Over the past four years, several students from Seymour in central Victoria (north of Melbourne) have been offered opportunities to work on Ventia's Defence contracts through the Seymour Youth Employment Partnership. 

Four schools are involved in the leadership program and it is funded by the Central Ranges Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN). There are 31 Local Learning and Employment Networks across Victoria, which are in turn funded by the Department of Education.

Trailblazer Award winner

In late March 2021, Ventia was very proud to receive the annual Trailblazer Award for our work supporting young people in the region. 

Ventia's General Manager Business Community Investment Neil Birtchnell headed to Seymour at the end of March with Defence Base Services (DBS) Manager Puckapunyal Brett Kelly and Scheduler Trevor Cubbin. Brett was proud to accept the Trailblazer Award on behalf of Ventia. 

Neil says being recognised for initiatives like this is the icing on the cake of what is already a very satisfying program to be involved with. 

"Being involved in this program along with our key client the Department of Defence is something that makes me very proud to work for Ventia," Neil says.

Programs like this are helping ensure that young people from regional Victoria have opportunities to kick off their careers with well-respected companies that will give them valuable experience that could take them far in life.

Annual scholarships

Ventia also offers an annual scholarship in partnership with the LLEN, which is awarded to a student who has participated in one of the program activities and can use the funds to support their education or their career. 

In support of this program, DBS Site Supervisor Faye D'Helin was invited to speak on a panel at the 'Championing Victorian Industry with Schools' event at Olympic Park Melbourne  in March 2021. Hosted by the Victorian Minister for Education, the panel explained how the opportunities employers present to the students in Seymour benefit the organisations and the young employees. 

"300 local people are employed across our two contracts at Puckapunyal," Faye said. 'Through this program we can get students in on the ground level, as a lot of roles don't require any qualifications. So it's a way they can gain experience, but also a way we can fill key positions that are important to the running of our contracts.'

Our committment 

Neil notes that we recommit to the partnership each year and the signing of the agreement undertaken in March was the fifth signing.

Group Executive People & Capability Charmaine Higgins says as the second biggest employer in the region, we have an opportunity to offer a lot of support to young people.

"Programs like this are giving students great work experience in a wide variety of roles," Charmaine says.

Whether they stay in the region and work in our Defence business or take up a role in one of the 400+ other contracts across Australia and New Zealand, this start could take them far.

Pictured above: Seymour College assistant principal Derek Rimes, left, Central Ranges LLEN chief executive Trent McCarthy, GOTAFE student attraction acting director Jane O'Brien, GOTAFE youth engagement officer Madison Whiteman, Seymour Flexible Learning Centre careers and pathways director Jana Ash, Central Ranges LLEN engagement director Lena Way, St Mary's College career practitioner Tanya Oakley, Ventia defence base services manager Brett Kelly, Cental Ranges LLEN deputy chair Sue Marstaeller OAM, Seymour Flexible Learning Centre principal Shane Elliot, student Lilly, Ventia business community general manager Neil Birtchnell, and Seymour College careers and pathways coordinator Jeremy Linton.​ Image courtesy of VicLLEN.