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Jesse's Placement Experience at OELLEN

 

Hi there!

My name is Jesse, a Master of Social Work student who was fortunate enough to be placed at the Outer Eastern Local Learning and Employment Network (OELLEN) as part of the course requirements for work placement. The short of my experience at OELLEN is this; I felt extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to complete my placement there! However if you want to learn more about what I got up to, please read on.

My initial few days at the LLEN (as it’s more colloquially known) were a crash course in acronyms and new frontiers. I have to admit that initially, I found it a little overwhelming. However after the first week or so I began to feel much more comfortable and like I had gotten my head around what it is that the LLEN actually does as well as a reasonable number of the acronyms used with such abandon around here.

One of the major duties of Local Learning and Employment Networks is to identify issues affecting young people within their target Local Government Areas, in the case of OELLEN, these areas are Maroondah, Knox and the Yarra Ranges Shire. Through the Youth Initiatives Providers group (YIP); one of the many networks that OELLEN facilitates, it was identified that there are a number of issues impacting youth-focused programs in the Outer Eastern area. However the finer details and breadth of what these matters were as well as their effect needed to be investigated.

As part of my placement role, OELLEN tasked me with a qualitative research project investigating these issues, particularly focusing on barriers in access to youth-focused programs in the local area. I settled into my role as a researcher quite quickly and felt very well supported by the Executive Officer Fiona and my Task Supervisor Cherie as well as the rest of the office staff more broadly. In addition to the research project I was conducting I had the opportunity to attend and contribute to external and internal meetings, help organize and facilitate events and assist in a variety of ad hoc tasks and duties.

The research project fit in well with the research experience I had developed during my previous tertiary studies. Broadly, the project saw me interviewing local program providers and discussing the sorts of issues they found affecting their ability to provide effective services to their clients. I completed a literature review and put together a full research document as well as an executive summary of the results. The research project was a great opportunity to see how policy and other factors have the potential to impact social and youth workers on the ground. It was fascinating speaking with the providers and I felt that I was making a positive contribution to the field. Having the opportunity to attend internal and external meetings also contributed greatly to my learning experience, most memorably I attended an Aboriginal Elders meeting held to discuss more inclusive practices for young people in TAFE. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear directly from the indigenous community and one that I’m very thankful for.

Ultimately, I finished my placement feeling like I had developed new skills and knowledge and I felt a greater confidence about my future in this field. I’ve been told that the research project I conducted will be used to help inform the relevant stakeholders and with a bit of luck will be a factor in positive changes.

 

Overall the placement far exceeded my expectations and I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to complete my first placement with OELLEN. I would like to take this opportunity to extend an enormous thanks to Fiona, Cherie and the rest of the OELLEN staff. 

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Outer Eastern Local Learning & Employment Network

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