THIS is a role in which Jannine Bennett has always felt she can make a positive difference in the community, helping others find ways to flourish.
Highlands LLEN's role might rarely be in the forefront, which Ms Bennett said could make it difficult to exactly measure the organisation's impact. But she liked to see how those who engaged with Highlands LLEN programs and projects took on education and employment opportunities.
The local learning and employment network executive officer will retire next month after eight years at the helm.
Ms Bennett said the timing felt right with a passionate team and a couple of new contracts spurring the organisation into a growth mode.
While predominantly focusing on assisting young people, Highlands LLEN has expanded its programs linking business, community and education to a cohort that Ms Bennett said needed broader, additional support, such as older job seekers.
Ms Bennett said such work was particularly important in helping young people and job seekers face new barriers that were the result of the pandemic.
"I have always believed in giving support, to young people or community members who just need someone to believe in them and provide the right support at the right time to launch into a positive outcome," Ms Bennett said.
Initially a secondary teacher by trade, Ms Bennett moved into the TAFE sector as a trainer and then in senior management with Gordon TAFE in Geelong. She moved to Ballarat to help establish the then-University of Ballarat TAFE in 2007, working with Federation University for five years.
Highlands LLEN allowed Ms Bennett to pull all her experience and passion to make a difference to those who were struggling.
IN OTHER NEWS
The organisation this year marks its 20th anniversary and, while unable to celebrate with an event, Ms Bennett said a history book captured the incredible work that had unfolded in the Ballarat, Pyrenees, Hepburn, Moorabool and northern Golden Plains local government areas.
Ms Bennett takes great pride in her team and having the opportunity to mentor them in taking their careers to new levels.
Community volunteer work is high on Ms Bennett's retirement agenda, as is the time for more creative pursuits, such as writing the tales of her partner's gold-prospecting adventures.
The Highlands LLEN executive officer role has been advertised. Ms Bennett will stay on in a transitional phase.
Highlands LLEN is one of 31 local learning and education network hubs in the state.
HIghlands LLEN management committee chairman Leanne Parker said in a statement the organisation had entered a new era in its community partnerships under Ms Bennet's leadership.
"The previous HLLEN strategic plan focussed on sustainable partnerships that improve education and transition outcomes for young people, with the new strategic plan expanding beyond young people. Our strategies focus on providing advocacy, building capacity, enhancing sustainability and measuring impact," Ms Parker said.
"This development has been possible under the leadership and guidance of a wonderful executive officer, Jannine Bennett, who is entering the next stage of her calling through retirement.
"These changes enable the organisation to enter a very exciting time of change, providing opportunity to engage a community leader who can demonstrate qualities of integrity and skills in innovation and influence."
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