Come along and celebrate Adult Learners Week with us and experience what BCAL has to offer.
Laura inspires art participants
Dr. Laura Brearly joined BCAL’s Exploring Art sessions this term. She brought with her a wealth of knowledge, creativity and inspiration, as well as a treasure trove of visiting artists for our NDIS participants to learn from. Laura was able to bring these artists through the generous grant and collaboration of the Bass Coast Shire Council, Eco Arts Collaborations and the Phillip Island Conservation Society. Through this collaboration, participants were able to get creative in ways they hadn’t before.
BCAL had a stall at the recent Southern Gippsland Sustainability Festival. It was a cold and windy day, but Renewable Energy teacher, Werner Theinert, and Partnerships and Engagement Officer, Olivia Hurrell, said it was well worth braving the weather. "We made lots of wonderful connections with like-minded organisations and were able to inform people about our Sustainability Series short courses." Several participants from the Exploring Art class and Practical Music course performed at the festival. Thank you to the Bass Coast Landcare Network for organising the wonderful event.
BCAL's new AGM Board Members
The Bass Coast Adult Learning Annual General Meeting was held on Tuesday 9 May, 2023. The AGM was very well attended, with over 20 people present, including Members, volunteers, supporters, representatives of U3A and Wonthaggi Woodcrafters and staff. Our guest speaker this year was Nicky Chung. Nicky’s theme was her own journey through life long learning, which is very appropriate for an adult learning centre. The BCAL Annual Report was presented at the meeting. Highlights included revenue being up, the highest ever reported. Hours of course delivery were up significantly and well over targets. Finances are stabilising after the disruptions of recent years and are on target for a modest surplus next year. New Executive Officer, David Leslie was returning officer for the annual election of office bearers. We thank and congratulate the new office bearers and committee: President: Graeme Charles, Secretary: Maddy Harford, Treasurer: Tim Herring. Committee: Leslie Adams, Nina Elizarova, Lynn Kirk (U3A), Michael Bladen (Wonthaggi Woodcrafters), David Leslie (Ex-Officio, Executive Officer). The positions of Vice President and Staff Representative are still to be filled.
Lizzie's big win!
BCAL’s Exploring Art groups submitted 13 entries in the 2023 Inverloch Art Show. They had been working diligently all term to complete their works. Participant Lizzie Dalton was awarded first prize for her piece ‘Pelican Dreaming’. She was present on the opening night so was able to receive praise in person. She also sold her piece which was a huge thrill for her. An honourable mention was awarded to Michelle Gray for her piece ‘Frogs Dreaming’. Michelle was also present to receive the accolades. Participants submitted individual pieces as well as two collaborative pieces. Maxima Australia was to donor of the generous cash award for first prize. Facilitator Lisa Ovejero was in attendance and beamed with pride at the collection on display from her participants.
New blinds at BCAL.
BCAL recently received the Bass Coast Shire grant for energy efficiency. The administration building at BCAL is westerly facing with metres and metres of exposed glass. This poses a problem, especially throughout summer, when the single glazing glass directly transfers hot afternoon sun into the building. This also poses a problem in winter when much of the building heat generated is lost through these windows. In total, over 25 metres of block-out and light filtering blinds were installed by local company, Dollar Curtains and Blinds. These will keep BCAL staff and students toasty in winter and cool in summer, without sacrificing any of the natural light the vast amounts of glass provide. Along with our solar panels, these blinds will help to reduce our carbon footprint, allowing BCAL to become even greener.
International Women's Day
This week BCAL was invited to celebrate International Women's Day with the Bass Coast Shire Council At a special event, BCAL's Maddy Harford spoke on behalf of Khadija Moustafa, one of our English as an Additional Language students and the mother/wife of a local Syrian refugee family who has recently moved to Wonthaggi. We are proud to support and encourage women from diverse backgrounds in our community.
Snake catcher visit
Certificate III Horticulture students were visited by Neil, a local snake catcher. He helped students to identify areas where a snake is most likely to be, snake body language, different species of snakes students are likely to find in the area and their different behaviours, environmental factors which affect when students are most likely to come across the snakes and, most importantly, what to do in the unfortunate event of a snake bite. Neil taught the students how to scan and assess the grounds to identify high risk areas in BCAL’s gardens to minimise the risk of snake bite. They identified a few high risk areas and are keen to get started on a clean up. All students agree that Neil’s visit was invaluable and that they feel safer in the garden.
Footscray Gypsy Orchestra
An amazing fun-filled night, attended by over 100 people, was preceded by a two-hour afternoon workshop, embracing the opportunity to learn romantic and traditional Romany, Greek, Macedonian, Russian and Klezmer songs, tunes and dances. Regardless of musical ability of each workshop participant, the high energy, intensity, encouragement and expert instruction delivered by Terry Cole created accessibility to these inspirational, absorbing and wonderful cultures of music, song and dance, for all. Conducted by Terry Cole, the Footscray Gypsy Orchestra delivered mesmerizing, high level performance in which local musicians were invited to join in with the tunes they had learned in the workshop. The inescapable energy of the evening collected a full house of over eighty happy smiling faces immersed in music, dancing, singing, and permeating into a deep rich experience of community inclusion. The Event was organized by the BCAL Music Course participants from conception, planning, venue set-up to ensuring the smooth running of the night’s procedures, the clean- up, follow-up and evaluation. A valuable hand on learning experience, embraced by all. A very special thanks to everyone involved, in particular the Footscray Gypsy Orchestra, local supportive musicians, and to BCAL staff (Bill, Mon and Moo) but this would not have happened without the vision and huge efforts from Lisa Ovejero. A wonderful music and cultural event much appreciated and needed in our community. An experience of traditions and cultures to be not only embraced but fostered. So, when is the next one?? Ellen Hubble (BCAL Practical Music Course Participant)
Solar power for BCAL
A new solar system, launched recently by a partnership between Bass Coast Adult Learning (BCAL) and the Energy Innovation Co-op, has proved to be a win-win-win. BCAL now has 14.7Kw of solar panels installed on its roof, resulting in reduced carbon emissions and annual savings of around $1,300 on the organisation’s power bills. The resulting reduction in carbon emissions contributes to Bass Coast council’s Climate Action Plan target of net zero emissions across the Shire by 2030, which is, of course, a win for the environment! The Energy Innovation Co-op is pleased to have facilitated yet another successful renewable energy project, largely funded by its Southern CORE Fund. The Fund provides loans to community groups for installation of renewable energy systems. As loans are repaid, funds become available for the next project. Co-operative Power (CoPower) is a major donor to the Southern CORE Fund. In the past the number of projects completed each year has been limited while loan funds are replenished, before approving the next project. The donations from CoPower will enable more projects to be completed each year. The system was supplied and installed by local business: Advance Solar and Batteries.
Big win for music course
We're thrilled to announce that Practical Music won the Victorian Learn Local Pre-accredited Program Award (for small providers). A great achievement for the centre and the program. Lisa, Olivia and David attended a lavish Learn Local Award event at Federation Square. The BCAL community is proud and inspired by this recognition. Lisa has created a fantastic course, and has graciously thanked everyone, especially Bill and Olivia, and also to a huge thanks to Deb Watson who encouraged the application and helped immensely.
English students taste native foods
The Migrant English class had a busy week beginning with an excursion to the Wild Food Farm and Cafe in Rhyll. They had a walking tour and enjoyed some cafe food made with native Australian ingredients. Thanks Jude and Sam for teaching the group so much in a short time! After the farm, students had a picnic lunch at Cowes Jetty. They talked about water safety when fishing and swimming at the beach. The next day, proud Gunai Kurnai woman, Lizzie Dalton came to talk to the Migrant English class about her business - Lizzie’s Native Foods. Students enjoyed hearing about the different foods for sale such as Finger Lime and Fig Jam, Lemon Myrtle and Raspberry Jam, Green Ant Marmalade and Karkalla and Native Turmeric Relish. Lizzie also sells Native Aroma Reed Diffusers, Native Aroma Soy Candles and Native Infused Coffee Body Scrubs. Lizzie is a participant in BCAL’s Digital Discovery and is currently setting up her online store in class.
Vanessa's outstanding result
Vanessa, a graduate of Certificate III in General Education for Adults and BCAL volunteer, is just one in a long list of success stories to come from BCAL. "My dream was to get into Victorian College of the Arts (Melbourne University) and I'm thrilled it has happened!". Entry to further study is one reason that adults may wish to improve their literacy skills. Other reasons may be more personal, for example reading to children, helping them with homework or writing creative stories. Participants in the Reading, Writing and Maths for Life course at BCAL focus on developing skills which will enable them to achieve their goals whether it be getting employment, a change of career, further study or life goals. We wish Vanessa all the best in her new adventure but will definitely miss her singing and smiley face.
Meet the new Centre Manager
We are pleased to welcome our new Centre Manager, David Leslie. Although new to adult learning, David has a wealth of experience in education, having been a secondary school teacher for 35 years, 17 of those as Principal. David grew up in the city, and first moved to our region 23 years ago. He has lived in Leongatha, Venus Bay and now Inverloch. He and his wife Julia have three adult children and love the connectedness, community and environment of regional life. Semi-retired, David is an interested and active community member, and is looking forward to the opportunities Bass Coast Adult Learning can offer our community.
Start your career in hairdressing
Hairdressing is a highly sought-after career for many young school leavers, and BCAL has the perfect course to start people on that path. The Certificate II Salon Assistant course gives learners hands-on experience in washing, styling, colouring, and braiding, as well as a range of customer service skills. The course is presented by a trainer with over 20 years’ experience as a hairdresser and beautician. She also has great networking skills to help students find work placements. Graduates of the course have gone on to work in salons from Wonthaggi to the Gold Coast. What’s more, students get to act as ‘models’ for their classmates, having their hair coloured and styled. There are a wide range of career paths opened up by the Certificate, making it ideal for people who want either full time or part time work, or those who want to start their own business.
How good are your digital skills?
Between working from home, Zoom meetings, and QR codes, one thing the pandemic taught us is digital literacy is more important than ever. While we have mostly moved on from those times, some things remain. Meetings can still be held over Zoom without having to travel, and telehealth has become the preferred option for many. Digital literacy is a catch-all term for familiarity with technology from computers to smartphones, to smart TVs and other home devices. BCAL has a wide range of courses to help people from every level to get their heads around the digital world. For the beginner, there’s Computers, The Basics. This course starts from scratch. If you don’t know where to start, this is for you. For those who have a little experience, there’s Computers for Office Skills gives people a full introduction to all aspects of computing in a work or office situation. For those who know the basics and want to kick it up a notch, BCAL now offers Certificate III in Information Technology. This is a nationally accredited course which includes managing security, using databases, producing images, providing advice to clients, an introduction to programming and much more. If you need some tips and tricks with technology, there is the Friday afternoon Tech Club. Plus, there is a new course on how to stay safe from scams starting later in February.
Capacity Building participants celebrated International Day for People with Disability on 2 December with fun activities and food in an event we have called Celebrateability. Participants enjoyed outdoor games of Boules, Jenga and Naughts and Crosses, followed by a delicious lunch prepared by staff. The day ended in an explosion of colour as staff bombarded participants with colour powder in a colour run. The favour was then returned in the highlight of the day when participants gleefully coated staff in their own rainbow. BCAL uses the annual event to celebrate the achievements and hard work of participants throughout the year, and show off their work to their friends and family. The event is kept casual, small and stress-free to ensure participants are able to enjoy the whole day without the anxiety of strangers, dignitaries and formalities.
Kaitlyn Shepherd, a year 11 VCAL student at Bass Coast College is very focused on what she wants out of her career. She studied Hair and Beauty with BCAL and plans to progress into her Diploma of Beauty Therapy. Kaitlyn has worked hard at her salon assistant studies here at BCAL. Her family members have benefited with regular new hair styles and colours, with the assistance of our very talented teacher/hairdresser Kate. Kate has many years of industry experience in hair, beauty and education industries. Our salon assistant course is a pathway for keen students to further themselves into a certificate in Hairdressing, Barbering or Beauty services. This experience, and career starter, shows the connections between secondary school, a business in the industry, and an RTO making a difference to a motivated student's life. We are very proud of our progressive students and love to see them step further into their careers.
Migrant English students went on an excursion to Annie’s Angus farm. After greeting farmer Paul, they headed off to plant 20 trees in a wildlife corridor between two dams. Students had varied experiences while on the farm such as eating lunch around the campfire, before cooking damper on sticks on the coals. Students checked on a cow who was due to calve before heading home. They enjoyed the wide-open spaces and getting a taste of farm life. Students Winkyi, Jun, Winkyi Win and Thei Mu commented that they loved the funny chickens, black cows, twin calves and planting trees.
Werner Theinert teaches Renewable Energy as part of the Sustainability Series at BCAL. He has a background in traditional energy production and is now passionate that solar energy is the future. Werner worked at the Yallourn power station and in varying middle east roles over many years. Werner’s interest in Renewable Energy started in the late 90s whilst working in Bahrain where he read Al Gore's book - Earth in the Balance, while on holiday in Europe. Werner says that “life in Bahrain for a total of ten years was amazing! Great people, many amazing friends made from all over the world, great employer - Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA). Life in Qatar (12 months) working for Qatar Gas was totally different. Great expat people but the company was totally different to ALBA.” He totally recommends expatriate life “We went for two years and stayed for eleven years 1992 to 2003. Must have been good!”
Talented photographer in the BCAL Photography and Friendship Group, Kate Harmon, was recently on the front page of the Sentinel-Times. She was the only individual recipient of the Bass Coast Shire Council's Building Disability Inclusive Businesses and Community Organisations Grant for her newly published photographic book. Kate describes how the course has given her a new lease on life.