and Cire trainer Jill Dowling and teacher Ebony Mackay.