STEPS - Library - Central Queensland University

STEPS - Library - Central Queensland University


Celebrating 20 years


‘Come to the edge,’ he said

They said: ‘We are afraid’

‘Come to the edge,’ he said

They came

He pushed them

And they flew

Guillaume Apollinaire

Map of Queensland showing Central Queensland. The highlighted locations are

CQU STEPS sites.

(Adapted from: Cryle, D 1992, Academia Capricornia: a history of the University of

Central Queensland, University of Central Queensland, Rockhampton.)





Celebrating 20 years


Stacey Doyle


© Copyright 2006 Central Queensland University

This book is copyright. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes

of criticism and review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a

retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,

mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written

permission of the publisher or the Copyright Agency Limited.

All rights reserved

Stacey Doyle

Central Queensland University


Celebrating 20 years

1986 – 2006

ISBN: 1 921047 25 9

Proudly published by

Central Queensland University

Rockhampton Queensland 4702


Financial support provided by the Division of Teaching and Learning Services at

Central Queensland University.



Acknowledgements ......................................................................................vii

Preface ...........................................................................................................ix

Introduction ..................................................................................................xi

Part One: The history of STEPS ..................................................................1

The vision ...................................................................................................3

Preparing for students.................................................................................4

STEPS begins .............................................................................................8

Early reflections........................................................................................13

Pilot to program........................................................................................14

Spreading to Gladstone.............................................................................16

Welcome Bundaberg and Mackay............................................................21

New found funding...................................................................................26

The vision evolves....................................................................................30

STEPS and Emerald .................................................................................35

Community support ..................................................................................37

Taking shape.............................................................................................42

Tackling change........................................................................................45

Today and tomorrow ................................................................................49

Staff and student photos — 2006 Term 1.................................................52

Part Two: The STEPS philosophy .............................................................61

The theory of transformational learning...................................................63

The Hero’s Journey ..................................................................................64

Transformational learning applied to STEPS...........................................70

The student-centred model .......................................................................73

Part Three: The student learning journey ................................................75

The decision to join STEPS......................................................................77

Fears of the first day.................................................................................80

From tragedy to triumph...........................................................................86

A juggling act ...........................................................................................90

Doors open ...............................................................................................94

The surrender value ................................................................................101


Learning for life......................................................................................112

Interconnectedness and perpetuation......................................................114

Part Four: Student transformations........................................................119

My life, my journey: living my dream....................................................121

Curiosity, fascination and a thousand questions of ‘Why?’ ...................125

A new chapter.........................................................................................130

One STEP at a time ................................................................................132

My life: my way .....................................................................................135

Einstein and Dion ...................................................................................137

STEPS — The vital rung........................................................................140

Nothing is impossible .............................................................................143

Kicking and screaming ...........................................................................146

It’s never too late to learn.......................................................................149

Taking STEPS: learning in leaps and bounds ........................................150

STEPS — A guide to learning, a guide to living....................................153

Lucy’s steps of change ...........................................................................156

The pleasure was worth the pain ............................................................159

Stepping stones of life ............................................................................162

Run with it ..............................................................................................165

If the desire is great enough....................................................................168

Turning point..........................................................................................173

Memories of the first STEPS group in Gladstone — 1989 ....................175

Journey to who knows where .................................................................178

Appendices, Index and Endnotes .............................................................181

Appendix A — A thumbnail sketch of CQU .........................................183

Appendix B — Staff writing on STEPS.................................................185

Appendix C — STEPS program offerings — 2006 ...............................190


Endnotes .................................................................................................202



This book was commissioned by the Division of Teaching and Learning

Services (DTLS) at Central Queensland University (CQU) to celebrate the

20 th anniversary of the STEPS program.

I would like to thank Dr Jeanne McConachie, Director of DTLS, for giving

me the opportunity to work on this project, and Karen Seary, Head of

STEPS, for her endless support and direction.

It has been an absolute delight writing this book and I can honestly say that

I have been truly touched by the stories and memories that have been

recounted to me by staff, students and supporters. Accordingly, I would like

to thank the STEPS staff, both present and past, at the Rockhampton,

Gladstone, Bundaberg, Mackay and Emerald campuses, who have given up

their valuable resources and time to paint a vivid picture of the events that

have occurred over the past 20 years. I would also like to show my

appreciation to Jenny Simpson for writing The STEPS philosophy included

in this publication, as well as to Mike Connon and Megan Morris who, in

conjunction with Jenny, helped me to edit this book.

Belinda Loakes and Vicki Dyer at the CQU Library have been extremely

dedicated, and I thank them both for going the extra mile and finding some

brilliant iconic photographs and invaluable information that we thought was

lost forever. Also, thank you to the staff within DTLS for your

administrative support.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the STEPS students. Their input and

stories make up a major part of this book and I thank them for volunteering

their truths. Their stories are truly inspirational and spurred me on

throughout this project.

It is these students who are responsible for the perpetuation of the STEPS

program. They persevere to complete the program, often against many

odds, and then honestly and passionately promote STEPS by circulating

their moving achievements and proudly displaying their ‘anything is

possible’ attitude. These students are the program’s greatest believers and



Their courage, determination, impact and unprecedented accomplishments

are the grounds on which this book has been composed. From all of the

staff and supporters of the program, congratulations and thank you for your

undying support.

Stacey Doyle



Kelly Beckett

The core aim of the STEPS program is to provide people with both the

necessary knowledge and the opportunity to achieve an entrance score that

will qualify them to gain entry to further tertiary studies. The STEPS

program covers subjects such as academic communication, mathematics,

computing, independent learning skills, study skills and library and

information literacy skills.

Although the STEPS program achieves these objectives admirably, they are

not the essence of what makes STEPS the exceptional program that it is.

The essence of the STEPS program is the empowering of second-chance

adult learners, effecting change in their lives, and providing the avenue for

them to achieve individual personal development.

If you were to ask the majority of STEPS graduates about their experiences

whilst in the program, they would have very different stories to tell. But I

am confident that most of those accounts would have words such as:

• enlightenment

• empowerment

• self belief

• awakening of their true abilities

• shattering self-imposed limitations

littered throughout the telling of their STEPS journeys.

When I commenced the STEPS program, I thought I was signing up for a

basic academic course. I never for a moment thought I was going to walk

away from STEPS empowered with the belief that I could achieve anything

that I set my mind to. That is truly an amazing gift to bestow upon so many

people. STEPS was one of those defining experiences in my life that

changed my outlook and direction, and I will forever be grateful to the staff

for their unfailing belief in me during that time.


Another reason that STEPS is such a success is, of course, the other

students. STEPS provides an environment for students to enjoy the sheer

stimulation of sharing ideas and dreams, and I was constantly amused,

surprised and amazed at the ideas of my classmates. Besides having

different ideas, STEPS students have different lifestyles and backgrounds.

They have different reasons for attending STEPS, and different

expectations of what it will mean in their lives. They also have a wealth of

generosity and kindness. They are supportive when we struggle, and

delighted when we succeed.

My time in the STEPS program was very special. In fact, many of my

fellow STEPS graduates and I continue to recognise the significance of the

experience as time passes and our achievements grow. Lessons learnt in

STEPS have become the foundation of our successes, as we continue to

utilise the skills and mental attitudes taught whilst participating in this


The 20 th anniversary of the STEPS program is an ideal opportunity to look

back and recall with affection the process we all went through to get here

today, and marvel at our achievements. Central Queensland University

(CQU) needs to be congratulated for developing and providing a program

that has led to such positive fundamental changes in so many students’

lives. I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to all the STEPS team for what

they do for us while we try to come to grips with subjects some of us have

long forgotten existed, and with other subjects that are totally uncharted

territory. The STEPS teaching staff are patience and understanding

personified. I valued every bit of advice and knowledge that I could glean

from these amazing people. Our success is undoubtedly due, in no small

part, to their efforts on our behalf.

I am proud to have this opportunity to congratulate CQU and all past and

present STEPS staff for their foresight in initiating, and their continued

success in delivering, such a quality program.

Thank you, CQU!



How do you measure the success of the STEPS (Skills for Tertiary

Education Preparatory Studies) program?

By the number of graduates who enrol in tertiary studies? Each year,

approximately 80 per cent of STEPS graduates go on to enrol in a bachelor


By the growth of the program over the last 20 years? STEPS began with

22 students on the Rockhampton campus. Today the program yearly enrols

more than 450 students on the Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg,

Mackay and Emerald campuses.

By the impact the program has had on the community? There are many

stories that demonstrate the impact STEPS has had on the community. One

of them happened to me just the other day.

My partner invited me to have a drink with two of his colleagues I had

never met before. We all sat down with our drinks and started to get to

know one another. Soon the conversation was directed at me, and one of the

women asked what I was working on at the moment. I launched into telling

them about the STEPS program and how I was writing a book to celebrate

its 20 th anniversary. I could see from the expression on their faces that they

knew how influential this program was. In quick succession, one after the

other they said:

‘My Aunty completed the program.’

‘My Dad graduated from STEPS a few years ago.’

‘My Mum taught in the STEPS program.’

I was blown away by this telling example of how well the program is

known in our community.

The ‘quick drink’ automatically turned into a lengthy conversation about

what led their families to the STEPS program and what they were doing

now. Once again, my whole body was swept over by goose-bumps as each

person told their remarkable story.

Finally, does quality of teaching indicate the success of the STEPS

program? On the same day that I met my partner and his colleagues for that


drink, Jenny Simpson, a Rockhampton STEPS lecturer, was informed that

her outstanding contribution to student learning was to be recognised with

the prestigious National Carrick Award for Australian University Teaching.

This prize, a remarkable achievement for STEPS, is the icing on the cake

for a program that has transformed the lives of thousands of students and

shaped the communities where these students live.

STEPS, Celebrating 20 years, 1986 – 2006, celebrates 20 years of

revolutionary success for the STEPS program by recounting the tales of

students and staff since 1986. The narrative is based on interviewees’

individual ‘truths’ and their recollections of how events occurred, and also

on a collection of oral histories from STEPS staff, students and supporters.

The STEPS program has emerged as a premier bridging program in

Australia, receiving uncountable accolades. The program, beginning with

one man’s vision and 22 students, has seen more than 4,500 students

graduate and change the direction of their lives. Free to participants, this

program removes the moat from around the University for the ordinary

citizen in the communities of Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg,

Mackay and Emerald as well as for adults who live in isolated areas. 1

Over time, STEPS has been customised to suit the 450 students it now

serves and will continue to transform itself in the years to come. The

program has evolved from teaching basic skills to now include information

literacy, critical literacy, the use of technology, statistics and dealing with

change to meet adjustments in society’s expectations. Today, the

curriculum emphasises themes such as valuing life-skills, diverse learning

styles and temperaments as well as transformative learning.

As a consequence of STEPS, many students go on to enrol in tertiary

education, seek new employment, and give back to the community and their

families. Many students graduate from Central Queensland University and

other tertiary institutions across Australia with degrees in disciplines such

as nursing, teaching, psychology and engineering. In essence, students

become lifelong learners constantly searching for new ways to enhance

their lives and to serve others.

1 The STEPS Program, Gateway to Learning, Jeanne McConachie, 1999.


The program is sustained by the ability of lecturers to identify the differing

learning styles of their students and adapt their teaching styles accordingly.

Their effort, which in many cases goes well beyond the call of duty, is

rewarded by the fact that a continual stream of former students visit, email

and call their teachers to say thank you and inform them of their latest


The STEPS students rise above competing external pressures to pass

assessments and ultimately complete the program. Propelled along by the

support of their peers and a ‘can do’ mindset, it is these students, aided by

the funding of CQU, who ultimately perpetuate the program. They continue

to spread the word to their parents, brothers, neighbours and friends,

throughout their communities and beyond. These students engender a proud

community, one that is inspired by remarkable stories of student


To mark the achievements of all STEPS students and the dedication of staff

over the past 20 years, this book has four parts. The first is a succinct

history of the program and tells the story of how, from humble beginnings,

STEPS has cleverly adapted and evolved over time to continually meet the

needs of students and mirror the changing world around them.

In the second part, Jenny Simpson details the philosophy of the STEPS

program and explains how it provides a solid foundation for adult learning.

Part Three takes you on the journey of STEPS students from their initial

decision to sit the entrance test to the point where they emerge as lifelong


Finally, Part Four presents 20 stories written by former STEPS students

from the Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Mackay and Emerald

campuses. They describe their specific STEPS experiences which, you will

see, are truly inspirational.


Part One: The history of STEPS

Part One: The history of STEPS


The vision

Part One: The history of STEPS

Dr Arthur Appleton, who was the Director of the Capricornia Institute of

Advanced Education, had a vision to increase the chances of adults wishing

to enter tertiary education. He elaborated on his vision to Greg Harper, who

had conducted some research on adult students and had found that they did

better than their direct entry counterparts. 1 Dr Appleton thought the solution

might be to offer more community-based courses aimed at up-skilling

adults in the community who were currently ineligible for tertiary

education. 2

Dr Appleton assigned Greg Harper the task of working out how the

Institute could practically offer continuing education courses. At the time,

Greg Harper was working under Dr John Dekkers who was the Head of the

Division of External and Continuing Education (DECE). They both initially

responded to Dr Appleton’s vision by providing short external courses for

trained nurses. Although the money derived from this service became the

Division’s bread and butter, the courses were short lived. 3

While Greg Harper and Dr Dekkers were devising strategies to offer

continuing education locally, the Federal Government was revisiting its

education policies, particularly those focussing on university education and

equity. Evidence collected by the government showed that specific clusters

of people were under-represented in university student enrolments.

Consequently, in 1985, the Higher Education Equity Program was

introduced. This program allocated funds to appropriate institutions to

establish bridging programs aimed at increasing the proportion of certain

groups in tertiary education. These groups included: Aborigines, migrants,

women, and people from low socio-economic backgrounds and isolated

areas. 4

Finding that the government was issuing grants to bridge the gap between

these groups and tertiary education, Greg Harper enlisted Gene Dayton to

help him write a convincing application. 5 The hours spent perfecting the

submission were recognised by the government, and the Institute was

awarded a $30,000 grant to fund a tertiary bridging program that would

comply with the rules and objectives set out by the Higher Education

Equity Program. 6


Part One: The history of STEPS

In order to be eligible for the program, adults would need to meet the

following criteria:

• over 25 years of age

• unemployed and have been looking for full-time work for at least four

months in the last 12 months (registered with the Commonwealth

Employment Service [CES])

• ineligible for entry into accredited Capricornia Institute of Advanced

Education courses under normal admission requirements

• away from full-time education for at least four months in the last

12 months

• socially disadvantaged people — Aboriginal and Islander, female,

handicapped, migrant, poor, family dysfunction, or technologically

redundant. 7

After careful deliberation over the objectives of the Institute’s program,

Greg Harper came up with the name STEPS — Skills for Tertiary

Education Preparatory Studies. His idea was to use the government grant to

fund a program that would be free of charge for adults in the community

who could demonstrate the potential to succeed at university. 8

Although this small, informal program in the initial stages of development

had been called STEPS, it was also referred to as STEP, which stood for

Skills for Tertiary Education (or Entrance) Preparatory Program. By 1992,

it had been decided that the formal name of the program would be STEPS,

and it has remained this way ever since.

Preparing for students

A number of events took place leading up to the first intake of students in

1986. Greg Harper tendered out the design of marketing materials including

a pamphlet which would be distributed around the Institute and community

organisations. He approached the Commonwealth Employment Service

(CES) and notified them that the program could potentially assist many of

the unemployed people who visited its offices in Rockhampton. He also

approached lecturers in the Mathematics Learning Centre (MLC) and

requested they assist him with the preparation and design of relevant

courses. He also recruited Suzanne McGrath to help him teach

Communication. 9


Part One: The history of STEPS

Below is the first pamphlet designed by the Institute, which was placed at

organisations such as the CES.



Part One: The history of STEPS


Part One: The history of STEPS

Milton Fuller was the Head of the Mathematics Learning Centre (MLC) and

remembers Greg Harper approaching him in 1986 with details of a bridging

program for which the government had provided funding. Milton recalls

Greg relaying that, if these students were going to be successful in tertiary

education, they would need a sound level of mathematics. 11 Milton, like

many of the other lecturers Greg approached, including Suzanne McGrath

and Phillip Farrands, began preparing materials for the first group of

STEPS students. 12

Dr Jeanne McConachie and Milton Fuller. 13

In the time leading up to the first intake of STEPS students, the Institute

received over 100 phone calls from interested people wishing to find out

more about the new program. The CES also recommended suitable

candidates, including those who were classified as long-term unemployed.

After some preliminary tests were conducted, 22 students were enrolled in

the first STEPS pilot program, which was set to be launched in June of

1986. 14


STEPS begins

Part One: The history of STEPS

In June 1986, a no doubt nervous bunch of 22 adults from the underrepresented

groups as specified by the government attended their first

STEPS class. The program would run for 13 weeks during term two,

involve 20 contact hours, and have face-to-face engagement from nine to

three each day. From the very outset, Greg Harper and his colleagues

recognised the demographic makeup of students and, therefore, allowed

participants to finish at three so that they could collect their children from

school if they needed to. 15

Parts of the very first press release concerning STEPS are shown below.

This article was submitted by the Community Relations Officer,

Aidan Burke. It shows that an introduction to research and communication

techniques, elementary mathematics, word processing skills, organisational

and study skills, and knowledge of basic science were the components of

the first STEPS program. 16



Part One: The history of STEPS

Upon completion of the STEPS program, it was expected that the

participants would be able to demonstrate the following skills:

• read effectively and write precisely and accurately for academic


• deal with basic mathematical concepts and methods

• develop computer literacy and basic word processing skills

• gain confidence in themselves as learners

• acquire organisational skills for effective learning. 18

Milton Fuller remembers the first day of teaching and just how nervous the

students were. Some of the students’ highest mathematics qualifications

were at primary school level. Milton, however, was able to empathise with

his class as he, too, had gained his tertiary qualifications as an adult

learner. 19

Here is Milton Fuller’s story.

In 1986, the MLC was housed in Building 19, which was the

Information Technology Building, and so the STEPS students came

to us. At the time, this was a bit of a problem because it was quite a

walk for students.

I had gained my tertiary qualifications as an adult learner and so

could identify with how the new STEPS students felt. Some were

nervous having only completed the top end of primary school

mathematics. Others did not understand why we needed

mathematics and were very opposed to mathematics as a concept.

And some were quite keen. We had female mathematics tutors and

males in their forties attending the course, so in some cases there

was some resentment there because of their own inadequacy in that


The very first curriculum that I wrote was based on my knowledge,

and it was a bit of a disaster. I had assumed that they would have a

certain level of prior knowledge, but it was beyond them. We

realised this very quickly and adapted the curriculum so that we

would start at the beginning.

We also devised appropriate written entrance tests, which would be

carried out prior to adults being accepted into the program. They

would ensure that students had adequate literacy and numerical

skills to undertake the program. Greg Harper encouraged adults who


Part One: The history of STEPS

were not successful in gaining a place to enrol in a TAFE course to

get their skills up to speed and then apply the following year.

It was very much a challenge for me as it was for the students, but

once we had the measure of the type of people we were getting, we

were able to tailor a good course, which would not only increase

their level of knowledge but also build their confidence. 20

Gina Yarrow had been a nurse since she left school and wanted to go down

a different path. Now that her children were at school she decided to enrol

in the STEPS program. She talks about her experience below.

The 1986 STEPS group was a fairly mixed bunch in age and

diversity. Many of the students formed deep bonds with one another

which assisted them as they progressed through the program. Two of

the women that I was close to went on to become teachers. One is

now a Principal at a local Rockhampton school.

English was my love. I had always been pretty good at writing

stories, but I had forgotten the basics and wasn’t sure how to write

an assignment. The communication part of the program really

assisted me by giving me the confidence to discover new things;

how to research; how I learn.

The lecturers were all very helpful and did not make any of us feel

inferior. They de-mystified university life for us!

Gina has been working at Central Queensland University as an Events

Manager in the University Relations department since 1996 and is the

coordinator of the successful CQU Multicultural Fair and Uni Open Day.

Greg Harper, who taught the communications module (today known as

Language and Learning), and his colleagues used the face-to-face

interactions of the STEPS classes to formulate distance education materials.

In his term of teaching, Greg produced a Study Skills booklet as well as an

Academic Writing Skills book that would be distributed to direct entry

students to assist them in their first year of university study. In addition, all

lecturers began revising and modifying their STEPS resources with the

vision of eventually spreading the program to other regional locations. 21

To maintain the initial positive reactions of the community, one of the first

students to successfully complete the STEPS program, Alan Douglas, was

profiled in the local Rockhampton paper, The Morning Bulletin. Alan, like

many of his STEPS peers, went on to enrol in a program at the Institute. Of

the 22 adults who began the STEPS program, 18 enrolled as first year


Part One: The history of STEPS

students. 22 STEPS was adhering to the stipulations set out by the

government, and was also reaching the Institute’s desired objectives to

increase the chances of adults gaining entry into tertiary education. Hence,

the program showed great potential, even at this early stage of development.

Greg Harper was promoted from Continuing Education Officer to Senior

Administrative Officer at the end of 1987 for his contribution to Continuing

Education. 23

The article below, Program a STEP in the right direction profiled Alan

Douglas to entice community members to enrol in the STEPS program in

1987. Soon, however, the Institute would recognise word of mouth as the

most powerful advertising medium.

Alan Douglas researches an assignment ... STEPS changed his life.


Part One: The history of STEPS



Early reflections

Part One: The history of STEPS

Gail Godden began lecturing mathematics to STEPS students in 1987. ‘The

students in each cohort became a real little community — there to support

each other’. She remembers alternating different teaching styles to

communicate mathematics principles in a variety of ways to students who

were having difficulty understanding a topic. The self-paced design of the

course enabled her to do this and keep the course friendly and informal. She

also recalls focusing on such topics as percentages and basic algebra. At

one stage, she brought in two Apple IIe computers and placed them down

the back of her classroom so that students could enhance their knowledge of

mathematics by doing exercises using mathematics tutoring programs on

the computers.

She saw many students arrive for the first day fearing maths and convinced

that they weren’t capable of dealing with it. She also witnessed many

students complete the course, confident they could handle mathematics and

use it in everyday life or within a university course. One student, she

recalls, even went on to complete a mathematics degree.

One of the early lecturers, Irene Sharrock (then Irene Veach), ensured that

the students would be able to practice their mathematics on computers

provided by Gail. Irene was the Program Coordinator in the Business and

Law faculty at that time and taught the computing component of STEPS. 25

Also known as Word Processing Skills, it was taught on the ground floor of

the library. Students were taught DOS, Word, Lotus (and later Excel)

spread-sheeting with the aim of helping them to produce their

assignments. 26

Irene championed the use of computers and loved helping the students. As

the STEPS program did not have the history and reputation that it does

today, students were nervous and viewed university as something only for

the elite. She saw her job as making students more comfortable and

confident with computers as well as changing their mindsets so that they

viewed themselves capable of tertiary study. Like Gail, Irene revelled in the

joy of seeing students emerge as confident learners ready to tackle

university. 27


Pilot to program

Part One: The history of STEPS

From the end of the first STEPS pilot in 1986 up until 1989, the STEPS

lecturers would continue modifying the STEPS modules and updating

flexible courses. Eventually, Milton Fuller, Gail Godden and Phillip

Farrands produced a mathematics textbook. 28 They also continued to

promote the program both within the Institute and externally. To ensure that

the bridging program perpetuated from one year to the next, Greg submitted

grant applications each year. The government provided $25,000 in both

1987 and 1988. 29 Student evaluations of STEPS, modifications to the

program and close consultation with government agencies meant changes

such as an extension of the contact hours from 20 to 25, and a decrease in

the minimum age to now include participants who were 21 years of age. 30

The introduction for a Rockhampton local news story in 1988 highlights

these changes:

In addition to local news air time, the STEPS program was also being

promoted by the Institute’s photographer at the time, Doug Steley. On the

next page is an iconic picture of a STEPS graduate, Judy Fisher, taking that

extra STEP.



Part One: The history of STEPS

STEPS Graduate Judy Fisher. 32


Part One: The history of STEPS

Between 1986 and 1989, the Institute added more campuses to its portfolio.

The Mackay campus opened for lectures in 1987, and the Bundaberg

Institute began its operations in 1988. The following year, the Emerald

campus would also open for operation. 33

Below is one of the first photographs taken of the Mackay College of

Technical and Further Education.

Mackay branch campus (from left) Steve Mathieson and David Haussmann. 34

Spreading to Gladstone

In 1989, the Institute was again successful in securing a government grant

to continue providing STEPS as a much needed pathway into tertiary

education for local adults who had been marginalised from formal


With three years behind them, Greg Harper and his colleagues decided that

this would be a good time to extend the STEPS offering to the Gladstone

campus. This would enable the Institute to widen the geographical scope of

the program, thereby enabling more people to benefit. By this stage, the

Gladstone campus had been operating for 11 years. 35


Part One: The history of STEPS

Greg approached Rex Metcalfe, who was the Head of the Gladstone

campus and remained so until 2001, to work out how to set up the already

successful program in Gladstone. Rex remembers sitting down with Greg in

the campus office and discussing how the program would be executed. 36

Rex Metcalfe presents a student with her graduation certificate. 37

A Gladstone STEPS Coordinator would need to be appointed in order for

the STEPS program to be successfully incorporated into the Gladstone

campus offerings. In response to this requirement, Marian Metcalfe (then

Marian Knapp) was appointed as the first STEPS Coordinator (1989 –

1993) and would be responsible for overseeing the program and ensuring

that it ran smoothly. 38 As in Rockhampton, the Gladstone campus would

have to work hard to promote this new program and secure appropriate



Part One: The history of STEPS

To assist with this challenge, a team of lecturers were asked to teach the

first classes. Lynne Campbell and Julie Lovell (then Julie Millington) were

among the first lecturers to be approached. 39

Lynne Campbell 40

Prior to the first year of teaching, many enquiries were received regarding

the program. Before students were eligible for enrolment, they were subject

to a face-to-face interview so that the lecturers were able to gauge whether

the interviewees had the right level of skills to endure the STEPS program.

Megan Hindmarch (who, as Megan Grayson, began teaching STEPS in

Gladstone in 1994 and was the Gladstone STEPS Coordinator until early in

2003) always found this process extremely fascinating. She enjoyed the

stories of people from all walks of life who, for so many reasons, wanted to

embrace university study. 41

In 1989, 12 students enrolled in the Gladstone STEPS program. 42 They

would come to a small classroom on Dawson Road to be taught subjects

including Communication, Mathematics and Study Skills. At this stage, the

Gladstone Marina Campus as it is known today was not constructed, and so

lecturers and students had no choice but to suffer the strange odours coming

from the vet next door, and the smell of fresh prawns oozing from the fish

market when the wind was blowing in a specific direction. 43


Part One: The history of STEPS

Aerial photograph of CQU Gladstone Marina campus as it looks today. 44

Below is a photograph of the first Gladstone STEPS students and lecturers.

Front row (L to R):

Linda Grundon, Cheryl Lee-Brown, Julie Lovell (staff), Marian Knapp

(Coordinator), Lynne Campbell, (mathematics tutor), Gwen Forrest,

Ulysses Aquilizan.

Back row (L to R):

Wendy Tomlinson, Jill McLeod, Lesley Greig, Jenny Wilson, Raelene Thams,

Pat Rose, Christine Petersen. 45


Part One: The history of STEPS

Julie Lovell found the first class to be a delightful bunch of people whose

prior work experience and skills developed from raising children provided

the foundation that allowed them to meet the challenge of independent

learning. 46

The demographical composition of the first Gladstone group reflected that

of the first Rockhampton class. They were mostly women wanting to make

a career change, and a small percentage of men. However, over the years,

with fluctuations in the economy and changes in societal attitudes, the

demographic makeup of STEPS classes would no longer depict the above


While the lecturers had to adhere to mandatory assessments as set out by

the STEPS curriculum, the Communications lecturers enjoyed the great deal

of flexibility. The program was very ‘outcomes’ focussed. Megan

Hindmarch recalls:

We were a little law unto ourselves. Of course we had a basic

curriculum and we had certain assessment items we needed to do,

but there was flexibility in how we could get to the end result. 47

Marian used this flexibility to begin her classes with self esteem and team

building, along with other exercises designed to create an effective support

network among the students. She and Greg Harper anticipated that, given

their competing external pressures, students would require solid peer

relationships and built in mentors to help them to successfully complete the

program. 48

Julie Lovell, when asked what her earliest memories of STEPS were,


Marian fed their souls. She would lift their spirits, keep them

focused and encourage them to keep moving toward their goals

while Lynne knew her maths and was able to reset their attitude to

mathematical problem solving. 49

The mathematics component was taught in the same fashion as the lessons

taught in Rockhampton. Lecturers followed the mathematics text that had

been devised and modified by Milton Fuller and his colleagues.


Part One: The history of STEPS

Welcome Bundaberg and Mackay

By the end of 1989, the STEPS program was successfully running on two

campuses, Rockhampton and Gladstone, and, in doing so, was enabling

more adults from a larger geographical region to participate in this bridging

program. That year, one STEPS student was accepted into Griffith

University signalling that the program was not only valued by constituents

of the local communities but was also recognised by metropolitan

universities. Out of the remaining 30 people who also completed the

program, 29 gained admission into the university the following year. 50

STEPS coordinator, Carole Lane (second from the left) surrounded by some of the

graduates from the 1990 Rockhampton program. 51

In 1990, after continuous hard work through a climate of under-funding and

over-enrolments, the Institute was granted university status. The Institute

became the University College of Central Queensland after a national

decision to merge colleges of advanced education with universities

throughout Australia. 52


Part One: The history of STEPS

By this time, the STEPS program, after continued government funding, was

in its fifth year, and the benefits of the program were tangibly emerging

within the university context. Many students had graduated from STEPS

and had commenced tertiary study, like Bernadette Stacey pictured below. 53

Former STEPS student Bernadette Stacey gains some practical classroom

experience as a student teacher as part of progress towards her Graduate Diploma in


However, the modest government grants that had funded the program to

date were not enough to continue spreading STEPS to the other campuses,

Bundaberg and Mackay, which had been established a few years earlier. To

enable the STEPS program to be provided in these regions, the University

for the first time provided financial support from its recurrent funds. 54

As the campuses at Bundaberg and Mackay were relatively new, Dr Arthur

Appleton saw the provision of the STEPS program in 1990 as an excellent

opportunity to mark out the University’s territory, that is, to further

establish its reputation as the major provider of tertiary education in those

regions. 55

Bundaberg STEPS banner.


Part One: The history of STEPS

Once again, campus teams were established. These were mostly made up of

existing lecturers who were either already lecturing in one of the faculties

or working as part of the Maths Learning Centre or the Communications

Learning Centre. They would divide their workload between lecturing in

the STEPS program and their previous duties. Gail Godden, who was

lecturing in STEPS at Rockhampton, travelled to the Bundaberg campus to

assist with staff interviews, and Milton travelled to Mackay to set the tone

for dealing with students through drawing on his previous mathematics

teaching experience. 56

Lois Pinkney, one of the early Mackay STEPS maths lecturers, remembers

Milton imparting words of wisdom that reflected his years of experience.

We were to be encouraging and helpful, approachable and kind to

help overcome that common condition picked up in primary and

high school called maths phobia. In other words, we were to be a

maths motherly person. 57

Lois Pinkney

Susan Shaw was appointed as the first coordinator in Bundaberg. In

addition to her position as STEPS Coordinator, she would also tutor in

Study Skills as well as in Writing and Reading for Academic Purposes. 58

Susan, no doubt, used resources such as the STEPS pamphlet and

organisations such as the Commonwealth Employment Service to create an

interest in the program within the Bundaberg community. Interested adults

would first be screened to ensure they were capable of completing the



Part One: The history of STEPS

Students were then interviewed by the staff. Ensuring that the interviewees

possessed an appropriate standard of English, mathematics and computing

was, and still remains today, a major purpose of the student interviews. The

lecturers did not want to set up anyone for failure and so continued to refer

unsuccessful applicants to TAFE courses. These TAFE courses would assist

them to increase their numeracy and literacy skills so that they could

reinterview for a STEPS position the following year. 59

In 1990, 100 students, having successfully passed their written tests and

interviews, enrolled in the STEPS program across Rockhampton,

Gladstone, Bundaberg and Mackay. 60 In five short years, the number of

STEPS students had more than quadrupled. The University was beginning

to be seen as a university not for the elite but for the masses.

The very first Bundaberg class of STEPS students.

Gordon Albrecht, Laurel Beck, Alison Bond, Scott Buchanan, Rick Crawford,

Judith Dullaway, Leigh Edmonds, Imelda Jesurasingham, James Lee,

Margaret Luck, Lynn McLaren, Jennifer Moss, Karen Pitt, Mary Round,

Jeanette Roy, Anne Senini, Olwyn Silby, Sandra Zwisler. 61


Part One: The history of STEPS

Given that the Bundaberg and Mackay campuses had only been established

for two to three years, resources were very limited and teaching

accommodation was very basic.

Gordon King taught the mathematics and computing component at

Bundaberg and remembers:

The computers were quite old. We used a very unusual word

processing program and we had no Internet connection at that time.

However, the students benefited greatly from the course as it

required innovation and improvisation. 62

STEPS lecturers Karen Seary, Margaret Flanders and Gordon King.

Susan Shaw tells her story about the students and her teaching style below:

The early groups were mainly made up of women whose children

were now of an age that meant some independence and a chance for

these women to get back into the workforce. Most of them were

looking to eventually get into teaching and various forms of social

and community work.

The men in the groups were there to retrain — retrenchment,

medical reasons etc. Whatever the reasons, the students were

incredibly enthusiastic and most appreciative of what they saw as a

second chance.

And there was no lack of ability. Some of them were quite daunted

at the thought of tertiary studies and their ability to cope, but there

were some very bright people there and once they got over their

initial lack of confidence, they really enjoyed and got into academic



Part One: The history of STEPS

In those days, all texts were provided by Rockhampton and we had

no input into the content of the course, although my teaching

experience meant that I could draw on resources from many places

to make the course fit my clientele.

My abiding memory is of the optimism of the first groups of

students and their appreciation of the University for recognising that

they were entitled to successful academic lives even though they

didn’t go to university immediately after school. 63

New found funding

In 1991, the University was proclaimed the University of Central

Queensland (UCQ) and, accordingly, received full university status. The

picture below captures the formal declaration ceremony on the 6 September

1991. 64

Proclamation of the University of Central Queensland by Justice Bruce McPherson

in the Rockhampton City Mall, 6 September 1991 (from left)

Justice Bruce McPherson, Dr J. Mahony, Education Minister Paul Braddy,

Chancellor Stan Jones and Vice-Chancellor Geoffrey Wilson.

UCQ was only one step away from the adoption of its permanent name,

Central Queensland University. Other changes had also taken place within



Part One: The history of STEPS

The STEPS program was now being coordinated by Leonce Newby. 65

Leonce Newby 66

The STEPS section of the 1992 Financial Report below lists other staff

members who were part of the STEPS team at this time. 67

As seen from the above article, the course materials were still being

evaluated and customised. Different ways of teaching the components were

also constantly being explored. The results of these changes were that some


Part One: The history of STEPS

STEPS students enrolled in degree programs were doing better than their

undergraduate counterparts. In many courses, lecturers were also beginning

to see that the retention rates of students graduating from STEPS were

higher than those of direct entry students.

The Mackay STEPS graduating class of 1993 met at Brothers Leagues Club for a

celebration lunch. (l-r) Tracey O’Connor (tutor), David Baudistel, Fiona Matheson,

Deanna Hartin, Susan Primm, Amanda Barber, Ronda Danastas, Susan Ilich,

Jennifer Peoples, Del Wardzinski (tutor), Pauline Brown, Helen Joyce

(coordinator), and Danette Lonergan. 68

In 1994, UCQ decided to provide 100% of the program’s funding,

following the cessation of grants from the Department of Employment,

Education and Training. This milestone showcased the value that the

University placed on the program, recognising its impact on students,

faculties and the community. 69 The year 1994 was also a significant

milestone for the university entity. The name Central Queensland

University (CQU) and its corporate identity were permanently adopted. 70

See Appendix A for more information regarding CQU as it stands today.


Part One: The history of STEPS

1994 Bundaberg STEPS graduates. 71

With funding solely from CQU came increased offerings of the STEPS

program. A second level of mathematics was introduced that students could

take in addition to the mandatory component. Transition Mathematics 2,

which was similar in content to grade 12 mathematics, was introduced to

enable students to apply for degree programs such as Science and

Engineering. 72

Also, Part-Time STEPS was introduced. This now made STEPS accessible

to many more students who could work part-time as well as study. Part-

Time STEPS was offered three days per week for the duration of terms 1

and 2. 73 Megan Hindmarch saw this as a major development that really

focused on students’ needs. Adults who had originally been excluded from

STEPS due to work or other commitments were now also given the

opportunity to take part in the program. 74


The vision evolves

Part One: The history of STEPS

The addition of Transition Mathematics 2 and Part-Time STEPS came at a

time when STEPS numbers were beginning to increase. In 1995, 135

students were enrolled in the STEPS program across four campuses:

Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Mackay. 75

With the increase in students came an increase in staff. Dr Jeanne

McConachie was one of the Rockhampton staff members at this time. In

fact, she was the unofficial STEPS Coordinator. 76 Phyll Coombes,

previously a Rockhampton STEPS lecturer, comments on Jeanne’s

management style.

Right from the early days, Jeanne was a wonderful manager. She

adopted a flat management style which meant that you were left free

within the confines of what you were doing to do it in the way you

wanted to. She has been extremely supportive of staff and students. 77

Dr Jeanne McConachie

Jeanne observed the transformations that were taking place as a

consequence of the STEPS program and envisaged more people benefiting

from this radical program. Her strong working relationship with Ian

Goulter, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, meant that she was able to lobby for an

increase in STEPS student numbers. 78 Jeanne was extremely passionate

about CQU providing educational opportunities for people who had been

marginalised from education, and lobbied strongly for STEPS at the levels

within the university where it really mattered. 79


Part One: The history of STEPS

Ian Goulter reflects on the STEPS program.

STEPS is one of those programs that gives you great faith in the

transforming role of a university. From a student perspective, it

provides those who would not normally try higher education or be

eligible for enrolment, a chance to try the experience in a safe, but

challenging environment. However, STEPS provides more than just

the technical knowledge and study skills necessary for success in

university study. It also provides students, should they choose to go

on to degree study, the confidence and knowledge that, with hard

work, they can obtain a university qualification. Hence, students in

STEPS can get to learn whether university study is for them and get

a sense of whether they are likely to succeed in their studies.

From a university perspective, STEPS produces students who are

better prepared for success, through both commitment to study and

knowledge of what is required.

In summary, STEPS is a double winner — it is great for the student

and great for the University. 80

As a result of Jeanne’s perseverance, CQU funded an increase in STEPS

students across Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Mackay. 81 The

STEPS program could now enrol a quoter of 400 students. In 1996, STEPS

student numbers escalated from 135 to 240. 82 The following year, 80% of

students completing the STEPS program would enter tertiary education. 83

A Gladstone STEPS student. 84


Part One: The history of STEPS

Further funding meant that more modes were offered to include as many

participants from the community as possible. In 1996, a part-time evening

version of STEPS was trialled in Gladstone to allow full-time workers to

reap the rewards of this increasingly popular program. 85 The Gladstone

campus shared a close relationship with local industry, which was

reflected in the changing nature of the STEPS program. The availability of

evening part-time classes made it possible for those with work

commitments to upgrade their skills and meet the educational demands

placed upon them by the workplace. It also provided an opportunity to

retrain for another job or career. A greater degree of flexibility with

attendance was required with these groups due to shift work and industry

shutdowns. Students were also given the opportunity to join in with the day

time group for catch up classes.

Some 1996 STEPS lecturers.

Front row: Jeanne McConachie.

Back row (L to R): Phyllida Coombes Karen Seary, Jenny Simpson,

Kevin McLean, Megan Hindmarch. 86

STEPS was beginning to expand not only its modes of delivery but also the

groups of people from which STEPS students were selected. Any adult over

the age of 21 who came from a socially disadvantaged background was

eligible to sit for the entrance tests.


Part One: The history of STEPS

In a further response to client needs and a thrust from local industry and the

Engineering faculty, a 13 week full-time Extended STEPS program was

developed and commenced in Gladstone in 1998. This program aimed

to prepare students specifically for study in the fields of engineering and the

sciences. The curriculum included more advanced mathematics and

computing, and scientific and technical communication, largely report

writing and delivery. Later, Extended STEPS was offered on the

Rockhampton campus. Altogether, Extended STEPS was offered for four


Through constantly evolving curricula and the right combination of

lecturers, the program was helping as many people as possible. Lecturers

were also constantly searching for better ways to communicate their lessons

and meet the needs of their students.

Jenny Simpson, a Rockhampton STEPS lecturer and ex-drama teacher, had

always been interested in the power of story to reflect the everyday lives of

people, and had taken particular interest in Joseph Campbell’s research into

the universality of myths and legends. Campbell had shown that myths are

really a blueprint for our own lives, and, if understood, have great power to

transform. There were recurring patterns in these universal stories, and

Campbell’s research had also shown that stories of heroes on a quest such

as Ulysses, Hercules, or the Arthurian legend knights went through specific

stages that he named the Hero’s Journey. Christopher Vogler, in his book

The writer’s journey, had then taken those stages and simplified them.

Jenny realised that those very stages — or many of them — were

undertaken by all STEPS students during the course of each program. Here

was a pattern that they could identify with — and that had positive

outcomes. In 1997, the 12 stages of the Hero’s Journey were presented to

STEPS classes in Rockhampton as a model for transformational change in

adult learners and, later, it was introduced to the other campuses. Over the

past ten years, this timeless wisdom has helped students reflect on learning

journeys that allow them to emerge as ‘the transformed wanderer on the

quest with the freedom to live.’ It is a popular strategy as participants are

made aware that the difficulties of the learning journey not only can be

faced and overcome but also have the power to transform the learner. 87 On

page 64 you can read more about the Hero’s Journey and, on page 83 one

student’s personal Hero’s Journey.


Part One: The history of STEPS

Front row (L to R): Phyll Coombes, Jeanne McConachie,

Professor Glenice Hancock, Ingrid Kennedy, Jenny Simpson.

Back row (L to R): Sue McIntosh, Angela Sankey. 88

Jenny Simpson, left, with 1997 STEPS graduates in Rockhampton. 89


STEPS and Emerald

Part One: The history of STEPS

Jenny Simpson was also involved in taking the STEPS program to the

Emerald campus, which by now was in full swing. Bronwyn Reid, a

computing lecturer at the Emerald campus remembers a group of staff

including Ingrid Kennedy and Jenny coming out from Rockhampton to talk

to her about STEPS.

I remember we talked about what it was and how we were going to

go about it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, my goodness’. 90

Below is an email from Dr Jeanne McConachie to Emerald staff outlining

the STEPS program. 91 From this email you can see just how far the STEPS

program had developed.

Natalie Cassano was appointed as the first Emerald STEPS Coordinator in

1998 and remained in this position until 2001 when Stephanie Garoni took

on the role. 92 Stephanie wanted to resign after three weeks.

I just thought it’s too much. I can’t do it. My son was only five

months when I started and then I went and had a wine with my

friend Theresa. She said ‘Pull yourself together. Get over yourself.

Of course you can do it.’ And it was the best advice she ever gave

me. She said, ‘Of course learning something new always takes time

doesn’t it?’ My first impressions were quite scary too. 93

Stephanie went on to coordinate the STEPS program for five years and has

been recognised as one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the STEPS

program by students and staff. 94


Part One: The history of STEPS

Stephanie Garoni, left, with current Emerald STEPS Coordinator,

Jo Rosenblatt. 95

In 1998, eight adult learners enrolled in the Emerald STEPS program and

graduated at the end of 13 weeks. 96 These students are pictured below.

Gai Sypher, front left, has been working as a Senior Administration Officer

at the Emerald campus for six years.

Front row (L to R): Gai Sypher, Tiffany Hunter, Kerin Szymes,

Lorraine Kruse.

Back row (L to R): Dorothea Lennane, Trudy Moss, Don Cameron,

Lyn Gray. 97


Part One: The history of STEPS

With the inclusion of the Emerald campus, in 1998 there were now 420

students enrolled across five campuses. 98 In the space of two very short

years, CQU had successfully superseded the visionary quota of 400

students. STEPS was providing a bridge to higher education for adults in

the communities of Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Mackay and now


Community support

1998 STEPS students at work. 99

It seemed that 1998 would be a big year for the STEPS program. Statistics

had been released that demonstrated the retention rate of STEPS students in

undergraduate study was 25% higher than for direct entry students. 100 Also,

news of the very first University medal earned by a former STEPS student

hit the papers on 19 October 1998. Steve Chadwick’s story is told in the

newspaper article on the next page. 101


Part One: The history of STEPS

Steve now works as a lecturer in the CQU Humanities Faculty in Bundaberg. 102

(Source: Bundaberg NewsMail 19 October 1998)

By this time, many people within the communities of Rockhampton,

Gladstone, Bundaberg and Mackay knew at least one person who had

completed the STEPS program, had subsequently completed a degree (or

even doctorate) or had bettered their employment situation. Bundaberg staff

indicated that the STEPS program was actually better known throughout the

community than was the university itself. 103 STEPS had definitely made its



Part One: The history of STEPS

Central Queensland University Student Gai Sypher (right), with STEPS

co-cordinator Stephanie Garoni, is now completing her masters after being one of

the first students to complete the STEPS program in Emerald. 104

Liz Cunningham, Queensland’s Parliamentary member for Gladstone,

recognised the success of the program, openly praising it on many formal

occasions and taking a prominent role at Gladstone STEPS functions.

Liz Cunningham handing a graduation certificate to a Gladstone STEPS student. 105


Part One: The history of STEPS

Liz records her views of the program below. 106


Part One: The history of STEPS

Now the program was being recognised not only by the communities of the

campuses but also by other areas within Queensland and beyond. STEPS

lecturers have told of students coming from as far as New South Wales,

Canberra and Brisbane. Some have even moved whole families to one of

the centres just to do STEPS. 107

STEPS was also receiving support from powerful lobby groups both

internal and external to the University. There were little pockets of support

within the University in just about all of the faculties. 108 Lecturers in the

faculties were no doubt impressed with their first year students from STEPS

and now had a vested interest in the program. In addition, interest groups

such as the JET program for single mothers and the Women’s Health

Centre were advocates of the program, directing their members wherever

appropriate. 109 On page 135 you can read how a social worker helped one

woman find STEPS.

The STEPS staff also developed good relationships with employment

agencies such as Centrelink, CRS Australia and Jobs Network as well as

mayors and local members of parliament. 110 The link between the

employment agencies and the program was vital. These agencies had

witnessed how it benefited their clients and accordingly directed customers

to STEPS. The agencies were also able to pinpoint the type of person who

was ready to tackle the STEPS program and succeed. 111

The belief in the program by such agencies is demonstrated by a speech

given at the 1999 Gladstone graduation ceremony by Greg Case, the

Central Queensland JET Adviser at the time.

I believe STEPS is arguably the best tertiary preparation program in

the land. I base this not only on the obvious success of the program

through graduates continuing on to further study, but also as a result

of the dedicated and professional approach of all lecturers and others

involved with STEPS at CQU’s campuses. They take genuinely the

hopes and aspirations of all students within STEPS. The University

and the community as a whole should be very proud of these

people. 112

STEPS continued to be recognised by other universities. In 1999,

429 students enrolled, and a number of STEPS students were accepted into

other universities including the University of Melbourne to study medicine,

the University of Sydney to study law and the University of New England

to study archaeology. 113


Part One: The history of STEPS

STEPS students. 114

In 2001, STEPS commanded an international stage when Milton Fuller

spoke about the program at the British Congress of Mathematics, at Keele

University. Milton continued to write papers on mathematics with an

emphasis on STEPS and, accordingly, spoke at conferences at the

University of Loughborough in the United Kingdom and the Royal Institute

of Technology, Haninge Campus in Sweden. 115 Appendix B presents a list

of published journal articles and book chapters that refer to the STEPS


This was also the year that CQU piloted an external version of the STEPS

program. External STEPS was run from Gladstone and was designed and

coordinated by Val Cleary and Megan Hindmarch. In addition, that same

year CQU implemented a unified student feedback system across all

campuses, enabling comments and suggestions from STEPS students to be

collected more methodically. 116

Taking shape

In 2002, Dr Jeanne McConachie was recognised for her hard work by being

appointed the Director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Services at

CQU. 117 In the same year, Karen Seary of Bundaberg was appointed Head

of STEPS. Like Jeanne, Karen’s enthusiastic leadership would bring her

recognition as an icon of the STEPS program. 118


Part One: The history of STEPS

Karen Seary and Megan Hindmarch. 119

In 2002, STEPS was also recognised for its excellence by receiving runnerup

in the Australian Teaching Awards, and was praised for being an

innovative and practical program that contributed to the community. CQU

was extremely proud of this achievement. 120

When this award was announced, Phil Ainsworth, the Chair of the

Bundaberg Advisory Committee, commented that STEPS had been

responsible for taking the University into the community. 121 In 1986, the

government had recognised that people envisaged university as a privilege

for the elite and, in a short time, the STEPS program had transformed this

perception and showed the community that university was for anyone.

A major change occurred to the mathematics component in 2002 when

Antony Dekkers led the redesign of the course. This involved

Sharon Cohalan completely rewriting the mathematics text (now called

Transition Mathematics 1 — Introductory Mathematics Modules). 122 The

maths text was work in progress, being changed and updated every term

from the input of the lecturers and students and by the demands and varying

popularity of the degree course. 123 This new text incorporated all of the

changes and feedback into one book. The text, in addition to being the

primary text for STEPS students, is also used for students who come to the

Mathematics Learning Centre for assistance with their degree studies. 124

The text has become quite sought after, as Lois Pinkney reflects:

Over the years, I have had many requests to purchase the text from

all sorts of people outside the university such as parents wanting to

help their children with their homework as well as school

teachers. 125


Part One: The history of STEPS

With the new text came changes to the way the course was taught. There

was less emphasis on self-paced teaching and more on board work. 126

Other courses were also undergoing change. A new Language and Learning

text Immigrants into a new time was written in 2000 by Jenny Simpson and

has continued to be updated yearly. Similarly, the Computing text,

originally written by Ingrid Kennedy in 1995, was also undergoing change

to include computing skills that students would require as undergraduates in

the 21 st century.

Professor Glenice Hancock, the Vice-Chancellor of CQU from 2001 to

2004, was a great supporter of STEPS. She comments below:

Throughout my adult life I have been an educator first and foremost.

At various points in my career I have been responsible for the

delivery of educational programs to students in schools, prisons and


When I first joined CQU and throughout my stay there, STEPS

captured my educator’s heart and imagination. Of particular

importance to me was the creativity of staff, the freshness of the

courses and the overwhelming joy of the student participants.

The participants, most of whom had never seen themselves as

students and many of whom had been rejected by or ejected from

mainstream education at an early age, tentatively explored an

opportunity to have a peek through the university window to see if,

at this stage of their lives, they might make some useful connection.

The staff and their courses helped them to find out aspects of their

personalities and latent talents they had scarcely believed they had.

Graduation day was always an enchantment for me as I watched the

confidence that had emerged, the thrill of success on graduands’

faces and the pride bursting forth from family and friends. The

wonderful life and career stories of STEPS graduates would make an

inspirational bestseller and an invaluable source document for

educators who, from time to time, may question the value of what

they are doing.

From the point of view of a DVC/VC of a regional university,

STEPS fired the imagination even further. Central Queensland as a

region has very much lower than the national average participation

rates in higher education. As a university, I always saw, and

continue to see, CQU as having its primary purpose in opening

educational windows for the people of Central Queensland.


Part One: The history of STEPS

STEPS has proven itself over and over again in doing just that.

However, the STEPS story does not stop with opening the windows.

For hundreds and hundreds of graduates, STEPS has been the start

of academic and professional success, which continues and

continues. Long may STEPS continue. 127

Other advocates of the STEPS program were recognised in 2003. Lynne

Campbell became the STEPS Coordinator for Gladstone and Lynnette

Forbes-Smith was appointed the STEPS Coordinator in Mackay. The

following year, Julie Willans would accept the position of STEPS

Coordinator in Rockhampton. Both Lynnette and Julie remain coordinators

on their respective campuses today.

Tackling change

The gradual change to all courses as well as the rigorous effort by staff to

incorporate student feedback would distinguish CQU’s bridging program

from other similar programs throughout Australia.

Lauchlan Chipman, Vice-Chancellor of CQU from 1996 to 2001 comments

on the program below:

I’ve seen a lot of well-intentioned preparation programs but I was

very impressed at that early stage with the track record of STEPS.

One of the good things about the way it was managed is that the

staff were scrupulous about actually finding out if STEPS delivered

the results that it was set up to deliver. 128

STEPS staff at a planning day in 2005. 129


Part One: The history of STEPS

Muriel Strahm, Michael Connon, Lynne Campbell and Gerda Whiteley at a

planning day in 2005. 130

By this time, the change in the composition of STEPS classes across all five

campuses was obvious. Jenny Simpson called it a real switch for a program

that originally started out to help mostly women improve their education

and career possibilities. Now, it was a program that encompassed 400

students, many of whom were men. 131 Megan Hindmarch attributes this to

the gradual shift in the mindsets of people in the community, and the

increased acceptance of men taking time out to study in the hope of

furthering their careers. 132

STEPS students hard at work. 133


Part One: The history of STEPS

Other factors such as technology and the age of students had also changed

the focus of teaching styles and the STEPS curriculum, particularly the

computing course.

Bronwyn Reid from the Emerald campus explained how technology had

impacted on the delivery of the computing component. On the one hand,

she had students who used computers at home or in the work environment

and, therefore, had a sound understanding. On the other hand, some

students didn’t know where the ‘on’ button was. This meant tailoring the

classwork so that all students were able to learn at their own pace and

increase their knowledge. 134

Students in Computing for Academic Assignment Writing. 135

Emerald’s ability to stay abreast of such changes was recognised when

Stephanie Garoni accepted an award on behalf of the STEPS program.

After only six years of operation, the Emerald STEPS program won the

Outstanding Program section in the Adult Learners’ Week competition.

Shown on the next page is a picture of Stephanie receiving the award from

Adult Learners’ Week representative, Chris Kroehn. 136


Part One: The history of STEPS

In 2005, STEPS had a change of offerings to allow both the part-time and

full-time programs to be Austudy approved through Centrelink. Centrelink,

through the JET program, provides top-up payments to those undertaking

education and training packages such as STEPS. 137 The full-time program

was reduced from 13 to 12 weeks, and the new Extended STEPS replaced

the old part-time program. 138

At the beginning of 2006, Jo Rosenblatt replaced Stephanie Garoni as

STEPS Coordinator for the Emerald campus. Lynne Campbell also retired

from her position as STEPS Coordinator for the Gladstone campus on 7

July 2006. During her 16 years as a STEPS employee, Lynne made a

notable teaching and administrative contribution to the STEPS program.

Muriel Strahm replaced Lynne as the Gladstone STEPS Coordinator.


Part One: The history of STEPS

Today and tomorrow

Now in its 20 th year of operation, the STEPS program is continuing to

evolve. In 2006, an external adaptation of the program has been introduced.

This has enabled another sector of the community to participate in STEPS,

that is, people in remote areas who could not participate in the program on a

face-to-face level. This introduction has meant that men in isolated areas are

able to access CQU’s preparatory programs (as women could already enrol

in the WIST [Women Into Science and Technology] preparatory program

externally). This year, the program has also further reduced the age limit of

participants to 18 years of age. 139

Today, the program covers four specialist areas:

• Language and Learning

• Transition Mathematics

• Tertiary Preparation Studies

• Computing for Academic Assignment Writing.

Depending on students’ personal circumstances, they can choose one of

four modes of delivery, shown below:

STEPS Accelerated, 12 weeks, 4 days per week

STEPS Extended, 24 weeks, 3 days per week

STEPS Flex, 24 weeks, 3 nights per week

STEPS External, 15 hours of study per week.

See Appendix C for a description of each of the courses above as they fit

into the modes of delivery.

STEPS is constantly going from strength to strength and has permanently

embedded itself in the Central Queensland University landscape. Over

4,500 students have graduated, with a large percentage embarking on

tertiary study. The STEPS program for the past 20 years has been fulfilling

Dr Arthur Appleton’s vision of assisting adult learners to gain access to

tertiary education, directly enhancing CQU and central Queensland



Part One: The history of STEPS

The impact of STEPS on CQU is demonstrated by the photograph below

which shows a group of students who were given the opportunity to teach

in Korea. 140

In 2006, 13 students were carefully selected from the Bachelor of Learning

Management program across all campuses to spend the summer teaching

English to Korean students. A total of 43 applications were received, and

selection was based on a face-to-face interview and student grades. 141 Out

of the 13 students chosen, three were ex-‘Steppies’: Peter Kirby

(Bundaberg), Simone Ganter (Rockhampton) and Chris Daly (Gladstone).

An example of how STEPS students have infiltrated the CQU Bundaberg

campus was shown when a selection of Multimedia students exhibited their

work on 26 April 2006 at the Bundaberg Arts Centre. The exhibition

entitled New Media Makings displayed the collections of 12 students, five

of whom were past STEPS students. They were: Crystal Jones, Carol

Dunstan, Peter Williams, Max Fleet and Paula Swift. 142

STEPS now boasts an array of stakeholders who all hold a vested interest in

this successful program. Whether they are the faculties of CQU who cherish

the competent students they receive, employment agencies, or the students

themselves, this program has transformed the lives of thousands of people.


Part One: The history of STEPS

The achievements of STEPS over the past 20 years have culminated in the

program being recognised as CQU’s Flagship Program — the Jewel in the

Crown — as Karen Seary puts it. 143

The program will continue to reshape the lives of those who muster the

courage to take that first step. The photographs presented in the next section

show the 2006 Term 1 STEPS students on the different campuses, who,

along with their lecturers, are taking steps into the future and beyond.


Part One: The history of STEPS

Staff and student photos — 2006 Term 1



Extended group one.

Front row (L to R): Joanne Nichols, Natasha Mossman, Lee Steele, Yun-Suk Lee,

Ingrid Kennedy (lecturer).

Second row (L to R): Jane Cleal (lecturer), Tabatha Byrnes, Janine Chadwick,

Rose Melton, Jodie Rabaut, Cherylene Price, Rohan Tan.

Third row (L to R): Violetta Todorovic (lecturer), Sandra Pahlke, Donald Britton,

Sue McIntosh (lecturer), Veronica Stuart-Smithers, Leigh Van Breeman,

Nicholas Naughton.

Back row (L to R): Campbell Walker, Alex Hopes, Jeffrey Hudson,

Douglas Pailthorpe, Athena Harcus-Duus.


Part One: The history of STEPS

Accelerated group.

Front row (L to R): Graham Durkin, Jaye Tonkin, Deborah England.

Second row (L to R): Lisa Warwick, Matthew McKane, Laine Barclay,

Thomas Johnston.

Third row (L to R): Leanne White, Sarah Rota, Naomi McDonald, Val Mifsud.

Fourth row: Shirley Froschauer.

Back row (L to R): Ingrid Kennedy (lecturer), Geoff Danaher (lecturer),

Sharon Cohalan (lecturer), Julie Willans (STEPS Coordinator).

Absent: Jorell Galiki.


Part One: The history of STEPS

Extended group two.

Front row (L to R): Geoff Danaher (lecturer), Tim Dillon,

Sue McIntosh (lecturer), Phillipa Sturgess (lecturer), Gail Coverdale, Grant Hixon,

Cherie Gibbings-Johns, Karen Neitz, Michael Tremaine, Antony Dekkers (lecturer).

Second row (L to R): Robert Walsh, Daniel Wonnocott, Chris Perry, Jessica

Rankin, Kerrilee Christensen, Sue Wathen, Donna Marshall, Megan Safstrom,

Christopher Long.

Back (L to R): Matthew Hangan, Richard Devine, Darren Webber.

Pam McMahon, Learning

Support Administrator.


Georgina Pickering, Learning

Support Administrator.



Part One: The history of STEPS

Extended group.

Sitting (L to R): Ruby Costigan, Sharon Sweeney.

Front row (L to R): Sonya Robson, Danny Kapay, Tina Burmeister, Mike Connon

(lecturer), Pat Bigg, John Devney, Karen Lester.

Second row (L to R): Andrew Keefe, Dean Watts, Samantha Lennon, Kurt Russell,

Trish White, Clare Figueiredo, Trevor Clarke.

Back row (L to R): Ann Pearson, Hannah Feder, Ben Ward, Aimee Anderson,

Liz Bondareff.


Part One: The history of STEPS

Flex group.

Front row (L to R): Julie Howard, Renee Jurgens, Mike Connon (lecturer),

Heather Congram, Joelene Beazley, Karen Wouters.

Second row (L to R): Andrea Phillips, Lisa Wilson, Jan Mitchell, Kerri Flintham,

Grant McDonald, Carolyn Vickery, Stafford Ellery, Dianne Spinks, Peter March.

Back row (L to R): Harley Moss, Stephen Walker, Peter Rose, Nicole Birch,

Ross Neill.




Part One: The history of STEPS

STEPS Staff.

Front row (L to R): Karen Seary (Head of STEPS), Wendy Davis.

Back row (L to R): Ann Monsour, Jinx Atherton, Therese O’Donnell,

Megan Hindmarch.

Peter Christiansen, Lecturer.


Jan Salmon, Lecturer.

Part One: The history of STEPS

Accelerated class.

Sitting (L to R): Sean Springham, Scott Torcetti, Jodelee Readford, Linda Elliott,

Anjee Rathbone, Mitch McClenahan, Alyssa Bush, John Manderson,

Mark Simpson.

Back row (L to R): Kerry Grant, Ruth Thompson, Rhys Maclean,

Roslyn Ferguson, Alison Charlton, Nicolle Warren, Andrew Chilcott, Jaye Spence,

Narelle Noakes, Damien Petfield.

Extended class.

Sitting (L to R): Caleb Hutchinson, Amanda Corsetti.

Back row (L to R): Angela McGavin, Megan Toohey, Veronica Nichols,

Tracey Ansell, Phil Skeet, Tatania Griffiths, Sam Auer, Jody Hughes,

Kim Mathews, Evelyn Rippon, Julie Cislowski, Lesley Sands.




Part One: The history of STEPS

Extended group one and two.


STEPS staff.

Front row:

Nadine Adams.

Back row (L to R):

Katrina Richmond,

Alexis Reedman,

Frank Armstrong,

Lyn Forbes-Smith (STEPS

Coordinator), Lois Pinkney.

Front row (L to R): Tammy Muller, Debra Rush, Reef Jamieson, Mistral Dobson,

Thomas Perkins.

Second row (L to R): Trina Reibe, Marianne Kraal, Wendy Young,

Sheridan Maher, Elena Borg, Jason Sam, Duncan McLean.

Third row (L to R): Cindy Gunther, Peter Miskell, Susan Hodgson,

Maria Johnston, Heather White, Laura Schaap, Stephanie Wright, Tanya Bugeja,

Kerry Wilson.

Back row (L to R): Samuel Challenor, Samantha Rogers, Stacey O’Loughlin,

Ebonie Hockings, Tracey Vella, Tara Graffunder, Benjamin Henderson,

Nenelia O’Riely, Sandra Pullom, Alex Young, Adria Dodds.



Part One: The history of STEPS

Flex class.

Front Row (L to R): Stella Bowyer, Claire Jones, Chris Graham.

Back row (L to R): Jo Rosenblatt (STEPS Coordinator), Gay Mabin,

Rachael Brandis, Melinda Fowler, Judy Scarpelli (lecturer).


Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

Part Two: The STEPS philosophy


Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

Adults need both change and stability. But to change, they must

experience instability and uncertainty.

To change they have to expose themselves to the threat of failure.

But if they avoid this, they stagnate.

Source unknown

They say that paradox is an essential element of adulthood. For those who

take on the STEPS program, it is this very sense of growth-producing

uncertainty that makes it so challenging and exciting, yet frustrating, for

learners and lecturers alike. For many adults, fronting up to be challenged

once more by institutionalised learning after years away from classrooms

takes courage. Read some of the 20 STEPS stories in this book and you will

see how many past students have used words like terrified, overwhelmed,

fear, panic, and anxieties as they have approached either the initial testing

and interview, or the first day in STEPS classrooms. Will it be, many

wonder, a repeat of what they disliked most about some of their school

experiences? But STEPS is a learning experience for adults, and adults

learn differently from children or adolescents. And so, STEPS aims to

achieve what all good adult learning programs set out to do: to transform

beliefs and attitudes that are no longer productive.

The theory of transformational learning

The aim of the STEPS program is to equip learners with the lifelong

learning skills, confidence, knowledge and independence to enter university

and complete their tertiary studies. In today’s university setting, any

successful enabling program must do more than just teach the rudiments of

the academic essay or how to comprehend algebraic equations. It should

aspire to produce self-aware, lifelong learners who will take responsibility

for their own learning.

Adults are most ready to learn when the learning meets an immediate life

need, and are most motivated when learning fills an internal need.

Consequently, the inner as well as the outer lives of adult learners must be

catered for in any worthwhile adult learning program. 149 One of the

unproductive beliefs that many participants bring with them is that they are

failed learners. Transformational learning, through empowering students to

challenge and change negative or misguided worldviews, therefore prepares


Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

them to face new opportunities as they overcome their past difficulties and


Nevertheless, transforming beliefs presents challenges for those involved in

the program. American educationalist Parker J. Palmer 150 writes about the

need to educate in ways that might heal rather than wound us and our

world, and this philosophy is taken very seriously in STEPS. Healing can

be uncomfortable. For adults, any worthwhile learning experience will

encounter some negative periods that cause discomfort. Because learning

takes us somewhere that we did not know exists, the journey of discovery

must pass through confusion and uncertainty as we find that some ideas we

once may have held dear are challenged. Most adult learners who come to

STEPS have rich lived experiences, and these experiences contribute

greatly to their tertiary learning. Lecturers are well versed in the tenets of

adult learning principles and transformative learning, an important element

of which is acceptance of the importance of people’s personal experiences.

Because of these experiences, many STEPS students are experts in their

own knowledge, and reflecting on their learning journeys, and the changes

they are making both during and after the program helps to develop greater

self-awareness and self-knowledge, both necessary attributes for effective

tertiary learning.

The Hero’s Journey

A strategy that aids this reflection, and which has proved very popular with

students over many years, is the use of the Hero’s Journey model. Drawing

on the work of psychologist Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell 151 researched

myths and legends of many cultures and found that the hero myth followed

predictable stages, which he named the Hero’s Journey. More recently,

writer Christopher Vogler 152 adapted those stages, which show

transformational change, into the 12 that we use in STEPS:

• the Ordinary World

• the Call to Adventure

• Refusal of the Call

• Meeting with the Mentor

• Crossing the First Threshold


• Tests, Allies and Enemies

Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

• Approach to the Innermost Cave (the Second Threshold)

• the Supreme Ordeal

• Reward (Seizing the Sword)

• The Road Back

• Resurrection

• Return with Elixir (Freedom to Live).

From the moment they learn of the Hero’s Journey model, students

recognise and are excited by its truth. Many feel a sense of empowerment,

and recognition dawns at every new encounter. Quick to recognise parallels

in their own lives, students can accept that those same stages will be

encountered during the program. They can recall the stages in well-loved

stories, and films are analysed as they are recognised there as well. The

students also become aware that the journey’s stages will begin all over

again with their entry into university as one Ordinary World is forfeited and

another Call to Adventure is responded to.

The Hero’s Journey is a powerful model to use as it shows that the

discomfort and confusion brought by challenges are necessary for growth

— and that this knowledge is timeless. As did Ulysses of old, the adult

learner leaves the comfort zone of the known and, crossing the first

threshold, encounters tests, allies and enemies as he or she unlearns

outmoded habits. The past must be deconstructed before the learner can

reconstruct the future. Once the future is reached, the learning can be said

to have been truly transformative. If it does not pass through this stage of

confusion and conflict and then be transformed through reflection, adult

learning is less effective. 153 It is this apparent paradox that suggests that the

benefits of learning cannot be achieved without some personal, and

sometimes painful, costs to the learner.

During the program, STEPS students are asked to journal on each of the

12 stages as they are met. Students always express surprise that their shared

experiences follow a pattern. This is a revelation, and it is very freeing for

them to see purpose in the difficulties their participation in the program may

have brought. This research into their own learning journeys has given them


Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

both the language and the skills to hold their nerve when the realities of

undergraduate living and learning seem difficult.

Using the 12 stages of the Hero’s Journey to chronicle their experiences

during STEPS gives students the certainty that the journey is worthwhile

and can bring success. With hard work and motivation, they can seize the

sword and reach the stages of Return with Elixir and Freedom to Live.

Here, again, is the paradox of adult learning. Challenging times create

uncertainty, but the stages give certainty, and confirm to the students that

they are capable of transforming their own lives.

This transformation of her life is faithfully recorded by Penny Gorlick from


The Ordinary World

Once upon a time, I lived in a safe cocoon of order, peace and routine. My

daily life, indeed my whole role in life, was defined by the needs and wants

of others. Satisfied to have the love and approval of my children as a mark

of my personal worth, and to have my identity defined as a nurturer and

provider for my children, I was content.

Call to Adventure

When my youngest child started school, I began to wonder whether it was

enough just to feel content and peaceful. I began to realise that, without my

children to validate who I was, I really felt quite lost. I began to feel the

need for an identity that went beyond just being a mother and a

housekeeper. At my late age in life, I realised that I didn’t have a sense of

who I was, what I believed, or who I wanted to be — an individual. It left

me feeling quite empty and unfulfilled. Although the happy world I lived in

was serene and safe after years of turmoil, I felt that it could possibly

become a little too safe and comfortable. My secure cocoon, while

protecting me from harm, began to feel a little too much like a shroud that

could end up suffocating me.

After reading about the STEPS program, I thought that this could be an

opportunity for me to improve my academic ability. I believed it would be

something I could easily fit into my life without it being unnecessarily

demanding or time consuming.


Refusal of the Call

Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

From the moment I received the application form, I began to make excuses

to validate my not going ahead with the program. I was filled with doubts

about my own abilities. I thought that I was deluding myself to think that

someone like me could even attempt a program at a university. I was too

old, too busy, too dumb, and had too many responsibilities. My list was

endless. The day of the entrance exam, I sat in my car in the car park

thinking how much easier it would be just to turn around and go home.

Why did I want to give myself more stress after all I had been through in

my life? That was the day I would justify going home, back to my safe little


Meeting with the Mentor

From the moment I met Karen, with all her enthusiasm and supportive and

encouraging words, I started to believe that I could do the program. If she

could have confidence in me, then perhaps I should too. From the

beginning, and all through the challenges and problems that made me want

to just give up, Karen helped me to keep going. She made me feel


Crossing the First Threshold

Perhaps one of the first challenges I faced, apart from just going through

the door on that first day, was to be in a group of total strangers, and to be

expected to form some kind of bond with them. Although it appears to

others that I am an outgoing person who finds it easy to mix, this is really

far from the truth. At the time, to have to be part of a group of strangers and

to have to see them frequently seemed like a huge ordeal to me.

Tests, Allies and Enemies

Looking back, it seems amazing that I found it hard to be part of my STEPS

group. Throughout the program, we all gradually became good friends,

giving support, encouragement and help to each other. Sometimes, it

seemed that old friends, who I had expected to give me the most help, failed

to be supportive. It also seemed as if many of the friends I had had for years

would have liked it better if I quit. (Sometimes I would have liked it better

too). It was often the most unlikely people who were my strongest allies.

My children, who I had thought would resent the fact that I was no longer


Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

at home all the time, became great pillars of support. They encouraged me

to keep going when everything went wrong in my life. They helped by

doing an extra share of housework, and by telling me how proud they were

of me. They listened to endless rewrites of essays and oral presentations,

and brought me continuous cups of tea at night when I had left studying or

writing to the last possible minute.

It was difficult sometimes to want to continue. At times, all the small

problems of everyday life joined together like a huge haystack of ‘last

straws’. When the car broke down, when my children were sick, or there

were emotional issues to cope with, it was very hard to see the importance

of ‘y=mx+b’ or to look up information on the throwaway society.

Approach to the Innermost Cave

For someone whose memory of schooldays had long disappeared in the

mists of time, sitting for maths exams was a major ordeal. Many times it

just seemed impossible to learn all the details of algebra and linear

equations. Maths exams were an ordeal to be faced regularly and gave me

many sleepless nights before and after the event. I managed to get through

them, and survive, which was cause for celebration.

The Supreme Ordeal

Perhaps the hardest problem I had throughout the program, my personal

Supreme Ordeal, was conquering my own self doubts. It was hard to accept

it, but there came a moment when I realised that the worst enemy I had was

myself. I was the one saying, ‘You can’t. It’s too hard. You can’t cope’.

Once I acknowledged that I was sabotaging my own efforts, I stopped

feeling as overwhelmed and out of control.


Each test completed and each essay assignment handed in became a

triumph over self doubt. Every time I proved to myself that I could do

something I had originally thought too hard, I felt a sense of pride and my

self esteem was boosted.

The Road Back

STEPS changed me in many ways. The person I was at the beginning of my

journey has gone forever. The person who travels on the ‘Road Back’


Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

comes with a more open mind. My opinions, now, are my opinions based

on what I have found to be my truth. I also accept that others can have

entirely different opinions that are equally as valid and as truthful as my

own are to me. STEPS opened my mind and made me want to continue to

journey and explore and discover.


Originally, I had thought STEPS would be like a gentle little dip in the

ocean, nothing too strenuous, and then a return to shore. I was wrong.

STEPS was like a tidal wave that swept me off my feet and often pulled me

under. So many times I wanted to just give up and go back to that safe

shore I had left. The frightening thing was that I knew I had already been

taken too far out, and I couldn’t even see that secure bit of ground any

more. Thankfully, whenever I felt like I was drowning, there always

seemed to be someone there to help me lift my head above water or to

throw me a life raft, and give me time to breathe.

Eventually, I stopped looking back at the fast disappearing shore I had left,

and started using my energies to swim harder to reach the other side. I

know that this difficult swim through STEPS has changed the person that I

was forever. Reaching the other side, I will be resurrected to a new way of

looking at myself, at others, at the world I live in and my place in it.

Return with Elixir: Freedom to Live

On an academic level, STEPS has taught me many new skills. I have learnt,

if not to love computers, then at least to cope with them adequately.

Researching for essays has taught me so much about my world, and has

inspired me to learn more. My journey through STEPS, though, has done so

much more for me on a personal level.

It has made me realise things about myself, things that didn’t always please

me and things I often found hard to believe. My perceptions and values

have changed incredibly. One of the most important lessons I will take

away with me is that I am not a powerless victim, swept along by people

and forces beyond my control. I realise that it is within my power to change

who I am, and that my past experiences do not have to affect me for the rest

of my life. I have gained the strength to recreate who I am, and make my

own personal world the one I want to live in. I realise I can have informed

opinions that do not have to be the same as anyone else’s to be valid. I also


Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

know that I can accept the perceptions and values of others as being as

equally valid as my own. STEPS has given me the Elixir of strength, self

esteem and the confidence to believe in myself as an individual.

Transformational learning applied to


Each of the STEPS courses endeavours to provide the curriculum and

strategies that will encourage students to transform their worldviews.

Tertiary Preparation Studies (TPS) empowers students to change the way

they view themselves as scholars. In the first few weeks of the STEPS

program, students begin to develop self-awareness through gaining a better

understanding of themselves as learners. They identify personal strengths

and weaknesses according to their unique sets of learning preferences and

temperament types, and begin building individual profiles. This information

is used to provide a sound platform to maximise their learning journeys.

Next, they are given strategies to support their preferred learning styles, and

are also encouraged to develop skills in learning in ways which they do not

prefer. New learning strategies are essential for many who see themselves

as damaged learners as they may be reluctant to revisit old ways that have

brought past failures. Innovative strategies, which include the six coloured

hats and parallel thinking of Edward de Bono and mind mapping, are then

carried over to be used in other STEPS courses, particularly in the writing

course, Language and Learning. TPS also introduces students to oral

presentations through group work. In addition, through facilitating an

awareness of all that Central Queensland University has to offer students,

TPS provides a context for developing study and life skills that will help

students position themselves as confident, proactive and self-directed

scholars of the university, who know where to go to seek help and guidance

should the need arise.

Transformation in Language and Learning is attempted through a holistic

course that focuses on social change in contemporary Australian society.

Language and Learning embraces the paradigm of learning that comes from

the new world of science. This sees that all things are interconnected.

Emphasising community and co-operation in an empowering environment,

this course reflects the view that all worthwhile learning creates a ‘capacity

for connectedness’ in learners; 154 therefore, developing the ability to think


Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

‘whole’ is an important goal. So, too, is understanding the power of

reflection in the learning process. Language and Learning encourages other

ways of knowing. Whole brain learning strategies such as clustering, mind

mapping, visualisation, graphic organisers and coloured hats are

emphasised in thinking and writing. Writing that is personal and creative is

experienced before writing that is academic as encouraging students to find

their authors’ voices is necessary before the intricacies of academic writing

are undertaken. Because it is the belief of the STEPS Language and

Learning team that the thinking of the future will encompass parallel

thinking as well as critical analysis, students are introduced to these ways of

thinking as a means of preparing them for life and learning in 21 st century

learning organisations.

Computing aims to transform students’ perspectives of themselves as

technology users and empower them as they learn the skills to carry them

through undergraduate studies with confidence. The course presents a real

challenge as beginning STEPS students range from those who are

technology literate to those who have never turned on a computer.

Computing for Academic Assignment Writing (CFAAW), which is closely

allied to Language and Learning, does this by developing skills necessary

for word processing assignments correctly using Microsoft Word, and

creating spreadsheets using Microsoft Excel. In addition, the use of the

World Wide Web and Webmail seeks to develop research skills necessary

for academic studies. STEPS students become proficient in the setting out

of documents through learning the latest typographical conventions based

on the work of international editors. They discover that layout is important,

and learn little known quick and easy ways of doing this effectively. The

course is skilfully designed so that attitudes to technology are transformed,

both in those who have had no previous skills, and also in those who are

computer literate.

Transformational learning is further evident in the Mathematics course as

one of its aims is to change the negative perception that many STEPS

learners have of their maths abilities. The mathematics component of the

STEPS program aims to give students elementary mathematics skills and

content for successful learning at university. As many of these students

have not studied mathematics for quite some time, the material is delivered

in a way that engages the adult learner. The content is presented in an

interactive, self-paced style that encourages independent learning, while


Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

also promoting cooperation among students in achieving the course aims.

The key tool used is the formative assessment that allows a non-threatening

engagement between the students and the teaching staff. To encourage

active learning in class, the mathematics component of STEPS is using

tablet PCs (notebooks which allow users to write on the screen). This

delivery method combines the advantages of a blackboard with the

efficiencies of a Powerpoint presentation.

Perhaps the STEPS philosophy of learning can be summed up in words

from the classic children’s story The velveteen rabbit. Learning is a lifelong

process of discovering who we are meant to be.

‘What is Real?’ asked the Rabbit one day when they were lying side

by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room.

‘Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stickout


‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that

happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not

just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit

by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It

takes a long time….’ 155

This becoming — the reaching of full potential — takes courage, but

students see there is purpose in the challenges. When they dare to risk

change, as so many STEPS students have done, adult learners are able to

engage successfully with the uncertainties that give their lives



Part Two: The STEPS philosophy

The student-centred model

This student-centred model demonstrates the interconnectedness of

the curriculum of Language and Learning. However, it also reflects the

STEPS philosophy of transformation, and, for this reason, is included in the

following diagram.


Part Three: The student learning journey

Part Three: The student learning



Part Three: The student learning journey

The decision to join STEPS

At this very moment, interactions or incidents are taking place between

potential students and their friends, families, work supervisors or

acquaintances that will ultimately lead them to the STEPS program.

Whether it is a conversation, a fight or a debilitating accident, there are a

multitude of reasons why STEPS is the right option for so many people.

Often, a person will experience a change in circumstances that will trigger

the memory of a conversation they had with an ex-STEPS student, which

brings back information they once deemed irrelevant. Read below to see

how a series of events led Bonnie Paterson to STEPS. Bonnie was aged 66

when this article was published by CQU UniNews.

Gino Zussino had completed the STEPS program and had gone on to

get a degree in Information Technology and was running his own

computer business.

We spoke about STEPS and at the time I remember thinking that it

was a great thing he had done, but at the same time it wasn’t for me.

But a couple of years later my husband passed away, and all of a

sudden I realised I’d missed the train. I’d found myself on my own

with all this nervous energy, just twiddling my thumbs.

Like most ladies of my generation, I had devoted my life to my

family and all of a sudden I was in a situation where I had to find

something to do for me and I’m no good at golf.

Then one day out of the blue, I remembered the conversation I’d had

with Gino. Then I remembered a story I’d read on Grace Johansen (a

STEPS graduate who became the oldest Gladstone student to earn

her PhD) and for some reason I started thinking that if they could do

it, maybe I could too. 156

For Bonnie, it was the death of her husband that changed her life and

prompted her to sign up for STEPS. For others, it may be a divorce, where a

parent is left with the children and needs to update skills to re-enter

employment, or the decision to attend university to further a career and

become more financially stable.


Part Three: The student learning journey

Frantiska Brazier, now a secondary teacher, enrolled in STEPS in 1996 at


I wanted to break the cycle of poverty and show my children that

being raised by a single parent did not mean they would be burdens

on society. Both my children attend private schools, and my

daughter is now working full-time in a solicitors’ firm while

enrolled in law externally through QUT in Brisbane. 157

Other people may not have had the opportunity to go to university when

they completed their formal high school education. One example among

hundreds is the case of Lorraine Wright who finished high school in 1965

and had no choice of furthering her studies at that time. Lorraine enrolled in

STEPS in 2003 to prove to herself that she had the ability to further her

education. She wanted to improve her skills and increase her awareness of

career opportunities. 158 Also, often high school students may not receive the

OP or UAI they were hoping for, and commence STEPS as another way of

gaining entry into University. 159

A shift in the general attitudes of society has meant that it is more

acceptable and, therefore, easier for women to attend university. It is also

more acceptable for men who are the bread winners to take time out to

invest in tertiary education in the hope of advancing their employment

situations. 160

Changes in the environment may alter the course of many people’s lives.

Christopher, a 1996 student, came from the land. He was in his 50s when

his farm was crippled with drought. He attended the STEPS program to

ensure the survival of his family, particularly his six children. Christopher is

now a social worker. 161

Similarly, economic fluctuations influence people’s life journeys. Whether

it be a redundancy or a decrease in demand for a specific skill and the

subsequent recommendation from an employment agency, many people are

forced to retrain. The STEPS program provides a viable option for people

who, understandably, discontinued school to pursue lucrative jobs such as

mine work and then, for varying reasons, no longer wish to pursue this line

of work. 162 Due to the geographic location of the CQU campuses, it has

been noted that the fluctuations in demand for mine workers impact on

student numbers for STEPS. 163 Also, the reduction in blue collar jobs and

the increase in technology has meant that higher education is becoming

almost a necessity to obtain, or advance in, particular occupations.


Part Three: The student learning journey

In their early years, many people may successfully train to be tradespeople

and then due to a debilitating accident are no longer able to work in their

chosen trades. Keith Winstanley enrolled in the STEPS program after

enduring a serious back injury. The doctors told him he would walk with a

limp and require a cane for the rest of his life. A few years after completing

the STEPS program, Keith moved to England and set up his own company

which has now multiplied into a chain of companies. He is a very

successful businessman who no longer requires the assistance of a cane. 164

Other incidents such as car accidents can have the same impact. One young

man, Troy Perkins, was involved in a very serious car accident at Yeppoon,

and was not expected to live. Despite serious damage, he survived and had

to learn how to talk all over again. Troy successfully completed both the

STEPS program and a teaching degree, and now teaches in

Rockhampton. 165

STEPS certainly has its humorous side, as is shown in the following

incident that occurred to a woman who wasn’t even contemplating enrolling

in STEPS. One day, this woman was wandering around the Rockhampton

campus waiting to pick up a friend. She needed to go to the toilet so

decided to walk into the closest building and ask for directions. This

happened to be the STEPS office. Elaine Ross was working at the front

desk on this day — which also happened to be a STEPS testing day. In the

rush, Elaine took the woman’s particulars and ushered her into the testing

room! To her great surprise, the woman successfully tested for STEPS, was

enrolled, and, after 13 weeks, completed the program successfully. 166


STEPS staff on the Rockhampton

campus (L to R):

Jenny Simpson, Phyll Coombs,

Elaine Ross and Angela Sankey.

This story also points out the vital role of the STEPS Administrative staff in

encouraging people to join STEPS. These support staff, in many instances,

are the first point of contact for adults contemplating enrolling in STEPS

Part Three: The student learning journey

and, as a result, many people choose to take that leap of faith due to the

accommodating nature of these people. Elaine Ross always felt she was

able to determine from the first contact with a potential student, whether or

not they would succeed in STEPS. 167 Not only do the Administrative team

assist the lecturers on a day-to-day basis, but they are also a recognised

support and sounding board for the students as they progress through the


Finally, many people choose to enrol in the STEPS program so that they

can assimilate or reintegrate back into the local community. One ex-student,

who had a doctorate in Chinese medicine and had just moved to Australia,

enrolled in the STEPS program to increase her understanding of Australian

culture and make new friends. 168

The examples above show just a small sample of people who have enrolled

in STEPS. Often there are innumerable reasons and a complex

accumulation of events that lead to the STEPS journey. The decision to

change through attempting this program is only the first step. Often, the

most terrifying part of the journey is the entrance tests or the first day of

class, as you will see in the next section.

Fears of the first day

As shown in the first section of this book, students must pass tests and an

interview prior to being accepted into the STEPS program. Students are

asked to sit for a multiple choice mathematics test, write an English piece,

and attend an interview with one of the STEPS lecturers. Prior to these

tests, students are gathered in one of the STEPS lecture theatres and told

about the different components of the program. Lecturers communicate the

resources required and the commitment the newcomers will need to make in

order to successfully complete the program, the length of which will depend

on their chosen mode of study ( i.e. Accelerated, External, Extended, etc.).

Students are asked to consider their home and work environments when

deciding if the program is right for them.



Part Three: The student learning journey

The testing day is often very daunting for some people, considering many

have not attended formal schooling in many years. For example, some

people who come along to the testing day are in their fifties or older and,

due to the values of their generation, may not have completed schooling

beyond 12 years of age. 170 Others may be on the brink of making a very

risky decision, for example, resigning from a job that they have had their

whole life to try something new. When Juanita Joy tested for STEPS she

remembers feeling scared to death. She felt out of place and wondered

seriously if she should be there at all. 171

STEPS students at the testing day. 172

The lecturers try to put the students at ease by gently communicating what

the classes offer and how they can help by extending an open invitation for

potential students to contact them with any questions, big or small. STEPS

graduates, usually from the previous program, also ease the tension by


Part Three: The student learning journey

attending the testing day and telling their stories about how they felt on the

first day, where they are now and the amount of work they had to put in to

complete the program. The presence of the STEPS graduates enables

potential students to see and question someone who has completed the

program, survived, and is now thriving.

Previous STEPS students return to help out new students. 173

Each potential student brings with them their individual ‘skill gaps’ and

corresponding insecurities. Some may be inexperienced in using a computer

and worry that they will be the only one in the class to have never turned

one on. Others will be concerned that they are ‘shocking spellers’ or bad at

maths, and attempt to sit the exam with a dictionary or calculator. Often,

where a person lacks in one skill area, they will make up for it in another.

The classic example is where somebody has excellent writing skills but

finds it difficult to grasp mathematical concepts, and vice versa. When

making a decision to accept a student, lecturers will take into account a

variety of factors, including the tertiary degree they are interested in and the

student’s combined potential. 174

The feelings of nervousness are often followed by a dramatic feeling of

elation when students are notified that they have passed the tests and have

been offered a place in the program. The first door of many has been

opened for them in their journey to succeed. Tania Murphy, who enrolled in

Mackay STEPS in 2003, remembers feeling thrilled and proud of herself

when she received the letter telling her that she had been accepted. At the

same time, she felt nervous and excited about what the future had in store

for her. 175


Part Three: The student learning journey

The next daunting experience is their first day in class. Ann Monsour, a

Bundaberg lecturer, talks about her first day of teaching.

The first day I walked in and I started my little blurb. It was so quiet

that you could hear a pin drop. It put me right off. After thirty years

of high school teaching, I could hear myself. I just couldn’t believe

how quiet it was. I had to tell a joke just to break the tension. 176

STEPS students on their first day.

Fayleen Zemlicoff completed STEPS in Rockhampton in 1997, and

recorded the stages of her Hero’s Journey. Her story below is an example of

the conflicting pressures that contribute to the feelings of ‘What am I doing

here?’ and ‘Can I even do this?’ that are reported by many students when

they front up for their first class. The story also demonstrates the many balls

these students juggle as they continue on their student learning journeys. 177

The Ordinary World

Six years! For six long years I remained in my comfort zone. My house, my

daughter, my solitude. This was my ordinary world. There was no alteration

to the daily events; there was just living and surviving. I had created this

area to keep me away from the outside world. To venture forth meant

realizing and facing my fears. This life, I thought, would never change,

until one day something inside of me, some bright light shining, made me

realise that there is a better life; there was something out there in the real

world — for me.


The Call to Adventure

Part Three: The student learning journey

After much soul searching, I realised what I needed was mind stimulation. I

needed to put to use my intelligence and not just through some menial job. I

needed more mental exertion. A friend had spoken to me about a program

at Central Queensland University called STEPS. He said this program

would give me the mental stimulation I was after, and, as an added bonus, it

would prepare me for university if this was the road I chose to take. I threw

myself into the deep end and took the first step — I sat the entrance exam.

What a day that was. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating and

my mind racing. I was actually amongst people I didn’t know. I don’t recall

much from that day as it was a blur and I was so full of fear.

I was to wait a week or so to find out if I was accepted. This week was the

longest time I can recall. The amount of hope, fear, reluctance and

excitement I felt during that week was overwhelming. I remember hoping

in some way that I wouldn’t be accepted. Then I could remain in my

comfort zone, but I also hoped that I would pass so I could go on and

change my life for I realised what a dreary life I had. The letter arrived to

say I was accepted and the program would start in July. I rang my family

and friends and told them excitedly that I was in! I was going to uni!

Refusal of the Call

Then at 1.00 a.m. the next morning I awoke with a fright. There was no

way in the world I was going to do this program. How could I ever have

imagined that I would. I couldn’t leave my house, my daughter. Who would

look after my daughter when I was in class? No. I would just have to call

them to say I had made a mistake. I wouldn’t be doing STEPS.

Crossing the First Threshold

On July 14 th 1997 I crossed the first threshold. I left home, took my

daughter to school and drove to the University. I sat in the car for what

seemed like hours, but in reality was only minutes. I needed to gather my

thoughts and control my fears before going to the first class. We gathered in

the courtyard. As I looked around, everyone appeared calm, laughing and

standing with friends. I stood alone, not venturing to talk to anybody. I felt

so out of place, an imposter, asking myself could I really do this? I was so

unsure, but I stayed and survived the day. I came home full of excitement

and readiness to continue.


The Supreme Ordeal

Part Three: The student learning journey

Being out of the real world for so long brings with it a naiveté. I thought I

would go to uni, come home to my daughter and manage this way for 13

weeks. How wrong was I! My daughter decided that she didn’t want me

going to university. She said that she could not cope with me not being

there for her all the time. She had also lived life within the confines of our

comfort zone, and change was not welcomed. Walking away from her to go

to the University with her cries of ‘Mummy!’ was heart wrenching and it

nearly worked. I started to doubt myself as a caring mother and thought of

not continuing the program. I needed to work this out. Having trouble at

home and finding uni work different and challenging, especially maths, was

filling my head with confusion.

As have many others before her who have faced their Supreme Ordeal,

Fayleen did complete STEPS and was able to record her triumphant final

stages of her Hero’s Journey.


I know I am still going through this transformation and this will continue

throughout my life. However, this stage of transformation has been

enlightening and a great achievement….

Freedom to live

I have travelled the 12 stages of the Hero’s Journey and I can return to the

Ordinary World with the knowledge and experience that will be useful one

day. I have achieved love, freedom, and knowledge. This I know, because I

have survived the journey.


Part Three: The student learning journey

From tragedy to triumph

When students conquer the challenging initial days of the program, they

begin to settle into a routine. The surroundings of CQU become familiar

and so do their class mates. Many students in the first few weeks are

pessimistic about their ability to get on with such a vast range of people and

have actually admitted that they never thought they would get on with the

people in their group. 178

STEPS students in class.

There are a variety of mechanisms that are built into the STEPS curriculum

that aid the fostering of tolerance among the students. Lecturers encourage

students to tell their life stories and celebrate them. 179 Through this exercise,

they are able to not only empathise with their peers but also understand

where they have come from and the challenges that they face. Bill Noble, a

former Bundaberg STEPS lecturer, remembers reminding students of how

tough some people do it.

Bill Noble

If the young ones started to whinge a bit about the

workload you’d given them, I’d nudge them and

say, ‘Look at that lady over there. She’s come from

a night shift to be here.’ 180


Part Three: The student learning journey

Students are also encouraged to change their perspectives on the hardship in

their lives and view it as a necessary platform for change, a gift for

transformation. 181 The following statement develops this theme:

The STEPS program at CQU is a curriculum that is based on the

underlying philosophy of ‘wholeness’ and ‘connectedness’. It is

important that many of the STEPS students from disadvantaged

backgrounds have a shift of worldview from seeing themselves as

helpless reactors to active participants in shaping their own

futures. 182

From this, students learn a lot about themselves and those around them.

This knowledge can eliminate the victim consciousness, break down many

barriers, and ultimately foster tolerance. A student commented in an end-of-

year evaluation that the biggest transformation for her was learning that her

opinion carried no more weight than the opinion of the person sitting beside

her. Another student commented:

I have found myself to be more tolerant of different people. My

class was a very diverse group and I was inspired by how well

people got along and supported each other. 183

This tolerance, however, is balanced with respect for fellow students and

staff members. An Emerald lecturer remembers one of her students

‘chucking a tantrum’ one day as the lecturer wasn’t paying enough attention

to her. The student threw her books down in a big huff and stormed out of

the classroom yelling, ‘That’s it. I’m leaving!’ This disrupted the room

greatly. When she eventually returned to her desk, the woman sitting beside

her said, ‘Sit down, shut up and do your work!’ This student had dealt with

truck drivers and was just straight to the point. She didn’t want anyone

disrupting the class and disrespecting the lecturer. 184

In the Mathematics course, lecturers also endeavour to change the

viewpoints of students towards maths as a discipline. Many adults believe

they are failed learners, particularly when it comes to mathematics. 185 By

achieving early successes in the first week, students learn that their past

failures are not insurmountable. 186

One student’s attitude to mathematics completely changed. This student had

never been good at maths. In fact, she had never received a grade on any of

her tests that she had completed at school. She thought this was because she

didn’t understand her teacher. For her, maths was a living nightmare. With

a shift in her mindset and dedication from her lecturer, on her first in-class


Part Three: The student learning journey

test she received a mark of 39%. While by normal assessment standards she

didn’t pass, she had improved her school results by 39% and so proceeded

to do cartwheels down the hallway. This was a major achievement for her

and she realised that maths was not so bad. 187

The lecturers also demonstrate that everybody learns in different ways. In

addition to the necessary modules taught to prepare students for university,

such as academic essay writing, research skills, mathematics and

computing, students also discover their temperament types and their

learning styles and this helps them to further understand themselves and the

learning techniques that best suit them. 188 Many lecturers assess their

classes and adapt their teaching styles accordingly. Professor John Dekkers


I think the STEPS program is not so much about giving people

knowledge, but getting the right tutor to help people change their

attitudes — how they feel about learning material such as maths and

writing. 189

These aspects of the curriculum mentioned above are just some of the

strategies that begin the learning process for students. The students are

given many other tools to assist them with their learning journeys. These

tools, combined with the encouragement and perseverance of lecturers,

motivate and energise students to overcome the challenges that the STEPS

program presents.

STEPS students. 190


Part Three: The student learning journey

Below are some quotes from STEPS students reflecting on their lecturers.

They were funny, sympathetic and kind, never patronizing. Mike

was an exciting lecturer, Muriel was endlessly kind and went out of

her way to help and Lynne just endowed everyone with

confidence. 191

University student.

I raise my hat to Sue McIntosh, Antony Dekkers and Ingrid

Kennedy. You were and are my heroes. You all managed to keep us

together and build confidence in us. 192

Sandra Weedon, CQU employee.

And our tutor, the lovely, the gentle Jenny Simpson carried us all

through our self-doubt and became my role model for my own

teaching career. 193

Sharron Shields, Specialist teacher.

Approachable, realistic, professional and very, very tolerant. 194

Wendy Smith, University student.

Dulcie Tolcher describes STEPS as a ‘watershed year in my life and I will

never forget it’. She talks about Geoff Danaher, a STEPS lecturer below.

I challenged him on every aspect of grammar and not only was he

unfazed, he was delighted. Something had to be wrong with him.

We soon all became delighted to have him as well. 195

Refer to Part Two, The STEPS philosophy, for a more in-depth analysis of

how the STEPS curriculum is conducive to adult learning.


A juggling act

Part Three: The student learning journey

Along the way, there are various external pressures that compete for

students’ attention as they progress through the STEPS program. The

family or partner of the student can help or hinder their journey. Many

STEPS students’ families are extremely supportive of their ventures and

their subsequent achievements; this message from Glenn Jones and family

to Maria Jones exemplifies such support:

Congratulations Maria on your truly, truly, amazing achievement.

Your family is ever so proud of you. Who would have thought that

someone who never learnt to read at school, was placed in a

remedial class at high school, and who never even completed Grade

10, could go on to complete the STEPS program and then a Bachelor

of Psychology degree through external study while managing a

family household and part-time work at the same time. We who are

close to you know what courage and effort it took to complete this

remarkable feat. You are a wonderful model for your children and

all who know you. You thought you were ‘dumb’, but we who knew

you knew you never were. We all wish you well in your new career.

Enjoy the fruits of your labour. 196

On the other hand, some students have to manage physically abusive

partners throughout the duration of the program. One STEPS student told a

staff member that her husband was beating her, and she just wanted him to

leave her alone so she could complete her assignment. Others have to

endure verbal abuse from their families and friends. Many STEPS students

are the first ones in their family to go to university and, consequently, face

criticism from family members. It is not unusual for a family member to

tease, ‘You think you are so good just because you are at uni.’ 197

Another student overcame adversity and destruction to complete the

program. In 1994, Jenny Simpson remembers being really concerned for

her student, Keith Winstanley, who hadn’t turned up to class for two days.

There had also been no phone call of explanation. This was extremely

unusual as Keith was always very punctual and reliable. That Wednesday,

Jenny heard Keith’s voice in the next office talking to Jeanne McConachie

and she then discovered what had caused his absence. On the previous

Sunday, his house had burnt to the ground. He and his family had lost

everything; however, he had managed to save an essay that was due to be

handed in on the Friday of that week. There was the essay in his hand —

and he had made the trip to the STEPS office especially to hand it in.


Part Three: The student learning journey

Other stories tell of the same sort of courage and fortitude. Debbie

Fitzgerald passed STEPS even though her son was very ill and needed 12

prescriptions of antibiotics. One student had a baby in hospital, and the next

day, while still in hospital, did her maths exam and scored 99%. 198 She also

completed her major essay in hospital, and handed it in a day early. Another

student had a stroke during STEPS and, after her recovery, returned to class

and finished the program. 199 Others have endured chemotherapy treatment

and have still attended classes.

Often, when students are struggling to balance their outside lives with the

pressures of studying, they will turn to their classmates for support. The

students themselves form very deep bonds which carry them through.

Juanita Joy, a former STEPS student, remembers these times:

I remember the lunch breaks being filled with laughter and support.

Any crisis or problem was usually being experienced by another one

of the STEPS students (or had been) and the lighter side of life

education was discussed during those wonderful tension easing

‘lunch crisis meetings.’ 200


Part Three: The student learning journey

Lunch time discussion amongst STEPS students. 201

The strength of these friendships also allows students to laugh and have a

good time as they progress through the program. Stephen Ricketts tells the

story below:

A person I now call my best mate and I were both standing looking

at a cheat sheet for a mock assignment, when he started to sing ‘I

found my thrills on Blueberry Hills’ and I started to sing the deep

‘Shoodoodoowaps’ (backing vocals). It was so impromptu, that we

sang our way to glory. We were so wrapped up in our duet that we

did not realise the whole class had stopped and were silently

listening. It was a very funny moment; we were cheered for best

entertainment. 202

STEPS students enjoying a barbecue together. 203


Part Three: The student learning journey

STEPS students. 204

Simone Ganter, an ex-STEPS student believes that the program is designed

so that students are supported by the lecturers, and ‘kept in the nest’, right

up until the last part when they are ‘set free’ and have to accomplish the last

bit on their own. Some people at this point drop out because it gets too

hard, but not without a fight from their fellow classmates. 205

Sometimes, a student will succumb to an external pressure and will not turn

up to class. Other students see this as the beginning of a bad end, and will

do everything in their power to coax the student into coming back to

classes, spurred on by the realisation that if one person doesn’t finish then

they might not either. 206 In many cases, this means a home visit. When

asked, ‘What are the important things that helped you to complete the

STEPS program?’, one student responded: ‘other class mates telling me if I

quit, they would hunt me down.’ 207

In some cases, the students are absent because they are unwell. Mackay

staff remember a student returning to class after an illness. Instead of giving

the usual ‘Hi’ when the student returned, several classmates rose to their

feet and gave this person a welcome back hug. 208

Vicki Stewart formed a special bond with one of her fellow classmates,

Andrew Stewart. STEPS changed her life in more ways than one. Here is

her story:

It was during the STEPS program that Andrew and I met and fell in


In December 2002, Andrew and I married at Ferns Hideaway at

Byfield, bringing together three children from my first marriage, two

children from Andrew’s first marriage and our child together. Our


Part Three: The student learning journey

very own STEPS family. In June 2004, we added our baby daughter,

Mackenzie Belle, to our clan!

After five years of study, transferring town twice, a marriage, two

pregnancies, and births to follow (talk about the highest stress

indicators!), I very proudly graduated with a Bachelor of Business

(Accounting) with Distinction in March 2006 at CQU in

Rockhampton. Of course, none of this would have been possible

without the support of Andrew and my kids. 209

Doors open

Over the course of the program, students work hard to fill the gap in their

skills and knowledge, rise above external challenges and support their

peers. This hard work culminates in their completion of the STEPS


One student, Sandra Challen, when asked what was the biggest

achievement of the STEPS program, simply, yet powerfully wrote, ‘the

graduates it has produced’. 210

Bundaberg graduation ceremony.

To celebrate and recognise the inspiring achievements of these students, a

graduation ceremony is held at each campus. This is a formal event, which

usually incorporates a procession, speeches by academic leaders and past

STEPS student and, in some instances, a creative presentation written and

performed by the graduates. 211


Part Three: The student learning journey

A performer at a Rockhampton STEPS Celebration of

Learning ceremony. 212

Students invite members of their families and friends to witness their

graduation and the beginnings of a new journey. This is an extremely proud

moment for the students as they reflect on their triumphs and those of their

peers. Leo Zussino, Director of Central Queensland Ports Authority and

highly regarded STEPS supporter, reflects on the graduation ceremonies


The worth of equality of access to higher education is no better

demonstrated than at a STEPS graduation. At those happy occasions

you witness the graduates’ pride and exhilaration at gaining entrance

to university — an entrance usually denied in the past by life’s


STEPS, as the graduates will tell you, is a life-changing experience

— a pathway towards individuals being able to fully exercise their

minds and towards fulfilment of their career and life desires. 213


Part Three: The student learning journey

A STEPS student with a lecturer Ann Monsour at

the Bundaberg graduation. 214


Professor John Rickard, CQU

Vice-Chancellor, at the

Bundaberg STEPS

graduation. 215

STEPS students perform a dramatic piece at their Celebration of Learning in

Rockhampton. 216

At this point, students reflect on how far they have come and where they

are going next. Since the STEPS program began in 1986, only two

Gladstone STEPS students have achieved a score of 100% on their final

mathematics test. Patricia Jones and Gail Lutton pictured on the following

page achieved this excellent result. 217

Part Three: The student learning journey

In the good humoured tradition of maths on the Gladstone campus, they are

each holding a Golden Freddo, the customary reward for a perfect score in

the final maths exam. Indeed, a fellow student was inspired to create a

perpetual trophy for this achievement at Gladstone, a golden painted frog

on a wooden shield.

The majority of students attest to the growth they have achieved. Perhaps

this is best expressed by a student — a self-confessed failed learner — who

wrote these words and presented them as part of a Rockhampton graduation


Something keeps me going.

Along this journey a Warrior has emerged in me —

not to conquer,

but to lead the Wanderer back to himself.

Life is my quest and I have much to learn.

I have feared myself —

I have hated myself —

And now I am at peace with myself.

I was lost,

but now I have taken steps to soothe my weary feet.

I am ready to celebrate the magic of learning —

the magic of life —

the magic of me.

I will go boldly on beyond the edge of my world

into an exciting future. 218


Part Three: The student learning journey

One student, no doubt, reflected on his ability to rise above his fears of

public speaking in the Tertiary Preparations Studies course. This student

confided in Phyll Coombes, a previous Rockhampton STEPS lecturer, that

the thought of giving an oral presentation to his peers made him physically

sick. However, this student was determined to pass this assessment on his

own. While he was extremely nervous when it was his turn, he delivered his

speech. By overcoming his fears, this student was able to transform himself

from someone who was too shy to participate in classroom discussions to

someone who was constantly raising his hand, signaling his willingness and

desire to contribute. He had found his voice. 219

While the oral presentation was once a solo act, now it is a group exercise. Here are

some STEPS students giving their oral presentations. 220

Below are some quotes from students reflecting on what they had learnt

over the course of the program. 221

In maths we learnt to laugh at our mistakes and our idiosyncrasies

and not take ourselves too seriously. 222

Now I know I have the ability to change the direction of my life to a

much better destination.

It opened my mind to possibilities, and showed me my personal

power was within, not sitting with someone else. 223


Part Three: The student learning journey

STEPS showed me that my level of English was not a barrier any

longer to achieving my dreams. 224

It is also worth mentioning that the STEPS lecturers also reflect on their

experiences over the course of the year. Stephanie Garoni tells how STEPS

benefited her:

I’m thankful for the STEPS program because I learnt about what

type of a learner and teacher I am and why I really couldn’t quite

reach a certain group of kids. I couldn’t quite figure out why I

wasn’t able to get the message across to them. As a result, I did

some research on myself and I really learnt that people don’t learn

the same as I learn. The way that I learn is not the best way for

everyone to learn, and I can’t force that on other people.

In the first year, I remember teaching how to write an essay to this

group of students. I’m very sequential in the way I do things so I

said: ‘Well first up we write the introduction and then you write…

This is how to write it…. Everyone go home and write an

introduction and then you write the second paragraph, this is how

you do it… Off you go…. Do it…. Then you write the body, then

you write the conclusion…’

After about three weeks, the students looked at me and said, ‘Oh my

gosh we don’t know what you’re talking about. This doesn’t make

sense to us.’ Because they came in with a completely different

perspective — and that was a huge awakening for me. 225

As a result of the STEPS program, students may change their original ideas

of what they wanted to be. Many students come to STEPS wishing to be a

teacher or counsellor and may end up enrolling in an engineering program,

for example. 226 The decision of which degree to enrol in is assisted by

career counsellors and guest speakers from CQU faculties.

Whatever discipline they choose to study, many students are extremely

successful. Below are some awards achieved by Bundaberg STEPS students

in 2003/04 after enrolling in a Bachelor degree at CQU. 227


Bundaberg Campus Graduation Medal — Kelly Beckett

CPA Australia — Bundaberg Branch Prize — Kelly Beckett

Rotary Club of Bundaberg — Sunrise Prize in Business and Law —

Kelly Beckett


Part Three: The student learning journey

TriCare Bundaberg Nursing Centre Student Prize — Catherine Mills

Coastline Newspapers Pty Ltd — Coastline Communication Prize —

Robyn Saint

Rotary Club of Bundaberg — Sunrise Prize in Informatics and

Communication — Paul Mark


Bundaberg U3A Learning Management Prize — Kresha Hodges

Rotary Club of Bundaberg — Sunrise Prize in Arts, Health and Sciences —

Catherine Mills 2005

Bundaberg Campus Graduation Medal — Christine Thompson

Bundaberg Newspaper Company — CQU Bundaberg Student of the Year

— Robyn Saint

Jessie Mary Vasey Memorial Bursary — James Ukena

Rotary Club of Bundaberg — Sunrise Prize in Arts, Health and Science —

James Ukena

Rotary Club of Bundaberg — Sunrise Prize in Education —

Christine Thompson

Kelly Beckett receiving the Bundaberg

Campus Graduation Medal. 228


Diane Britten, left, a previous STEPS

graduate, receives the Friendly Society

Chemist Prize in 1999. 229

The surrender value

Part Three: The student learning journey

While approximately 80% of students go on to enrol in a Bachelor degree

either at CQU or another university, some students opt for another path.

Professor Lauchlan Chipman calls this ‘the surrender value,’ when a

student surrenders the opportunity to go to university, instead choosing to

better themselves in another way using the value that was added to them by

the STEPS program. This might be giving back to the community or

helping a family member. 230

An example of how one student, Kate Kiernan from Gladstone, gave back

to the community as a result of completing the STEPS program is shown


I entered the 2004 Harbour Festival Queen Quest. I would have

never entered this fundraising contest with the lack of confidence

that I used to have. STEPS helped me with my book keeping,

writing letters for sponsorships as well as public speaking. I ended

up raising $27,000 for charity. 231

Suellen Florer completed STEPS in 1990 and, instead of starting a degree,

opted for a different path:

I completed STEPS in 1990 and was offered a position at university

to complete a Bachelor of Arts. Unfortunately, family commitments

changed and I was unable to take up the position. However, I still

found that the program was a valued experience that gave me

confidence in many areas of my life. I continued on with my love of

writing and have had work published in nine different anthologies

(along with other authors). These works included short stories,

poems, anecdotes and limericks. I’ve won competitions from ABC

radio with limericks and had other works published in magazines.

I’ve also been able to help others who have struggled with English

as a language or a school subject. The STEPS program’s primary

function in enabling people to further their studies to enter university

is certainly worthwhile on its own, but it can also have a positive

effect in other areas of people’s lives. 232


Part Three: The student learning journey

A STEPS student demonstrates to her peers how she composes quilts. 233

STEPS also has positive effects on family members. A woman who hadn’t

completed the STEPS program due to personal reasons came back to the

STEPS building one day to say thank you to a maths lecturer for helping

her improve her maths. She was forever grateful as she was able to

understand and help her son with his maths. He would now be a better

student because of her and STEPS. 234

‘The surrender value’ was the intention of the university from the very

beginning. While there was a push to increase the number of adult learners

wishing to study at university, Greg Harper realised that not all learners

would want to pursue university studies, and the program would assist them

in other ways. This is demonstrated in the first press release in 1986. 235

Professor Lauchlan Chipman further supports this notion below:

The STEPS program doesn’t actually bait people to come into the

University; its appeal is really the program in itself, that is,

something where there’s an opportunity to achieve. 236

There are a number of students who, after completing the STEPS program,

have been snapped up by employers because they’ve demonstrated a high


Part Three: The student learning journey

standard of literacy and numeracy. Because of this fact, and the success that

ex-STEPS students show with academic studies, Professor Phillip Clift,

Head of the Mackay campus, believes STEPS is one of the premier bridging

programs in Australia.’ 237

Jeff Davie, a Bundaberg STEPS student, was one of only four Australians,

and the only Queenslander, this year to become an Airforce Nursing Officer

by gaining an RAAF nursing scholarship. This scholarship offers Jeff

guaranteed employment in the field of nursing, and also makes it possible

for him to enter his desired field of aeromedical evacuation upon

completion of his nursing studies at CQU Bundaberg, due at the end of

2006. 238

Jeff Davie

One employer who welcomes ex-STEPS students is Central Queensland

University. Here are some comments from current staff members who have

completed STEPS:



Part Three: The student learning journey

Laurie Armstrong — STEPS 1990


Nulloo Yumbah

STEPS provided me with a bridge into tertiary

study and academic life. Being a grade 10

dropout in 1975, I completed my undergraduate

degree 20 years later. STEPS and the wonderful

CQU teaching and administration staff made that

possible. 239

Stephen Millan — STEPS 1997

PhD student

Course Coordinator for two numeracy courses; a lecturer in the Bachelor of

Learning Management degree and Numeracy Coordinator for the Faculty of Arts,

Humanities and Education

STEPS allowed me to find out that learning was a process that I could successfully

engage with. I found that learning and progressing through higher education degrees

was something that anyone with the will, and the support of a program like STEPS

to give you the best foundation, could do. STEPS was the entry way, the block upon

which my degree, and subsequent study was founded, and I would commend the

program to every student entering University. 240

Cheryl Ryan — STEPS 1999

BBus(Hons), Masters by research

Lecturer and tutor,

Faculty of Business and Informatics

STEPS helped to turn me into the person I am today — more confident and sure of

myself. Having completed undergraduate and Honours degrees, I do not fear the

goal that I have set for myself, that is to gain my PhD. If not for the STEPS

program, I am not sure where I would currently be in my life. Thank you to the

lovely people in the STEPS program.


Part Three: The student learning journey

Lois Langley — STEPS 2002

School Administrative Officer

Infocom/Client Services

STEPS helped me by showing me new ways of

learning, how I learn best, how to work at my

pace and what university life is and can be.

STEPS has opened new doors in every area of

my life and continues to do so through lifelong

learning. 241

Sandi Weedon — STEPS 2005

Executive Assistant to the Executive Dean

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education

Having worked at CQU for seven years and

attended many graduations, I know this is where

dreams are realised. To fulfil my dreams, I

enrolled in STEPS, specifically to improve my

writing skills and prepare me for a degree. At the

beginning of STEPS my aim was just to do it as I

had never had the opportunity to progress further

than Grade 10. Now — who knows? I have

enrolled in the Bachelor of Multimedia and I now

believe the world is my oyster. STEPS gave me

the confidence to progress further. It is a great

stepping stone into University. I wish to

acknowledge the dedicated staff who tirelessly

make this happen.


Part Three: The student learning journey

Leanne Booth — STEPS 1997

Helpdesk Officer

STEPS was definitely a turning point in my life. I

am now employed at Central Queensland

University and my colleagues joke that I will be

Vice Chancellor some day as a result of my

overwhelming bias and dedication to CQU. The

knowledge, support, experience and advice

offered by STEPS staff and students were — and

continue to be — overwhelming, inspirational

and irreplaceable. 242

Jeffrey Glover — STEPS 1999


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education

STEPS was a wonderful and enlightening

experience and to become a lifelong learner was

a gift of incalculable value. The lecturers in

STEPS brought out the desire in me to follow

my hitherto suppressed passion for language and

literature. I went on to complete a double degree

of a BA and B. Ed (Sec) passing both with

distinction. Since graduation, I have worked as a

teacher of English and the Study of Society for

both Catholic and Queensland Education. I have

also worked as a casual lecturer and tutor for

CQU where I have taught the foundation subject

‘Competence in English’ to Primary, Bachelor

of Learning Management students. I am

presently completing a Master of Education

(Research) at CQU.


Part Three: The student learning journey

Gina Yarrow — STEPS 1986

Corporate Events Manager

Uni Relations

I truly believe that the STEPS program gave me

the incentive to push forward with my goals in

life, and certainly assisted me in my studies

down the track. The best thing for me was

learning my way around the library before I

commenced study. It helped me tremendously.

When I finally had to do my own research, I

knew exactly where to go. The communication

part of the STEPS program really assisted me by

giving me confidence to discover new things,

particularly how I learn. Thank you STEPS!

Josh Batts — STEPS 2000

Information Technology Officer

Technology Services Section

Faculty of Business and Informatics

Before I started my studies at university I

undertook the STEPS program. If I hadn’t

completed that program before starting

university I am more than sure that I wouldn’t

have survived the first term of my degree.

STEPS gave me the necessary skills and

confidence to approach each subject and

assessment type throughout my degree. I am

indebted to the coordinators and staff involved

in the STEPS program for the amount of

support, advice and knowledge they have given

me to get me where I am today.


Part Three: The student learning journey

Vincent Wilkinson — STEPS 2003

Social Work Student on Placement at Student Services CQU

As a third year SWIT now on placement in the work environment, the STEPS

program gave me an introduction to University life that was both positive and

nurturing. The learning environment of uni is complex and completely different to

any type of learning I had previously experienced and could have overwhelmed me

quite easily if it had not been for the STEPS program. From a foundational aspect,

STEPS provided me with the tools and access I needed to make my first year a

successful one, and the years after that have reflected this foundation.

Jason Lancaster — STEPS 1995

CQU Bookshop

STEPS got me out of a rut I was in, and opened my

eyes to many possibilities. I have been working here

since 1992 and I did STEPS in 1995.

I can mostly thank STEPS for making me realise that I

can do anything I put my mind to.

I got on really well with all the students and teachers at

the time. I’m still amazed at the vitality that Jenny

Simpson seemed to show. Ingrid was a champ, and

Antony did really well to put up with my questions.

They’re the three that I remember the most, but there

were others that helped to make me what I am today,

and I can’t thank them all enough.

There’s an old saying ‘Any day you learn something is a

good day.’ My days at STEPS were nothing but good.


Helen Gallehawk — STEPS 1998

Administration Assistant

Facilities Management

Part Three: The student learning journey

Undertaking STEPS has improved my self confidence and self esteem which has

empowered me to be assertive in all aspects of my life for my own benefit and my

children’s. The STEPS program opened the door to university for me and helped me

graduate (with Distinction) with a Bachelor of Science at CQU despite not completing

years 11 and 12. After working in industry, I am now undertaking my Master of Applied

Science at CQU in a field that I have been interested in for many years.

Allan Gadsby — STEPS 1994

Technical Support Officer

Information Technology Division

I enrolled in STEPS in 1994 at the age of 31. I was part of

the first part-time STEPS and Leonce Newby was our


We did Law and Welfare 1B as a part of the STEPS

program and it actually counted towards our degree when

we finished. I enjoyed this course so I enrolled in an Arts

degree. During STEPS, my untidy hand writing was

causing me to lose marks on assignments so I bought a

brand new 486 computer with Windows 3.11 for

Workgroups, and a printer, as a glorified typewriter.

While struggling with the ‘airy fairyness’ of the Arts, I

started to pick up a few computer subjects and also tried

Biology and Botany in the Science faculty. I was

eventually almost ready to graduate in Information

Technology but was still enrolled in the Arts. After

consultation with a course advisor, I transferred as many

electives as I could and finally graduated with a BIT in


After graduating, I was offered work as a Computer Tech

Support Assistant with Infocom and have continued to

work at the CQU since, and I’m now with ITD. I highly

recommend the STEPS program.




Part Three: The student learning journey

Heather Patricia Uren — STEPS 2000

Student Services Officer

The STEPS program was a significant turning point

in my life. This program gave me the opportunity to

begin university equipped with the skills to succeed.

The STEPS program also inspired me to seize

opportunities which led to me becoming involved

with the CQU Student Association, firstly as a Board

Director, and secondly in my present position as

Student Services Officer. I have completed a

Bachelor of Learning Design with Distinction and

have just begun my second degree, a Bachelor of

Psychology. 243

Stephen Chadwick — STEPS 1994


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education

The STEPS program opened doors for me that I never

even knew existed. It gave me the skills and

opportunity to create a career and to give me a future

that had never previously existed for me.

Susan Joyce Ilich — STEPS 1993

Lecturer (Contract), Tutor, Moderator and


Faculty of Business and Informatics/Faculty

of Arts, Humanities and Education

I came to STEPS as a 38 year old mum of three who

had been out of the workforce for over ten years. The

STEPS program gave me the skills, confidence and

determination to graduate with a Bachelor of

Arts/Bachelor of Business (both with distinction),

qualifying me to step into so many exciting and varied

roles at CQU. Thank you STEPS! 244



Part Three: The student learning journey

Lyn Risson — STEPS 1997

Faculty Administration Officer

Faculty of Business and Informatics

The support and encouragement I received while

undertaking the STEPS program allowed me to

achieve my goal of completing a Business degree

through CQU. The skills I acquired through the

program — effective communication, organisational

skills and time management — I have been able to

apply to my work and other areas of my life .245

Gai Patricia Sypher — STEPS 1998

Senior Administration Officer

I decided to do the STEPS program in 1998 before

commencing a Bachelor of Arts degree. I had not

studied since leaving school 20 years prior and

needed to develop a knowledge of academic writing

and presentation. My family also benefited from the

program because it showed them the amount of

commitment required from me to undertake tertiary

study. 246

Kathleen Howard — STEPS 2004

Administration Assistant

I did the STEPS program in 2004 and found it

extremely helpful, both academically and personally.

Being with like-minded people who were trying to

better themselves, and learning skills such as

computing and academic assignment writing were

very beneficial to my confidence and further study. 247


Learning for life

Part Three: The student learning journey

After the completion of STEPS, students become lifelong learners. Whether

they pursue a professional career or not, they carry with them a deeper level

of thinking and strategies that assist them with their day-to-day lives. Two

students comment below: 248

My thinking has changed in the sense that I have a broader range of

thought on any given subject. I am no longer a shallow thinker.

I used to just read novels; now I look for answers in books.

Many students have also found that their deeper understanding of

mathematics assists them at their place of work. One believes that, ‘In my

casual job, maths is good and helpful’. 249 Other students talk about how the

strategies imparted to them by the STEPS program assist them at university.

When I get to the point of thinking, ‘This is beyond me. I’m not up

to this,’ I fall back on practical exercises learnt in the STEPS

program, such as thinking on a deeper level about the subject at

hand. I’ve learnt to ask, ‘OK, what do I know about this subject at

all?’ and ‘Where have I come across this issue in the past?’ 250

The bonds that are made during STEPS also continue as students venture

into the challenges of obtaining their Bachelor degrees.

When Gai Sypher first started her degree, she remembers picking the same

subjects as her STEPS friends did to ensure that they were in the same

classes and had each other’s support. The following year, they branched out

on their own and began to mix with non-‘Steppies’. However, they still met

once a week for support. The items of discussion weren’t usually what

assignment was due but rather how everyone was coping with studying and

dropping the children off at school and sport. 251 The bonds that they had

formed would carry them through tertiary education and on to success. Gai

now helps new STEPS students as they progress through the program by

answering any queries they might have and listening to any problems.

James Lindley, who completed STEPS through the Rockhampton centre,

also returns to the Rockhampton STEPS building on a regular basis to assist

any STEPS students in need of support.


Part Three: The student learning journey

Ex-STEPS students also make the most out of their university lectures by

participating in discussions. Many lecturers have reported that it is the

STEPS graduates who challenge and question the norm. When present

STEPS lecturer Wendy Davis was teaching with the School of Humanities

on the Bundaberg campus, she could quickly determine who had completed


Whenever I got a STEPS student in those classes, they would stand

out in a way — just for their awareness of what they had to do and

their understanding of how university worked. The students also

show great respect for the lecturers. 252

When the undergraduate students who have come straight from school to

university are talking among themselves in lectures, the STEPS students are

the first ones to tell them to stop that nonsense. They were there to learn.

They soon remind the disruptive students that they need to show respect for

the lecturer as well as all the other students. Ex-STEPS students have been

given a learning opportunity that they have worked hard to achieve, and

want to make the most of it. 253

Janet Brennan, left, a previous STEPS student takes on the role of mentor for new

University students. 254


Part Three: The student learning journey

The next story also demonstrates the respect one student had for

Dr Jeanne McConachie. 255

Jeanne remembers walking into a bottle shop to buy a bottle of wine as she

was going out to dinner that night. She was in a rush and failed to observe

there was a long line of people, alcohol under their arms, waiting to be

served as she approached the counter, head down, card out, ready to pay.

There were loud grumbles from the queue as Jeanne presented her bottle of

wine. The man behind the counter, who just happened to be six feet tall

with broad shoulders (he obviously was a frequent attendant at the local

gym) bore down on Jeanne and then loudly shouted to his angry customers.

‘There’s no queue here for this lady’. There was prompt silence from the

line. The man behind the counter was an ex-STEPS student.

Interconnectedness and perpetuation

As we transform, we contribute to the transformation of all systems

of which we are a part — from families, workplaces and

communities to our country and the very planet itself.

These words by Carol Pearson, an archetypal psychologist and author of

The Hero Within, have influenced the STEPS philosophy. The

transformations of students do impact on the people in their inner circles —

often dramatically. These people, in turn, impact on others, and the positive

spiral continues. 256

Many students, by completing the STEPS program, positively influence

their families in more ways then one. Jody Galdal remembers:

The STEPS program has changed the life of my daughter. It is a

funny story. Each Tuesday night I would leave her and her dad to

fend for themselves. Unbeknownst to me, my husband cooked

sausages ‘every’ Tuesday night for a year. Our daughter now refers

to Tuesday as Sausage Tuesday and will not consume sausages —

even at barbecues. It has become her and her dad’s own little

memory. It reminds me of the wonderful times at STEPS when I

hear this. Their relationship grew in my absence and it makes me

smile to think STEPS changed their lives as much as it did mine. 257

Family members see the fruits of their sibling’s or parent’s labour and, in

many cases, choose to follow in their footsteps and enrol in the STEPS

program. In one year, there were two sisters, two husband and wife teams,


Part Three: The student learning journey

and a mother and son participating in STEPS in Bundaberg. 258 This ability

to influence the education prospects of family members is often replicated

on the other four campuses.

Llewellyn Swallow and her husband Rob wanted to reinvent themselves

after their children had left home, and so both decided to enrol in the

STEPS program. Llewellyn comments: 259

You would think as a couple attending the same program that we

would help and support each other. The support was definitely there,

but help, I don’t think so. Rob and I have vastly different

personalities and vastly different ways of assessing and achieving

the same outcome. I think perhaps a better way of expressing our

STEPS experience would be to say it was a constant ‘butting of


STEPS was certainly an eye opener and was fondly known as the

beginning of the trials and tribulations of the Swallow’s formal

education. Rob’s first attempt at an English assignment was quite

amazing. We had been asked to prepare a paragraph. Yes, that’s

right a single paragraph. Rob’s paragraph consisted of two

sentences. Looking back, I would hazard a guess and say that

Narelle Pennells, our English tutor, was suitably astounded. Rob

graduated with a Distinction for his major assignment — a credit to

both him and Narelle.

Our next dilemma involved computers. Neither Rob nor I knew how

to turn on a computer before we began the program. My first five

lessons were quite disastrous and I managed to leave each one of

them in tears vowing never to return. The irony of the situation is

that one of my two degrees involves computers.

Rob graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Environmental

Studies, History and Geography. I graduated with a Bachelor of

Business (Accounting) and a Bachelor of Business (Information

Systems). We both graduated as members of the Golden Key

Honour Society. I am currently studying the CPA program and was

recently awarded a CPA scholarship.


Part Three: The student learning journey

Another family enrolled one by one in STEPS. Robyn Saint tells her story

below. 260

It’s said ‘Your children teach you many lessons’ so, with four

offspring, I must have learned a few. However, none were quite so

‘out of left field’ as the lesson taught by my ‘baby’ daughter, Kel,

six years ago — not just to me, but to two others in our family.

Never academically-inclined, Kel left school at the end of Year 10,

working in a deli and a factory before marrying and producing two

girls. She and her elder sister would often joke that they were the

dumb ones of the family because they didn’t finish high school.

It took on-going difficulties in her personal life for Kel to decide to

take a mighty leap into the unknown. She announced she wanted to

become a registered nurse! Lovely pipe dream, I thought, but Kel

had thought it through. She had heard about the STEPS program and

set about getting herself enrolled in the part-time group. I could only

look on in amazement as she muddled through Maths, laboured

through Language and cursed Computers — but she was

succeeding! Then the ripple effect began.

Katie Murrell, part of our ‘family’, had been watching Kel’s

progress — and transformation. By second semester, Katie had

closed down her fitness business and joined Kel as a full-timer. By

this time, I had seen assignments hashed and re-hashed, fingernails

bitten during the dreaded Maths tests and watched numerous

practices for the oral presentation. Naturally, when they graduated, I

was as proud as punch.

An odd thing happened though, as we stood around chatting after the

ceremony. I had a very powerful feeling that somehow I belonged

there. But would Karen also understand this overwhelming desire?

Those who know her, know Karen often has to think outside the

box, and I will be forever grateful that she gave me a chance to be

part of the STEPS family. So now there were three!

However, Kel’s lesson was not done yet. She and Dale Bray (now

her husband) had become close mates during this time so Dale had

seen STEPS close-up. Like Katie, he decided to move out of his

business, and soon he also was on his way through the program.

Perhaps the greatest compliment we could pay to STEPS, Karen and

her staff, is that we all have graduated. In order of appearance, we

have Bachelor Degrees in nursing, psychology, communication and

learning management. Definitely a lesson we’ll never forget!


Part Three: The student learning journey

Dale, Kel and Robyn

At this point, it is interesting to note that 80% of new students come from

student referrals. This powerful form of direct marketing has meant there is

little need to formally advertise the program, thus freeing up funds for more

beneficial areas such as resources.

STEPS students over time have also given back to the University. Professor

John Rickard recalls one ex-STEPS student who had seen the

professionalism of CQU first hand, after securing a high ranking position in

the government sector, contracted work out to the university. 261 In many

other examples, when the University needs assistance with a project or in

obtaining scarce resources, there is often an ex-STEPS student who has the

right connections to gratefully assist with the task at hand.

It is these students who ensure that the STEPS cycle continues to spiral,

gaining momentum and improving the University and the program from

year to year. STEPS students are the greatest advocates of the program,

passionately spreading the word and encouraging other worthy recipients to

ponder this chance. Their advice to others to enrol in the STEPS program

may sit in the memory bank of the potential student until a change in their

personal circumstances triggers a recall of this conversation and gives them

an avenue to change their life.

And then the student learning journey begins again.


Part Four: Student transformations

Part Four: Student transformations


Part Four: Student transformations

My life, my journey: living my dream

Kevin McNulty

My name is Kevin McNulty (Colless) and I am a Koori who was born on an

Aboriginal Mission at La Perouse in NSW. I grew up in the outer western

suburbs of Sydney and attended Sadlier Public and Ashcroft High Schools.

Whilst at school my Aboriginality was continually challenged by teachers

and some students, which got my back up and led to many physical

altercations. I got sent to the principal’s office on a regular basis to be

caned and, over time, I thought why should I go to school if the principal

and teachers are going to cane me, so I only started to attend school for

sporting events. When I left school, I could not read or write.

Upon reaching the age of 21 years, I started work as a coal miner and

approximately two years later, was buried in a cave-in for 19 and a half

hours. I was transported to the hospital by helicopter and went into a coma

and did not wake up for seven weeks. I stayed on life support for 16 weeks

with no feeling from the waist down for around 20 weeks; I had also broken

25% of the bones in my body from my skull to my left ankle. I finally got

the feeling back into my lower body but was in a lot of pain for which I was

prescribed morphine and became addicted.

After 14 months in hospital I was released and, I guess, hooked up with the

wrong crowd and got into drugs. In 1985 my life and my journey turned

bad and I was sentenced to prison for a crime I did not commit. Whilst in

prison, I became very aggressive towards whoever got in my way and I was

put into TRACKS at Goulburn prison. TRACKS was a cell that was

approximately six feet wide by eight feet long with no windows, a steel

toilet and bars with bulletproof perspex above me. The screws (prison

guards) covered the perspex with a canvas so I usually only had 30 minutes

daylight per day. I was fed twice a day with jam or tuna sandwiches, neither

of which I eat today.

The only exercise I got was when the screws threw a dog in with me, or

came in with their batons to try and give me a hiding. I spent 24 hours a day

for almost seven months in that cell, and I used to flick a button and listen

for it to land and go and find it as that was the only way I could keep myself

occupied and sane. I was finally let out to go to court to have my appeal


Part Four: Student transformations

hearing. I was found not guilty and set free from the court house. I had a

big chip on my shoulder and was dirty on the world and got right back into


In 1987 I moved to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and things were going

all right as the Health Department put me on a methadone program, which I

guess helped stabilise me for a while. I moved to Rockhampton in 1989 and

worked as a cook in a number of establishments. However, one day I decided

that I needed to get off the methadone and live a healthy life. Unfortunately,

sometime during my self detoxification I robbed a chemist shop and ended up

in jail again. One night whilst in prison, I heard this voice in the middle of the

night calling to me, ‘Kevin, this is not the way.’ I looked out of the bars at the

back and front of the cell, but nobody was there.

I then realised that the voice was my grandfather’s, who had gone to the

spirit world a number of years before, and he was talking to me from within

my cell. I decided then and there that I needed to do something about my

situation and make something of my life. I decided that the first thing I

needed to do was to learn how to read and write, so I started on my journey

of education by reading Little Golden Books (children’s fairy tales), comics

and cook books as they had small words, and with the help of my fellow

inmates learnt the basics. I was then shown how to play Scrabble and how

to use a dictionary, which further improved my new skills.

Upon my release from prison, my journey continued and I went to the

Knight Street Halfway house where the manager was completing the

STEPS program at CQU. He shared all the information with me and I

enrolled in the STEPS program in 1995. I received so much support from

the STEPS staff, and in particular Jenny Simpson, that I could not do

anything but succeed.

After graduation, I applied for and was accepted into a Bachelor of Arts

degree, which I graduated from in 1999. I then completed an Honours

degree from CQU and went on to graduate from the University of

Technology Sydney with a Masters in Indigenous Social Policy. I also

completed a Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment from the

Yangulla Centre and am currently writing up my PhD thesis titled The big

con: racism, paternalism and politics: the rise and fall of ATSIC.


Part Four: Student transformations

Today, I am working in my dream job where I get to work closely with the

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities of Central

Queensland to develop working partnerships between them, all tiers of

government and private enterprise. I love my job as working together we

can get real, positive outcomes for our people. The only other position that I

consider a dream job would be working as a student recruitment and

retention officer within an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support

centre at a university. Many of our students drop out of university in their

first year due to many factors including missing family, lack of financial

resources, limited support, culturally unsafe study environments/support

centres, and limited, if any, opportunity to get part-time work.

Therefore, it is essential to create Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

support, education and research centres that are community and familyorientated.

The support centres must make community, including children,

welcome to their learning environment; it must be a culturally safe

environment for both students and community. It is essential that links are

made with traditional custodians and community organisations, thus giving

students the opportunity to build strong relationships, and to share and learn

new skills. Through this process, students can feel a sense of belonging, and

develop that family environment that is generally missing whilst away from

their country. Employment opportunities can arise from the

family/community environment, which will help students who are generally

living below the poverty line. Early in my undergraduate degree, I was

lucky to study in such an environment, and I firmly believe that was a major

contributing factor to my success.

The ultimate milestone in my journey was last year when I was married to

my beautiful wife, Rose, who comes from Malaita in the Solomon Islands,

and we are just going through the immigration process. Rose should be here

permanently in the next month or two, which will make my life complete.

From my perspective, your life is in your hands, and you can achieve

anything you want. You just have to make the choice, be strong, and never

give in; always look for the positives and be happy. This is my life; my

journey continues. I am living my dream.


Part Four: Student transformations

Jenny Simpson and Kevin McNulty.


Part Four: Student transformations

Curiosity, fascination and a thousand

questions of ‘Why?’

Stacey Ritchie

STEPS! Would you believe that it’s been 20 years of continual lifelong

learning? I’m proud to have been a part of the ongoing process of learning

with the staff involved in STEPS at Central Queensland University in

Rockhampton. However, as I sit here trying to put my thoughts to paper

with tremors of fear — or maybe it’s adrenaline bounding along my pulsing

veins — as my thoughts tumble to be found, I realise that to talk about

yourself face-to-face with people you meet is very different to placing your

life on paper for all to see.

My name is Stacey Ritchie. I was born in1965 in Bankstown, New South

Wales. The early years of my life were split between living in Illawong on a

peninsula which is situated between the Georges and Waranoora Rivers,

just south of Sydney, and various suburbs around metropolitan South

Australia. Growing up with a large family in two states and a father who

served in the Australian Navy, we moved quite regularly. The moving

helped shape my young personality already intrigued by a world of

questions about new areas, cultures and things I just couldn’t yet explain.

My fascination with the world started at a very young age. I remember my

Nana shaking anything that I had worn outside at the laundry door, always

nodding her head back and forth as a variety of things that had taken my

fancy tumbled to the ground. The trinkets would be stones of different

shapes, sizes and colour, shells, bits of bark or a few live creatures that

would amble around for a moment getting their bearings before they

scurried off through the garden, into the bush. By the age of nine, I had

attended one kindergarten and four primary schools, my parents had been

divorced for a while, and my mum was about to remarry. With the

impending wedding, my two younger brothers, Mum and I moved in with

Mum’s husband-to-be and his four sons. We were often referred to as ‘The

Brady Bunch’, but that’s another story.

Over the next ten years, school was definitely a place of growing in a

variety of social and academic learning experiences. As I gasped for air in

the turmoil of puberty, and the tomboy lost the board shorts for perky little


Part Four: Student transformations

boobs in crocheted bikinis, I discovered all the apparently different social

groups of society through public and private schooling. Once I was able to

understand the strategies behind a new topic, group or person of interest, I

was thrown into a flurry of a thousand more questions. Now, with the

availability of freedom that only seems to come with age through sport,

close friends, older boys, restored Holdens and an intriguing exciting world

on the other side of the fence that society would have called ‘the bad boys’

— alcohol binge drinking, late nights and long weekends — I flitted

eagerly through different drugs in strange states of fascinated exhilaration. I

was absorbed in the intoxication of wonder. I floated along looking at the

levels of society from outside the logical, racing through every level of

skin-tingling, adrenaline-pumping activity, like cart-wheeling down a

runway at a seedy strip parlour in Kings Cross for $60 an hour. Experiences

like this allowed me to race headlong independently, determined to

understand or find the underlying structures of all the things in this life that

were on offer. The future always held a thrill of searching for a rush. I was

still always asking questions while pondering the ‘Why’s’ of my life.

A physically exciting, although violent, first relationship muddled my

thoughts, putting them into a blender, giving it a whirl. I tried to make sense

of those last three years as flashes of memories, exploding in loud colour or

even black and white, shouted at me from inside my head. Did you ever feel

that you didn’t quite fit in, or that a small part of you was missing? I needed

to escape, find a quieting of the soul, to feel whole or just be at peace. It

drove me to find myself. I was soon on the move again, this time heading


I was now living in Adelaide, the city of churches. My 21 st was just around

the corner, and my whole family would be there.

Excitement welled as I anticipated seeing my siblings. Soon, all of the

family had gone home, so life was back to normal: go to work, party hard

and revel in the night life of Adelaide city or Hindley Street — an

incredible, colourful place the equivalent of Kings Cross in Sydney. Six

weeks later, I had completely written off my car, a little orange and fawn

Datsun 180B, broken a disc in my lower back so I had no feeling from the

pelvis down, smashed my knee caps, broken my ribs and ripped up my face.

For a few weeks, in the back of my mind, niggled the question: ‘Will I walk

again?’. Moving parts of my anatomy was excruciatingly painful. During

one physio session, I just about had a two-year-old’s tantrum and collapsed


Part Four: Student transformations

on the floor swearing at the nurses, cursing them with all the horrors of the

plague, when, into my vision, crawled an elderly gentleman, bump over

bump. Tears streamed silently down his cheeks, dropping to the mats before

him. I realised that, if I wanted to get out of the hospital back to my journey

of enlightenment, I just had to get on with it. As Nana would say, ‘Up an’ at


By 29 I was married and moved to the wild outback of northern Australia,

worked in some of the roughest places, and saw parts of our country in its

natural untouched state — as it is meant to be. These areas had very limited

access to the public. Motor bikes, the usual array of party drugs, four

wheel-drives and safari-style camping were the norm. Crocodile Dundee

had nothing on us. During this time, I became the proud mother of two of

the cutest imps you have ever seen, returned to the Sunshine Coast, and was

divorced. With small children in tow, I crusaded on my new path in leaps

and bounds, though for years I always took two steps backwards into the

excitement of our layered society. The children grew into such inquisitive

creatures that my legal, and not so legal, lifestyle came under some

excruciating study. Nevertheless, their lifestyle never suffered because of

my habits, due to the fact that I did not inflict my lifestyle on them but

pursued it around their normal routine.

My reality check came when friends were implicated and questioned about

the death of an acquaintance in circumstances that could have been avoided.

During the investigation, it was proven that close friends and I, as well as

our children, had been watched over a period of time by the associates of

the guilty. How far I had gone backwards! I took a good look at my life,

and at last I began to see the patterns of habits I had chosen to keep and not

leave behind. I no longer had the desire to freelance on the wild side of life.

I didn’t wish to bring my children up on the fringes of society, or subject

them to unsafe situations. I wanted a place to be free. Having made my

choice to move, I found a new house with land at the right price, and a

buyer for my house on the coast with a 20-day settlement. All this happened

so quickly that I believe it was a sign of good things to come. I was a

survivor, and was now more determined than ever to get it right.

And so the children and I lived on our little piece of paradise. They put up

with my mood swings, my cravings, a wish to sleep away my thoughts, and

lack of interest in making new friends for fear of sliding backwards again.

A couple more months passed, and, for the first time in a long life, I was


Part Four: Student transformations

clean, bored and feeling restless. The kids argued, pumps broke down, my

car fell apart, and, not having worked for a while, I was beginning to feel

trapped. I knew these feelings that began to rumble, and I started to think of

mischief I could find. However, I didn’t go looking for drugs. Instead, I

exploded my frustration down the phone line on some poor unsuspecting

Centrelink operator. Centrelink gave me the number of a counsellor, who

helped me realise I wasn’t mad, just a little disturbed, and definitely in need

of mental stimulation. Secondly, they informed me about a program of

study at Central Queensland University called STEPS. I looked into the

requirements and felt like running away, hiding from the very thought of

going back to school, let alone university. The first testing, I missed. I did

ring and make another appointment after soft persuasion from the voice at

the end of the phone, or maybe it was a little reassurance that I was not the

only person to feel apprehension. This was an omen, as the date of my

confrontation was now 21 June 2004, my Nana’s birthday.

The day arrived to begin STEPS, and my guts were churning. I began to

freak as I came closer to my destination. Trying to still the nerves, I took a

big breath and remembered to breathe. Once I had settled myself, I realised

everybody here was in the same boat — terrified. A couple of weeks passed

and my brain suffered from a constant hum. They were trying to tell me that

it was making new pathways to collect and store information. Yeh! Right! I

had a headache and now suffered from sleep deprivation. Every time I

turned around, I was late with a piece of due work, my sentences didn’t

make sense, and I had wiped everything from my computer. My frustration

grew as I felt trapped inside a confused ice-cream machine that only

produced yoghurt! Then we are introduced to the Keirsey temperament

sorter, and learning styles. I was now in my element, due to the fact I

understood the fundamentals of a personality that has driven my passion to

understand the world in which I live. But no one explained why I had such

trouble retaining the information I read and reread. Then the penny dropped

as the realisation sank into the empty space of destroyed brain cells that

were the resulting damage of my past curiosity. The group was walked

through Edward de Bono’s hats, mind maps, clusters, and the use of colour

to show the different references we had sourced, and the torture of writing

an essay with referencing. Gradually, I began to learn.


Part Four: Student transformations

Making friends, being able to share the fascination of my view of the world

or having input into a group discussion made the 13-week process a huge

learning experience. At times, I wanted to pull out but, with encouragement

from the group, I survived to apply for a place at Central Queensland

University. When I found I had been accepted to study for a double

Bachelor of Arts and Learning Management degree, the excitement bubbled

wildly — and another fear arose. Anticipation of the unknown forces that

are at play in my life has now become my fear, not the slipping into the

habits that haunt from the past.

I am now in the second year of my degree and look forward to one day

being able to influence the learning experiences of the youth of tomorrow.

Some people would say that I’ve had an exciting and intriguing life by the

way I share the intensity of my feelings for the things I have seen or tried,

and places I have been. I would have to say they are probably right, but at

what cost?

Stacey Ritchie


A new chapter

Jane Morrow

Part Four: Student transformations

My name is Jane Morrow, and, along with my fellow STEPS students, I have

spent 12 weeks studying. In this time, I met some wonderful people, I

celebrated my 30 th birthday, and I feel I have been lucky to have such

amazing people around me. My journey has been one of sadness and laughter,

and, at times, one of wondering if it was all worth it. However, I am here, I

finished, and I’m not sure of what’s next. If someone had said to me 12

months ago that this is where I would have been, I would have laughed. You

see, priorities change, circumstances change, and our outlook on life changes.

This time last year, I was a wife and mother, and my main concern in life was

whether I had finished all the washing. Then, one sunny Sunday afternoon,

my world collapsed, everything changed, and I would never be the same

person again. On the 9 January 2005, after spending the morning outside, my

husband Danny, the kids and I had lunch. Within an hour, he was gone. He

had a severe and sudden asthma attack at home, and our life would change

forever. How does a fit 32-year-old man with a wife and three beautiful

children just go? Why were we dealt this hand? I will never be told an answer

to this question. Danny was my soul mate, my best friend, and the person in

my life who made each day brighter. I have found the saying ‘life can change

in the blink of an eye’ to be so true. Danny lived with water in his veins and

worked hard to support his family, skippering a coral trout boat on the Swains

Reef. I do know that wherever he is, he will be ‘forever fishing’. My

wonderful children Clohee, Joshua and Sarah are my incentive to wake up

and face each day, and, without them, I do not know how I would have coped.

At present, it is difficult for me to see what I want or where I will be in 12

months time as I live one day at a time.

With not working or studying for over ten years, the thought of what I was to

do was a hard one. Actually, just to get out of bed in the morning was a huge

step in my life. My wonderful friend, Angela, gave me the idea of completing

the STEPS program. It was something she had done, and I figured it gave me

a reason to get out of the house every day. I needed something to help me get

a routine, something that I had to focus on, and something where there was a

purpose for me being here. Thank you, Angela. You are truly a wonderful

friend, and you have helped my family and me so much. You are an

inspiration and I feel so fortunate to have had you around me at such a


Part Four: Student transformations

difficult time in our lives. My journey here has had its ups and downs. There

have been sad moments, but happy ones too. I have made new friends and feel

in a sense that I have started writing on a new blank page of a new chapter of

a book about my life.

Sometimes, what we get out of programs such as STEPS are not the grades

we have received, but how we grow on a personal level. I want to say thank

you to Karen Seary for giving me the opportunity to give this program a go,

and for understanding my situation. Thank you to the teachers who have

dedicated their time to teaching us new skills, and of course, my fellow

classmates who have touched my life. What you have given me is something

special. You might not realise how important this is, but to me it is something

that will be with me forever. You have given me the opportunity to express

who I am and the courage to start that new blank page. To my family, thank

you for standing by me. It has been a hard 12 weeks trying to maintain the

house, look after the kids and deal with the reality of life on a day-to-day

basis. My father, Ray, has been my rock since Danny died, and I could not

have got through this without him. Thank you, Dad. You have given me the

space to learn who I am, the time I needed to start to heal, and the inspiration

to put one foot in front of another. I remember you telling me that one day I

would wake up and realise I did like living, that I did like mornings and that it

was OK to grieve instead of fearing every new day and being scared of the

future. Dad, you were right. I can raise my head out of bed and not look for

the medication bottle any more. I can walk outside and say that it is a nice

day, and I can laugh and play with my children.

STEPS has given me that new start, and, although I have learnt that time does

not heal even though we would like to think so, time enables acceptance of

whatever has unfolded in our lives. Externally, wounds may appear healed,

but internally, damage will remain there forever. All I can do now is embrace

my children and realise how lucky I am to have them, be grateful to have

shared Danny’s life, and be appreciative of the people who have been there to

support me throughout my life’s journey. Today is the beginning of that new

chapter, and, without each and every one of you, I could not have done it. So

thank you, and remember that life’s journey was never meant to be easy.


One STEP at a time

Dr Jodi Cronin

Part Four: Student transformations

My name is Jodi Cronin and I am a graduate of the innovative Skills for

Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) program offered by CQU

in Mackay.

Not long after the birth of my first child, at the age of 19, I began to realise

that I would never be able to help my child with his homework, not even in

his higher primary years. You see, I had a disrupted childhood and had

attended 11 primary schools before my troubled high school years. By my

second year of high school, I was constantly in trouble, a truant and the

brunt of several high school bullies’ taunts. In Year 9, it became evident

that I was not cut out for school, either academically or socially. By second

term in Year 9, my parents were told to discipline me or I would face

expulsion. I was barely passing most subjects and I failed Year 9 science.

Just prior to my 14th birthday, my parents finally decided it was time to pull

me out. It was not unusual in my family to leave school early as my father

left to learn a trade at the age of 13, and my mother left school at 15 due to

illness. Over the next 10 years, I met and married my husband, worked as a

labourer, ship repairer, checkout operator, baby sitter and any other position

that became available. I also had my two beautiful children.

Just after the birth of our second child, Alanah, we realised it was time to

get serious about changing our lives. While still breastfeeding, I began to

look for courses I could do in the hope that I could improve my education

and perhaps help my children with their homework in the future. I applied

for an early childhood course at TAFE in 1995 only to be told that my level

of education was too low, even for a TAFE course. I was devastated and

began to think that I was only ever going to be a checkout operator. My

mother (Sue Ware) was also looking for a way to improve her education

level and had experienced similar problems finding a course that would

accept her. As fate would have it, not long after these rejections, a pamphlet

came in the mail and an ad appeared in the newspaper for the STEPS

program. It was with great fear that Mum and I turned up for the required

test, which we both had difficulty passing!! We assured the coordinators of

the program that we would apply ourselves and would not disappoint!


Part Four: Student transformations

We gained entry and, indeed, applied ourselves. Mum and I spent hours

helping each other master fractions, speeches and essays. We drew courage

from one another and thrived on the smallest of successes. I remember one

day, after exceeding even my own expectations in a maths test, Lois

Pinkney took me aside and asked, ‘What do you really want to do?’. It

didn’t take long to say I really wanted to do medicine. Lois did not laugh,

jeer, or even take a deeper than usual breath. Instead, she went about

explaining to me what extra courses I would have to do and which degree

would be best for pre-med. I often wonder if she knows how much her faith

in me changed my life. I completed the STEPS program and the advanced

maths, chemistry and biology subjects that would be required for entry into

Biomedical Science at James Cook University in Townsville. I graduated at

the top of my class in Biomed with three university prizes and, yes,

eventually (after many rejections), gained entry into medicine at the

University of Melbourne.

I am now a GP Registrar in Coffs Harbour and it has been a long (and

expensive) journey. There are so many people along the way to thank: Lois

for her undying faith in me, Kevin McLean for his incredible patience, my

mother for inspiring me, my sister for her assistance (frequently financial),

my husband for his continued support, and my kids for their amazing

adaptability and strength.

Upon reflection, it is hard to imagine what might have been without the

incredible opportunity offered to me by the STEPS program. I was a high

school dropout who could easily have been overlooked by the system. My

motto in life now is to NEVER give up, and I hope that other school

dropouts continue to be offered this second chance. I am a perfect example

of how one person, Lois Pinkney, can make a difference to many lives. A

little bit of faith can go a long way.


Dr Jodi Cronin, GP Registrar

Paediatric Department

Coffs Harbour Health Campus NSW.

Part Four: Student transformations


Jodi with her husband Shane and

children Robert and Alanah.

My life: my way

Johanne Stoodly

Part Four: Student transformations

I was born in the North Island of New Zealand, and came from a

background of significant sexual, physical and emotional abuse where

education was given no value. I did extremely well at school, but was given

no encouragement by family or teachers. I concluded from this that it didn’t

make any difference what I did, or whether I tried or not, so it never

occurred to me that education was something that was going to be useful in

my life. This notion was further validated by the fact that none of my

11 brothers or sisters ever went past Grade 8.

I was kicked out of home when I was 14 and sent to live with other family

members. By the time I was 15, I was alone and living homeless on a river

bank in Nelson on New Zealand’s South Island. When I was 17, I came to

live in Australia and by 20, I was married and had my first child. At 29, I

had three children and was in a refuge for domestic violence. Fortunately,

the refuge was staffed with good social workers. One day, I told one of

them that I wished I could have been a social worker, and she said to me,

‘You can be’. I was dumbfounded as it had seriously never entered my

mind that I could do something like that.

This planted a seed, and when I had my life in order again, I eventually

made enquiries. This led me to STEPS, and Karen Seary. I had no idea how

this would change my life (or what I was letting myself in for). I thought I

was lucky to be accepted because, at the one-on-one interview with Karen,

she asked why I thought I should get a place in the STEPS group and I

answered something along the lines of ‘Why shouldn’t I!’. However, this

statement was quickly followed by serious back pedalling and a more

dignified grovelling tone. But I am pleased to say that I must have said

something right as I got in.

I found STEPS very challenging as I had never learnt how to study, or open

a text book for that matter, but Karen was very motivating and supportive. I

do remember thinking she either hated me or thought I was completely

stupid, until I realised she knew that I knew the answer to whatever the

crisis of the moment was and she wasn’t buying into the drama of the whole

thing. In other words, I carried on like a pork chop and had a few ‘dummy

spits’ along the way.


Part Four: Student transformations

Completing STEPS gave me confidence to take on challenges I had never

even thought of. I attained a BA in Psychology and Sociology, taught

English in South Korea, and was one of 36 people chosen from over 1000

applicants to complete a Diploma of Government for the ACT Government.

I have also worked in child safety in both Canberra and Queensland. I

would never have done any of these things had it not been for the STEPS

program, and specifically Karen Seary. Even with all my other successes, it

was STEPS that gave me the greatest sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Through STEPS, I gained the ability to learn and think in a different way,

as well as a new understanding of myself and the world we live in.

However, the greatest gift STEPS has given me is that my children and

others close to me are proud of my achievements and look to me as

inspiration for their own goals. The ability to make better choices and the

confidence to pursue new opportunities have forever benefited me and

those close to me, and every day I see examples of this.

Karen told our STEPS group, early in the piece, that ‘once you start to

study you never really stop’. Of course, our group laughed hysterically at

this statement, but not surprisingly, Karen has had the last laugh. To this

day, her words haunt me and spur me always on to new challenges. I will

always be grateful for her ability to guide and encourage those who are

lucky enough to fall under her guidance.

Johanne Stoodly


Einstein and Dion

Jenny Simpson

Part Four: Student transformations

Dion Thomas is an amazing young man in his early thirties. He also

happens to be an ex-STEPS student who succeeded in the program without

having attended either primary or secondary schools. Early in his life he

was diagnosed as mentally retarded, fit only for basket weaving, was put on

regular doses of heavy drugs for hyperactivity and anti-social behaviour,

and spent 11 years in a special school. As a young adult, for six years he sat

at home, unable to leave it. Dion’s future prospects looked very bleak, work

at the sheltered workshop his only option, but in 1998 Bundaberg Customer

Service Centre psychologist Craig Cook from Centrelink gave Dion an

eight-hour assessment and discovered that he had Asperger’s Syndrome, a

rare form of autism. This condition is characterised by impaired social

functioning, repetitive behaviour and obsession. Craig also discovered that

his client had a very high IQ.

In the January edition of the Australian Women’s Weekly, Dion was

featured in the Your Lives, Your Stories section under the title ‘Einstein

and me’. Here is a part of what he wrote:

On my bedroom wall hangs a poster of my hero, Albert Einstein. His ideas

were once rejected, but he never gave up.

I’m the same. Since I was 16, I’ve longed to go to university to study

computer science, but until I was 24, education officers told me it was

impossible because all I studied at my special school was basket weaving

and finger painting…. I knew I was different, but I also knew I wasn’t

stupid. And I knew I wanted to do something with my life.

While most of the kids at school watched cartoons, my favourites were the

science, biology and chemistry segments on Open Learning on ABC-TV. I

was quite good with craft, and I used to love taking radios and motor

mowers apart and putting them back together – and they always worked.

I wanted to go on to university, but everyone thought it was a big joke.

His mother, Joy, convinced that her son could learn, found a maths tutor,

Dennis Muller, who was amazed at his pupil’s ability to work out

Pythagoras’s theorem on the calculator, and his knowledge of electric


Part Four: Student transformations

currents. Later, Dion went to TAFE, over six years studied plumbing, motor

mechanics and electronics – and won a gold medal for his excellent efforts.

Still, he found getting a job was difficult.

During these years, Dion’s dream of university study had never dimmed —

and he was fully supported by Joy. As he said, the ‘miracle’ happened when

he met up with Craig Cook, and doors opened everywhere. Another

psychologist, Ian Hills from the University of Southern Queensland,

became a trusted mentor, and soon Dion was phoning the university and

being told about STEPS. Here are his words about the STEPS testing:

I had to come and sit down and do a test because they weren’t sure that I

would ever be able to do it. And I wrote out a full page. I had no schooling

whatsoever, not an equivalent high school schooling. I wrote a full page

with no paragraphs, no spaces between the letters, no punctuation. And my

mathematics! Without a calculator I was hopeless. It was pretty bad….

Karen Seary, the compassionate Head of STEPS and Bundaberg STEPS

Coordinator, seeing that Dion was a capable young man, decided that it was

his time, and organised for him to do the program, part-time, over two

years. To give him extra assistance with his writing, Karen undertook to

work with Dion herself for the year it took him to do the Language and

Learning and Tertiary Preparation Skills courses. Margaret Flanders, Dion’s

mathematics course lecturer in STEPS, was also committed to his success.

Other areas of the University such as Student Services and Equity came

together to help him through those two years of STEPS.

Dion’s dream of being a student at Central Queensland University finally

came to fruition when he enrolled in a Bachelor of Information Technology

on the Bundaberg campus. He is now in his third year of study with only

seven courses to finish, and he is particularly proud that he has achieved a

grade point average of 5. University study has not come easily to Dion. He

is still an Asperger’s sufferer and the condition does not make life — or

study — easy. However, Dion’s achievements were recognised last year

with a special commendation in Queensland’s Adult Learners’ Week

Outstanding Learner category. He is also a member of the Central

Queensland University Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour

Society, which recognises and promotes academic excellence. For the last

eight years, every month Dion has been seeing Craig Cook, who is now in

private practice. Ian Hills has retired.


Part Four: Student transformations

Dion also now gives back to the community in ways that once he would

have thought impossible by helping at the Salvation Army’s Tom Quinn

Community Centre. Whenever he can, he teaches people computing skills.

I have far more contact with a lot more people now. Beforehand, I was just

a hermit… By sheer perseverance and determination I have broken down

barriers and overcome difficulties put before me to achieve what has been a

lifelong dream – to study at university… I used to think ‘why bother going

forward’ but now I have got something to do with my life.

Dion Thomas and Karen Seary.


Part Four: Student transformations

STEPS — The vital rung

Dr Denzil Nash

On Thursday 20 April 2006, I walked proudly onto the stage of the

Innovation Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast to receive my

Doctor of Philosophy award. I can justify claiming this as a pinnacle of my

short academic career. However, I would be undervaluing the importance of

other influences in attaining my potential. As significant as the experience

may be, earning the title of Doctor represented an end and a beginning, as

can be said for any other significant event in one’s life. My story could

begin with my induction into the STEPS program at the Central Queensland

University Bundaberg campus. However, it was much more than that

because my participation in STEPS was pivotal in transforming ‘what could

have been’ to what is now a reality.

To tell my story, I need to go further back in time to a bleak, cold Welsh

winter’s day in 1958. As the final bell rang on my last day in school, I

returned my books to the appropriate master, and with the words ‘I’m

leaving’ turned and strolled boldly on to the next chapter of my life. Like

many of my fellow pupils from the outlying villages and farms, I had

passed what we called the 11Plus examination, and had found myself

struggling with a system of education that made little sense to me. My

decision to enlist in an RAF boy apprentice scheme was greeted with

disdain by members of the staff, who considered such an act as a blight on

the good name of the school. Nevertheless, convinced that education was

for others, on that cold December day, I stole away like a thief in the night

on my way to the most important and most rewarding learning institution of

all, life itself.

As a member of the armed services, I learned a trade, I saw the Red Sea at

Aden, the Persian Gulf, and Germany where the Cold War was real. I

enjoyed great friendships and camaraderie, and learned how to win and how

to lose. I enjoyed the love and support of my family and hoped that I gave

the same in return. My military life ended and our lives in Australia began.

And here we did more or less what others did in the real world: worked,

raised our children, played and paid off a mortgage. I worked on the highrise

buildings of Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, taking a small part

in the reshaping of their skylines. I also had great pleasure in kayaking on


Part Four: Student transformations

the rivers and lakes of Australia. But a desire for change took us on a twoyear

drive into country areas, working on farms, in vineyards and on a halfmillion-acre

cattle station. For two years, our home was a yellow bus and

our front lawn, the great Australian outdoors. But life takes some

unexpected turns, and when our yellow bus rolled into Bundaberg, I had no

premonition that a new and very different adventure lay in store.

Perhaps I had been fortunate in the past, but, suddenly, as I celebrated my

50 th birthday, I was at a crossroads. ‘Where to now?’ I asked. Returning to

high-rise buildings was not an attractive option.

‘Why don’t you go to uni and get a degree, Dad?’ suggested my daughter,

who was in the process of enrolling in a CQU Arts program.

‘I agree,’ said Julie, my wife.

My immediate response was to laugh. After all, was not academia for

others? Still, the idea had been planted. Enrolling in the 1994 Spring

Semester STEPS program, I began my new journey.

I entered the STEPS program with a certain degree of trepidation. The

memory of my Grammar School education haunted me like a recurring

nightmare. But as I settled into my new life, I began to realise that STEPS

to me was more than a precursor to academic achievement. It was also a

culmination of what I had learned through life, and redemption for what

had not been realised. Certainly, the academic writing prepared me for

university, but, more importantly, it taught me without a doubt that there is

no failure, only unrealised potential. This was substantiated when

Karen Seary looked at my carefully written paragraphs, and after a quick

perusal pushed them back across the table and said almost dismissively,

‘You’ve got it’. They were three simple words, but they were worth a

thousand pictures. Academia was not just for others after all. In fact, there

are no others in that context. And just as importantly, it became clear that

my Grammar School education had been invaluable. So, too, were my years

in the RAF, the noisy building sites of our cities, my role as husband,

father, grandfather and friend, our two years in the wilderness, and my love

of the river. For me, STEPS was the realisation that we can we do anything

we desire, but only if we make the most of what is offered to us, and if we

acknowledge the love and support of others.


Part Four: Student transformations

So, on Thursday 20 April 2006, I was not just celebrating my achievement,

but the joys of being, sharing and belonging. I raise my glass to Julie, my

wife and best friend, and to the staff members of CQU, who were so

supportive during my time at the Bundaberg campus. I thank my colleagues

at USC and my students from whom I can learn so much. And finally, I

salute Karen, Margaret Flanders and the STEPS class of 94, for

consolidating the past and shaping the future.

Dr Denzil Nash


Part Four: Student transformations

Nothing is impossible

Chris Daly

The day I made my maths teacher walk out the room crying, I knew I had

gone too far. However, I hated the way she taught and could not cope any

longer. Besides, there was always heaps of work to do on the farm, and,

being a cocky teenager, I knew what was best for me. So, after being given

yet another 'six of the best', I told the principal that he did not have to worry

about me returning to school. I mean, why bother. I only used to go to

school two or three days a week anyway. But I wasn't always bad. I used to

make my classmates laugh too. I used to tie the fan blades to the window

sill or tie my maths teacher’s chair to the table, or once, I even put a rubber

snake in her top drawer. Those days were really funny — or so I thought.

So after working on the farm, then getting a job in the Post Office, at the

ripe old age of 39 I decided on a career change. But where was I going to

school? It was here that I realised, 'Struth! I haven't got any formal

education to get me into university.’ I had worked my way up from being a

postman to managing the Biloela Post Office, but had not gained any

tertiary degree throughout my life. By a stroke of luck, my younger sister,

who is a teacher in Moranbah, rang me one night to have a chat. It was

during this chat that she mentioned the STEPS program run through CQU.

But I lived in Biloela. So was I to move to Rockhampton to do this

program? She offered to assist me so I think that is what persuaded me to

ring up and find out about it. I rang the Gladstone campus and spoke to

Lynne Campbell, who advised me that an information night was to be held

that night in Gladstone. I umm’d and ahh’d about it, jumped in the ute and

took off to Gladstone for the evening. On the way over, I was

contemplating what would be talked about. What information would I have

to tell them? Would they know about me crashing into the hearse while

delivering mail in Mount Isa? About losing the mail when I skidded into the

lake, on the postie bike in Townsville? Or worse still, when I upset my

maths teacher, Mrs O'Connor? All of these 'incidences' were going through

my mind on the trip over.

When I got there, things weren't so bad. There was a bit of tucker on the

table, a cup of tea for everyone and a questionnaire for everyone to fill out.

I hoped there wasn't a section to explain why I had not completed school. If


Part Four: Student transformations

there was, I was determined not to tell the truth. Surely they wouldn't want

me? Luckily, no such question existed and I fairly sailed through the

questionnaire and the night with confidence. Ha, that wasn't so bad after all.

Better was to come. The program would only cost $13.50 and I’d have fuel

money left over. ‘Oh, bugger it, I'll do it,’ I thought. After all, it was only

for 13 weeks and then I could go to university and build bridges. For as

long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with bridges.

So STEPS started the following week with one Chris Daly enrolled. On the

first day, I jumped into the ute and drove over to Gladstone, and there were

these other people waiting around. I introduced myself and discovered that

they were to be my classmates. Actually, they seemed fairly cool. There

were a couple of young ones, male and female, but there were also people

older than me. Now that was very important because I did not want to be

the oldest person there, especially as I am male. The first day went without

a problem. I didn't upset anyone, the teachers all stayed in the classrooms,

and I learnt something about computers. After all, I was a digital immigrant.

‘Yep! I'm coming back here’, I said to myself as I drove home to Biloela

that night.

The following morning I hopped back into the ute and headed over to

Gladstone. And so, my experiences as a university student had begun. One

thing that quickly bugged me though was the driving. So, after the first

week, I threw the swag in the back and slept in it Monday, Tuesday and

Wednesday nights. On Thursday evenings, I would sit in the bath for two

hours. Friday became my day for completing university work, while the

weekends were spent bragging about my 'university studies'.

Having always enjoyed maths, my eldest brother being a bookmaker and

my uncle teaching me how to gamble when I was ten, I thoroughly enjoyed

showing my fellow classmates how to calculate interest, as well as easy

methods for working out algebraic problems and fractions. The best bit

was, I was allowed to do it all on the whiteboard. Amazingly, my teacher

Lynne Campbell encouraged me to do so. I suppose it was at this point that

teaching became the most obvious path for me to take. Sure enough, when

the STEPS program finished (much to my disappointment), I chose to study

the Bachelor of Learning Management (BLM).


Part Four: Student transformations

But city living is not for me. Can you believe, a BLM program was starting

up in Emerald the following year and I had enjoyed living there when I was

a postie. Look at me! I had just completed a bridging program and now I

was off to uni. That was late 2003. Here I am, April 2006, and I am about to

complete my undergraduate degree. I have also gained a Diploma in

TESOL during my spare time from uni studies, gained entry to the Golden

Key Society, mentored for two years, been awarded the highest GPA in the

first year and been selected by CQU to teach Korean students in Korea

earlier this year. What a complete turnaround from the boy who loathed

school and caused so much heartache for his teachers. I now have a life and

can walk around with my head held high because of what I have achieved.

But it was only achievable through the STEPS program in Gladstone. I

cannot believe how rewarding such a program can turn out to be. Shortly, I

will be jetting off back to Korea or China to teach. Secretly, I have always

wanted to travel the world and now I will be able to do so. I am so grateful

to have been afforded the opportunity to complete STEPS, and I am living

proof that nothing is impossible.

Chris Daly teaching in Korea.


Part Four: Student transformations

Kicking and screaming

Simone Ganter

I began STEPS in Rockhampton when I had run out of excuses. I wasn’t a

terribly hopeless student — I just didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I

didn’t know how to go about doing it. It was just before my 25th birthday

when, adding up my accomplishments, I found myself reminiscing about

winning a high school basketball competition. Sadly, that was the most

recent triumph. With a ‘tender nudge’ from my well-meaning mother, a

lifelong professional and former STEPS success story, I found myself at the

testing day, terrified and attempting to slink out of the building. They must

have been expecting that sort of behaviour because I bumped right into

Ingrid Kennedy, whose expression advised against it.

A letter in the mail informed me of my acceptance. Admittedly, I was

surprised; secretly, I was shocked (Official Accomplishment Number 1). I

remember the first day as though it were yesterday. I felt like I was eight

years old starting at a new school. I didn’t know anyone, and I had

forgotten my lunch. That was when I met Lisa. It seemed we had been

rowing the same boat in the wrong direction for far too long. We both

wanted to be teachers and were feverishly hoping that the STEPS program

would get us there as painlessly as possible.

So there we were with Jenny Simpson, Ingrid Kennedy, Sue McIntosh and

Sharon Cohalan as the centres of our universe for six hours a day and,

together, we went through it all: maths exams, essay deadlines, computer

trauma, temper tantrums, meltdowns and sugar highs (and the inevitable

crashes). Not least of all was Jenny, who insisted on intense self-reflection

(not for the fainthearted).

The maths was scary, and one could not help but wonder where Sharon

drew her enthusiasm from. It must, however, be catching because both Lisa

and I decided to major in Mathematics and Science, although we have been

known to scurry back down to her room before an exam.

Then there were the office staff, Georgina Pickering and Pam McMahon,

shaking their heads as we would dash in five minutes after our class had

started, or sneak our late assignments in, helping both of us avoid detection

as often as they could.


Part Four: Student transformations

I would like to say that the staff at STEPS were gentle, but that would be

misleading. Behind their caring exteriors, it was a take-no-prisoners

attitude, and I remember at least once sitting in Sue’s office, trying to crawl

under her desk, begging her to make it all go away. I think that scenario

(I wish it were untrue) best describes my STEPS experience. I was dragged,

kicking and screaming to the finish line only to find that they were all there,

standing to the side, cheering me home.

So then, with our certificates in hand, we were off to ‘Big School’ to

study to become teachers (Official Accomplishment Number 2). I will

never forget how anxious I felt waiting for the results of my first piece of

assessment. It seemed as though my entire future was in the balance.

Casually flipped onto the desk in front of me, there it was, circled in red

— a High Distinction (Official Accomplishment Number 3). I can’t

remember a bigger smile in ten years. I’m quite sure I forgot to excuse

myself from class, instead, rushing off to find Sue, who was, predictably,

just the right shade of proud.

Since then, things couldn’t be better. I have been invited into the Golden

Key Society (Number 4) for academic excellence; I accepted a scholarship

to teach in Korea earlier this year (Number 5); I have made some valuable

and rewarding networks with some incredible people (Number 6), and, best

of all, I don’t mind the ‘I told you so’ from my Mum (Number 7).

Lisa and I still have our meltdowns (though never simultaneously — that

would be far too stressful), and still ignore the consequences of too much

sugar, but we are still here, and, with six months remaining, our dream of

standing up and accepting our degrees is becoming more realistic every


I don’t need to count my accomplishments any more. I am very proud of

this time in my life, and I am indebted to all of the wonderful people at

STEPS who, despite my protests, never let me lose sight of what I had set

out to do.


Part Four: Student transformations

Simone Ganter


Part Four: Student transformations

It’s never too late to learn

Mary Cowper

Before 1997, I had been enjoying the U3A, studying creative writing under

the inspiring personage of Kevin McLean. He told me about STEPS and

persuaded me to come to the Mackay campus and do a small test. This

allowed me to start on my adventure into the realms of university life. I spent

13 weeks putting myself in the hands of Kevin, Lois Pinkney and Nicky

Ockle. I achieved the certificate I required to apply for a university program,

and this totally amazed me. At the age of 12, I had been bombed out of my

school and my home in Liverpool. I had always loved reading and writing

letters to my brothers and sisters who were away in the forces fighting a war,

and here I was at the age of 68, a student at uni.

While I was waiting for university to begin in 1998, I did a volunteer’s

certificate at TAFE and achieved two certificates in tutoring in English. I

graduated with a BA in 2004 and I have just graduated with a Masters degree,


I want everyone to know what the STEPS program did for me, and about all

the wonderful staff at Mackay and Rockhampton who have been so helpful

over the past few years. In August, I will be 77 years old, but I still feel only

35. As an external student, I enjoy that contact with other students, and we are

constantly recommending the STEPS program to anyone who will listen.

I congratulate the STEPS team, and say thank you so much for giving me the

opportunity to achieve my life’s ambition.

Mary Cowper


Part Four: Student transformations

Taking STEPS: learning in leaps and


Nerida Wirriganwalters

Whenever anyone asks me about my experience of STEPS, I invariably tell

them ‘It was the best thing I ever did’. Mind you, I have since said the same

thing about other things in my life, for example, completing my Bachelor of

Communication degree, accepting my current job as an employment

consultant, and reaffirming (after much soul searching) my belief in the

institution of marriage — for the fourth time. The thing is, had I not done

the STEPS program, I would not have been as confident or capable when it

came to making these, and other, decisions that profoundly affect my life

and the lives of the people I care about.

Before I started STEPS in 1998, about 22 years after completing Year 11, I

was in my third marriage with seven children to care for (my five plus two

stepchildren) and I was working three part-time jobs in three local schools

as a teacher aide, an indigenous education worker, and an Aboriginal

Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ATAS) tutor. We called a family meeting to

discuss the pros and cons of Mum doing the STEPS program because I

knew I could not achieve the degree of success I wanted without the

family’s agreement. My children were, for the most part, very supportive of

my efforts to educate and improve myself and therefore the family situation.

However, I realised that they didn’t really understand what we had agreed

to when my eldest son came to me on a number of occasions, usually late at

night while I was working on an important assignment or trying to master

the intricacies of algebra, asking ‘Why are you doing this?’. I always

answered him the same way: ‘We all agreed that it would be good for me to

do this. Do you really want me to quit now? Just say the word and I’ll

cancel out of the program tomorrow’. I never cancelled, of course, and

didn’t really expect to. The STEPS experience reinforced what I had taught

my children from an early age: if something is worthwhile doing, then

quitting is usually not an option, except under exceptional circumstances.

This same son, together with his siblings, very proudly attended my STEPS

graduation ceremony and witnessed my first very nervous public speaking

effort. Much later, they attended another more elaborate graduation when I


Part Four: Student transformations

received my Bachelor of Communication degree in 2004, but were spared

the speaking engagement.

Life is about taking steps towards the achievement of goals and the

fulfillment of dreams. It is a gradual process of learning how to do the

things we need to do to get by in life, to master certain skills, and to become

who we are meant to be and what we are meant to become. Often we don’t

know what that is, and so we stumble along and sometimes we fall. But as

long as we keep our sights firmly fixed on our goals of learning, we can

pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and continue on our way. Even

during my first tentative steps into the academic world, I understood very

well the concept of lifelong learning that Muriel Strahm spoke about in our

academic writing classes.

Recently, I caught up with both Muriel and our Maths teacher, Lynne

Campbell. It was an interesting experience. I learnt that I was the only

student Muriel has ever sent home from class due to fatigue. Knowing that I

live 50 minutes drive from Gladstone, understanding the weight of

responsibilities I had taken on, and recognizing that I suffer from the

condition that all high achievers suffer from (very high self-imposed goal

posts), Muriel did the responsible thing and sent me on my way. This state

of mind/body became very familiar over the ensuing years of my studies

and into my present learning experiences, because I firmly believe the

advantages derived from learning are worth staying up for.

One of my proudest achievements in the STEPS program was graduating

with a top overall score of 94% for Transition Maths. I will always

remember that score because, with patient and supportive teaching from

Lynne, and determination and effort on my part, I was able to turn around

my Year 10 Maths score of 49%. I had always readily identified myself as a

writer because I was very good at English, but Maths never came easily to

me. Throughout the STEPS year, I was continuously frustrated when I

looked around and saw others in the class ‘getting it’ after doing only a few

exercises. I would go home and spend hours going over and over the same

exercises, but I wouldn’t give up until I also ‘got it’. Sometimes I would

have to do hundreds of these exercises — and I still keep my workbooks as

a testament to my persistence to master skills I had previously thought

beyond me. It was about that time that the words ‘I can’t do that’ were

erased from my vocabulary and from my thinking. Moreover, this

achievement gave me the confidence to accept more tutoring positions for


Part Four: Student transformations

Maths as well as English from Year 1 through to first year undergraduate

students in Bachelor of Education and Learning Management programs. By

the time I finished STEPS, the rate of growth I was experiencing had

enhanced my personal and family life, and I knew that it would continue to

do so as long as I nourished it and continued taking steps on the learning


The real value in doing STEPS is the excellent preparation it provides for

going on to further university study. I am reminded of the Chinese proverb

that ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’, and the first step

in any learning experience is admitting our ignorance. When STEPS

students begin the program, they are generally ignorant of the requirements

of academic learning. However, there is a dedicated group of teachers who

are there to share their knowledge of how to learn, how to study, how to

research topics, present academic essays, pay attention to relevant and

accurate referencing, and then put it all together with the help of computer

technology. Without doubt, the training given and received in the STEPS

program lays a solid foundation on which to build a successful academic

pathway. For some students in the part-time class of 1998, the pathway was

short; there were some who stumbled once or twice and left the building.

For others, including myself, it led to the achievement of goals and dreams

(and a degree of course) and our education continues on a daily basis in the

true spirit of lifelong learning. And for me, that is very exciting. My sincere

wish is that others will take STEPS to change their lives in positive and

productive ways, whether or not they go on to study as undergraduates.

STEPS is a life-changing process of learning in leaps and bounds that has a

profound impact on the lives of students and the people they care about. To

the STEPS team: I honour you and I am truly grateful.


Part Four: Student transformations

STEPS — A guide to learning, a guide

to living

James Ukena

Sometimes we never achieve our potential because we have no idea what it

is. In 2003, I entered the STEPS program with reservations. I was already

unsure of attempting a university program, and I felt uneasy about the

possibility of discovering I was not even worthy of the preparatory


I had not completed high school, preoccupied with the distractions that a

wayward youth offered. I can recall in one of my early classes sharpening a

pencil for ten minutes, avoiding the mathematics problems laid out before

us. I was certain that I had made the wrong decision. I was 34 years old,

sitting in a classroom, sweating over year 11 mathematics problems. I was

overwhelmed with the thought of not being able to cope with real university


Every week, the STEPS Coordinator, Karen Seary, spoke to us about us.

We were relieved of our maths and English commitments to look into our

own lives more closely and to understand how to use our minds to achieve

our goals. I will not lie to you. It felt a little bit like a support group. Instead

of abusing alcohol, we had been victims of abusing our life’s potential.

These moments of self-awareness were the greatest revelations I have ever

experienced. Suddenly, I had a basis for understanding the origins of my

cynical nature. I understood that my brain worked differently from other

brains, and it’s OK to solve problems differently. With all this new

information on board, I allowed my mind to let go of all its past

preconceptions of how I should think. Essentially, I had gained a sense of

confidence that I never had as an adolescent.

The introduction to the famous De Bono’s lateral/global thinking methods

was a profound experience. I had always thought I was clever at some

things, very few things. I was never able to transfer that cleverness to other

activities. Therefore, I assumed that simply was how life was going to be —

that was my lot. The De Bono experience, which millions of people around

the world have already been exposed to, opened up my mind to endless

possibilities. I guess what I am trying to say is that my brain worked fine; I


Part Four: Student transformations

simply had no way of organising it. And organisation, in my opinion, is the

key to academic success.

Organisation of my mind allowed me to piece together a functioning

academic brain. Suddenly, I had the tools to deal with any situation that the

lecturers threw at me. I understood the importance of some things and the

irrelevance of others. Most importantly, I was able to show to my lecturers,

and hopefully future employers, my ability to balance multiple concepts and

discuss material from a broader perspective, yet still be precise about

specific details. I had truly become a nerd!

The STEPS program was ultimately responsible for the advances I made on

my own into the art of exam preparation. I initially felt that my exam

preparedness was still not good enough, so I took the initiative to explore

and research techniques that may suit the way my brain works. This led me

to discover several exam techniques that were conducive to my particular

way of thinking, resulting in a dramatically increased ability to recall vast

amounts of information as required by the examination.

I even credit the STEPS program with the way I approached my life outside

of the University setting. Historically, I am an unorganised individual. For

no known reason, I was disorganised in many features of my personal life.

This caused unnecessary stress and regret. My wife tells me that I am still

messy around the house, but at least now everything else runs like

clockwork. And now I finally understand that, in order for it to run like

clockwork, you must be ever vigilant to the changes that life brings to you

and address these alterations immediately. It is fair to say that who I was

before STEPS and who I am now are truly different people.

A feature of STEPS that may not be appreciated by the outside observer is

the intuitive manner in which staff have achieved an atmosphere of

learning. It is safe to say that all the participants in the STEPS program are

enthusiastic to enter the program, but many of us still carry the burdens and

fears that stole us away from higher learning many years ago. I recall one of

the favourite topics of discussion during our breaks was to bring up our

high school academic failings, or the limitations our personal lives had on

our ability to study. The teaching staff remain constantly sensitive to these

issues. Thankfully, they also have a plan to guide us through this period of

low self-esteem and lack of self-belief, of which small but significant

achievement is the key.


Part Four: Student transformations

With hindsight, I probably did not want to admit I was also damaged goods

— that I was unsure of myself. The development I made in the 13-week

period of the STEPS program allowed me to finally deal with a lot of

demons that I thought were going to prevent me from achieving academic

success. Indeed, I bloomed. I was so glad to rid myself of the ignorant

shackles that I carried with me for almost 20 years that I became a model

undergraduate student.

In 2004, I topped my University program in my first year. In fact, I topped

the entire Faculty of Arts, Health and Science at my campus. There was no

prouder man on this earth when I received formal recognition, surprising

this high school dropout and underachiever. And there is no clearer

connection than that between my renewed academic success and the

wisdom dispersed during the life-changing term spent in the STEPS


The limits of my potential are still not known, but I now know how to get

there and am forever grateful for the insights shared with me through the

STEPS program.

James Ukena


Part Four: Student transformations

Lucy’s steps of change

Lucy Lowry

My name is Lucy. I am now approaching my 45 th birthday and I am

currently separated after a 20-year marriage. I also have two sons, Daniel

20 and Jacob 18, who both live with their dad at present. As I write this, I

am sitting at my computer in my lovely little single bedroom flat in

Mackay, and gladly reflect on my journey into further education and my

desire to change my employment choices.

I have always had a love of communicating with people on an intimate and

deep level. What I mean by that is drawing out of people their stories, their

journeys and how that is for them, in the hope that I might share or gain

some new insight or knowledge that might add to the experience of life.

Therefore, a career in counselling seemed to be the inevitable way to go for

me, but my life circumstances did not present that choice. I grew up in

England and had a very amazing childhood, one filled with travel and

constant change — changes in schools, home location, the county we lived

in, social life, family and friends. My education was far more honed by life

experience than that of the formality of school; in fact at 14 years of age,

staying in school no longer was an option for me. Thank goodness

hairdressing apprenticeships were in abundance in 1975, because this is

where my young adult journey started.

I loved hairdressing and excelled during my apprenticeship, winning many

awards and eventually buying my own little salon in Sydney. However,

even though my hairdressing career served me well and gave me many

communication skills, I wanted something more out of working with

people. After I married Steve Lowry in 1985, hairdressing took a back seat

for a few years so that I could devote myself to our two sons, Daniel and

Jacob. During this time, Steve and I became involved in church-based

youth groups and church ministry, which for me filled a great void in

connecting with people and speaking about their lives.

When Daniel and Jacob were settled into school, I opened another

hairdressing business and ran that for five more years, loving every minute

of it too. But I still wanted more out of my life. I wanted to give more back

to others and have a greater impact in the helping process. I felt frustrated

and trapped by my lack of formal education and, in many ways, helpless to


Part Four: Student transformations

change that. I found it hard to see beyond my own educational

shortcomings, and believed that it would not be possible for someone like

me, a woman in her forties, to change career. Even though my involvement

in church life at that time offered many different education and support

tools for equipping you to help people, it became obvious to me that, to be

really capable of counselling people, I needed more training, preferably

from tried and tested sources such as a university degree. But how could I

get a degree having only completed Year 8 and doing the first term of Year

9 at school 28 years earlier? It seemed such an impossible task to overcome

the education barrier, and how to do that eluded me until I stumbled across


One afternoon in Autumn 2004, I went to TAFE in Mackay to find out if I

could do Years 11 and 12 so that I could enter university. They directed me

to CQU that afternoon, where I met Lyn Forbes-Smith, the Head of STEPS.

Lyn encouraged me to enter the STEPS program and answered my many

questions, revealing that for me to achieve my goal, this program was most

definitely the best option. But was I ready to commit myself to the learning

curve ahead? I believed I was very ready to take on the challenge to achieve

my dream of entering uni, even though I had no idea how deep I would

have to dig within myself and uncover so much self-doubt.

Within a month, I was sitting in my first Tertiary Education Preparatory

Studies class, and I was terrified that some awful mistake had been made,

that I was taking up the space of someone else who would be far more

capable of completing this program than I. The overwhelming feeling of

inadequacy tormented me daily for at least the first half of STEPS, and I

shed many self-loathing tears. Self-defeating attitudes cloaked in frustration

ran wild. The learning curve was so steep that many colleagues fell by the

wayside, despite the incredible support offered by the lecturers and support

staff (who might I say were sensational). Completing the STEPS program

was, for me, so life-changing in as much as it gave me not only the

confidence to enter university, but also the skills. There is no way that I

would have been able to get through my first year of Psychology without

having gone through the STEPS program.

STEPS also connected me to a terrific small group of new friends, bonded

by the intense learning journey that we undertook together; people I am still

in touch with today and can draw upon for support and laughter. I am now

in my second year of a Social Work degree. I switched programs from


Part Four: Student transformations

Psychology to Social Work because it will suit my intended employment

outcomes better. Even though my life has had the most tumultuous change

recently with the break-up of my marriage, resulting in my having had a

total nervous breakdown, I am still so excited that I have this chance to be

re-educated and change the course of my life.

STEPS was not at all easy for me. I struggled with everything — the maths,

English, everything — but what a great thing to overcome and do. I could

not recommend it highly enough to anyone who is thinking of changing

their life choices by gaining further education. The program equips you so

thoroughly in more ways than just academically; it grounds you into the

study mode that gaining a degree requires. Additionally, it eases you into

the academic world of a university, taking the mystery out of uni life and

familiarising you with the campus, which in itself was worth attending the

program for. I am one very happy STEPS graduate, who is in the process of

realising her dreams.


Part Four: Student transformations

The pleasure was worth the pain

Scott Cousin

Oh God! I haven’t got a thing to wear. Does my bum look big in this? Does

it look ridiculous if I comb this bit across here? All crucial considerations

as I prepared for my first day of STEPS. I couldn’t believe that I’d become

a nervous, insecure basket case on the day that I’d looked forward to for so

long. Surely I would handle junior level maths and a little essay writing

with ease. After all, I was a mature person with extensive life experience.

Therein, of course, lay the rub. I was so ‘mature’ that I hadn’t experienced

any formal education for at least 20 years. My last encounter ended with a

creditable social and sporting result but a dismal academic record, leaving

North Mackay State High School with a serious ‘Fail’ on my senior

certificate. I wasn’t overly concerned at the time as it was assumed that I

would follow my brother onto the family farm. So I did. The next few years

saw me follow several pursuits, all rural in nature. The last and most lasting

of these was a dairy at Colston Park south-west of Sarina. In between all of

this, I married a special girl, who followed me (reluctantly) into a life of

early mornings and monotonous holiday-free activity. We spent a dozen

years improving and innovating, culminating in the construction of a

processing and bottling factory on our property.

These exciting times came to a crashing halt with the deregulation of the

dairy industry, leaving us at the mercy of the huge multi-national

processors. We were crushed in the stampede to provide the cheapest

possible product to the public through mercenary supermarket chains.

(Don’t get me started — This is another story for another time.) We were

forced to sell the processing plant and eventually our property in 2002. The

silver lining was my opportunity to pursue my ambition to become a


I contacted CQU in March 2003 to ask about available courses and entry

qualifications. It was then that I first heard about the STEPS program. It

seemed to be just what I needed. I enrolled in the full-time program, which

started in July. The first barrier to overcome was the dreaded entry exam. I

worried for weeks, not knowing what to study and hoping my long-term

memory would come to my rescue when called upon. As is usually the case,

the test wasn’t as bad as I thought, and I was able to complete it within the


Part Four: Student transformations

allotted time to the apparent satisfaction of the staff. Then, just when I

thought the torture was over, I was informed that I would have to front for

an ‘interview’! This was where I found out that the teachers weren’t the

intimidating stand-over merchants that I remembered from high school.

They were, in fact, real people who seemed keen to help in any way they

could (a revelation!!).

The feeling of relief at being accepted into the program was soon overtaken

by the aforementioned panic. I worried about the most insignificant of

things, including whether to take an ordinary pencil and sharpener or to go

with the formally cool (20 years ago) clutch pencil; and had the clutch

become ultra nerdy in the interim? As it turned out, I needn’t have worried.

Of course, no one gave a hoot what sort of pencil I used, how old my

calculator was, which way I parted my hair, etcetera, etcetera — although,

as the program progressed, some of my colleagues admitted to a few similar

concerns. These petty worries were soon overtaken by genuine doubts

about some of the content of the courses. The maths posed few problems

(long-term memory did kick in), but I faced some huge hurdles in trying to

write creatively. We were also asked to reveal ‘feelings’ in front of the rest

of the class. At this point, they were still relative strangers and I had trouble

talking about feelings to my closest family let alone to this unfamiliar

bunch. As the program progressed, these sessions became the source of

much motivation. Hearing of the journeys undertaken by some of my

classmates just to get the opportunity to participate put all my perceived

hardships well into perspective.

These opportunities for personal disclosure were eventually revealed

merely to be a tool to ease us into the most terrifying part of my whole

university experience — the 20-minute oral presentation! This involved

participants (most of whom had never spoken to more than two people at a

time) standing in front of the class, speaking with authority on a subject of

their choice for 20 minutes, and trying to remain in a standing position

throughout. Eventually, we all achieved most of the criteria. Of all the

subjects and social interactions involved in STEPS, I think that the oral

presentations did most to forge the friendships that we have carried with us.

The empathy and encouragement shown were often inspirational, and the

bonds formed throughout the 13 intense weeks helped to see most of us

through to completion.


Part Four: Student transformations

I am currently in my final year studying Learning Management (teaching)

and have used just about every academic, social, emotional and practical

skill I learned in the STEPS program. I would like to take this opportunity

to encourage all those thinking of participating in STEPS to do so. It will

not only equip you with important study tools for your future learning, but

will allow you to cultivate lasting friendships with some amazing people. I

would also like to document my gratitude to the University staff, to my

fellow students and to my family, all of whom have facilitated my journey

so far.

Scott Cousin


Part Four: Student transformations

Stepping stones of life

Kerin Szemes

My name is Kerin Szemes and I am going to tell you my story that comes

from being a past STEPS student. I will give you a brief background

followed by the achievements I personally gained from STEPS, the impact

STEPS has had on my life, the commitments I have had to make, along with

the persistence it takes to study, and the innovations that have become part

of my life. Overall, I will tell you what STEPS has done, not only to my

own life, but to the lives of my family members as well.

I grew up in Brisbane and moved to the Gemfields at the end of 1989 where

I finished high school in Emerald in 1982. At that time, I found that I had

fallen pregnant to my partner, Chris. His support is invaluable in all areas of

my life. I am very lucky in this respect as I know this is not something

everyone has. I was accepted into James Cook University in 1983, but I had

made a choice and started my family so did not take up the challenge of

university. Whilst pregnant with my third child, I went and sat for my

QTAC exam again and did quite well but, once again, I was having a baby

and that came first. After my fourth child was born, I felt that I needed to do

more with my life than be at home. My children were growing up, and I

needed to grow too. In 1998, I saw advertised the STEPS program at the

Central Queensland University Emerald campus, and, with my husband’s

support in looking after the children, I made the effort.

I joined up and attended the initial STEPS program at the Emerald campus.

Sometimes, it was difficult, especially learning how to approach the

different styles of writing we needed to become skilled in. I feel that I

achieved excellent results in STEPS, gaining high distinctions in Maths and

Computer Studies, and credits for both the English and communications

side of the program. I was also lucky enough to be offered my first

preference at CQU the following year to start a Bachelor of Early

Childhood. This was not to be, however, as it meant splitting up my family

and moving to Rockhampton, so instead, at the last minute, I started a

Bachelor of Arts, first year at Emerald campus. Many years later I am still

attempting to get this finished.


Part Four: Student transformations

Through the STEPS program, I feel that I achieved a number of things that

have been both beneficial and life-changing. First, I developed greater selfesteem,

personal growth and personal organisation and, most importantly, I

gained a place to quench my thirst for knowledge. The impact of the STEPS

program for me has been interesting. I went from being a mum and

housewife to someone who had ideas and thoughts and learnt to

communicate them in various ways far more easily than before. I also had

the opportunity to listen to other people’s ideas and thoughts. I was more

confident in public and felt that I was a valuable member of my community.

From STEPS, I also realised that, if I want, I can set goals and reach them

or, if I can’t reach them, adjust them and try from another angle. STEPS

had an impact on my family too. Time once before spent doing things for

and with the family now had to be rearranged to suit time spent researching

and writing assignments. It has its up-side too. With the gaining of

knowledge, I have been able to impart little treasures of knowledge to my


From STEPS, I moved into full-time study (first year internal/external). The

following year I dropped my study load and took on a position as a

journalist for nine months at a local paper, although I had only completed a

couple of units in this area. This really tested my commitment to study and,

to this day, I love to work and be out there in the real world with people.

However, I really want to get through my studies and complete my degree

one day. I now complete most of my study externally, and committing

myself to my studies, especially at home, is far more challenging than

joining a classroom full of like-minded people. Nevertheless, I feel that

having taken on the challenge of being a STEPS student has given me the

ability to accept the commitment to the studies I have embarked upon. I

have also realised that with achievement comes the realisation of goals.

Goals are what I try to keep in my sight as I embark into a new unit of


I started STEPS as a person who loves learning, reading and writing, and it

has enhanced my ability to gain valuable knowledge and understanding, not

only as a student in my particular area of study, but within my life and

community. Some of these things have impacted not only on me personally,

but also on my family and, to a smaller extent, on the community I live in.

Being a continuing student takes a great deal of commitment, and finding


Part Four: Student transformations

the persistence to continue takes me back to STEPS and why I set out on

the path I am currently on.

STEPS brought into my life a commitment to complete my studies and to

one day use my degree to gain employment that I will enjoy. It also taught

me to be a valuable team member who may one day make a small

difference to the world in which we all live.

Kerin Szemes


Run with it

Ursula White

Part Four: Student transformations

Bi-polar has haunted me since my very early teens, creating turmoil with

my schooling and personal life. Uncertain of what was really happening, I

stumbled through the years making consistent errors of judgment, delving

into the depths of darkness, a place I knew I didn’t want to be but could not

rise through it. This ‘thing’ was destroying me, but I was maturing and

refused to give in. Finally, in my early 30s, I was correctly diagnosed, and

stability entered my life. Time and medication improved circumstances; I

was steadily recovering and rebuilding my life when the unimaginable

occurred. On 10 June 2001, I fell from a horse and broke my back and hip. I

recall thinking this was only a small inconvenience. I was alive. I was not

paralysed. I would endure and resume living.

I have never focused greatly on the adversities that have emerged during

my life or let them weigh me down, but have always looked for alternative

directions and moved forward. I’ve resolved that these challenges are life’s

ingredients to test and build character and managed correctly, are valuable

learning instruments for future endeavours. With two failed marriages

behind me, a teenage son who appeared lost, bi-polar and a broken back in

2001, it was get up, shake myself down and run another race. So, in late

2001, when an opening for the Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory

Studies (STEPS) program arose, it seemed a fitting venture. Ten months

after my accident, there I was, not realising I was on the greatest journey to

freedom and self-improvement, not just for my own future but that of my

son as well. There was no doubt previous experiences had more than

prepared us both for the next few years of university, schooling and life’s

ultimatum. However, mostly, this is a story about how my son and I

achieved beating adversity through perseverance.

Education is the key to freedom and when the opportunity to complete the

STEPS program came about, I grabbed hold of it with both hands and ran

with it. STEPS was not a challenge. I felt it was more a necessity than

something I had ever dreamt of achieving. Yet, STEPS proved to be more

than that; it was an opportunity to flourish, grow, and prepare for the bigger

picture of university life, and accomplish a degree in my chosen field of

study. STEPS was easy to commit to; nothing could hold me back from this

new way of life. The program was totally enjoyable. With my love of


Part Four: Student transformations

writing and being a deep thinker, I needed to examine in detail every aspect

of discovering writing in a new light. I couldn’t get enough and became

frustrated with myself for wanting to move on faster than the program

allowed. Mathematics, not my strongest skill, taught me a little more about

patience and persistence, and has since been an invaluable asset in my

learning. This has highlighted its absolute necessity in life.

It was wonderful to be surrounded by like-minded people. At no time did

lecturers, staff, or fellow students make me feel inadequate. Support

through out the journey was excellent, making the experience more

valuable and positive. Yet, my son was not having as good a time as I as his

school situation was proving difficult, and nothing was coming together.

Selfish as it may appear, I could not discontinue my studies but only

provide support, advice, and approval through this hardship. Although this

approach did not provide an overnight resolution, in hindsight, it was the

precise attitude to resolve many issues and groom him for his objective of

completing his senior education and enlisting in the navy.

After completing STEPS in 2002, I began a Bachelor of Communications

degree; however, late in 2003 I became sick and withdrew from study for

the whole of 2004. Subsequently, a most unexpected tragedy struck in

October of 2004. My brother was accidentally killed, causing much sorrow

and disbelief. This was a time for reflection and to evaluate my options for

the impending 2005. After much deliberation, I resolved that time waits for

no-one and made the decision to endure, and applied to QTAC for a

placement in the Bachelor of Learning Management. I recommenced study

in 2005.

Although that year found me battling illness, pain, grief, and the exertion of

being a single parent administering to my son’s life and making

considerable decisions instantaneously, I succeeded in completing the

year’s study and saw my son graduate after twelve years of schooling. He

enlisted in the navy this year. In a sense, through my own perseverance and

commitment, he learned that nothing worthwhile in life is easy, and that

only dedication and determination will see you through to achieve your

ambitions. I am extremely proud of his achievements and know that he will

be pre-eminent in his chosen career. 2005 was difficult but a year that I put

behind me. I know that it was worth all the pain and suffering it dealt.


Part Four: Student transformations

This year sees me in my second year of a teaching degree, bringing the light

closer to the end of the tunnel. I have always been passionate about writing.

Whether it was a simple story or a legal document, I loved to manipulate

words; yet, it was STEPS that truly taught me how to write academically.

Without that strength, I believe I would not have dared attempt university

life. STEPS equipped me with constructive and vital strategies necessary to

walk a new path. The STEPS program also elevated my self-confidence and

confirmed that I was capable of achieving anything I desired. STEPS and

university have been amazing experiences, which impact upon you even

when you’re not looking. It was not until I pondered on my time at

university that I appreciated how great are the rewards of expending time

and effort on an objective that places you in a position to take control of

your own destiny. I recommend to anyone who has a dream and desire to

continue their learning and personal development to enter the world of

learning and realise the power within. Unless one focuses on the broader

prospects, dismisses the inconsequential, and runs with opportunities that

arise, regardless of obstacles that appear, then endless possibilities have

been lost. Becoming a teacher, my secret fantasy from my earliest

memories, is now almost in my grasp. Limitless opportunities for work,

travel, and choice become clearer daily, a vision I will not relinquish.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them


Andy Warhol (1928-1987)


Part Four: Student transformations

If the desire is great enough

Amanda Patzwald

From a very early age I wanted to be a facilitator of learning, an educator of

young minds — a teacher. Whenever we visited my young cousins, we

would play school and I was the teacher. My family moved occasionally,

and in twelve years of education I attended five schools, but most times this

did not worry me.

At the end of grade 12, I was accepted for a teaching degree at Darling

Downs Institute of Advanced Education, Toowoomba. However, as I was

the eldest of seven children, university was too expensive. I completed high

school on Friday and began work as a nurse’s aide on Saturday in order to

finance my university studies. Fate had other ideas and I became a full-time

mother, wife and farmer’s labourer. When Andrew was six months old, I

was employed as a teacher’s aide. Eighteen months later, Patricia was born,

and again I became a full-time mum, milking cows, feeding cattle,

mustering, volunteering at school and as the P&C secretary. Almost three

years later I became a single mum, moving 600km to another town —

Gladstone. I worked as a kitchen hand at Q.A.S.C. (Yaralla) for some time,

but with young children, night and weekend work was difficult so I

resigned. I began as a checkout operator at Woolworths, and soon became a

service supervisor.

With a wonderful man in my life, we decided to become a bigger family

and Bryce was born in 1993. I really enjoyed the time home with three busy

children and volunteer work at the school. Almost two years later, Travis

was born and our family was complete. I was kept busy especially when

Patricia decided to fundraise for the Leukaemia Foundation. Still desiring

teaching, I had a good friend completing STEPS at CQU and, with my

family’s and her encouragement, I began STEPS in 2001 when Travis

began grade one. Thus began the stepping stone to my lifelong dream.


Taking the first step towards a change requires a desire. In life, it is easy to

sit back and let familiarity guide us. We really do only get one chance at

life, and it is detrimental to happiness to resist all feelings to self-improve,

attempt new ventures, or taste new achievements.


Part Four: Student transformations

My main driving force was the prospect of fulfilling the dream to become a

teacher. With my youngest child at school, I would soon be endeavouring to

re-enter the workforce so why not attempt to be employed in a career of my

choice? I took the initiative to participate in STEPS 2001 because my friend

was enjoying STEPS and for minimal outlay, I could discover if I really did

want to study again or if I should just find a job. STEPS would be a

stepping stone to a new career, a fulfillment of my aspirations. For

approximately $100 and six months commitment, STEPS would enable me

to taste education again, explore my determination to undertake the

commitment, and assess if, after almost 20 years, I had the mental capacity

to triumph. STEPS was to be my testing ground and, if I decided afterwards

that I did not wish to continue studying, then I had lost nothing but had

gained direction, confidence and skills.


Impact is ‘the contact of one thing against another’. Whenever we make

choices, there is impact. Luckily, STEPS refined my time management

skills (somewhat). Families become accustomed to mothers being home.

With a shift-worker husband, a working son, a daughter in high school and

two sons in lower primary school, sport, household chores and life in

general, combined with full-time study, it was hectic. Everyone had to learn

new skills, adapt, attempt to be more organised and work as a team. A little

more independence was learnt and my children saw that adults also learn

and have homework.


‘They are able who think they are able.’ Commitment meant keeping to

deadlines, keeping balance between study and family, and not surrendering

to the urge to quit when life got too chaotic. Knowing what I wanted and

having the drive to carry on meant achieving the end result — completion

of the program and the launch towards my goal. At STEPS, commitment

was characterised by friendship, the kind of friendship where each student

supplied strength and encouragement. We spent every day with each other,

sharing our lives and offering positive encouragement.



Part Four: Student transformations

Attempting to renew old skills and knowledge and learn new, sometimes

‘alien’, concepts, I found it was sheer willpower, stubbornness, friendship

and support that kept me focused. The excitement of learning and

succeeding, plus the adrenaline rush, were what drove me. It was a new

experience studying again after so many years, but the human body is much

more durable than we give it credit for. You only need to look at life in

general to discover the strong will and resilience of the human body and

mind. ‘What does not destroy me makes me strong.’ I believe the

excitement of learning, the support of family and friends and my constant

determination assisted in overcoming any fatigue. I knew I wanted to learn,

to achieve and to do it well.


Innovation! Let us talk computers, attending class, creative writing and

public speaking. Computers were a challenge, almost an alien life form;

they certainly had a mind of their own. We became creative with our

writing, overcoming challenges and keeping each other positive.

The most innovative component for me was the public speaking. The

lecturers were extremely helpful in developing our skills from that first twominute

talk about ourselves through to the grand finale, a 20-minute

researched, entertaining and informative presentation. I found the most

difficult element was actually deciding on a topic. Finally, I selected

‘Laughter is the best medicine’ — an apt topic. Deciding to enjoy the

ordeal, I dressed in a clown costume with clown hair and a red nose, and

with the assistance of circus music and a ‘creative’ dance routine,

encouraged the audience to be involved. One may as well make an

entrance! Using medical advice, video footage and research on Patch

Adams and the Gesundheit Institute, I managed to keep the audience

interested and educate them on the physical, emotional and mental benefits

of laughter. Quite impressive, I thought. I guess it was not too shabby as I

was asked to repeat the performance for other students as well as integrate

the concept at graduation when I spoke on behalf of the students.



Part Four: Student transformations

I have many accomplishments in my life, as do we all. A happy marriage,

four wonderful children, a caring and supportive family and a rewarding

career are the most obvious.

From STEPS, I continued studies, completing a Bachelor of Learning

Management with distinction in 2004. In 2005, I began my new career as a

learning support/special needs teacher at a local high school; married the

wonderful man with whom I have shared a life, a home and children for

many, many years; turned forty on the same day; and in July proudly

participated in the graduation walk up the main street of Gladstone. At the

ceremony I was awarded the Education and Creative Arts prize. While at

CQU, I was a student mentor for two years. I was also invited to be the

graduate speaker at Orientation but, regretfully, could not attend. Last year,

I was invited to be guest speaker at the STEPS Graduation, which was a

great honour, and in August, a friend (a fellow teacher) and I were guest

speakers for the Gladstone Career Pathways night at CQU. This year, I have

proudly been part of a CQU promotion on the benefits of study, and now I

am part of this celebration of STEPS. From humble STEPS beginnings

came a bundle of opportunities and experiences that I cherish and enjoy.

In conclusion, I would like to thank everyone who supported and guided me

during those first six months of study. Completing STEPS was a new

beginning, a formation of friendships and a boost for morale. The lecturers

were not only educators; they were friends, mentors and moral supporters.

For me, STEPS was a testing ground, an instrument, but also a wonderful


Life encompasses change. Embracing it is our prerogative. Taking the

advice of friends, daring to challenge oneself and resisting the fear of

change enable each of us to STEP beyond our comfort zones to experience

more from life. Life is a journey where sometimes we choose the

destination, either local or uncharted horizons. STEPS was a stepping stone

across the oceans, a path to a dream, a lever to a career of my choice. Even

in those who choose not to continue study, STEPS develops confidence and

instills a sense of pride and achievement that allows the individual to step

out into the world with self-belief. New friendships are formed, and the

literacy, numeracy, technology and public speaking benefit everyone.


Part Four: Student transformations

Thank you STEPS, and thank you to my wonderful family and friends who

are always there for me.


Turning point

Max Fleet

Part Four: Student transformations

Service station attendant, bricky’s labourer, shark fisherman, pizza delivery

boy, waiter, second chef, restaurant manager, highway maintenance worker,

sports shop manager, fruit picker, tyre fitter, wide-load pilot driver, farm

supervisor and drop-saw operator at a timber mill. Between the age of 16

and 30, I held these and many other positions. Although considered

respectable ways to make a living, none of them suited what I wanted to do

with my life by a long shot. They were a means to an end, a way to keep the

wolves from my door and to give me a sense of self worth. Nevertheless,

none of them helped me release the skills I knew existed within me…until I

found STEPS!

I completed high school in Year 10 in Tasmania and, although I went on to

further my education, I didn’t take it seriously. Years 11 and 12 were a

write-off for me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t cope with the workload; it was

more a case of not wanting to. I was more interested in my freedom, my

mates, my girlfriends. As a result of my frivolity, I was relatively unskilled

at the age of 18 and moved from one unskilled job to the next for 12 years,

sometimes of my own accord and sometimes not! During those years, I

tried to find what it was that I felt was missing in my life by travelling and

sometimes living overseas. England and America were two major ports of

call for me, and I spent several years in both countries, searching for

something to fill the void in my life. Upon my return to Australia, then aged

27, I began the difficult cycle of re-establishment again: odd jobs, renting a

house, buying a car. However, by the time I was 30, I wasn’t any better off

than I was when I was 18! That was the turning point in my life.

I had always desired to further my education to enable me to get a career

doing something I enjoyed, but, because of my failure to successfully

complete Years 11 and 12, I never dreamt it was possible. I thought of the

prospect of going to university akin to daydreaming about winning the

Lotto. Not me. I’d never get in. My grades aren’t good enough, and it’s far

too expensive anyway. These were the comments that continuously entered

my head, coupled with laughter at my folly for even thinking about it.


Part Four: Student transformations

Then a door opened. Standing in this doorway was Karen Seary, Head of

STEPS, who invited me in for a chat. What followed changed my life. To

my amazement, I was shown a way to make my life complete, to fill that

void and to break out of the rut which I had created for myself. Karen

described the STEPS program to me thoroughly and I was convinced that I

could do it … and I did! I sat the entrance test and passed, and a date was

set for me to begin the STEPS program. Three long months went by as I

waited (in a caravan — working in a timber mill) for my second chance at

success, and, finally, it came. Nervousness, anticipation, anxieties, fears and

excitement raced through my body and mind on my first day back, my first

day back at ‘big school’!

I didn’t know what to expect from STEPS at first, but it soon became clear

that it was a comprehensive vehicle for me to attain entry level to

mainstream university and a shot at following my dreams. The staff were

(and still are) amazing. They were always happy to help, and more than

able to do so. It was their efforts that made my transition to academic life a

breeze. They are the dream-makers; they are the magicians who can turn

what seems like a hopeless pre-ordained lifestyle into an amazing change of

perspective. They helped me realise that I could follow my long-lost dreams

and stamp my foot confidently on whatever career path I chose. For that I

am eternally grateful. To the STEPS program, and all the staff at Bundaberg

campus, thank you for changing my life.

Maximilian Fleet, 3 rd year Multimedia student and aspiring film writer/director.


Part Four: Student transformations

Memories of the first STEPS group in

Gladstone — 1989

Christine Petersen

‘1000 words! My God! How will I ever be able to write that much. That

will take me forever. What could I possibly write about? It’s a book!’ Well,

almost a book. A chapter in fact, and a short one at that.

And that’s what the STEPS program was all about — teaching mature-age

students some of the necessary academic requirements for tertiary

education, and awakening their memories to all things learned and forgotten

in school. What a task! What a challenge for the dedicated and wonderfully

talented, patient lecturers at the Gladstone campus of the then Capricornia

Institute of Advanced Education, as well as for the 12 participants of the

first program –Wendy Tomlinson, Jill McLeod, Leslie Greig, Raelene

Thams, Pat Rose, Linda Grundon, Gwen Forest, Cheryl Lee-Brown,

Nic Grommitt, Ulysses Aquilizan, Jenny Wilson and Christine Petersen.

STEPS then, as now, offered mature-age students an opportunity to bridge

the gap between school leaving and university via the upgrading of skills

and scores. Our class, the first STEPS group in Gladstone, was made up of

mostly mature women enthused by a desire to attempt higher education, to

return to the workforce or have a chance at a missed education. We had two

young men, Nic and Ulysses, as part of our group, both with a keen need to

improve their English skills for entry into nursing.

We were all within a similar age range. Most of us had kids somewhere in

the school system, and we all had enthusiasm, and a sense of humour — the

ability to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes. In fact, most of what I

remember is the hilarity in the classroom, the friendships formed, endless

discussions about life, the world, other worlds and our newly acquired

anxieties. Could we really go on and attempt university? Where did all the

information frequently lost on the computer end up? And what does it all


Education is not merely the acquisition of knowledge but the gaining of

self-confidence in the classroom, in our everyday interactions, and in our

ability to test and stretch ourselves. Four people worked diligently at

helping us achieve these things. One of those people assigned the task of


Part Four: Student transformations

teaching these 12 willing adults was Marian Knapp, a delightful expat from

the USA, whose job it was to find exactly what we did know about

essay/assignment writing, information gathering and sifting, sorting and

reassembling all the parts into a coherent, cohesive and a hopefully

meaningful piece of work. Marian was definitely an optimist.

We longed for break-time where we would rush outside and grab a coffee.

The smokers would light up, and we would rehash everything just learnt.

Our assignment with Marian was on the environment. I still have it

somewhere in my own archives, along with every handwritten note I took

in all my years of undergraduate and postgraduate work. (I think I foolishly

believed that some day I would sit down and re-read each sheet slowly in an

effort to understand what it was I had actually learnt.) Still waiting for that


We talked out loud to each other and to Marian in class, and we laughed.

We laughed at what we knew, what we didn’t know, and even more when

we thought of the task in front of us — an assignment. The minutes before

class were abuzz with the exchange of information and news — mostly

with each other’s lives. One was having a baby with her partner; another

was wondering how she would cope with study, a husband and a job. We

helped normalise each other’s day-to-day traumas, and encouraged each

other. For a newcomer to Gladstone as I was, the town became a much

smaller and friendlier place.

Julie Lovell (then Julie Millington), young, enthusiastic and a whiz with

maths and computers, invested hours explaining the benefits of modern

technology — spreadsheets, Word programs and Excel. We all dutifully

booked our computer times, and, armed with pencil and notebook for

recording all the necessary commands and functions, hung on every word

that fell out of her mouth. Getting into and out of PCs was to prove an

enormous task for me over the ensuing years as I tackled my tertiary terms

and lost assignments, some lost to the world of hard drives forever. I

remember Julie as young, talented and a very sharp dresser. I think I envied

her fashion sense rather than her brilliance at the computer, although I am

still working hard at mastering both.

Rex Metcalfe, director of the campus, was an all-round good guy. I don’t

recall what it was that Rex taught us. We did discuss some very good

movies and politics, and education of course. Perhaps that was enough.


Part Four: Student transformations

Lynne Campbell taught us maths, social maths I recall, not that I’ve ever

discussed maths at any social event I’ve since attended. In my years as an

undergraduate and postgraduate student, I did everything humanly possible

to avoid maths completely. This subject proved the most taxing for some of

the class long since out of school. It was definitely the more serious of our

classes, and we all worked harder and quieter. It couldn’t have been easy

for Lynne, digging deep into the recesses of our brains to find where we

had buried our algebraic equations. And geometry! I’d almost forgotten the

joy in parallelograms and equilateral triangles, transposing x’s and y’s and

other consonants into a column on the far side of the page, and staring

blankly waiting for an answer or something to appear. I do hope Lynne

reads this and is happy that I’ve remembered.

And with all the hours of work, study and searching, we all came through

— graduated and relieved. What an achievement! I have wondered at times

where people went to next, and what things have happened in their lives.

Some of us stayed and started our first year of a tertiary degree in the same

little old building that was given university status. I left at the end of year

one for Brisbane, and in the huge and often overwhelming campus of St

Lucia, thought of the little group I started with, and how we had helped

each other in a friendly and nurturing way.


Part Four: Student transformations

Journey to who knows where

Carolyn Jacobson

There was no question about not going on to Year 12. Besides, I was

having too much fun at school to contemplate finishing at Year 10 like

some of my friends — and to be a responsible citizen and become

independent of my parents wasn’t worth a second thought. University had

never crossed my mind. I would finish year 12 and get a job. I wasn’t smart

enough to go to uni.

At 18 I met the love of my life. Marriage followed, and a few years on

came the first of three beautiful boys. I worked here and there, became

involved in community projects, held committee positions and concentrated

on being a wife and mother. I was fulfilled — or so I thought.

After moving a short distance to the next town, due to my husband’s work,

I was able to enjoy things that our previous town had not been able to offer.

My youngest child was only 12 months old, so my priority was still to be a

mother first and foremost at this stage, though I was yearning for something

more. I wanted a taste so I started my first small business. What was I

selling, you ask? Water. My father thought I had lost the plot! Who is going

to buy water? I purchased a van, and with my 16-month-old son perched up

in his car seat, we managed to convince many businesses and residents that

spring water was much better than tap water. Loading and delivering 20

litre bottles all week takes its toll, and five years on, the body said


At last, the children were all at school. Now I would be able to do anything

I wanted. That would be getting a job at the school, keeping an eye on the

children and being paid as well. That would satisfy me — well, for a little

while, anyway. What’s this? An advertisement for the STEPS program in

the local paper? No time for that this year. I’ll think about that … next year.

I found that one of my friends had enrolled and was enjoying the STEPS

program. I told her I had thought about doing the program but didn’t think I

would be able to until the children were a little older. She said that knowing

me and what I had achieved so far with three little children, doing the

STEPS program would be a breeze. After talking with another friend, I


Part Four: Student transformations

found that she had considered doing STEPS also. What better than to have

a buddy to study with.

The journey began.

Surprisingly, I found the work quite easy. I was committed to being at the

campus at set times with work completed and found that, with the support

of my family, I was able to achieve what was needed. It was a bit of a

juggle at times: children at sport, their homework, my homework, dinner on

the table, ironing piling up — but fortunately, or unfortunately, I have a

personal ethic — NEVER GIVE UP!!! I just can’t. I am not a quitter.

Throughout the year, we were encouraged, helped and, for some, almost

carried across the finish line. For those who didn’t make the finish line, I

felt sad for they had started something they obviously wanted but were

unable to continue and didn’t finish the journey.

I remember fondly the laughs we had during classes, and the frustration

endured when we couldn’t manage to fit anything more into our lives.

Steph Garoni, the coordinator of the Emerald STEPS program, was our

rock and a tremendous language lecturer also; she guided, coached, and

cried and laughed with most of us at some time or another. I recall more

detail of the language lessons than the other subjects we were doing, mostly

because it was the subject I struggled with. Comprehension was not a

favourite of mine at school, and at a mature age I still found it difficult.

Also, I am not a naturally expressive person, so to open up and display

feeling and emotion in a written form was somewhat foreign to me. How I

have progressed! STEPS taught me how to overcome my fear of

expression, and here I am doing just that.

I truly believe STEPS opens up not only the door to further learning, but

also to many other new paths and challenges that would never have been

explored if the student had continued on, satisfied with what they had

already achieved. Whether the decision to conquer STEPS is for further

study or just for self-satisfaction and the ability to say ‘I’ve done it!’, it is

truly amazing how a new, quite different person leaves the University

campus after those 26 weeks.

The journey continues.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Appendices, Index and Endnotes


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Appendix A — A thumbnail sketch of


Central Queensland University is one of the most innovative, dynamic and

richly diverse universities in Australia. Over the past 30 years, CQU has

developed a network of campuses. It has nine campuses situated along the

east coast of Australia and international operations extending into the

Pacific and Southeast Asia. Its five campuses in Central Queensland alone

are scattered across an area bigger than Victoria, from Bundaberg to

Emerald, Gladstone, Mackay and its largest — also its administrative centre

— Rockhampton. In addition there are campuses for international students

(and a limited number of Australian full-fee paying students) located in

Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney. There is an international

campus in Fiji, and offshore delivery sites in Hong Kong and Singapore

that are jointly coordinated by CQU and local institutes.

CQU enjoys a reputation as one of Australia's most progressive and

innovative universities. In both teaching and research, our highly qualified

and internationally recruited staff place emphasis on finding and

challenging new frontiers in our specialist areas of the natural sciences,

information technology, humanities, social sciences, media and

communications, health and medical sciences, sport and human movement

sciences, engineering, economics, business, education, the arts and music.

In 2006, the University has a total of 24,102 students. Of this total, there are

12,515 international students and 11,587 domestic students.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Figure – CQU campus locations

(Source: CQU Annual Report 2004)


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Appendix B — Staff writing on STEPS

Refereed journal articles

Coombes, PN & Danaher, G (forthcoming), From the margins to the centre:

the power of transformative learning in Australia, (paper accepted for

publication in the International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning).

Kennedy, I 2004, ‘An assessment strategy to help forestall plagiarism

problems’, Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development,

vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 1–8.

McConachie, J & Simpson, J 2004, ‘Social entrepreneurship: an Australian

university transforms a regional community through diversity and

innovation’, Queensland Journal of Educational Research, vol. 19, no. 2,

pp. 100–118, viewed 30 June 2006,

McIntosh, S 2001, ‘A critical writing pedagogy: who benefits?’,

Queensland Journal of Educational Research, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 152–163,

viewed 30 June 2006,

Seary, K & Willans, J 2004, ‘It’s more than just academic essays and rules

of mathematics: travelling the road with Heroes on the STEPS journey as

they convert the milestones of their learning journey into signposts for their

future’, Australian Journal of Adult Learning, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 306–326.

Simpson, J & Coombes, PN 2001, ‘Adult learning as a hero’s journey:

researching mythic structure as a model for transformational change’,

Queensland Journal of Educational Research, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 164–177,

viewed 30 June 2006,

Strahm, M & Danaher, P 2005, ‘Getting them thinking: the role of the

student questionnaire in promoting academic and social integration’,

Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development, vol. 2, no. 3,

pp. 44–54.

Strahm, M 2007, ‘Co-operative learning: group processing and students’

needs for self-worth and belonging’, Alberta Journal of Educational

Research, vol. 53, no. 1.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Willans, J, Harreveld, RE & Danaher, PA 2003, ‘Enhancing higher

education transitions through negotiated engagements of learning

experiences: lessons from a pre-undergraduate language education course,’

Queensland Journal of Educational Research, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 42–50,

viewed 3 July 2006,

Non-refereed journal articles

Danaher, GR, Coombes, PN, Simpson, J, Harreveld, RE & Danaher, PA

2002, ‘From double agents to double vision: marginalisation and potential

transformation among three groups of open and distance teachers’, Open

and Distance Learning Association of Australia Occasional Papers,

pp. 12–25.

Book chapters

Brennan, MT, Coombes, PN, McConachie, J & Simpson, J 1997, ‘STEPS

to meeting client requirements: learning styles and open learning in an

Australian university bridging course’, in J Osborne, D Roberts & J Walker

(eds), Open, flexible and distance learning: selected papers from the 13 th

biennial forum of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia

(in association with the Australian Association of Distance Education

Schools), pp. 70–75, University of Tasmania, Launceston.

Coombes, PN, Simpson, J, Danaher, GR & Danaher, PA 2001, ‘Double

vision and transforming universities: lessons from an Australian university

pre-undergraduate bridging program’, in Learner-centered universities for

the new millennium: 26 th international conference Rand Afrikaans

University, 9–12 July, pp. 347–352, Rand Afrikaans University,

Johannesburg, South Africa.

McIntosh, S 2004, ‘Developing a critical writing course: a risky business’,

in PN Coombes, MJM Danaher & PA Danaher (eds), Strategic

uncertainties: ethics, politics and risk in contemporary educational

research, Post Pressed, Flaxton, Queensland.

Seary, K, Willans, J, McIntosh, S, Simpson, J & Garoni, S (forthcoming),

‘Shedding past notions of marginalized education: how understanding

learning styles can transform perspectives on learning’, in J McConachie,

R Harreveld, J Luck, F Nouwens & P Danaher (eds), Doctrina perpetua:

brokering change, expanding learning, promoting innovation and

transforming marginalization at Central Queensland University, Australia.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Simpson, J 2004, ‘Freedom to live: the ethical responsibilities of

researching a hero’s journey', in PN Coombes, MJM Danaher &

PA Danaher (eds), Strategic uncertainties: ethics, politics and risk in

contemporary educational research, Post Pressed, Flaxton, Queensland.

Willans, J 2005, ‘Learning about learning: a catalyst for perspective

transformation’, in B Knight, B Walker-Gibbs & A Harrison (eds),

Researching educational capital in a technological age, Post Pressed,

Teneriffe, Queensland.

Conference papers and presentations

Aldred, LS & Reid, BM 2003, ‘Adopting an innovative multiple media

approach to learning for equity groups: electronically-mediated learning for

off-campus students’, paper presented at the 20 th Annual Conference of the

Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education,

Adelaide, 7–10 December 2003, viewed 30 June 2006,

Brennan, MT, Coombes, PN, McConachie, J & Simpson, J 1997, ‘STEPS

to meeting client requirements: learning styles and open learning in an

Australian university bridging course’, paper presented at the 13 th Biennial

Forum of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia,

University of Tasmania, 30 September, Launceston.

Coombes, PN & Danaher, G 2006, ‘The power of the partner in promoting

lifelong learning: the perspective of the mature-age student’, paper

presented at the 4 th International Lifelong Learning Conference: Partners,

pathways, and pedagogies, 13–16 June, Yeppoon.

Danaher, G 2006, ‘Inalienable interconnective lifelong learning: pathways,

partnerships, and pedagogies’, paper presented at the 4 th International

Lifelong Learning Conference: Partners, pathways, and pedagogies, 13–16

June, Yeppoon.

Danaher, G, Willans, J, Forbes-Smith, L & Strahm, M 2006, ‘STEPS:

successful pathways, partners and pedagogies’, paper presented at the 4 th

International Lifelong Learning Conference: Partners, pathways, and

pedagogies, 13–16 June, Yeppoon.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Flanders, M & Campbell, L 1997, ‘A first STEP to undergraduate

mathematics for adult learners’, paper presented at Delta 97, a symposium

of modern undergraduate mathematics, Queensland University of

Technology, Brisbane.

Kennedy, I & Hinton, L 2003, ‘The importance of being honest:

educational integrity, plagiarism and other perplexities’, paper presented at

the First Australasian Educational Integrity Conference, 21–22 November,

University of South Australia, Adelaide.

McIntosh, S 1998, ‘Promoting competencies for lifelong learning: a

collaborative teaching model project’, paper presented at the Tertiary

Writers Network Conference, November, Hamilton, New Zealand.

McIntosh, S 2000, ‘Curricula and literacies: the struggles’, paper presented

at the Effective teaching and learning conference, 9–10 November, The

Teaching and Educational Development Institute, University of

Queensland, Brisbane.

McIntosh, S 2002, ‘Teaching academic writing using visual metaphor’,

workshop presented at the Tertiary Writers Network Colloquium,

Developing a voice: critical issues in academic literacies, 5–6 December,

University of Technology, Auckland.

Simpson, J & Coombes, PN 2004, ‘Learned optimism: motivation for

lifelong learning in a pre-university preparatory program’, in P Danaher, C

Macpherson, F Nouwens & D Orr (eds), Lifelong learning: whose

responsibility and what is your contribution?, Proceedings of the

3 rd International Lifelong Learning Conference, 13–16 June, Yeppoon,

Central Queensland University Press, Rockhampton.

Simpson, J 2000, ‘Telling our stories of transformation: bridging the old to

the new, adult learning as a hero’s journey’, paper presented at the Effective

teaching and learning conference, 9–10 November, The Teaching and

Educational Development Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Simpson, J 2002, ‘Writing is a hero’s journey’, workshop presented at the

Tertiary Writers Network Colloquium, Developing a voice: critical issues

in academic literacies, 5–6 December, University of Technology,



Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Simpson, J, McConachie, J, Coombes, PN, Danaher, GR, Harreveld, RE &

Danaher, PA 2003, ‘Contesting transitions and (re-)engaging with

subjectivities: locating and celebrating the habitus in three versions of the

first year experience at Central Queensland University’, in D Nulty &

N Meyers (eds), 7 th Pacific Rim first year in higher education conference

proceedings, 9–11 July, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.

Willans, J & Simpson, J 2004, ‘Somewhere and sometime I changed:

student voices from an enabling program’, in P Danaher, C Macpherson,

F Nouwens & D Orr (eds), Lifelong learning: whose responsibility and

what is your contribution?, proceedings of the 3 rd International Lifelong

Learning Conference, 13–16 June, Yeppoon, Central Queensland

University Press, Rockhampton.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Appendix C — STEPS program

offerings — 2006

The following unofficial outline provides an overview of the courses that

make up the various STEPS offerings. Full official details are to be found


STEPS Accelerated CZ01

A 12-week (= one term) program involving 18 hours of weekly oncampus



Language and Learning (LNGE40049)

This course aims to have students acquire the reading, thinking and writing

skills necessary for academic purposes. It helps students to apply recent

findings on learning to writing and study. Students are familiarised with the

stages of the writing process and gain practice in writing in a variety of

genres. Particular attention is given to reading for planning and writing the

academic essay. Through research, writing and discussion, students gain an

understanding of social, political and economic influences, both past and

present, on Australia as it faces social change in the 21st century.

Transition Mathematics 1 (MATH40237)

Transition Mathematics 1 is a course in elementary mathematics. It is

designed to introduce students to those fundamental concepts and

techniques that are necessary for the study of mathematics. It also aims to

assist students to develop confidence in mathematics and motivate them to

undertake further study in the field. Topics covered include number types,

operations with numbers (including the rules of precedence), percentages,

introductory algebra, statistics, exponents (indices), solving simple

equations, coordinate geometry of the straight line, and units and their


Computing for Academic Assignment Writing (COIT40206)

This course aims to develop skills necessary for word processing

assignments correctly using Microsoft Word and for creating spreadsheets

using Microsoft Excel. Through use of the Internet (World Wide Web and

Webmail in particular) students develop research and other skills necessary


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

for academic studies. In addition, they learn how to submit assignments and

assessment tasks electronically, using Blackboard. Some work on using

PowerPoint in presentations is also included.

Tertiary Preparation Skills (SKIL40013)

Students are familiarised with the University’s programs and procedures

and learn how to select and apply for enrolment in different fields of study.

They also develop the organisational strategies, oral presentation skills and

research/information literacy skills necessary for academic studies.

STEPS Extended (CZ04)

A 24-week (= two terms) program involving 16 hours of weekly oncampus



Language and Learning A (LNGE40054) Term 1

This course gives an introduction to recent findings on learning and shows

how these can be applied to writing and study. Students are also

familiarised with the stages of the writing process and gain practice in

writing in a variety of genres, particularly personal ones.

Language and Learning B (LNGE40056) Term 2

This course further develops the whole-brain learning strategies introduced

in Language and Learning A and shows how they can be applied to reading

for planning and writing the academic essay. Through research, writing and

discussion, students gain an understanding of social, political and economic

influences, both past and present, on Australia as it faces social change in

the 21st century.

Transition Mathematics 1A (MATH40232) Term 1 and Transition

Mathematics 1B (MATH 40233) Term 2

These two courses make up the mathematics component of the STEPS

Extended program. Transition Mathematics 1A is a course in elementary

mathematics. It is designed to introduce students to those fundamental

concepts and techniques that are necessary for the study of mathematics. It

also aims to assist students to develop confidence in mathematics and

motivate them to undertake further study in the field. Topics covered

include number types, operations with numbers (including the rules of

precedence), percentages, introductory algebra and statistics. Transition


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

Mathematics 1B follows on from Transition Mathematics 1A and includes

the exponents (indices), solving simple equations, coordinate geometry of

the straight line, and units and their conversions.

Computing for Academic Assignment Writing A (COIT40207) Term 1

This course is designed to familiarise new users with the basic skills for

setting out an academic assignment. Students learn to navigate Microsoft

Word and how to access shortcuts to reduce the workload associated with

preparing an academic assignment. Another aim is to have students gain

proficiency in the use of Webmail and its protocols as well as in Internet

searching. In addition, students learn how to submit assignments and

assessment tasks electronically, using Blackboard.

Computing for Academic Assignment Writing B (COIT40208) Term 2

This course extends and consolidates skills acquired in Computing for

Academic Assignment Writing A. It also aims to develop skills necessary

for using Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint in an academic context.

Tertiary Preparation Skills (SKIL40013) Term 1

Students are familiarised with the University’s programs and procedures

and learn how to select and apply for enrolment in different fields of study.

They also develop the organisational strategies, oral presentation skills and

research/information literacy skills necessary for academic studies.

Tertiary Preparation Skills Extended (SKIL40016) Term 2

This course is centred on the theories of optimism and authentic happiness.

It seeks to facilitate the acquisition of a range of psychological and practical

skills that are necessary for the challenges involved in tertiary study.

Through a mixture of psychological theory, reflection and practical class

activities, students will become aware of the importance of the impact of

their personal attitudes and beliefs on the outcomes of study, and of the

facilitative nature of an optimistic and positive style. Practical skills relating

to the process of study will also form a key component of the course. The

course aims for students to learn to adopt a positive and directive attitude

towards study and to acquire the time management and study skills

necessary to successfully cope with tertiary study.


STEPS Flex (CZ05)

Appendices, Index and Endnotes

A 24-week (= two terms) program involving a weekly on-campus

attendance of 9 hours


Language and Learning Flex A (LNGE40040) Term 1

This course aims to have students acquire the reading, thinking and writing

skills necessary for academic purposes. It helps students to apply recent

findings on learning to writing and study. Students are familiarised with the

stages of the writing process and gain practice in writing in a variety of


Language and Learning Flex B (LNGE40041) Term 2

This course continues on from the Language and Learning Flex A.

Particular attention is given to reading for planning and writing the

academic essay. Through research, writing and discussion, students gain an

understanding of social, political and economic influences, both past and

present, on Australia as it faces social change in the 21st century.

Transition Mathematics 1 Flex A (MATH40230) Term 1 and

Transition Mathematics 1 Flex B (MATH 40231) Term 2

These two courses make up the mathematics component of the STEPS

Extended program. Transition Mathematics 1A is a course in elementary

mathematics. It is designed to introduce students to those fundamental

concepts and techniques that are necessary for the study of mathematics. It

also aims to assist students to develop confidence in mathematics and

motivate them to undertake further study in the field. Topics covered

include number types, operations with numbers (including the rules of

precedence), percentages, introductory algebra and statistics. Transition

Mathematics 1B follows on from Transition Mathematics 1A and includes

the exponents (indices), solving simple equations, coordinate geometry of

the straight line, and units and their conversions.

Computing for Academic Assignment Writing Flex A (COIT40212)

Term 1

This course aims to develop skills necessary for word-processing

assignments correctly, particularly using Microsoft Word. Students use the

Internet (World Wide Web and Webmail in particular) to develop research

and other skills necessary for academic studies. In addition, they learn how


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

to submit assignments and assessment tasks electronically, using


Computing for Academic Assignment Writing Flex B (COIT40213)

Term 2

This course continues on from Computing for Academic Assignment

Writing Flex A. It aims to further develop skills necessary for word

processing assignments correctly and for creating spreadsheets using

Microsoft Excel. Students continue to use the Internet to develop research

skills and learn how to use PowerPoint for presentations.

Tertiary Preparation Flex A (SKIL40007) Term 1 and

Tertiary Preparation Flex B (SKIL40008) Term 2

In these two courses, students are familiarised with the University’s

programs and procedures and learn how to select and apply for enrolment

in different fields of study. They also develop the organisational strategies,

oral presentation skills and research/information literacy skills necessary for

academic studies.

STEPS External (CZ06)

A 24-week (= two terms) program of off-campus study


Language and Learning External A (LNGE40052) Term 1 and

Language and Learning External B (LNGE40053) Term 2

Together, these courses aim to have students acquire the research, reading

and writing skills necessary for constructing academic essays. Throughout

the course, students are familiarised with the basic conventions of grammar,

the various stages involved in planning, preparing and presenting a research

essay, and the use of Harvard referencing conventions to support


Transition Mathematics 1 External A (MATH40238) Term 1 and

Transition Mathematics 1External B (MATH 40239) Term 2

These two courses make up the mathematics component of the STEPS

Extended program. Transition Mathematics 1A is a course in elementary

mathematics. It is designed to introduce students to those fundamental

concepts and techniques that are necessary for the study of mathematics. It

also aims to assist students to develop confidence in mathematics and


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

motivate them to undertake further study in the field. Topics covered

include number types, operations with numbers (including the rules of

precedence), percentages, introductory algebra and statistics. Transition

Mathematics 1B follows on from Transition Mathematics 1A and includes

the exponents (indices), solving simple equations, coordinate geometry of

the straight line and units and their conversions.

Computing for Academic Assignment Writing External A

(COIT40216) Term 1

This course aims to develop skills necessary for word processing

assignments correctly using Microsoft Word. The use of the Internet

(World Wide Web and WebMail in particular) aims to develop searching

techniques for research and electronic communication skills necessary for

academic studies. Blackboard (e-courses) will be used by students for

quizzes, downloading resources and communication.

Computing for Academic Assignment Writingt (World Wide Web and

WebMail in particular) aims to develop searching techniques for research

and electronic communication skills necessary for academic studies.

Blackboard (e-courses) will be used by students for quizzes, downloading

resources and communication.

Computing for Academic Assignment Writing External B

(COIT40217) Term 2

Students develop skills in creating spreadsheets with Microsoft Excel, using

data entry, formulae and charts. The use of equipment and software for the

preparation of oral presentations will also be examined, these skills being

necessary for future studies.



Academic Assignment Writing,

47, 49, 71, 190, 192, 193, 194,


Accelerated, program, 49, 53, 58,

80, 190

Adams, Nadine, 59, 170

Adult Learners’ Week, 47, 138

Advisory Committee, 43

Ainsworth, Phil, 43

Aldred, LS, 187

Apollinaire, Guillaume, i

Appleton, Prof. Arthur, 3, 22, 49

Armstrong, Frank, 59

Armstrong, Laurie, 104

Atherton, Jinx, 57

Australian Teaching Awards, 43

Austudy, 48

awards, 99, 156

Batts, Josh, 107

bond, 10, 67, 91, 93, 112, 157,


Booth, Leanne, 106

Brazier, Frantiska, 78

Brennan, MT, 186

bridging program, xii, 3, 7, 14,

21, 45, 145, 186

Bundaberg campus, 23, 50, 113,

138, 140, 142, 174

Appendices, Index and Endnotes


Burke, Aidan, 8

Campbell, Joseph, 33, 64

Campbell, Lynne, 18, 19, 45, 46,

48, 143, 144, 151, 177, 188

Capricorn Local News, 14

Capricornia Institute of

Advanced Education, 3, 175, 202

Carrick, award, xii

Case, Greg, 41

Cassano, Natalie, 35

Centrelink, 41

Chadwick, Stephen, 37, 110

Challen, Sandra, 94

Chipman, Prof. Lauchlan, 45,

101, 102

Christiansen, Peter, 57

Cleal, Jane, 52

Cleary, Val, 42

Clift, Prof. Phillip, 103

Cohalan, Sharon, 43, 53

Commonwealth Employment

Centre (CES), 4, 5, 7

communications module, 10

computing, ix, 13, 24, 25, 33, 35,

44, 47, 88, 111, 139

Connon, Mike, vii, 46, 55, 56

contact hours, 8, 14

Coombes, Phyllida, 30, 32, 98,

185, 186, 187, 188, 189

Cousin, Scott, 159, 161

Cowper, Mary, 149

Cronin, Dr Jodi, 132, 134

CRS Australia, 41

Cunningham, Liz, 39

curriculum, xii, 9, 20, 33, 47, 70,

73, 86, 87, 88, 89

Daly, Chris, 50, 143, 144, 145

Danaher, Geoff, 53, 54, 89, 185,

186, 187, 189

Danaher, Patrick, 185, 186, 188,


Davis, Wendy, 57, 113

Dekkers, Antony, 43, 54, 89

Dekkers, Prof. John, 3, 88

distance education, 10

Division of Teaching and

Learning Services, iv, vii, 42

Douglas, Alan, 11

eligibility criteria, 4

Emerald campus, 16, 35, 36, 37,

47, 48, 162, 202

evaluations, student, 14

Extended, program, 33, 48, 49,

52, 54, 55, 58, 59, 80, 191, 192,

193, 194

external, 3, 14, 41, 42, 49, 78,

90, 149, 163

Appendices, Index and Endnotes


External, program, 3, 42, 49, 80,

194, 195

face-to-face, 8, 10, 18, 49, 50

family connections, 4, 44, 77, 78,

84, 90, 94, 101, 102, 111, 115,

116, 123, 125, 126, 130, 131,

132, 135, 140, 150, 152, 156,

159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 168,

169, 170, 171, 172, 179

Farrands, Phillip, 7, 14

First STEPS class photo,

Bundaberg, 24

First STEPS class photo,

Gladstone, 19

Flagship, program, 51

Flanders, Margaret, 25, 138, 188

Fleet, Maximilian, 50, 173, 174

Flex, program, 49, 56, 60, 193

Florer, Suellen, 101

Forbes-Smith, Lynnette, 45, 59,

157, 187

Fuller, Milton, 7, 9, 14, 20, 42

full-time, 4, 33, 48, 78, 159, 163,

168, 169

Gadsby, Allan, 109

Galdal, Jody, 114

Ganter, Simone, 50, 93, 146, 148

Garoni, Stephanie, 35, 36, 39,

47, 99, 179, 186

Gladstone campus, 16, 17, 32,

48, 97, 143, 175

Gladstone STEPS Coordinator,

17, 18, 48

Glover, Jeffrey, 106

Godden, Gail, 13, 14, 23

Golden Key Honour Society, 115

Goulter, Prof. Ian, 30, 31

government grant, 4, 16, 22

graduation, 17, 39, 41, 94, 95,

96, 97, 106, 122, 150, 170, 171

Hancock, Prof. Glenice, 34, 44

Harper, Greg, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11,

16, 20, 102

Harreveld, Roberta, 186, 189

Haussmann, David, 16

Head of campus, 3, 17, 103

Head of STEPS, vii, 42, 57, 138,

157, 174

Hero’s Journey, 33, 64, 65, 66,

83, 85

Higher Education Equity

Program, 3

Hindmarch, Megan, 18, 20, 29,

32, 42, 43, 46, 57

Hinton, L, 188

Howard, Kathleen, 111

Ilich, Susan Joyce, 28, 110

intake, 7

intake, student, 4

interconnectedness, 73, 114

Appendices, Index and Endnotes


internal, 41, 63, 163

interview, xii, 18, 23, 24, 50, 63,

80, 135, 160

Jacobson, Carolyn, 178

JET program, 41

JET, program, 41, 48

Jobs Network, 41

Jones, Glenn, 90

Joy, Juanita, 81, 91

Joyce, Helen, 28

Jung, Carl, 64

Kennedy, Ingrid, 34, 35, 44, 52,

53, 89, 185, 188

Kiernan, Kate, 101

King, Gordon, 25

Knapp, Marian, 17, 19, 176

Kroehn, Chris, 47

Lancaster, Jason, 108

Langley, Lois, 105

Language and Learning, 10, 44,

49, 70, 73, 138, 190, 191, 193,


Learning for life, 112

learning journey, student, 33, 64,

65, 70, 75, 83, 88, 117, 157

learning support, 171

lifelong learning, 63, 105, 125,

151, 152, 187

Lindley, James, 112

Lovell, Julie, 18, 19, 20

Lowry, Lucy, 156

Mackay campus, 16, 25, 103,


Mackay College of Technical

and Further Education, 16

Macpherson, C, 188, 189

Map, CQU STEPS campuses, ii

marginalised, 16, 30

marketing, 4, 117

mathematics, ix, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14,

20, 23, 24, 25, 29, 33, 42, 43, 71,

80, 87, 88, 96, 112, 138, 153,

185, 188, 190, 191, 193, 194

Mathematics Learning Centre,

MLC, 4, 7, 43

Mathieson, Steve, 16

McConachie, Dr Jeanne, vii, 7,

30, 32, 34, 35, 42, 90, 114, 185,

186, 189

McGrath, Suzanne, 4, 7

McIntosh, Sue, 34, 52, 54, 89,

185, 186, 188

McLean, Kevin, 32, 149

McMahon, Pam, 54

McNulty, Kevin, 121, 124

Metcalfe, Marian, 17

Meyers, N, 189

Millan, Stephen, 104

Millington, Julie, 18, 176

Appendices, Index and Endnotes


Monsour, Ann, 57, 83, 96

Morrow, Jane, 130

Nash, Dr Denzil, 140, 142

Newby, Leonce, 27, 109

Noble, Bill, 86

Nouwens, F, 186, 188, 189

O’Connor. Tracey, 28

O’Donnell, Therese, 57

Ockle, Nicky, 149

oral presentation, 68, 70, 98,

116, 160, 191, 192, 194, 195

Orr, D, 188, 189

Palmer, P, 64

pamphlet, 4, 5, 23, 132

part-time evening, 32

Paterson, Bonnie, 77

Patzwald, Amanda, 168

Pearson, Carol, 114

peer support, xiii, 10, 20, 86, 94,

98, 102

Pennells, Narelle, 115

Perkins, Troy, 79

Petersen, Christine, 19, 175

PhD, 77, 104, 122

philosophy, xiii, 61, 64, 72, 73,

87, 89, 114

photographs (2006 staff and

students), 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57,

58, 59, 60

Pickering, Georgina, 54

pilot program, 7

Pinkney, Lois, 23, 43, 59, 133,


press release, 1986, 102

Reedman, Alexis, 59

Reid, Bronwyn, 35, 47, 187

retention rates, 28

Richmond, Katrina, 59

Rickard, Prof. John, 96, 117

Ricketts, Stephen, 92

Risson, Lyn, 111

Ritchie, Stacey, 125, 129

Rosenblatt, Jo, 36, 48, 60

Ross, Elaine, 79

Ryan, Cheryl, 104

Saint, Robyn, 100, 116

Salmon, Jan, 57

Sankey, Angela, 34, 79

Saw, Susan, 25

Scarpelli, Judy, 60

Seary, Karen, vii, 25, 32, 42, 51,

57, 135, 136, 138, 139, 153, 174,

185, 186

self-paced, 13, 44, 71

Senior Administrative Officer,


Sharrock, Irene, 13, 202

Appendices, Index and Endnotes


Shaw, Susan, 23

Shields, Sharron, 89

Simpson, Jenny, vii, xii, xiii, 32,

33, 34, 35, 44, 46, 79, 89, 90,

108, 122, 124, 137, 185, 186,

188, 189

Stacey, Bernadette, 22

Steley, Doug, 14

Stewart, Vicki, 93

Stoodly, Johanne, 135, 136

Strahm, Muriel, 46, 48, 151, 185,


student-centred model, 73

Study Skills booklet, 10

Sturgess, Phillipa, 54

Swallow, Llewellyn, 115

Sypher, Gai Patricia, 36, 39, 111,


Szemes, Kerin, 162, 164

TAFE, 10, 24, 132, 138, 149,


temperament types, 70, 88

tertiary education, xii, 3, 7, 11,

16, 22, 31, 49, 78, 112, 175

tertiary preparation, 41, 49, 70,

98, 138, 191, 192, 194

test, xiii, 7, 9, 24, 32, 63, 68, 79,

80, 81, 82, 87, 88, 96, 116, 128,

132, 133, 138, 146, 149, 159,


The Morning Bulletin, 10, 202

Thomas, Dion, 137, 139

Todorovic, Violetta, 52

tolerance, 86, 87

transformation, 66, 73, 85, 87,

114, 116, 186, 187, 188

transition mathematics, 29, 30,

43, 49, 190, 191, 193, 194

Ukena, James, 100, 153, 155

UniNews, 77

University College of Central

Queensland, 202

University medal, 37

Uren, Heather Patricia, 110

Veach, Irene, 13

velveteen rabbit, 72

Vice-Chancellor, 26, 30, 44, 45,


Vogler, C, 33, 64

Walker, J, 186

Appendices, Index and Endnotes


Walker-Gibbs, B, 187

Wardzinski, Del, 28

Warhol, Andy, 167

Weedon, Sandi, 89, 105

White, Ursula, 165

Whiteley, Gerda, 46

Wilkinson, Vincent, 108

Willans, Julie, 45, 53, 185, 186,

187, 189

Wirriganwalters, Nerida, 150

Women Into Science and

Technology, WIST, 49

word of mouth, 11

word processing, 8, 9, 13, 25, 71,

190, 194, 195

writer’s journey, 33

Yarrow, Gina, 10, 107

Zemlicoff, Fayleen, 83

Zussino, Leo, 95


Part One

Appendices, Index and Endnotes

1 Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006.

2 Interview, Stacey Doyle with John Dekkers, 2 February 2006.

3 Interview, Stacey Doyle with John Dekkers, 2 February 2006.

4 STEPS to success in Higher Education at CQU: A University Bridging

Course as an Actor-Network, 1998.

5 Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006.

6 Annual Report, Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education, 1986.

7 PowerPoint presentation to 2006 STEPS staff, Karen Seary, 25 January


8 Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006.

9 Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006.

10 Belinda Loakes, CQU Library Archives.

11 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Milton Fuller, 21 February 2006.

12 Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006:

Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Gail Godden, 18 April 2006.

13 Gai Sypher, CQU Emerald campus.

14 Media Release, Mr Aidan Burke, Capricornia Institute of Advanced

Education, 31 July 1986.

15 Report on Preliminary Studies Project (STEPS), University College of

Central Queensland, 1989.

16 Media Release, Mr Aidan Burke, Capricornia Institute of Advanced

Education, 31 July 1986.


Media Release, Mr Aidan Burke, Capricornia Institute of Advanced

Education, 31 July 1986.


Report on Preliminary Studies Project (STEPS), University College of

Central Queensland, 1989.

19 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Milton Fuller, 21 February 2006.

20 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Milton Fuller, 21 February 2006.

21 Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006.

22 The Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, June 1987.

23 Annual Report, Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education, 1987.

24 The Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, June 1987.

25 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Irene Sharrock, 27 April 2006.

26 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Irene Sharrock, 27 April 2006.

27 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Irene Sharrock, 27 April 2006.

28 Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Gail Godden, 18 April 2006.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

29 Annual Report, Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education, 1987; 1988.

30 Report on Preliminary Studies Project (STEPS), University College of

Central Queensland, 1989; Capricorn Local News, 22 June 1988.

31 Capricorn Local News, 22 June 1988.

32 Belinda Loakes, CQU Library Archives.

33 Academia Capricornia: A History of the University of Central

Queensland, Dr Denis Cryle.

34 Academia Capricornia: A History of the University of Central

Queensland, Dr Denis Cryle, p. 84.

35 Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006;

Annual Report, Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education, 1989.

36 Email, Rex Metcalfe, 17 February 2006.

37 Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone Campus.

38 Email, Marian Metcalfe, 3 March 2006.

39 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Gladstone STEPS staff, 20 January,

2006; Email, Julie Lovell, 24 February 2006.

40 STEPS website,

41 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Megan Hindmarch, 23 January 2006.

42 Email, Marian Metcalfe, 3 March 2006.

43 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Gladstone STEPS staff, 20 January



Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.


Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.


Email, Julie Lovell, 24 February 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Megan Hindmarch, 23 January 2006.


Email, Marian Metcalfe, 3 March 2006; Telephone interview, Stacey

Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006.


Email, Julie Lovell, 24 February 2006.


Report on Preliminary Studies Project (STEPS), University College of

Central Queensland, 1989; Capricorn Local News, 22 June 1988.


CQU photograph collection, Doug Steley.


Academia Capricornia: A History of the University of Central

Queensland, Dr Denis Cryle.


CQU photograph collection, Doug Steley.


University College of Central Queensland Request for Funding, 1992.


Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006.


Email, Gail Godden, 10 April 2006: Email, Lois Pinkney, 25 January


57 Email, Lois Pinkney, 25 January 2006.

58 Email, Susan Shaw, 2 February 2006.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes


Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Greg Harper, 24 February 2006;

Annual Report, Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education, 1989.


Annual Report, University College of Central Queensland, 1990.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


Telephone interview, Stacey Doyle with Gordon King, 23 March 2006.


Email, Susan Shaw, 2 February 2006.


Academia Capricornia: A History of the University of Central

Queensland, Dr Denis Cryle.


Annual Report, University of Central Queensland, 1992.


Email, Peter Lawrence, 20 April, 2006.


Annual Report, University of Central Queensland, 1992.


Pioneer News, Mackay, 11 November 1993.


Annual Report, Central Queensland University, 1994.


The History of CQU:


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Milton Fuller, 21 February 2006.


Annual Report, Central Queensland University, 1994.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Megan Hindmarch, 23 January 2006.


Annual Report, Central Queensland University, 1995.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Rockhampton STEPS staff: Jeanne

McConachie, 13 January 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Rockhampton STEPS staff, 13

January 2006: Phyllida Coombes.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Jenny Simpson, 24 March 2006.


Email, Karen Seary, 24 February 2006.


Email, Ian Goulter, 24 January 2006.


CQU STEPS application for Category 2: Australian Institutional Awards

for University Teaching, 2002.


Annual Report, Central Queensland University, 1996.


STEPS to success in Higher Education at CQU: A University Bridging

Course as an Actor-Network, 1998.


Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.


An Evolving Partnership: 25 years of CQU at Gladstone 1978-2003;

Interview, Stacey Doyle with Lynne Campbell, 7 March 2006.


Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.


CQU STEPS application for Category 2: Australian Institutional Awards

for University Teaching, 2002.


Marc Barnbaum, CQU Rockhampton campus.


Marc Barnbaum, CQU Rockhampton campus.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

90 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Emerald STEPS staff: Bronwyn Reid,

22 February 2006.

91 Gai Sypher CQU Emerald campus.

92 Central Highlands News, Emerald, 11 Feb 2000.

93 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Emerald STEPS staff: Stephanie

Garoni, 22 February 2006.

94 Email, Gai Sypher, 2 February 2006.

95 Gai Sypher, CQU Emerald campus.

96 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Gai Sypher, 22 February 2006.

97 Email, Gai Sypher, 23 March 2006.

98 Annual Report, Central Queensland University, 1998.

99 Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.

100 CQU STEPS proposal for increased funding for the Skills for Tertiary

Entrance Preparatory Studies Program, 1997.

101 The Guardian, Bundaberg, 19 October 1998.

102 Email, Karen Seary, 30 March 2006.

103 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Bundaberg STEPS staff, 23 January



Gai Sypher, CQU Emerald campus.


Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.


Letter, Liz Cunningham, 17 February 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Rockhampton STEPS staff, 13

January 2006.


Interview, Jeanne McConachie and Stacey Doyle with Ian Goulter, 11

January, 2006.


The STEPS Program, Gateway to Learning, Jeanne McConachie, 1999.


CQU STEPS application for Category 2: Australian Institutional Awards

for University Teaching, 2002.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Mackay STEPS staff, 18 January


112 CQU STEPS application for Category 2: Australian Institutional Awards

for University Teaching, 2002.

113 Annual Report, Central Queensland University, 1999.

114 Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.

115 Email, Milton Fuller, 3 April 2006.

116 Annual Report, Central Queensland University, 2001.

117 Email, Jeanne McConachie, 12 April 2006.

118 Email, Karen Seary, 24 February 2006.

119 CQU photograph, Stacey Doyle, 23 January 2006.

120 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Jeanne McConachie, 13 January 2006.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes


Email, Karen Seary, 24 February 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Antony Dekkers, 31 January 2006.


Email, Lois Pinkney, 25 January 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Antony Dekkers, 31 January 2006.


Email, Lois Pinkney, 25 January 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Margaret Flanders, 15 March 2006.


Email, Glenice Hancock, 9 February 2006.


Interview, Jeanne McConachie and Stacey Doyle with Lauchlan

Chipman, 16 January 2006.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


CQU Uni News, March 7, 2002.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Megan Hindmarch, 23 January 2006.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


CQU Uni News, September 20, 2004


CQU STEPS application for Category 2: Australian Institutional Awards

for University Teaching, 2002.


Email, Karen Seary, 6 March 2006.


Email, Karen Seary, 24 February 2006; Valerie Cleary 2006.


Uni News, 31 January 2006.


Serah-Jane Lees, CQU Language Centre, 16 May 2006.


Email, Karen Seary, 20 April 2006.


Email, Karen Seary, 17 March 2006.


Email, Georgina Pickering, 19 April 2006.


Email, Lynne Campbell, 11 April, 2006.


Email, Karen Seary; Therese O’Donnell, 12 April 2006.


Email, Katrina Richmond, 11 April 2006.


Email, Gai Sypher, 12 April 2006.

Part Two

149 th

Knowles, M, Holton, E & Swanson, A 1998, The adult learner, 5 edn,

Butterworth-Heinemann, Woburn, p. 172.


Palmer, P 1998, The courage to teach, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.


Campbell, J 1993, The hero with a thousand faces, Fontana Press,



Vogler, C 1996, The writer’s journey: mythic structure for storytellers

and screenwriters, Boxtree, London.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes


Butler, J 1993, ‘From action to thought: the fulfilment of human

potential’, in J Edwards (ed.), Thinking: international interdisciplinary

perspectives, Hawher Brownlon Education, Melbourne, pp. 16–22.


Palmer, P 1983, To know as we are known: education as a spiritual

journey, Harper, San Francisco, p. xi.


Williams, M 1995, The velveteen rabbit, Heinemann, Port Melbourne,

pp. 4–5.

Part Three

156 CQU Uni News, 10 October, 2005.

157 Email, Frantiska Brazier, 20 February 2006.

158 Email, Lorraine Wright, February 2006.

159 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Bundaberg STEPS staff: Therese

O’Donnell, 23 January 2006.

160 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Megan Hindmarch, 31 January 2006.

161 Email, Christoper Delany, 20 February 2006.

162 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Gladstone STEPS staff, 20 January


163 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Mackay STEPS staff, 18 January



Interview, Stacey Doyle with Jenny Simpson, 27 January 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Jenny Simpson, 18 May 2006.


Email, Ingrid Kennedy, 24 January 2006.


Email, Elaine Ross, 25 May 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Ingrid Kennedy, 24 January 2006.


Jeanne McConachie, CQU Rockhampton campus.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Mackay STEPS staff, 18 January



Email, Juanita Joy, 16 February 2006.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Bundaberg STEPS staff, 23 January



Email, Tania Murphy, 23 February 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Bundaberg STEPS staff: Ann

Monsour, 23 January 2006.


CQU STEPS publication: STEPS ’97 The Road Back, An Anthology of

Personal Writing, 1997.

178 CQU STEPS ESLS Course Evaluation, Winter 2000.

179 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Jenny Simpson, 27 January 2006.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes

180 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Bill Noble, 23 January 2006.

181 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Jenny Simpson, 27 January 2006.

182 CQU STEPS application for Category 2: Australian Institutional Awards

for University Teaching, 2002.

183 CQU STEPS ESLS Course Evaluation, Winter 2000.

184 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Emerald STEPS staff: Bronwyn

Reid, 22 February 2006.

185 CQU STEPS application for Category 2: Australian Institutional Awards

for University Teaching, 2002.

186 Unpublished CQU paper.

187 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Ingrid Kennedy, 24 January 2006.

188 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Jenny Simpson, 27 January 2006.

189 Interview, Stacey Doyle with John Dekkers, 2 February 2006.

190 Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.

191 CQU STEPS ESLS Course Evaluation, Winter 2000.

192 Email, Sandra Weedon, 15 February 2006.

193 Email, Sharron Shields, 15 February 2006.

194 Email, Wendy Smith, 15 February 2006.

195 Email, Dolcie Tolcher, 2 February 2006.

196 Email, Glenn Jones, 19 March 2006.

197 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Rockhampton STEPS staff, 13

January 2006.


Letter received from Debbie Fitzgerald, February 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Mackay STEPS staff, 18 January

2006; Uni News, 22 October 2002.


Email, Juanita Joy, 16 February 2006.


Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.


Email, Stephen Ricketts, 15 February 2006.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Simone Ganter, 3 March 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Mackay STEPS staff: Lynette

Forbes-Smith, 18 January 2006.


CQU STEPS ESLS Course Evaluation, Winter 2000.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Mackay STEPS staff, 18 January



Email, Vicki Stewart, 2 February 2006.


Email, Sandra Challen, 15 February 2006.


CQU Rockhampton STEPS graduation video, ‘Patchwork Dreaming’,



Appendices, Index and Endnotes

212 Marc Barnbaum, CQU Rockhampton City campus.

213 Email, Jane Thomasson on behalf of Leo Zussino, 3 March 2006.

214 Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.

215 Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.

216 Jeanne McConachie, CQU Rockhampton campus.

217 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Lynne Campbell, 10 March 2006.

218 CQU STEPS application for Category 2: Australian Institutional Awards

for University Teaching, 2002.

219 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Rockhampton STEPS staff: Phyllida

Coombes, 13 January 2006.

220 Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.

221 CQU STEPS ESLS Course Evaluation, Winter 2000.

222 Email, Kresha Hodges, 22 February 2006.

223 Email, Phillip Millroy, 16 February 2006.

224 Email, Yuliya Brandt, 24 February 2006.

225 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Emerald STEPS staff: Stephanie

Garoni, 22 February 2006.

226 Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Gladstone STEPS staff: Lynne

Campbell, 20 January 2006.


Email, Karen Seary, 17 March, 2006.


CQU Uni News, 3 July 2003.


Karen Seary, CQU Bundaberg campus.


Telephone interview, Jeanne McConachie and Stacey Doyle with

Lauchlan Chipman, 16 January 2006.


Email, Kate Kiernan, 22 February 2006.


Email, Suellen Florer, 10 February 2006.


Lynne Campbell, CQU Gladstone campus.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Rockhampton STEPS staff, 13

January 2006.


Media Release, Mr Aidan Burke, Capricornia Institute of Advanced

Education, 31 July 1986.


Telephone interview, Jeanne McConachie and Stacey Doyle with

Lauchlan Chipman, 16 January 2006.


Interview, Jeanne McConachie and Stacey Doyle with Phillip Clift, 18

January 2006.

238 CQU Uni News, 25 August 2005.

239 Email, Laurie Armstrong, 2 May 2006.

240 Email, Stephen Milan, 4 April 2006.

241 Email, Lois Langley, 11 April 2006.

242 Email, Leanne Booth, 20 April 2006.


Appendices, Index and Endnotes


Email, Patricia Uren, CQU, 7 April 2006.


Email, Susan Ilich, 9 April 2006.


Email, Lyn Risson, 10 April 2006.


Email, Gai Sypher, 4 April 2006.


Email, Kathleen Howard, 4 April 2006.


CQU STEPS ESLS Course Evaluation, Winter 2000.


CQU STEPS ESLS Course Evaluation, Winter 2000.


Student story: Jenny Simpson, 15 February 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with Gai Sypher CQU, 31 January 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Bundaberg STEPS staff: Wendy

Davis, 23 January 2006.


Interview, Stacey Doyle with CQU Rockhampton STEPS staff: Phyllida

Coombes, 13 January 2006.

254 The Guardian, Bundaberg, 1 March 2006.

255 Interview, Stacey Doyle with Jeanne McConachie, January 13 2006.

256 Unpublished CQU paper.

257 Email, Jody Galdal, 15 February 2006.

258 CQU Uni News, 15 October 2002.

259 Email, Llewellyn Swallow, 18 April 2006.

260 Email, Robyn Saint, 13 April 2006.

261 Interview, Jeanne McConachie and Stacey Doyle with Professor John

Rickard, 17 January 2006.


More magazines by this user
Similar magazines