Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways15: Accidental Counsellor: an In-House Developed Workshop for TAFE Queensland

Brandon Taylor, TAFE Queensland

In 2018 Student Support Disability Officers and Counsellors at TAFE Queensland Brisbane region met to discuss their observations regarding the increasing prevalence of mental ill health in the student population and the effects on individual students’ participation. Critically, observations also identified impacts within the wider classroom, affecting the training environment, teaching & delivery and the subsequent influences on educators and their personal mental health and wellbeing.

Discussions within the Student Support team identified a need for specific training that would provide educators with practical strategies, skills and knowledge to support those students experiencing mental ill health and the educators own practice. Research identified various external training packages related to mental health and wellbeing, Mental Health First Aid and numerous online short-courses. However, it was felt that the skills, knowledge and capacity existed within the organisation to develop an in-house training product that would meet the specific needs and context of TAFE Queensland educators.

An in-house workshop was developed by the Student Support team in consultation with organisational Human Resources, Workplace Health & Safety and Educator Capability teams. The resulting workshop was further developed to provide training for all TAFE Queensland Services staff (e.g. Faculty administration, Customer Services, Libraries staff and organisation wide non-educator roles).

Initial attendee feedback was extremely positive and subsequently further requests to roll-out the workshop to teams across the Brisbane region followed. With continuing positive feedback the workshop is now part of a state-wide strategy that includes train-the-trainer to increase participation, skills and knowledge across TAFE Queensland.

The presentation will give an overview of this journey, the challenges, solutions, content and delivery of the workshop including statistics highlighting the feedback to date 2019-20.


Brandon Taylor is the Manager of Student Support for TAFE Queensland, serving the Brisbane region. He has worked in the VET sector as a teacher, disability officer and Manager for sixteen years and been with TAFE Queensland for twelve years. Prior to his current role, he taught literacy, numeracy and life skills programs with disadvantaged youth, discrete learning programs with adults in the workplace and additional support programs for students struggling to maintain their VET programs. Managing a multidisciplinary team of Counsellors, AccessAbility, Indigenous and International Student Welfare Officers across campuses in the south east of Queensland he also leads the organisational Mental Health & Wellbeing strategy.