Redeveloped VET courses customised for First Nations learners

In 2017, the Australian Centre for Career Education (ACCE) began a program of investigation to customise its two VET career development courses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners.  After meeting with the Toorong Marnong Koorie Project Officer from La Trobe University, ACCE’s previous CEO Bernadette Gigliotti, recognised that Closing the Gap for indigenous students and adults would only be possible if they could access indigenous career professionals.

An investigation with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association (VAEAI) identified less than four Aboriginal career professionals in Victoria, as well as specific challenges in the current career certifications for indigenous leaners.  Together, ACCE and VAEAI explored indigenous models of delivery in Canada and New Zealand and identified that the underpinning values for reviewing ACCE’s career development courses for indigenous learners needed to focus on:

  • Self-determination: First Nations people should be the owners of their own destiny and have access to indigenous career services.
  • The development of an indigenous career development workforce.

Further discussions led to an introduction by VAEAI to Aunty Carol Harrison of the Aboriginal Teaching and Learning Service, who took ACCE on a 5-year journey of discovery to understand traditional indigenous teaching methodologies.  From 2018 work with ACCE and Carol Harrison began in earnest on a developmental model for the new courses including:

  • Ongoing and meaningful engagement with elders and communities throughout the process.
  • Building capacity for people in roles that already include elements of careers talk.
  • Understanding the role of the Koorie Career Practitioner as a broker between two systems.
  • Strength-based delivery that adds value and recognition to the current indigenous workforce.

Thanks to a Regional and Specialist Training Fund grant in 2021, an intensive co-design process was run across 2022 with an intake of indigenous learners for a full trail of the redeveloped courses. The success of the project was documented in an independent evaluation by leading Australian career academic, Dr Mary McMahon. The project has also resulted in the graduation of six, First Nations career professionals in May 2023, and permanent course offerings from ACCE’s CEAV Institute (TOID 22523):

  • CHC41215 Certificate IV in Career Development for First Nations People
  • CHC81315 Graduate Certificate in Career Development Practice for First Nations People

We congratulate all our First Nations graduates and the ACCE staff and supporters who were involved in this important project. Most importantly, it demonstrates that with dedication, support and knowledge, the VET sector can design its courses to Close the Gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners.