Health workers brush up their dental skills

Maintaining good oral health is a challenge that faces many Australians, particularly Aboriginal children in remote and rural communities.

To help raise the level of dental health, Central, as part of the State Government’s $6 million ear, eye and oral health initiative, have begun oral health training in WA’s Mid-West and Pilbara.

The three-day workshop teaches rural health workers how to apply a fluoride varnish, assess oral health, prevent disease and refer patients to dental practitioners.

The aim of the training is to increase accessibility to dental prevention in remote areas to lower the amount and regularity of oral health issues.

Chief Pharmacist, Neil Keen granted a special exemption for Aboriginal health workers and other non-oral health professionals, such as registered nurses and community health nurses to apply the varnish.

A similar program has been previously implemented in the Northern Territory and continues to show positive results in the reduction of tooth decay.


Regular application of the fluoride varnish can reduce decay by up to a third and can be applied to healthy teeth as well as those with decay. It is applied to the teeth of children under five years old every six months.

The training program has been delivered to participants from Wiluna for the Ngangganawili Health Service, Warakurna for the Ngaanyatjarra Health Service, Mt Magnet and Geraldton for Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Health Service, Kalgoorlie for the Bega Garnbirringu Health Service and South Hedland for the Wirraka Maya Health Service and Pilbara.

A total of seven workshops have been undertaken, with further training being offered to health workers in the Kimberley region in 2016.

The program has already trained approximately 60 participants who work in regional and remote locations in Western Australia.

Miriam Thomas, Lecturer and facilitator of these workshops is committed to providing continued support to all participants.

“I will continue to liaise with future, current and past participants to ensure that the knowledge and skills learnt are maintained”, said Miriam.

The responses from participants who have completed the three-day workshop have been overwhelmingly positive. They have expressed how much they have learnt about Oral Health Care and the Application of Fluoride Varnish and acknowledged their significant value in the prevention of tooth decay and other dental diseases.

Premier’s Award for Foyer Oxford

Youth homelessness is an all to familiar problem that destroys opportunity and has a massive effect on quality of life.

To combat this growing trend, Central, in partnership with the Housing Authority, Foundation Housing and Anglicare WA launched Foyer Oxford in 2014.

The success of the Foyer Oxford project was recognised at the recent Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management, where it won the Strengthening Families and Communities Award.

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Foyer Oxford is a holistic response to homelessness. It provides safe and secure accommodation, as well as access to services like education, training and employment to help at risk young people live independent and productive lives.

Premier Colin Barnett stated the recipients and nominees of the Premier’s Awards recognise positive changes in the community.

“The range of benefits includes economic, social, environmental, cultural and the health and wellbeing of West Australians. The award entries are an excellent way to share good ideas, good methods and great results – with each other, other jurisdictions and the wider community”, Premier Barnett said.

Foyer Oxford is the first facility of its kind in WA and one of 1,000 Foyers across the world. The model is considered best practice because it provides at-risk young people with long-term transitional accommodation and comprehensive support.

More Information:

Katherine out to break poverty cycle

Following Katherine’s win at the WA Training Awards last week, I caught up with her for a Q&A on her career and how it felt to be named the State’s Vocational Student of the Year..

What made you choose the Financial Counselling course?

I started my studies in the Community Services (Financial Counselling) because I wanted to use my administrative and banking background and interest in sociology and advocacy to assist clients to overcome their financial hardship and empower them to take steps towards a more informed way of knowing about the complex world of money, credit and debt. I also wanted to belong to a profession that is dedicated to assisting individuals and families overcome adversity though challenging or breaking the cycle of poverty. I wanted to work with people and in a profession that equips their clients with confidence and knowledge.

In the future I wish to work in an area related to increasing and enhancing financial literacy in young people (18-25). I am passionate about empowering and educating young people about real life issues such as the impact of credit reporting, credit cards, budgeting and debt. Consumer law issues are becoming increasingly complex. The majority of young adults don’t realise how their current debt can negatively affect their future credit rating. Without consistent money management practices, young people can find it difficult to reach financial goals. I aim to work with people in a manner which is engaging for them, proactive and addresses the psychological influences which impact understanding and behaviors in relation to financial matters. This can be achieved through linking theory with practice. It’s important to enhance people’s understanding of financial matters; to inform them in a way that is engaging, practical and makes sense.

Financial counselling is a profession which requires a high level of concentrated knowledge around financial matters and legislation. It is a stimulating and challenging job, in which no two days are the same due to the diversity of clients and issues. My Diploma gave me the tool kit to start my exciting journey as a financial counsellor. I recommend this job to someone who has a passion for advocating and is interested in a diverse challenging role working with people, not for them, in which no two days are the same.

I really would like to see younger people (between 25 to 40) in the profession. I believe that life experience is relative to the individual. You can meet a 25 year old who has experienced more life changing issues than a 45 year old who has led a sheltered and privileged life. I believe someone who has been in financial hardship themselves and overcome it can be an empowering role model and therefore would have more empathy for the clients. Empathy is paramount in establishing trust, and without trust, positive lasting change cannot occur.

How did you feel when you won?

I didn’t expect to win! I was really pleasantly surprised. The other finalists were all worthy of the award, so I acknowledge their efforts and hard work.

When I won, I felt a bit overwhelmed. It really felt quite surreal. Winning the Vocational Student of the year award is an accomplishment that I feel very proud to have attained. It is an achievement which I have no doubt will open up doors to further opportunities and experiences. I’m really excited to be an advocate for a training course and profession that I’m really passionate about and proud to be a part of.


What did you like about your Central course?

Through furthering my studies I have developed strong interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to relate well to people of all ages and backgrounds. My studies have taught me to use a strength based, client centered approach in all of the work that I do. The course also equips you to understand codes of conduct and professional rules and ethics surrounding the profession.

The course provides practical, real life case scenarios and is hands on. You get to work on phases of everyday life; problem solving financial issues which affect everyone, and create and enhance budgeting techniques. I really enjoyed the community education element which explores working with community to enhance and develop their knowledge and skills. The course is also flexible and can be done online, which gives you more freedom and is accommodating to lifestyle commitments.

The Diploma in Community Services (Financial Counselling) provided an opportunity to enhance my understanding of the social, financial and legal frameworks, which impact and affect individuals and families on an everyday level. The course places a strong importance in continuing to learn as legislation and polices are always changing.

It teaches you to be adaptable; to improve understanding and to prepare to make informed decisions which better serve our clients. My studies have provided me with more confidence in dealing with complex financial issues and have given me a theoretical foundation which helps to inform and enhance the frameworks I work within.

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I now see myself as someone that makes a difference, in making people’s lives a little bit easier by advocating for them when they lack the confidence. I also aim to empower them by sharing my knowledge with them and encouraging them to take action in a way that they are comfortable with and ready for.

As a financial counsellor you will work with clients who have low levels of financial literacy, vulnerable people and clients from culturally linguistically diverse backgrounds. Language barriers and different cultural factors can impact their understanding of their situation and can limit their ability to advocate for themselves. It’s important to use communication which is transparent and suitable. The nature of these interactions also requires sensitivity and careful consideration, which necessitates culturally appropriate responses. The course taught us how to develop all these skills.


Two big wins for Central

Central and one of its Community Services graduates secured had a couple of major wins at the WA Training Awards on Friday evening at the Convention Centre.

Training Minister, The Hon Liza Harvey MLA attended the event which is hosted by the Department of Training and Workforce Development.

The WA Training Awards recognise and reward outstanding achievements of apprentices, trainees and vocational students, and the contribution to training made by trainers, training organisations and employers.

The Jumpstart training program designed for Foyer residents won top honour as WA Training Initiative of the Year. Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling) student Katherine Haag won the highly competitive Vocational Student of the Year prize.


Jumpstart has been a highly successful first step back into training for young people who have a history of difficult experiences with education. Focusing on career development, independent living skills, numeracy and literacy, lecturers work closely with Foyer case managers to create an individual pathway plan for each young person, focusing on their interests and goals. It is a unique Central creation and well worthy of state recognition.

“Very few times in the life of an organisation does something happen that galvanizes it entirely. Foyer Oxford is one such occasion where every single member of staff at Central is incredibly proud to be part of this initiative. And to know that our Jumpstart program is contributing to the engagement of young homeless people in education, employment and training and subsequently independent living, is immensely gratifying”, said Central MD Neil Fernandes.

Vocational Student of the Year winner Katherine category realised Community Services was the path for her following some challenging times of her own. Completing work based training for the Diploma, Katherine is inspired to help people to overcome their financial hardship and break the cycle of poverty. She is now studying social work and social policy at university.


Bridging the gap

Central continues to bridge the gap between VET and university, with student Jocelyn Kelly being the latest success story forging a path to higher education at UWA.

Jocelyn was accepted into the Indigenous Entry program at UWA after being referred to Central by Murdoch’s Kulbardi Centre to complete the Learning Advantage program.

The Learning Advantage program is tailored to prepare students for university study.

Jocelyn spent six months at Central studying a Certificate II in General Education as part of the program after arriving from Murdoch University early in 2015.

She is one of the first students to take part in the new partnership established between Murdoch University and Central designed to increase bridging pathways for Aboriginal students who want to go to university.

Robert Warburton, lecturer and course coordinator of the Learning Advantage program was very impressed the depth and breadth of Jocelyn’s knowledge as well as her positive attitude and willingness to be a team player.

“She has a high intellect and reads a lot in many different disciplines including; philosophy, history, the origins and structure of language, and many other areas”, said Robert.

Jocelyn has a broad range of academic interests, but wants to focus her studies on language at university.

Following her bridging course, Jocelyn will study a Bachelor of Arts, specialising in languages in order to reach her dream of becoming an interpreter at a government level in the political or diplomatic spheres.

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Sims in Real Life

Sometimes the best way to learn is not out of a book, but by getting stuck in and getting your hands dirty.

In 2015, VET in schools students studying Certificate II in Health Support Services are enjoying a more practical course delivery.

The new model features simulated work environments at the Mount Lawley campus including simulated hospital wards and the REACH clinic.

Simulated work environments allow students to practice different Health Support Service roles on a rotating basis, facilitated by their lecturers.

Over the duration of the course each student will experience being Team Leader, Ward Clerk, Infection Control Officer, Hygiene Technician, Transport Officer, Laundry Technician and Stores Technician.

The roles rotate every two weeks so each student can develop skills and experience a variety of Health industry tasks.

Students must work together to ensure each task is completed while filling in the worksheet checklists so it runs like a real health clinic.

To supplement their learning, students take part in a number of excursions throughout the semester including, completing their sustainability training at the GreenSkills Training Centre in East Perth, tours of the other Central campuses to see the other courses on offer and a community project with St Bartholomew’s in East Perth.

After completing Certificate II, students can progress to Certificate III in Health Services Assistance, as part of the VET in schools program and then onto further health related study.

Simulated work environments give the next generation of Health professionals the experience they need to apply their skills and knowledge in the real world.

For information on all VET in schools courses click here