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2020 Fellows

George Alexander Foundation Fellowship

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Grace Barrand

Grace Barrand is a cultural materials conservator working at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The aim of her Fellowship is to research the United Kingdom Trailblazer Apprenticeship program, which offers a new education pathway for conservation students that forefronts workplace learning and industry engagement. By meeting with key members of the initiative, Grace will delve deeper into the motivations, structure, and outcomes of the apprenticeship program with a view to piloting something similar in Australia. It is hoped that such a program could address a range of known skills shortages in the sector and increase diversity in the profession.

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Natalie Carfora

The introduction of digital technologies into museum practice has vastly changed the way that museums and galleries can engage with their audiences. This Fellowship seeks to understand the changing impacts of these digital interventions. Through research at leading institutions working with innovative digital technologies, Natalie Carfora wants to better understand how these technologies impact on visitor experience, how they can improve accessibility, and how they can make museums ultimately more engaging and collaborative places for communities.

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Amelia O’Donnell

Amelia O’Donnell is an emerging conservator currently working at the State Library of Queensland. A conservator often works in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums where they are responsible for the care of cultural heritage collections. Public outreach activities that support access to and engagement with culture are key to the survival of this sector. Amelia’s research aims to identify the conceptual approaches and practical skills emerging conservators need to support these activities. She seeks to implement change in early career training so conservators in Australia can be part of a more inclusive future.

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Avril Buchanan

Avril Buchanan is a textile design student at RMIT, who has also taken a placement at Melbourne’s last pleat workshop, Specialty Pleaters. Despite pleating being a highly sought-after skill in many couture houses, there are few artisan workshops left globally, and it is on the verge of extinction in Australia. This Fellowship will provide an opportunity to travel to Egypt and undertake training related to the craft of pleating and mould making, so that this knowledge can be brought back to Australia to be shared through industry and education, and contribute to conservation efforts.

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George Alexander Foundation Fellowship

Vocational Education & Training Fellowship

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Rajesh Iyer

Rajesh Iyer currently works at Holmesglen Institute of TAFE heading the Educational Resource Unit.

The aim of his Fellowship is to determine how vocational education and training providers can form purposeful partnerships with the industry to engage, problem solve and devise assessment tools that are meaningful, engaging, current, appropriate and relevant for learners, while also aligning to the practical needs of the workplace. As part of his research, Rajesh plans to meet and engage with organisations and experts in Europe, who have successfully undertaken collaborative projects to enhance the student learning and assessment process.

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Paul Boys

Paul Boys has 20 years’ experience in the VET sector and is passionate about innovation, program design and teaching practice. He is employed as a Director with TAFE Gippsland – Gippsland Tech School. Paul believes that industry is changing rapidly, and VET educators need new skills to support graduates to be ready to meet the challenges of these ‘new’ careers grounded in problem solving, collaboration, teamwork, and design. Paul is committed to ensuring that students are prepared for future work opportunities and that educators need new approaches to the design and facilitation of programs to ensure this. Paul’s Fellowship will explore Design thinking – a human centred design process used to tackle problems. He plans to visit the USA and research VET educational institutions that are applying the Design thinking principles to their teaching and learning practice.

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Leonard Spain

Leonard plans to research industry engagement in VET.  This Fellowship will focus on how industry engagement in the development of a VET course can lead to effective teaching practice,  and real world outcomes for students and employers. The aim of this Fellowship is to bring the needs of industry more aligned to the course design process and educational offerings at TAFE institutes. Leonard’s priority is to ensure that the pedagogies employed in the classroom represent real world situations.  The highly structured VET training model and associated assessments often underestimates the complexity of real-world situations and sometimes does not equip graduates with the skills to operate in the real world. Trainers must be able to interpret competencies required by industry and translate these into meaningful assessments for students.  He will focus on models that offer reflective oscillation between industry practice and program design and research best practice models for industry engagement in order to develop a framework for industry engagement.

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Michael Mathew

This Fellowship is designed to build the skills of the Fellow in the construction and logistics sector, specifically in relation to building high energy housing using SIP’s (structurally insulated panels) and to enable the Fellow to obtain Passive House Certification. The benefits of building a home using SIP’s are many. When applied to the context of students that are incarcerated the value of this approach increases significantly and includes:  a lack of trades who can  work with SIPs, no pre requisite qualifications to apply for work in this sector as the skillset required is basic, the corrections sector is an ideal area to set up simulated environments for using SIP’s modelling as it does not require a large range of tools  or infra-structure, training can be simulated via small scale modelling, and the proposed training and assessment module will provide students with formal qualification in the erection and installation of pre-fabricated panels using the principles from SIP’s. When applied in the corrections system, these Fellowship learnings will provide the opportunity for those transitioning back into the workforce to gain a unique qualification in construction that is in demand due to changing consumer expectations.

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Kay Schlesinger

My Fellowship application is based on the further development of the innovative program I have designed and implemented at Melbourne Polytechnic in 2020: The Community of Support for new teachers (COS). This program, new to the VET sector, is designed for teachers with 0-2 year's experience, is focused on the development of innovative/high impact teaching strategies and presented in a supportive environment. In 2020 there have been approximately 50 new teachers, 32 mentors and 15 leaders involved. The program contains monthly meetings with new teachers to demonstrate, discuss and embed innovative and more recently blended, teaching strategies and 1:1 coaching sessions with myself and individual new teachers. It is supported by a comprehensive Moodle site and a mentor program. I aim to investigate the ways new teachers are supported  and developed in the VET sector in Canada and New York.

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Bill Mundy

My Fellowship looks to focus on addressing the need for the development and identification of the training and pathways needed to enable the workforce of the future to be developed in support of the wind energy generation sector and in so doing reduce the need for overseas workers to perform tasks carried out in the maintenance and operation of wind powered renewable energy assets. Currently imported workers are costing the Australian economy $24M annually which is forecast to rise to $80M by 2025. It is vital for the success of the renewable energy sector that we create a skilled and forward looking workforce that supports our drive toward a zero emissions economy.


Rakesh Saha

Through this Fellowship, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of Phenomenon-Based Learning (PhBL), an inquiry-oriented teaching approach championed in Finland. I would like to investigate the infrastructural requirements of this pedagogy and find out, firstly, the reasons for its success in Finland, and secondly, whether the pedagogy is transferable to the Australian classroom of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) adult learners. I also want to develop a clearer understanding of how traditional pedagogic practices in Finland have transitioned to PhBL. With the help of the proposed research findings, I believe I can implement PhBL in the community-based VET education sector in Victoria so that the learning experience of CALD students is enjoyable, and outcomes pragmatic. I expect that my proposed pedagogic change will achieve greater learner independence and confidence, and consequently, ensure better employment outcomes.

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Karen Hart

Dr Karen Hart is Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Youth Work and Criminal Justice at Victoria University. The aim of her research Fellowship is to explore a number of international practice models that successfully engage with and address the poor educational outcomes currently impacting justice-involved young people aged 15-18 years, with specific reference to young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. We know that this cohort of young people face a range of disadvantages in both the education and justice systems and this research is therefore timely in helping to develop a more culturally safe and sensitive educational approach to these young people in Victoria.

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Melanie Kyle

The Fellowship will allow Melanie Kyle to identify international best practice in blended and online learning for disadvantaged VET learners. Specifically, her research will focus on improving engagement, participation, and completion rates for disadvantaged VE students as well as recognise successful international educational responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Melanie aims to combine her own teaching experience with the fellowship research to implement short-term and long-term strategies at an institutional level and beyond.


Nenagh Brosnan

Nenagh’s Fellowship aims to research best practice for culturally responsive and sustaining education and contribute to the development of high impact classroom strategies that enhance the level of cultural safety, connectedness and belonging felt by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and by students from ethnic minority backgrounds. For students to develop and strengthen self-efficacy it is vital that educators and educational spaces operate in ways that value and uphold individuals for their unique knowledge and histories, as well as work to reduce ongoing educational trauma experienced by students within the classroom. This fellowship closely aligns with important ongoing works across the youth and education sectors in promoting reconciliation and addressing educational disadvantage and exclusion.

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Bettina Twyman

Across the past 15 years Bettina has worked as a VET practitioner and observed the increasing need for mental health support to be incorporated into both casework and adult learning environments. As the role of teachers evolves the need for increased resources and understanding around the impact of trauma and PTSD in study and training pathways’ is vital to delivering positive outcomes for students and clients. This Fellowship will focus on the building and implementation of an online toolkit for VET practitioners across Australia to access case studies, referral guides, research, advice and practical skills to support clients and students experiencing trauma and PTSD in the classroom and as they pathway into employment.

Italian Australian Foundation Fellowship

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Isabella McRae

Isabella McRae is an Adelaide-based leatherworker and designer. The aim of her Fellowship is to promote and expand leatherwork and craftsmanship in Australia. The Fellowship will provide an opportunity to travel to Florence and Milan, to learn new design skills and tanning techniques, visit tanneries, network with industry experts and expand knowledge of hand making. Upon return, these skills will be used to start courses and workshops for other emerging designers ensuring that the traditional craft lives on in modern Australia.

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Natalie Rose Cassaniti

“For decades, Australians have captured and shared their unique stories using audiovisual (AV) formats such as motion picture film, videotape, audiotape and discs. But time is running out to save this precious content from format obsolescence and rapid deterioration of carriers. Having worked with AV collections, I am inspired by the urgency of preserving Australia’s rich AV cultural heritage and making it accessible to current and future generations. As a collection manager and next-generation AV archivist, it is my passion to achieve this through conservation, collection and content management and digitisation. My Fellowship will focus on developing skills and knowledge of the latest standards and best practice in AV archiving. In return, I endeavour to encourage and support archivists on their quest to preserve collections before it is too late.”

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Michael Capuzza

Michael Capuzza worked as a licensed plumber for seventeen years before becoming a VET plumbing teacher at Melbourne Polytechnic and more recently, at Kangan Institute. Michael is a passionate teacher with a commitment to the development of teaching resources such as video and pictorial glossaries to assist his students in their education. Michael aims to provide further help to students who have learning difficulties and/or have trouble reading and writing in English. He plans to do this through the development and use of additional visual aids and electronic learning systems. This Fellowship will allow Michael to study and obtain the latest advances in electronic teaching techniques from overseas and build a library of short electronic resources to use in his teaching and share with other teachers and students.

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Joe Pagnoccolo

Joe Pagnoccolo is a senior electrical teacher at Holmesglen Institute. The aim of this Fellowship is to undertake applied research in social and emotional learning (SEL) in VET for the Australian context.

The purpose is to explore international best practices in SEL for VET programs in Australia. This will provide opportunities to compare different educational systems. This Fellowship also seeks to improve teaching delivery in VET programs. It will provide alternative ways to engage students more in the apprenticeship experience. The Fellowship will present Joe with opportunities to attend workshops, do field trips, conduct interviews, and meet educators. Upon returning, students and teachers in VET programs will be the recipients of this new knowledge. Introducing the SEL approach in VET programs will enhance students learning and provide professional development for teachers. It will also inform stakeholders of future strategies to stem the attrition rate of apprentices.

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