Becoming a finalist is music to Lien’s ears

29-year old Lien Vanmaele from Inglewood has been short-listed as a finalist for the “WA International Student of the Year” award at this year’s WA Training Awards for her dedication to pursuing a career in the music events industry.

Belgium born Lien moved to Perth two years ago to experience living and studying in another country and says it is the best thing she has ever done.

“Studying and spending time in a different country has had such a huge positive impact on my life,” said Lien. “I have become fluent in English, obtained two qualifications and secured a job that I absolutely love.”

Lien studied a Diploma of Music Business at North Metropolitan TAFE in Leederville whilst participating in an internship at West Australian Music, where she gained experience working on gigs like the State of the Art Festival and the West Australian Music Festival.

Lien went on to obtain a Diploma of Events at North Metro TAFE’s Northbridge campus and now works in a front of house role at the Perth Arena where she has had the opportunity to work on events such as The Prince Concert, The Cure, Disney on Ice and Canada vs USA Ice Hockey.

“My dream was always to work in the music industry, for a big festival or concert venue and now I’m living my dream and I have to pinch myself some days to make sure I’m awake.”

Lien admits that her journey hasn’t always been an easy one, particularly with the language barrier she faced when she arrived in Australia. She knew she had to overcome her fears of not being understood because she wouldn’t only have to speak in English, she’d need to study in English as well.

“The first few weeks were really tough,” she said. “I was translating every single word in my head trying to work out what it meant and on top of that, I had the Australian accent to get used to”.

“After a while, something started to change. I felt myself getting used to it. I was no longer translating every word and actually caught myself thinking in English!” said Lien.

North Metro TAFE Events lecturer Liz Bindon-Bonney said that Lien has transformed into an independent, confident and extremely motivated student during her studies.

“Lien is a hard-working and talented student who has used her strength and enthusiasm to overcome the many challenges faced by an international student,” said Liz. “She will go far in the events industry and I wish her the very best.”

Not resting on her laurels, Lien now studies Leadership and Management at Sterling Business College which she hopes will assist her to gain a management position in the future.

Lien is competing against three other finalists for the “WA International Student of the Year” title which will be awarded at a Presentation Dinner on Friday 23 September at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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.


Two big wins at State Training Awards

Central had a couple of major wins at the WA Training Awards at the Convention Centre on Friday evening.

Engineering student Marjan Ghadirian (picture above, left) won the WA Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Training Award. Marjan only came to Australia in 2010 and is taking giant strides in her goal to gain an engineering degree and ultimately become a fully qualified Mechanical Engineer.

Three out of the four finalists in this category were from Central with the other two being Narges Feyz Bakhsh (Education Support) and Ahmad Sadiqi (Community Services).

Central was also successful in winning the WA International Training Provider of the Year award. This is the third time we have won this award in four years, which is testament to the quality of our programs and services for international students.

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Sarah Emmerson and Jan Tekely, Central’s international team members

Central also had three of the four finalists in the Vocational Student of the Year category.  Congratulations to Leilani Underwood (Education Support) Amanda Guthrie (Human Resource Management) and Terry Taplin (Screen & Media) for their achievements.

Other Central finalists on the night were Holly Johnson (Sport and Recreation), for WA School Based Apprentice of the Year, and Roderick Manton, a trainee studying a Diploma of Engineering (Mechanical Technical), for WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year.

Congratulations to Marjan and all the Central students for their achievements in making the finals in their respective categories.

Find out more about the awards at the Training WA website

Find out about studying at Central as an international student