Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Spt-Oct 2013 Contents had the confidence and the foundation
to establish a registered training
organisation to train our own workforce,
which included people with a disability,
but also to provide a lot of training to the
During this period, Tsiamis also led
the development of the Greenacres
Competency-Based Wages system,
which has become the most widely used
competency-based wages system outside
of the government's endorsed system.
Under Tsiamis' management,
Greenacres Training Services was also an
early adopter of e-learning, and in 2008
received project funding through the
Australian Flexible Learning Framework's
innovation program to develop an online
induction course for new staff to the
disability support sector.
At IRT College, Tsiamis is continuing to
explore the potential of technology to
support and enhance learning, especially
as a way to offer flexibility, ensure
consistency and to overcome the tyranny
"We have a very mobile and shift-based
workforce, so an online environment
means that content is available 24/7 and
the need for and cost of travel is reduced."
She says video demonstrations
of practical tasks are an important
component in health training and in the
future she would like to see e-portfolios,
wikis and expert videos on specialist topics
incorporated into training qualifications.
In 2014, IRT College will also be
trialling the use of video conferencing
technology in the delivery of its Certificate
IV qualifications in Aged Care and Home
and Community Care to improve the
accessibility of training and to reduce the
release period required for staff.
While Tsiamis is a strong advocate for
the role of technology in learning, she
insists that her favoured model is a blended
learning program. "Utilising technology
is not just about putting content online.
I am a firm believer of blended learning
to maximise the benefits of all worlds
available, whether it is the classroom, the
workplace, online or other resources such
as a quality textbook," she says.
AN EVOLVING WORKFORCE
Reflecting on the fast-changing training
needs of the industry, Tsiamis identifies
management development and an
expanding home care workforce as the
sector's top issues.
"We are looking particularly at
developing our managers. Sometimes
in aged care a person can fall into
a management position -- this can
happen in any industry, but we have an
opportunity now where the industry is at
a level of maturity and size to have clear
pathways towards management and solid
succession planning so that people don't
have that baptism by fire experience.
There is always going to be on-the-job
learning but we want people to feel
well prepared as opposed to falling into
To this end, the college is looking
to expand its qualifications to deliver a
Certificate IV in Frontline Management
and a Diploma of Management to support
a person's career pathway.
SHIFT TO DUAL
The strong emphasis on home and
community care is also pulling the sector
towards a norm of dual qualifications in
both residential and home and community
care, says Tsiamis. She says that from
February 2014 the college will offer its
certificate III and IV qualifications as a
combined program only.
"The Living Longer, Living Better
reforms are going to fundamentally shift
the mix of service delivery and we need
to have a very mobile and adaptable
workforce ready to go."
"Dual qualifications will help create
a more skilled workforce, covering the
breadth of aged care services," she says.
Training and research partnerships
between the university and the VET
sectors are also an important direction for
the industry, says Tsiamis.
Launched in March, IRT has partnered
with the University of Wollongong to
establish the Illawarra Teaching Research
Aged Care Service or ITRACS program to
enhance teaching, learning and research
into aged care.
Funded by the Department of Health
and Ageing, the two-year project aims
to open up career pathways for students
and staff and to foster joint research
and intergenerational learning. Student
placements at IRT facilities from a
range of disciplines including nursing,
psychology, nutrition, dietetics, and
exercise science will encourage a holistic
approach to care, she says.
A COMMITMENT TO
While advocating for the value of ongoing
training and professional development,
Tsiamis has continued to undertake
postgraduate learning herself and last
year completed a Masters in Human
"I recently told a group of school
students that learning doesn't end in high
school. You do have to keep studying. At
the end of the day, it'll be those pieces of
paper that give you the credibility and the
skills to succeed."
Throughout her career she says sharing
the values of her employer has been
critical to her success in the workplace.
"When selecting an employer it's really
about the people and making sure that
your values and your employers' values
align. I've been fortunate to have that
experience with all of my employers." n
AAA: CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE
WORKING IN THE CORPORATE SECTOR WITH TOYOTA?
T T: Following Greenacres Disability Services, I went to Toyota in late 2008
for three years to work in the learning and development division but it was a
completely different industry. The community services sector is characterised by
a high proportion of female workers, whereas I was the national training manager
for service and parts in Toyota and it is a male-dominated sector. It was a
different style of working and being able to build relationships and credibility was
very important. I wasn't coming from a position of industry expertise, so I needed
to demonstrate my expertise as a learning and development professional and
they saw value in that and I was seconded to some major projects within Toyota.
AAA: WHAT ARE THE KEY TRAINING CHALLENGES
FOR THE AGED CARE SECTOR AND HOW DO THEY
COMPARE TO THE DISABILITY SERVICES SECTOR?
T T: There are similar challenges across learning and development in any industry.
Across both the aged care and disability services sectors, what I found is a really
strong commitment from management to develop their workforce. The challenges
that arise are often around the logistics; time-release is a significant challenge. We
are looking at other ways of doing it and building an online learning environment
is in our short-term plans so that we can start to improve accessibility as the
business continues to expand geographically, without compromising on quality.
AAA: WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
TT: My favourite days are the fun ceremonial events because I get to see the
outcome of everyone's hard work. At the IRT annual graduation and service
awards ceremony we have approximately 150 people in the room. It is a terrific
achievement and personally rewarding because I can see how we are helping
people to meet their individual goals and offering them a career pathway that
they might not have otherwise considered. People might see it as just a final
formality, but I think the reward and recognition element is really important.
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