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Virginia Simmons AO

I've been fortunate to be able to assist women to achieve their full potential at times when they haven't fully recognised their own ability.

Change Agent

Virginia is an inspirational leader and innovator in vocational and tertiary education and training. She has overseen the development and implementation of many initiatives to improve service provision within the education and training sector, and to increase access to education for disadvantaged groups.

As Director at Kangan Institute of TAFE during the 1990s, Virginia established the first Recognition of Prior Learning project in Australia, in conjunction with the Ford Motor Company. As a result, skills learned on the job or in the community are now recognised in formal training programs.

Viriginia was an active member on numerous boards and committees especially in the area of training and education and she successfully advocated for change in the Vocational Education and Training sector.

Virginia was appointed CEO of Chisholm TAFE in 2001, and held this position until retiring in April 2010. She initiated the establishment of a youth training course through the Berwick Technical Education Centre for young people aged under 20, who had not completed Year 12 or an equivalent qualification. This model is now being replicated in other youth centres.

Under Virginia's leadership in 2006, Chisholm Institute established the Caroline Chisholm Education Foundation. The Foundation provides educational grants to students, from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, to undertake TAFE training.

Virginia became the first female Director of a TAFE institution and remains the longest serving female TAFE CEO and Director in Victoria. She was awarded the Order of Australia, AO in 2010, and has received numerous other awards.