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The Rewards of Inclusion and Equity


19 October 2020

Box Hill Institute celebrates Manager Youth Programs, Robyn Fletcher, Coordinator Disability Enterprises, Jane Mahony, and their teams for receiving the 2019 Community Contribution Award for their work in leading the School of Foundation Studies’ inclusion and equity programs. Together they generated new markets with ten disability providers, generated $1.3 million in revenue and most importantly, improved the quality of life for students with disabilities.

The Community Contribution Award is presented to Box Hill Institute staff or teams that play a part in or direct a project that creates an industry benefit and develops a successful partnership of value for the Institute and the community.

Robyn said, "I am very proud to have the work done by many people over several years in equity and inclusion to be formally recognised by the Institute.

"I like to think the nomination is in recognition of our brilliant and successful team who develop, maintain, and grow business partnerships with a large number of disability service providers and enterprises," she said.

The inclusion and equity programs provide educational opportunities for people who would never have had the chance to study in a mainstream education setting. It helps people to reach their potential and to live their best lives.

In 2019, 253 Box Hill Institute students with an intellectual disability were trained with a successful unit completion rate of 91%. Overall, 79 students completed their certificates in 2019 and are eligible to attend graduation.

Jane said stories of students gaining independence and learning new skills warms the soul. She said, "We have students who are now making meals for their families. We have a middle-aged student who had never taken a bus who now travels to the shopping centre. And we have a student who has begun working on a dairy farm.”

Robyn said, "Helping them realise that they are capable, have talents and that they can achieve and follow their passions is incredibly rewarding."

Although our educational culture has changed dramatically due to COVID 19, Jane is thrilled that they have been able to keep the majority of students engaged during the pandemic.  Many of the students need support at home and assistance to use technology, so Jane and her team are proud of their persistence. She said, "We applaud our teachers who have used every strategy in their kit bag to encourage student success during this time." 

Robyn and her team hope to spend the award prize on professional learning opportunities and will explore options for purchasing industry-related equipment for their students to use, such as a new tea trolley and document scanning machines.

Student at heart has been Robyn's philosophy since she began her teaching career 32 years ago. She previously taught in secondary schools where many students were disadvantaged and has always loved working with those who face challenges and need additional support and encouragement to get to where they want to go. She said it’s gratifying to help open students’ eyes to what is out there for them. "It's a privilege to manage a team who are likeminded and share this value," she said.

Jane has empathy for those who experience challenges with their learning and life in general, which drives her enthusiasm for the role. She said there is strong growth in partnerships between Box Hill Institute, the community and industry due to the Institute’s model, which provides genuine customisation of courses based upon their students' interest areas and industry skills for employment.

Congratulations to the Inclusion and Equity Programs team on the recognition of their great work.