Partnership set to increase education opportunities and address skills shortages in Gippsland

Gippsland’s three largest tertiary education providers have come together to increase the number of education opportunities for local students and help address the shortage of skilled health and community service workers throughout the region. 

Bringing together Monash University, GippsTAFE and Advance TAFE (previously known as East Gippsland TAFE), the Gippsland Integrated Health and Community Education Program will see the introduction of a new, regionally-focused Diploma of Health and Community Care that provides graduates with the ability to enhance their employment opportunities in the health and community care sectors and build on their achievements by transitioning to a Bachelor-level degree at Monash University’s Gippsland campus.

With the first intake scheduled for mid-2012, it is expected that 150 students will have either enrolled in or completed the new Diploma of Health and Community Care by the end of 2013.

The program, which was jointly announced by the Deputy Premier, the Hon. Peter Ryan MLA and the Minister for Higher Education and Skills, the Hon. Peter Hall MLC, has been made possible through funding of $1.5 million from the Victorian Government’s Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund, with a further $1 million of in-kind and financial contributions from the three participating institutions.

Professor Helen Bartlett, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash University’s Gippsland campus, said the Gippsland Integrated Health and Community Education Program demonstrated how universities and TAFEs could work together to address skills shortages and help overcome the barriers to tertiary education in regional areas.

“Due to the ageing of Gippsland’s population, demand for health and community care will continue to increase, and ensuring a capable workforce is developed to respond to this remains a pressing challenge.

“Education providers need to make it easy for people in Gippsland - regardless of where they may live – to access education and training opportunities at TAFE and university.

“The introduction of the Gippsland Integrated Health and Community Education Program shows how education providers can share their respective strengths to achieve that objective and overcome regional barriers such as distance, cost, aspiration and attainment,” said Professor Bartlett.

Mr Jim Vivian, General Manager of Corporate Services at GippsTAFE, said the new Diploma of Health and Community Care would place an emphasis on using technology to extend the footprint of Gippsland’s tertiary education providers, and increase flexibility and convenience for students.

“The new Diploma will primarily be delivered through face-to-face and e-learning at ten sites across the whole of Gippsland, including Bairnsdale, Sale, Orbost, Churchill, Traralgon, Morwell, Yallourn, Warragul, Leongatha and Wonthaggi.

“The approach allows us to take education opportunities to students in their own towns, letting them live and study locally – with the support of friends and family – rather than requiring them to relocate or travel considerable distances,” said Mr Vivian.                                 
In addition to providing improved opportunities to share infrastructure, the Gippsland Integrated Health and Community Education Program will further strengthen links between the vocational and higher education sectors, and provide a defined pathway for students seeking to study at university.
“After successfully completing the Diploma of Health and Community Care with Advance TAFE or GippsTAFE, a student will be able to continue building their skills, experience and qualifications through having guaranteed entry to an undergraduate degree at Monash University’s Gippsland campus,” said Mr Peter Heilbuth, CEO of Advance TAFE.

“This is an especially important component of helping make university more accessible and achievable, particularly for students who haven’t completed Year 12, or mature-aged students who may be returning to education after many years in the workforce.