Counselling classes at Avondale are a safe place. “We’re like a team supporting each other,” says student Ryan Crabtree. He’s referring not only to his classmates. “The lecturers are willing to get through every tough time with you so you can become a better version of yourself.” With a limited number of Commonwealth-supported places, students joining Mr Crabtree next year—and the year after—will get support of a different kind even before their first class.
To help address a national shortage of skills and future-proof needs in the workforce, the government will pay part of the fees for Australian and New Zealand students who begin our undergraduate counselling course in 2023 and 2024. That’s good news, says convenor Paul Bogacs. For three reasons: the Commonwealth-supported places are a subsidy—not a loan—meaning students pay a lot less for their fees; the places—the first in arts at Avondale—follow students through their course, even if they study part-time, and; because the demand for mental health professionals is increasing.
“Our students are industry ready when they finish,” says Mr Bogacs. They complete a one-day-a-week placement in a counselling clinic in their final year. They qualify for provisional membership in the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA). And “they get jobs”—in school counselling and with service providers such as Ability Options, Kids Helpline, Relationships Australia, Samaritans and UnitingCare. “A graduate of ours works for one of the largest disability and employment service providers in New South Wales,” says Mr Bogacs. “She’s been in the role only about nine months and already has a waiting list.” With most counselling training offered by private providers that have not received Commonwealth-supported places, “this means we’re very competitive,” says Mr Bogacs.
Avondale has a good reputation in the industry. Our courses are accredited by PACFA—which recognises we offer some of the highest standards of training in the country—and we help steer the National Heads of Counselling and Psychotherapy Education, hosting its benchmarking workshop in October.
Mr Bogacs is keen to dispel the myth that counsellors are just well-meaning good listeners. “We’re always talking to people suffering from anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, trauma. That’s the bulk of our work. We want our counsellors to be well prepared to operate as mental health professionals in the workplace.”
Mr Crabtree understands why. He finished high school and had “no idea what I wanted to do with my life.” He remembers some “dark times.” A stint as a counsellor at a YMCA camp “really changed things for me.” “Listening to the kids, some of who were still in foster care, and to be a supportive voice. . . . I just wanted to help people, which is probably one of the best things you can do in life.”
Studying counselling at Avondale will give you or someone you know the skills to help others. Now with Commonwealth-supported places in 2023, you’ll get help of a different kind before your first class. For more information, visit counselling.avondale.edu.au.