A large university building site in Queensland was one of the projects visited by APTC carpentry teachers from Suva on a professional development trip.
Australia-Pacific Technical College trainer Richard Babovic and tutors Sajendra Bali and Paka Wakanivonoloa are experts in carpentry. That’s what they teach to keen students in the School of Trades and Technology at the APTC’s Suva campus in Fiji.
But to be an expert you have to maintain your expertise. That’s why Richard arranged for Sajendra and Paka to travel to Australia with him as part of their professional development to see what they could learn from some major building projects in Queensland.
The purpose of the visit was to give the tutors a close-up look at how the construction industry in Australia works, with particular reference to their field of carpentry. Says Richard: “They were able to see first-hand how multi-million dollar commercial building projects and residential buildings are completed to Australian standards.” Knowledge of Australian standards is important, because qualifications issued by the APTC, which is funded by the Australian Government, are at Australian level.
The group visited a major project on the Gold Coast, the construction site of the new Southern Cross University at Varsity Lakes, near Coolangatta. There they had a meeting with project manager Vaughn Thomas and compliance manager Paul Fullwood on behalf of Condev Constructions. “All aspects of construction were discussed,” said Richard, “from foundations to internal finishing work on a wide range of constructions such as multi-storey buildings to townhouse developments.
“The main focus was on compliance with building codes, Australian standards and safety within the construction industry.”
Part of the visit was a guided tour through the multi-storey university buildings under construction, led by Mick Dodd from Hutchinson Builders. “Mick showed us through the site office and discussed the planning and everyday operations for this particular site and the amount of work that is involved to assure the project is completed on time to the budget set out by the company,” Richard reported.
“We were able to see various trades completing their work to Australian standards while adhering to strict health and safety regulations.”
The group visited several other Condev sites on the Gold Coast, which are at varying stages from setout to full completion.
Richard believes that as an exercise in professional development, the visit was “invaluable”. “All the people we visited and talked to were very supportive and said they would welcome us back if we wanted to complete further professional development.”
It’s not only the tutors’ careers and teaching that benefits from this kind of experience, it’s their students too who will now have access to what their tutors have learned. It’s all part of the APTC’s policy of maintaining the highest levels of expertise among staff in its teaching centres throughout the Pacific region.