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What Do You Want To Do When You Grow Up?

What Do You Want To Do When You Grow Up?  

One of the most common questions asked during our school years is “so what do you want do to when you grow up?”

This concept of knowing exactly what we want to do in our adult life can be daunting for adults, so imagine the stress, frustration and fear that young people feel during their school years when this inevitable question is asked.

In the Links 2 Learning program, students work towards developing strong skills that help them overcome this fear and instead learn to set realistic goals that helps them be able to confidently answer questions about what they might want to do in their future. The program guides students to realise the importance of having goals, understanding that these can change over time and pathways that can help them get there.

Being able to encourage and support young people to determine their own personal goals is a brilliant feeling and observing the students journey over the course of the program as their goals evolve and change is a powerful reminder of the importance of programs like Links 2 Learning.

And as a gentle reminder to all of us as we sometimes settle into our comfort zones –

A goal should scare you a little and excite you A LOT”

— Joe Vitale.
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Work Placement & Career Opportunities

Work placement is a mandatory component of industry-based vocational education and training (VET) courses that students can choose as part of their studies for the NSW Higher School Certificate.

Working for Southern Region BEC as a Work Placement Coordinator provides the opportunity to place students into work environments enabling them to put into practice in Industry the skills and knowledge they have gained in the classroom.

Through personal experience of running a business and working as a retail manager, I have firsthand experience of the benefits this program provides for both the student and employer.
This program enables the host to instil in these students the real-life expectations of a job, giving them an insight into what is expected in the role from both customer and employer perspectives.

I have witnessed the successful outcomes available from this program with many students completing work placement being offered casual and fulltime employment in retail and hospitality roles, as a direct result of showing confidence and initiative in the workplace and an interest in the role.
A lot of students are not certain of what they would like to do for work. Therefore, being placed into a working environment and gaining real life experience in a role they are interested in can assist with making these decisions and as such is an invaluable tool in helping guide and assist these students in finding the right role for them.

Work placement also provides employers with the opportunity to pass on their skills and knowledge and encourage students to pursue these careers by sharing their passion for the job. It’s also a great way for employers to find new employees in varying roles.

Work placement is a simple yet effective way of transitioning from classroom learning to gaining real-life experience and even possible employment. It is a role that gives me the challenge and satisfaction of pairing students and hosts for a positive outcome for both parties.

‘It is easy to underestimate the value of work placement however the positive feedback from hosts and students is a testament to the effectiveness this program delivers.’
We are dedicated to maintaining our ongoing commitment to provide individuals the opportunity to explore and evaluate perspective career opportunities.



By Carissa Mills

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Character Strengths

Every individual possesses all 24 character strengths in different degrees, giving each person a unique character profile.

In the Links to Learning Classroom at Crookwell Highschool we have a strength- based approach to learning.
Throughout the year we have conducted project-based learning within the Community.
“These projects give the students an opportunity to use their strengths and shine in ways that they otherwise may not.”











Why do I need to know my Character Strengths?
Knowing your character strengths isn’t just interesting information.

When skilfully applied, character strengths can actually have a significant positive impact on your life.

  • Research shows that using your character strengths can help you:
  • Buffer against, manage and overcome problems
  • Improve your relationships
  • Enhance health and overall well-being
  • The Science of Character

Learn more about VIA Character Strengths HERE

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Get to know: Megan Tennant

Megan is the Qupcakes Program Coordinator

Megan is our new Qupcakes Project coordinator.
Megan is a university qualified dietitian, with experience with small business, having managed two dietetic private practice clinics in Canberra.




What is the best vacation you’ve ever had?

Going to Svalbard, which is an island north of Norway. We went on a three-day husky sledding safari in the wilderness. We got to walk inside a glacier (ice cave), saw reindeer and ptarmigan, and travelled through some beautiful scenery. It was a memorable experience that I would highly recommend.


What is your favourite outdoor activity?

I really enjoy hiking. It is a great way to experience nature and I find it peaceful to be in the bush. Some of my favourite walks include Mount Tennent, Gibraltar Peak, the Light to Light walk and Charlotte’s Pass.


What is a recent book that you have enjoyed? Why?

‘The Lavender Keeper’, by Fiona McIntosh. This book had me captivated the whole way through. It was both exciting and a moving story. It is historical fiction and set during World War 2. I enjoy this genre and is my favourite book that I have read this year.

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You Snooze, Or You Lose

Their best chance of an ‘A’ begins with some Zzzzzzzz’s.

 Starting back the first week of last term, I anticipated that some of the girls would be enthusiastic with stories from their holidays, or, maybe even fully refreshed with bountiful energy to put into their work.

 They yawn, do not contribute to group discussion. Some sit eating bags of crisps and I think that may be the only thing keeping them awake.

 I mention to the girls that we have some content to get through first before we move into the craft projects they have been working on in their L2L group and apologise that its boring. One girl mentions that it’s not boring, it’s just that they are all very tired. She adds that she stayed up until 2am playing “Fortnite” online. Another girl mentions that she had panic attacks during the evening and could not sleep due to her anxiety. Generally, exhaustion in this group of girls is somewhat contagious as they all seem to present with the same demeanour. Slouched over, tired eyes, leaning on their arms.


I completed an online webinar some days later, presented by Dr Chris Seton, a Paediatric & Adolescent Sleep Physician working out of Children’s Hospital Westmead. This session covered the modern understanding of teenage sleeping patterns and the impact this has on both their individual learning and mental health.

 According to this session, 70% of Australian teenagers are chronically sleep deprived on school days, which as we know, the effects are not just limited to tiredness and academic failure. Sleep deprivation affects many day-to-day decisions for teenagers, including poor food choices and links to obesity, increases cortisol (stress hormone), and an increase in feelings of depression and anxiety.

Also known as a “conditioned insomnia,” there are multiple factors contributing to sleep deprivation in our teenagers. Late body clocks, inflexible school start times, ambition, pressure, stress and high expectations. Add to this the fact that over 96% of surveyed teenagers admitted to screen use within an hour before their bed time, and it leaves me with no wonder that my groups of girls are struggling to keep their eyes open, let alone contribute to group discussion and tasks before 10am.


 Moving forward, I emphasise how important it is to prioritise their sleep, their health, over their fear of missing out. In the age of social connectedness (where being asleep can mean you miss 20 messages in the group chat or worse!) screen time delays bed time and removing this alone could allow for the required and recommended 9hours + of sleep that teenagers require, every night.

We start every weekly session with a 10 minute guided mediation and each of the girls report that this leaves them feeling re-energised and awake, and some have even begun practising this at home. Building on healthy sleep habits leads to healthy sleep patterns, optimising learning opportunities and promoting resilience in coping with daily stresses. I hope that these small changes and discussions that we have in L2L can influence their decisions to take responsibility for their sleep, in turn giving themselves the best chance to enjoy and thrive everyday.



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Recipe for Success!

Recipe for Success!

The SRBEC has again been successful in gaining a grant from the IMB Foundation to run Qupcakes, our business development program.

We have a group of lively and enthusiastic young people from Queanbeyan and Karabar High Schools who meet as a group after school on a weekly basis to develop their business model and design, prepare and sell their cupcakes at a variety of community events.

Through this project students are learning how to create, manage and run their own small business. They are developing skills in marketing, advertising, financials, working with media, stock control, food safety and workplace health & safety, as well as the technical skills associated with the production of their cupcakes. This project also gives them an opportunity to develop employment related skills, particularly teamwork, problem solving, negotiation & communication skills, self-confidence and working towards a goal, while learning more about Queanbeyan and its many community groups and events. Qupcakes is looking forward to being able to donate a portion of their profits to local causes.

Unfortunately, Paula van der Heide, who has been our Projects coordinator and instigator of Qupcakes has had to step down. We wish her a speedy recovery from her knee surgery!

We welcome Megan Tennant to the team as our new Qupcakes Project coordinator. Megan is a university qualified dietitian, with experience with small business, having managed two dietetic private practice clinics in Canberra.

We would like to thank the IMB Foundation for its ongoing funding support, and both Queanbeyan and Karabar High Schools for their support of our program.


Qupcakes Students 2018


Qupcakes Receiving Grant from IMB Bank



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Braidwood Boys Take on Gardening

Braidwood Boys take on Gardening

The Links to Learning program aims to empower students to become active citizens, by building their connections with their community and giving them strategies to seek and obtain support to address barriers and issues they face. All of this will enable them to better engage with their learning, their community and their future.

An example of this is the year 8 Links to Learning boys from Braidwood Central School have been working on reviving the Braidwood community gardens for the past couple of months. The boys started by walking down to the council office in Braidwood and asking if there was anything they could do to help in the community. They were pointed towards the gardens and given a contact to ring and talk to about what needs to be done.


Over the last two months the students have weeded and turned over the soil in a large garden bed. We then had a large delivery of soil, which the students spread over the garden bed. There were a few surviving plants which the students re-planted; wild onions, rhubarb, kale and oregano.



In our final week, we are going to be planting seeds and spreading pea straw, which the students can see grow over the months and years ahead. The students have really enjoyed getting involved, and will continue to nurture the garden, along with other members of the community of Braidwood.

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Let’s talk about the pink elephant…

Let’s talk about the pink elephant in schools.


In a modern world teenagers exhibiting signs of anxiety is rife, and levels of poor self-confidence is terrifyingly high. With bullying, sometimes precarious home lives, high study loads and social media ever present, a world where selfies take precedence before homework, it’s time we need to address the bigger issue.


So what if we had a class at school that focuses on why anxiety levels are so high and aiming to address the pink elephant in the room? This is exactly what Links to Learning is all about. The program has been created for students that are falling through the cracks, and it’s not to do with literacy and numeracy levels. It’s to do with the fact that some students are struggling so much inside their heads they aren’t even able to go to school. Where the idea of taking the bus to school, facing bullies in class and in the school yard, is just too hard so these teens are in fact not going to school at all.


Life can be tough sometimes. There’s no mistaking it. And in such a turbulent world it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. And by lost, I don’t mean we can’t find where we are going. There is just so much going on around us, and in our own heads, sometimes we can lose our way in the fog. So how do we get out of the fog?


Research and experience shows that teenagers focusing on projects that create positive outcomes for others display higher levels of well being. It provides an opportunity to feel a part of one’s community, to be counted. To have a higher sense of worth. To have a purpose. And that doing something for others feels good! In a world where approaching strangers, asking if they want help, or if they’re OK, is rare, it’s up to us to be the change we want to see! (I actually stole that quote from the ever inspiring Mahatma Gandhi, but I think he would be okay with that). It’s a quote I use regularly with my students. I ask them regularly: “What is it you want to see that would make our world better?”


Their answers never cease to amaze and inspire.


“Equal rights for women” Year 10 female student

“For guys to be able to talk openly and not be judged” Year 8 male student

“To be nicer to each other” Year 10 female student

“For it to be OK to not wanna play footy” Year 10 male student


Having a social and emotional program in the school curriculum is such a powerful tool for these students that do fall through the cracks. To have a chance to speak of personal highs and lows, in a place where one of the few rules is not to judge others. To acknowledge peer’s wins and falls. To break down stereotypes. To listen. To step out of one’s own world and immerse oneself in the greater community. To take time out to stop, switch off our phones, to have real and powerful conversations and to really listen. Where your voice and your ears are your most powerful tools. And it is from these conversations that effective and powerful change begins to occur.


So dear reader, I shall finish with two questions for you: What is it you want to see that would make our world better?

And what is it you are going to do about it?

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Putting some Spark back into Yass

Putting some Spark back into Yass

What can you do when faced with a high rate of youth disengagement and unemployment coupled with lack of training opportunities in a regional context? Get creative is what!

Since March 2017, the SRBEC’s Regional VET Pathways program has been working collaboratively with TAFE NSW, Zac’s Place community centre, Yass Community Garden and Ginninderry, which is a construction company based in the ACT, to deliver an innovative approach to training and employment opportunities to the people of the Yass Valley.

Known as Spark, this course offers participants the opportunity to complete a nationally recognised pre-apprenticeship qualification in Construction in a supportive adult learning environment while developing hands on skills in areas such as formwork, concreting, carpentry, brickwork and landscaping to name only a few. An integral part of Spark is to value add to the community of Yass through the completion of these skill development projects on site at Yass Community Garden and Zac’s Place Community Centre. This has included the laying of a new driveway and concrete paths for improved wheelchair access, landscaping and paving of communal areas, building of new garden beds and brick compost bays and the construction of roofing over an existing veranda to offer additional undercover options.

As part of Spark, each participant is provided with all necessary Personal Protective Equipment and additional training to achieve their NSW WHS White Card and Asbestos Awareness certification to ensure an easy transition into employment at the completion of the course. To assist with this transition the Spark team host an industry BBQ for potential employers to come out to the site and meet the participants. This provides employers with the opportunity to view the participant’s handy work and have informal discussions to identify potential apprentices and employees.

We are currently in the process of delivering the second instalment of the Spark program and have high hopes that this year’s group will be as successful as last year which saw many of the participants move into stable employment as a direct result of Spark. This success was recently acknowledged by TAFE NSW through the presentation of an award to the SRBEC, Ginninderry, Zac’s Place and Yass Community Gardens as the 2017 Industry/Community Partner of the year.

Due to the outcomes experienced by the participants and feedback from their subsequent employers and the community, the Spark program looks set to be a stable ongoing option for the Yass Valley for many years to come.


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Are you a part of the Workplace Learning Program?

Southern Region BEC have been pairing senior high school students with local employers under the Structured Workplace Learning Program for over 17 years.

In 2017 alone, we have coordinated more than 800 placements throughout Queanbeyan, Braidwood, Cooma, Yass, Goulburn and Crookwell.

In 2018 we hope that you will also be a part of this fundamental program supporting our youth and future industry skills.

Being a host employer under the structured workplace learning program is a rewarding experience both personally and for your business.

Recognised by local schools and your wider community as a business who supports our youth, you will also:
• Have the opportunity to engage with local youth
• Enable a student to put theory in to practice in a true work environment
• Enable a student to trial their chosen industry in a “real” setting
• Give back to your industry
• Share your industry skills, knowledge and passion
• Enable your employees to share their learned skills and knowledge
• Contribute to your industry’s relevance for future employment
• Contribute in helping reduce youth unemployment
• Trial students’ suitability for current or future employment
• Inspire students to stay on track on their path from school to work

Employers already engaged in our program have all joined the program to share their skills and assist our future industry workers/leaders. Most of our hosts have become very committed to the program and to the future outcomes of the students they host. Many have felt the rewards of hosting and are eager to host multiple students per year. Others have continued to offer their assistance to the program for in excess of 10 years.

So, what is the Structured Workplace Learning Program?

The Structured Workplace Learning Program coordinates the mandatory work placements senior high school students are required to complete when they are studying a Vocational Education Training course towards their HSC.

Industry Curriculum Frameworks courses are Board of Education developed, contribute to the Higher School Certificate and lead to nationally recognised Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) qualifications.

These courses, which require the completion of industry relevant work placements, provide students with a head start towards an industry specific career and pathways to further study.

These courses include:

Business Services
Human Services
Information Technology
Metal & Engineering
Primary Industries
Retail Services

Whatever your reasons for joining the program, if you believe that you and/or your workplace have skills to share, can provide a safe environment for a young person to work, have the capacity to host and supervise a student for 1 week at a time, the Structured Workplace Learning Program is for you.

I have been a Workplace Learning Coordinator with Southern Region BEC for the past four years looking after some of the local high schools within our region. During that time, I have met so many inspiring people and businesses who are so committed to sharing their time and skills with the Senior High School students. These committed hosts with their community spirit, who are helping students secure a positive future, are the reason that my role has become an enjoyable long term commitment.

If you too would like to support your community and local students by becoming a host employer, we would love to hear from you!