“I draw on my NCPS studies every day. I need to refer to legislation & draw on reasons for youth behaviours after trauma, or why crimes are committed. My degree has equipped me for my role.”

After 20 years as a dental nurse, Joanne decided to change her occupation. With her decision narrowed to either joining the police force or entering the legal profession, she enrolled at NCPS as a way to explore both options while getting qualified. Placement at the Department of Health and Human Services Youth Justice redirected Joanne’s career interest to youth work, and she now works at Centrecare Ballarat in a diverse role supporting young people. Joanne graduated from NCPS in May, 2016.

Enrolment flexibility was a priority for Joanne, who switched from a major university to study at NCPS. She was attracted to its Bachelor of Criminology and Justice by the ability to change study modes to adapt to the needs of her family and job at the time.

“I started my degree at another university, where my mode of study was fully off-campus. I had been completing one unit per semester with little to no support from the provider and had decided that I would give up studying all together,” she said.

“After completing eight units there, I saw an advertisement for NCPS online and made some enquiries. I changed providers because NCPS offered me the support to start studying again. I actually believed for the first time that I would be able to complete my degree. I began with one unit a semester on-campus, and each semester I took on another. I completed a handful of units off-campus, if the timetable during the day didn’t fit with my work schedule.”

NCPS organised a placement for Joanne that immersed her in the Youth Justice environment. She then arranged to spread her 75 hours over a month, for exposure to a variety of client activities and different scenarios. The experiences during Joanne’s placement provided many practical benefits towards landing a job in the field she coveted.

“When working with young people you quickly learn that plans can change with very little notice. I was at court one day; with the parole board and youth remand the next; at psychiatry appointments and then doing general outreach with clients. No two days were the same,” said Joanne.

“Placement prepared me very well for my current role. It exposed me to the parole board, youth justice, Children’s Court and many valuable local connections. My supervisor during this time also helped me to obtain employment.”

A combination of dedication to study, relevant placement and the focus of NCPS coursework on practical learning gave Joanne a host of advantages when the time came to find a rewarding job to practise her skills after graduation.

“I have a split role as a Group Conference Convenor and Youth Support Worker for the Youth Diversion Pilot Program at Centacare Ballarat. The pilot is run through the Children’s Court and has only operated in four courts in Victoria to date. In January 2017 the program, which has been re-funded, will be rolled out state-wide in every Children’s Court,” she said.

“I apply my NCPS studies almost every day at work. I regularly need to refer to legislation and draw on reasons for youth behaviours after trauma, or why crimes are committed. The variety is great and my degree has equipped me for my role, through its variety of electives.”

Joanne’s study snapshot

What were some highlights from your time at NCPS?

Deviance with Matt Thurgood was by far the stand-out favourite subject of mine. It opened my mind to look at things very differently and Matt had such a good sense of humour that the class was constantly laughing at something. This made it an environment very conducive to learning.

What were some challenges you overcame during your studies?

I am married with three children and every day was a challenge to either get to campus, or just to do the study and work required. NCPS staff constantly understood that the extra commitments in my life were actually important and that if they were sensitive to those needs, I would perform better at my studies.

What would you say to others thinking of studying at NCPS?

It has a special focus which means that everyone is studying what you are studying. The location is so easy to get to by public transport and the teachers want you to succeed.