In 2007, in response to a request from the Riverina Institute of Technical and Further Education, Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga partnered with the Deniliquin campus of the Riverina Institute to offer a co-enrolment programme that was a combined TaFE and University course. The first two years are a carefully constructed co-enrolment programme that leads to the TaFE Diploma in Community Services (Welfare) and then a further two years of Charles Sturt University study as full-time students by flexible learning.
The first group of students in the co-enrolment programme have finished their TaFE component. On Wednesday 25th February 2009, 14 students of an original group of 16 students graduated from the co-enrolment part of the programme with the TAFE Diploma in Community Services (Welfare). All the students are continuing in their CSU studies for the next two years. The students were the only Diploma Students graduating from the TAFE at Deniliquin and were outstandingly presented in their graduation gowns.
Guests present included John Williams (local member), respected Indigenous leaders, the Acting Director of TaFE Riverina Institute, The Head of the Deniliquin campus and Bill Anscombe, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at CSU and proud members of families and friends. The CSU/TAFE co-enrolment programme received many very favourable comments in the public event and in private conversation.
Two of the graduating TAFE students received individual awards. Jodie Bateman received the Notable Achievement award and the citation included recognition of her contribution to the St Vincent de Paul Society where she has commenced work as a result of her studies.
Sheree MacCullum received the TaFE Deniliquin Student of the Year award. She will join 18 other Students of the Year and represent Deniliquin campus as the Institute looks towards the Institute's Student of the Year Award. During the course of her studies, Sheree has gained employment with St Lukes (a welfare agency based out of Bendigo) where she is working with psychological rehabilitation and people with a mental illness.
Social workers continue to be in high demand and the profession is recognised as an area of significant job growth. Rural areas have traditionally been under-serviced with well-educated and well-trained social workers and many geographic areas of rural Australia face a skill shortage in the supply of social workers. Speaking after the event, Bill Anscombe from Charles Sturt University paid tribute to the TAFE staff (teachers and support staff) for their commitment to students and the innovative way that Deniliquin Campus has encouraged and supported the programme. He stressed that educational collaboration and partnerships bring higher education and community benefits and are making a real difference in communities such as Deniliquin.