Over the past few years, the Gippsland East Local Learning and Employment Network  has facilitated a series of career aspirational workshop events across the region.

The Inspiring Young Women and Men events are held annually both in East Gippsland and Wellington Shires, and the events are friendly gatherings where business people meet with young women and men to discuss their career paths and what they have learned along the way. The East Gippsland events were held recently at the Nicholson Hotel, which provides a great space for the guests to first speak to the students, as well as then mingle over morning tea.

At the Inspiring Young Women event, 45 students from Year 10 to Year 12 in six Secondary Colleges were introduced to 11 local businesswomen. Thirty-five students from Year 10 to Year 12 in six Secondary Colleges were introduced to 12 businessmen at the Inspiring Young Men event.

The purpose of these events is to encourage young people to adopt a ‘can-do’ attitude when thinking about their futures, and to also create inspiring partnerships and connections within the community.

Each of the guest business-people came from a range of backgrounds, including: Tiana Felmingham – East Gippsland Shire Council Public Health; Toni Redshaw – Victoria Police (and Master of Ceremonies); Leanne Jennings – Bairnsdale Neighbourhood House; Kelly Asnus-Albormoz – QUIT Cigarettes East Gippsland; Melanie Ceveri – Melanie Ceveri Nail and Make-up Artistry; Nicole Gunns – East Gippsland Shire Council Community Law; Jayme Dawes – East Gippsland Water; Sarah Whitechurch – Ambulance Victoria; Keyanna Hood – Ambulance Victoria; Carla Hall –East Gippsland Shire Council Youth Engagement; Kirsten Van Diggele – Headspace Bairnsdale; Jack Van Reyk – Bendigo Bank; Mark Reeves – Department of Education (and Master of Ceremonies); Jack Graham – Primal Fitness; Tom Ponting – TPA; Adam Gvozdenovic – Telstra; David Downie – Cranes; Wayne Richards – East Gippsland Shire Council Community Planning; Benn Dullard – Dullard Ford; Rod Twining – Bairnsdale City Oval; Aaron Kyriazis – The Dutch Oven; Sean Sabell – Elders; Neil Woodward – East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority; Ben Trotter – Bairnsdale Fire Brigade.

Each speaker had their own story to tell, with everyone bringing their own unique experiences and career pathways to share. Much of the advice that was shared was around the importance of trusted networks and making connections to sound out ideas. Students also noted how the guest business people gave examples of how they turned big challenges into opportunities.

Gippsland East LLEN has found that the positivity of these events continues well after the initial presentations. Students gain a broader knowledge of their options after school and strengthen their networks with locals who have been successful within their own career path. The Inspiring Events also encourage local business and industry to consider their role in supporting young people in our community – whether this is through similar events, offering work experience opportunities or other first-hand educational support. Many of the guest speakers share their contact details to the students in attendance with the offer to help them with questions they may have in the future.

The Inspiring Young People events are generously sponsored by Equip Super, Rotary Club of Bairnsdale, the East Gippsland Youth Ambassadors and coordination support is provided by East Gippsland Shire and Federation Training.