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After spending many years working in emergency services for a range of organisations in Western Australia, graduate Andy Smith says the experience had a great impact on him.
'I initially went over to Perth on a 12-month working holiday in 1991-which turned into 13 inspirational years. Over that time I worked in disaster management and had the chance to work with a diverse range of people and groups from all over Western Australia, including remote Aboriginal communities, government, surf lifesaving clubs and as a lecturer with Murdoch University.'
'One of my last projects and career highlights before returning to Victoria last year was working with the Western Australia government's response to the Boxing Day tsunami disaster, including the repatriation of victims. So many different experiences have greatly reshaped my outlook on life,' he says.
Andy returned to Victoria in 2005 to be closer to his family and was initially employed by the Department of Justice in Melbourne as a senior policy officer in emergency management. In July 2007, he joined Government Skills Australia, a national industry skills council, initially as a project manager and most recently an industry advisory officer for the local government sector. Government Skills Australia is the national industry skills council for the government and community safety sectors.
Andy explains that he is enjoying the various challenges his employment continually provides.
'I still like the diversity and challenge of the disaster management area and while I am not directly involved in training and development activities currently, I really enjoy facilitating relationships with stakeholders as part of Australia's vocational education and training network,' he says.
Graduating with three undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from Deakin during the 1990s, Andy credits his secondary school careers teacher and Deakin for assisting his career development.
'My careers teacher recommended the education degree at Deakin to me, which I graduated from in 1990. I decided that I wanted to develop more expertise in distance education and open learning, so I undertook a Graduate Diploma in Distance Education before eventually going on to complete a Master of Professional Education and Training while I was working at Murdoch University.'
'My courses gave me a sound grounding in open and distance education that I have used throughout my employment. My postgraduate qualifications in education and training have given me great credibility in the training and development sectors in emergency management. I also really appreciated the flexibility of my masters course as it allowed me to combine my studies with full-time work,' he says.
While at Deakin, Andy was well known for his active role in University life at the Geelong campus at Waurn Ponds, where he lived on campus in the Student Residences at Deakin College from 1988-1991 and was Deakin College coordinator in 1990. He was also Chair of the Deakin Union in 1991.
As a self-diagnosed travel and coffee addict (he reveals he has been known to own up to 10 coffee brewing machines at any one time), Andy explains that he has devised a unique way to combine all of his passions.
'I aim to continue my travels by undertaking a 'coffee explorer' trek through Europe in late 2009. I have trekked through the US , parts of Asia and the UK in recent years and can't wait to do more travel! My current role requires me to travel regularly within Australia which is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family interstate'
"I am really pleased to remain connected with Deakin University and was thrilled to provide an 'Alumni response' at a recent Vice Chancellor Awards ceremony. I valued the opportunity to share my enthusiasm and passion for Deakin with future graduates!"