New $27m TAFE NSW facility at Kingswood includes dispensing course

A breakfast event held at the new Kingswood campus of TAFE NSW’s Western Sydney Institute/OTEN introduced the facility and its course offerings within the health sector. Courses offered cover optical dispensing, audiometry, nursing, dental assisting, and sterlisation (disinfection).The event was held in the Health Services Building, an ultra-modern, high-tech facility bracing the latest in teaching, IT, and audio-visual technology.The optical dispensing facility has the latest equipment set-out in a well-lit, spacious dispensary with extensive frame racking that was filled to capacity when visited by Insight.A wide variety of equipment within each instrument and machine category has been purchased to broaden the students exposure to what is available. Where feasible, the equipment installed matches that used at Randwick College’s optical dispensing facility in the interests of compatibility and to facilitate the interchange of teachers, some of whom are part-time, between the two Certificate IV optical dispensing courses offered by TAFE NSW.The inclusion of a well-equipped optometric consulting room is related to a developing relationship between the institute and Vision Australia’s NSW Spectacles Program. Essentially, it is hoped that local (Western Sydney) optometrists already participating in the NSWSP will use the consulting room to see some programme clients thereby generating real spectacle prescriptions that can be fulfilled by dispensing students.In the past, fictitious prescriptions have been fabricated by students and, once the appliance is assessed/marked, the frames recycled subsequently. Usually, the edged lenses are unfit for further use unless they are particularly large and can be re-edged for a smaller frame.The large library mirrors current information delivery whereby the number of computers and computer terminals almost outnumber the number of real books residing on its shelves.MC for the early morning event was Ms Rebeccah Matthews, head teacher (leisure and health) TAFE NSW. The official welcome was delivered by WSI’s director, Mr Robin Shreeve, who revealed that the facility represented an investment of $27 million in Western Sydney that targets telehealth, translational health, and health care generally. The facility was intended to shape the future of health workers while upskilling students and enhancing the productivity of all stages of the educational process.Ms Francesca Saccaro, WSI’s associate director revealed some of the thinking behind the design of the facility which took two years of planning and three years of construction. It is intended to be innovative while providing a realistic approximation to the workplaces the graduates are likely to experience once ployed. It aims to encourage probl solving, collaboration, interactive learning, and appropriate use of digital resources. Many of the building’s facilities allow student independence during the learning process but ultimately, the teacher/educator has final and total control (largely electronic) over all class activities, screens, and IT equipment.Relatively little of the building’s infrastructure is ‘fixed’, rather almost everything can be redeployed to wherever and whenever it is required – total flexibility has been the goal and from observation of the facility first-hand, the designers se to have achieve what they set-out to do.The institute expressed gratitude to Optimed, Hilco, Device Technologies, and Maxim Optical for the supply of equipment and fittings to the optical dispensing Certificate IV course.Ms Foonghar Chong, director education, health, recreation and community services, detailed the course offerings. To evolve and improve all courses, each is to be subjected to an annual review scheduled for Septber/October of each year. Inputs to such a review will include: the state and national economies and their effects on each discipline, regulations governing the relevant professions, Australian Government ployment outlooks, what competitor training organizations are offering, and current and erging needs for each discipline.Driving the dand for health-industry staff is an annual growth rate of around 12% per annum with aged care and disability support the two fastest growing areas. The WSI is spread over seven campus locations that offer face-to-face, on-line, and on-the-job training.With TAFE NSW’s Mix & Match strategy, some course components across disciplines can be combined to create a hybrid qualification. However, optical dispensing is not involved in that pursuit currently. The institute can also offer customised training when the dand from industry, specific companies, or particular ployers can justify an expansion beyond those offered formally.For a once-staid, si-government organization, TAFE NSW in general, and the WSI in particular, are showing all the signs of having cast-off their old mantle and have morphed into an agile, responsive, and attentive competitor in the education and training space across a broad range of disciplines.The dand for both the Randwick and Kingswood courses has proved to be robust and sustained which augers well for the future supply of a relatively scarce resource – qualified optical dispensers.

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