Financial counselling and youth

WA Vocational Student of the Year 2015 Katherine Haag is a qualified financial counsellor. But what exactly is financial counselling and how can it help the younger generation to make better financial decisions? We spoke to Katherine to find out more!

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“People from all walks of life can find themselves with money problems. Financial counsellors offer free, independent information, options and advocacy to help people develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to take control of their own financial situation. Essentially, we help people struggling with bills and debts to get back on track.

Financial counsellors also work within a community education space by providing consumer credit workshops and information on budgeting.

Young people between the ages of 15 to 30 are at a pivotal stage in their lives, the opportunities they have to engage in education, training and the workforce is shaped and impacted by their education and experiences as well as their socio-economic background. Young people starting out need to know their options in relation to credit, and getting into debt, also what is a credit file and buying a car etc, as by being informed and proactive we can set ourselves and Australia up for a secure financial future.

I undertook a Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling) at Central Institute of Technology (now North Metropolitan TAFE) because I wanted to use my administrative and banking background and interest in sociology and advocacy to assist clients to overcome their financial hardship and empower them to take steps towards a more informed way of dealing with the complex world of money, credit and debt.

Through furthering my studies I have developed strong interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to relate well to people of all ages and backgrounds. My studies have taught me to use a strength based, client centred approach in all of the work that I do. The course also equips you to understand codes of conduct and professional rules and ethics surrounding the profession. The course provides practical, real life case scenarios and is hands on. You get to work on phases of everyday life; problem solving financial issues which affect everyone, and create and enhance budgeting techniques.

I really would like to see younger people, 25–40 in the profession. I believe that life experience is relative to the individual, you can meet a 25 year old who has experienced more life changing issues than a 45 year old who has led a sheltered and privileged life. I believe someone who has been in financial hardship themselves and overcome can be an empowering role model and therefore would have more empathy for the clients. Empathy is paramount in establishing trust, and without trust, positive lasting change cannot occur.”

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Katherine Haag won the WA Vocational Student of the Year because of her understanding of current issues and trends in her industry, her passion for the VET sector and the opportunities it has offered her, her work in the community, the clear goals she has for her future career and relatable qualities as an ambassador for training, her industry and young people. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be this year’s WA Vocational Student of the Year and an ambassador for the training sector, apply today! Applications close Friday 13 May 2016.


All paths lead to success

WA and Australian Apprentice of the Year Jared Stone, knows all too well the pressure high school students often feel to choose their future career paths. For Jared, it never seemed like a straightforward plan, but his story is proof that all paths can and do lead to successful futures.


“I had no idea where I wanted to be, by the time I was 16 I’d attended three high-schools, changed my mind about doing TEE (Old school terminology) at least three times, then dropped out after the first term of year 11.

After dropping out I headed to Central TAFE’s Leederville campus to study music business, music performance, and technical production. Back then I thought I was going to be a famous drummer in a band touring the world, but that didn’t really sit well with me, and I ended up figuring out that wouldn’t be my life.

During my technical production training, we were introduced to a huge analogue mixing desk, with what seemed like 600 knobs, buttons, dials, and fiddly bits to run sound through.

It seemed so complicated and amazing, that’s when the penny dropped for me that electrical theory was actually pretty interesting.”

Jared eventually went on to complete a Certificate II Pre-Apprenticeship in Electrotechnology – a course he excelled in. It was during one of his lectures that Western Power presented their apprenticeship program and Jared decided he wanted to be an industrial electrician.

“A few months after I finished my Pre-Apprenticeship I applied for an apprenticeship with Western Power and was awarded 1 of 13 training contracts for the year from a pool of around 750 applicants.


Since then I’ve been hooked on learning as much as possible, whenever possible. I finished my Apprenticeship some eight months ahead of my posted sign-off date, marking a really important step in my career heading into the future.”

Now a fully qualified electrician, Jared’s training has not only helped him to develop on the job skills and knowledge but also personal skills like communication and relationship building. He has developed a passion for his work and the energy industry, with a special interest in renewable energy solutions.

“My personal vision for being a part of a ‘green’ future is to help bring about 100% generation and utilization of renewable energy, worldwide, in my lifetime.”

It was this passion, enthusiasm and knowledge that saw him win the WA Apprentice of the Year award and go on to win the Australian Apprentice of the Year in 2015.

“The week I spent in Hobart has gone down in history as one of the best weeks of my life. I met so many amazing, inspirational people over the week and had an absolute blast. The feeling of winning the national award was just so overwhelming, it took about a month for it to actually sink in, and is still hard to believe that this is a reality, I’ve been so honoured and humbled to be able to represent the VET sector and my peers.”


Over the past six months Jared has been an exceptional ambassador for the training sector speaking at awards ceremonies and VET coordinator’s meetings with many more events on the horizon this year.

“My goal is to inspire, and motivate a change in perspective for as many people as possible. I’m also keen to be part of the conversation about where the VET sector and education in general is heading for Australia.”

The winner of this year’s WA Apprentice of the Year will receive $5000 from Energy Apprenticeships Group to further your training or kick start your career and you’ll go on to represent WA at the Australian Training Awards where you could receive recognition as the best apprentice in the country!  If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next WA Apprentice of the Year ambassador, apply today!


Where can I get support for my WA Training Awards application?


Writing an Awards application can be a complex process. Our judging panels want to know quite a lot about you, your training, how you work in teams and on the job, your understanding of the VET sector and your industry and what other activities you do outside of your work and studies. Your response to the selection criteria does need to be written by yourself, after all, it’s your story and no one knows it better than you do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. Here are five support avenues to assist you with your application.

Lecturer, trainer or employer

Your lecturer, trainer or employer can offer a wealth of knowledge about your industry. It’s their business to know about current industry trends, rules and regulations, new technologies and strategies to keep up with industry shifts and changes.

They will also have a good understanding of your work ethic, skills and knowledge and may be able to assist in coming up with some real work examples to use in answering your selection criteria.

VET Coordinator

If you’re still at school, talking to your VET Coordinator is a great place to start in helping you to understand the criteria and brainstorm your unique qualities to answer the selection criteria. Your VET Coordinator will have a good understanding of the VET sector, the benefits of school-based vocational education and training and a good knowledge of your achievements and progress to date.

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Training council

There are 10 training councils in WA covering all industries. The training councils provide strategic advice to the Department of Training on industry skills needs. The training councils have broad networks of employers, training providers and industry bodies and work with these networks to develop strategies to assist them through training recommendations.

Your industry’s training council can provide you with information and advice on industry training needs, any current issues to be aware of in your industry, where skills shortages lie and much more.


If you’re applying for one of the following categories, the WA Training Awards can provide specialist mentors to assist you with your application:

  • WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year
  • WA Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Training Provider of the Year
  • WA International Student of the Year

Award winning application examples

On the WA Training Awards website, you can find examples of Award winning applications for the student categories. Use these to help give you an idea of what to include in your application. They may well spark some ideas for you about examples from your training and work that you can use in your responses or point you in the direction of information you may need to research about your industry.

Of course, if you have any questions about the criteria, you can also contact the friendly WA Training Awards team to talk you through it.

Our judges want to see the best possible applications, so give yourself enough time, do a little research and ask for assistance where you need it. A well-structured and researched application will make all the difference when it comes to shortlisting.

Danni’s journey to Yaysan/Panti Asuhan orphanage

In January, Danni Grundy, WA Trainer of the Year 2015 visited Bali on a mission to support the Yaysan/Panti Asuhan orphanage. As a trainer in Early Childhood Education and Care, supporting children in underdeveloped countries is something close to Danni’s heart. Below, she recounts the journey.

It was a week before Christmas and I was planning a New Year’s trip to Bali whilst having coffee with my Mum. She was telling me about an orphanage in Bali she had recently visited called Yaysan/Panti Asuhan (Orphanage foundation). I had tears in my eyes as she shared the impact her donation had on the children’s lives there. I have always been an advocate for children and couldn’t think of a better way to give back to the beautiful Balinese people and so I decided to visit the orphanage on my trip.

I was determined to go with as many donations as possible so I took it to social media. I was overwhelmed with the response I received from family, friends, community members of Toodyay, and my students. Believing that being so close to Christmas people would have tight budgets, I underestimated the generosity of the Christmas spirit. I collected just over $800 and a collection of various sporting equipment. One of my former students who now runs a local Family Day Care also gave me nine beautiful teddies for the children.

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On the 4th January, my friend Mel and I, set off on a 2.5 hour drive from Kuta through the beautiful Bali landscape. We arrived at Yaysan/Panti Asuhan while the children were at school so we had some valuable time with Kadek, the orphanage director. We learned so much from our conversations with her, such as being so far from the capital city her orphanage only receives a third of the government support that others do. It also means that very few tourists make the trip and donations are their lifeline.

Kadek and her husband have been managing the orphanage for 17 years now. Thirty children live there aged between 7 to 15 years. Kadek’s baby girl was fascinated by us. Kadek explained to me that she is struggling to breast feed her due to being so tired all the time but baby formula in Bali is very expensive. We invited Kadek to join us on a shopping trip to the big local supermarket. She was so grateful she held my hand as we shopped. We bought various supplies such as chicken, eggs, fruit, vegetables, rice, incense and spices. We also purchased each child a drink and packet of chips – a rare treat for them. Kadek hugged me when I found 2 tins of baby formula and placed them in our trolley (she was right, they’re the same price as Perth at $25 per tin!).

We filled the drivers van for under $300 and then headed back to the orphanage. Kadek expressed that thanks to our expedition she could have a week of sleeping in. I asked her what she meant by this and she explained that she only has a motorbike for transport so must go to the market early every morning for supplies for breakfast. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 people every day!

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Danni and Kadek

The children started arriving back in their immaculately clean school uniforms. It was obvious they had great pride in their schooling. Each child approached us and one-by-one, shook our hand, then touched their heart or forehead. Our driver told us that this is a sign of respect and gratitude. Although shy at first, they spoke English very well. One boy, Wayan, told me that when he first arrived at the orphanage at 7 years old, he could not read or write but the week before our visit he had come 3rd in the school’s mathematics competition. Wayan is now 13 years old and loves school.

The children’s lives revolve around study, chores and prayer, with very little free time. Kadek helps the children with their homework every night. Study is very important to them as they understand that this can make the most positive impact in their futures. Unfortunately, high school is very expensive in Bali and they rely on donations to fund this. We gave Kadek the remaining $500 for the 2 oldest boys’ high school fees. My dream is to ensure that all of the children will be given this opportunity.

We went with the intent on giving back to Bali, but we left with so much more. It has changed my entire outlook on life. I am looking forward to taking my 9 year old daughter in October 2016. We have started collecting children’s books to take but weight on the plane is limited, therefore we hope for donations of money so we can take Kadek shopping again and foster more of the children’s high school fees.

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If you would like to support Danni’s cause, you can get in contact with her at

This is just one example of how our WA Trainer of the Year winners go that extra mile.  If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next WA Trainer of the Year apply today and put your career in the spotlight.