How an Army program put a trainee back on track to aged care

Video: Child abuse, violence plague Toomelah despite funding

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Ms Dennison was one of them.The local lands council said tackling unemployment was hard due to social issues and a lack of work ethic. It’s Army Aboriginal Assistance Program also offered local residents training courses in hospitality, business and construction.”We had trainees in all those areas, a highly successful program, very good engagement from start to end with some really positive outcomes,” said Commanding Officer Major John Venz. (ABC News: Jennifer Ingall)
The Army was not only building new lives, it was delivering on vital infrastructure projects including a brand new multipurpose hall designed to be the hub of the small community.It will eventually house the offices of local service providers and offer space for community events.”The colloquial name for it here is ‘the opera house’ and it is awesome,” said the lands council’s Mr McGrady.The structure is the most visible legacy of the six-month visit by the Australian Army, but not the most lasting, he said.”I think part of their legacy is the motivation they’ve created in some of our younger people, with the training programs, which they’ve done in the last six months,” he said.”It’s given the community a new lease on life I think, and personally I think the last 12 months are one of the last-ditch chances our community’s got to get back on track and make a future for our kids.”In another month, the Army will complete the finishing touches on the multipurpose centre and the last of its personnel will pull out. (Supplied: AACAP)
Major Venz is proud of what his unit has been able to achieve and the legacy it will leave behind.”The infrastructure we are delivering is need by the community and they’re appreciative of it,” he said.He says Toomelah residents were most welcoming, recently presenting the Army with a local artwork incorporating the squadron mascot, a rooster, as a parting gift.”That was really moving,” Major Venz said. Photo:
The new multipurpose hall at Toomelah has been constructed by the Army. Photo:
The Army says its courses in hospitality, business and construction were well attended. We’ll have extra staff there, more courses,” Mr Marshall said. (Supplied: Penni Roberts)
“I just jumped for it. Photo:
Ms Dennison with Kaloma resident Margaret White. Major Venz said AACAP has offered the chance for change.”It’s very hard to motivate today’s primary school kids because up until this last 12 months there was little to look forward to in education,” said the chair of the local lands council, Carl McGrady.”They thought ‘well why bother, you don’t need the higher school certificate to get the dole,” he said.TAFE inspired by enthusiasmWith the army leaving town it is back to the old normal for most course recipients, where access to further education is difficult.The closest TAFE is at nearby Boggabilla, but there is no public transport and the courses offered do not meet the needs of the newly-enthusiastic students.That too is about to change.NSW Assistant Minister for Skills, Adam Marshall, said renewed community demand for courses has meant that Boggabilla TAFE, which has operated sporadically in recent years, will open full-time in 2018 offering courses in Aboriginal languages, fitness, business administration, early childhood and fashion.”I want to see that TAFE campus really firing on all cylinders. Photo:
The 300 personnel were presented with an original Indigenous artwork incorporating the Army squadron’s mascot. I was a bit shy but I was keen to apply,” Ms Dennison said.Today, she is back working as a trainee, completing her aged care studies and could not be happier.”I love old people, they just make me very happy, I love being around them,” she said.Army offered a chance for changeJacinta Dennison’s story is just one good news story to come out of AACAP and the tiny community of Toomelah.The Aboriginal mission’s past has been marred by bad publicity and failed government programs designed to reduce crime and solve unemployment issues.In 2016, the Federal Government decided to ‘send in the army’, and for the past six months more than 300 personnel have been based at the local sportsground.It has been carrying out $7 million worth of major construction and infrastructure work to help the town get back on its feet. When Jacinta Dennison was preparing pulled pork burgers and arancini balls as part of her Australian Army-funded hospitality course in Toomelah, she had no clue it would lead to her dream job in aged care.Her new employer at Goondiwindi’s Kaloma Home for the Aged was not expecting it either.Penni Roberts, the CEO of the aged care facility, was visiting Toomelah at the request of the Australian Army where it was conducting training courses as part of its 2017 Army Aboriginal Assistance Program (AACAP) when she stumbled across Ms Dennison.”I didn’t expect to come away with a prize,” Ms Roberts laughs, in her success at scouting for a new recruit.She had travelled with a kitchen staff member to speak to the hospitality class about job opportunities in aged care.While talking about Kaloma’s role as an aged care facility, she said she saw one of the participants nudge a young girl.”I thought ‘there’s a story here’,” Ms Roberts said.Ms Dennison had been looking after her elderly grandmother, forcing her to put on hold a certificate three in aged care.In the meantime she had enrolled in the hospitality course and it took just this one meeting to convince the CEO to take a chance on the 27-year-old.”She was just so engaging and I just knew she would be the right fit for our mission,” Ms Roberts said.
Aboriginal community welcomes troops to clean up town
(Supplied: AACAP) ABC New England

By

Jennifer Ingall

Posted

November 20, 2017 15:32:46

Photo:
Jacinta Dennison secured work after the Army’s hospitality training, but not in the kitchen.