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Austin Burgess

Austin attended Northern Mallee LLEN’s Vocational Preparation and Transition Program (VPTP) presentation which was followed by individual student interviews conducted by Dale Harvey, SWL Coordinator, NMLLEN. It was during this interview that Austin expressed a clear interest and passion for coffee. He enjoyed making coffee and wanted to work as a barista.

Mildura Specialist School teacher Paul Trevaskis reached out to NMLLEN staff in placing students with supportive employers that were able to provide placement to students with additional needs.
Austin was studying VET Retail and had been undertaking a Barista course during his school terms.
As Austin’s primary interest was to work as a barista, Natika Mitselburg, Project Officer, NMLLEN endeavored to seek an employer where his retail skills and barista skills could be developed and supported.

Natika approached Havale Katsantonis, the owner/manager of Espresso Drive Mildura. After a meeting, Havale was more than happy to support and take a student from the specialist school with the understanding that Austin will require additional support.
During the school term holiday break, Austin presented his resume to the business and introduced himself. On the return of the school term, Austin attended an arranged interview where he successfully gained the SWL placement. Austin undertook the SWL placement one day a week over a period of 2 school terms (excluding restriction periods).

Student’s Perspective:
NMLLEN assisted with matching me with an employer. My teacher Paul Trevaskis supported me to prepare for the SWL placement by taking me to meet the employer and completing the paperwork. I am completing my Retail and Barista Certificates and I would like to get a job in a Café making food and coffee for customers. During my SWL placement, I learnt skills such as preparing food and storing it, following cleaning routines, making coffee, and using equipment such as fryer, toasters etc. I have also developed the initiative to ask questions and offer to help when I finish a job. I have established a good working relationship with staff and supervisors which I hope will help me to get a job in the future.

During the lockdowns, I couldn’t work some of the time. My employer was happy to have me attend when restrictions eased. When I started back, it was hard to follow the new routine, but I got used to things after a while. My advice to other students is that it’s very important to learn how to be in a workplace. You can record your placement on your resume, and it can help you be more work ready and get a job.

Teacher’s Perspective: Paul Trevaskis, Classroom Teacher:
Our students benefit greatly from SWL placements. It assists them to better understand employer’s expectations and requirements. They also get an opportunity to practice skills linked to their VET/VCAL studies and apply what they are learning at school. Students are often motivated to complete further studies to enhance their employability. Our students routinely transition to a Certificate I in Work Education and further SWL through that program. I rely heavily on the team at NMLLEN to assist in finding and initiating SWL placements for students with special needs. They interview students and then make first contact with employers, discuss suitability of the student for a placement and support required to make the placement positive for both the parties.

Employer Perspective: Havale Katsantonis, Owner, Espresso Drive Through:
We became involved with the SWL program as Natika from NMLEEN approached us to discuss SWL placement and discussed the ability to host a student from the Mildura Specialist School. Austin as an employee has always been courteous and offered to help other staff wherever he could. Majority of his time was spent in the kitchen. In quieter periods, he would get the opportunity to go on the coffee machine. Austin is a very polite and genuine young man, and the staff has enjoyed working alongside him immensely.

I can see the SWL program as a great way to assist students to learn and experience what it’s like in the workplace and I am happy to continue being involved. It has been an absolute pleasure to have Austin with us that I would consider hiring him to help on the weekend in the kitchen and as an all-rounder. I am happy to be a reference for Austin on his resume. I wish him all the best for the future.