Western Australia

Jane lost her hearing in one ear at age three. In 2011, she lost it in her other ear because of a condition called vestibular aqueduct syndrome. She woke up with perfect hearing in that ear and by that night was in hospital with complete hearing loss.

Her first thought was ‘Will I have to give up teaching?’ The answer was ‘no’. Within weeks, Jane was fitted with a cochlear implant and was back in the classroom in no time.

Jane has now spent more than two decades teaching and training in early childhood and special needs and there are no signs this is going to change. She is intensely passionate about vocational education and training (VET) and the important role it plays in Australia.

Jane’s career as a teacher is so much more than lecturing at the front of a class. It’s about building skills in students so they can discover knowledge. Jane has completed a Master of Education with her research thesis on including deaf children in mainstream schooling. And in recognition of outstanding achievements teaching VET, she won the 2017 VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year Award at the Australian Training Awards.

‘VET is a way for students to achieve their dreams,’ says Jane. ‘I’m especially inspired by those who overcome adversity to complete their course, such as those with disabilities, raising children on their own or facing cultural pressures.’

Innovation is a major part of Jane’s career. She has supported industry by developing an Associate Degree in Education and initiating Auslan professional development courses.

Jane uses novel, inventive and original strategies in class, including blogs, QR codes and apps. She’s also innovative in overcoming the challenge of hearing student questions and comments in a big class.

‘Strategies include allocating a student to be “my ears” and relay what others have said, to placing small whiteboards on each desk for students to write on and hold up for me to see. I also get students to text me during class and use online polls for class participation.’

Australia faces a skills shortage of early childhood educators and Jane encourages anyone thinking about it as a profession to go for it.

‘It’s an attractive, interesting and multi-faceted career,’ says Jane. ‘We play an important role by contributing to the wellbeing, growth and development of children. Also, the profession offers many career pathways from working directly with young children, to managing services or leading community projects.’

Jane was ecstatic when she won her Australian Training Award. ‘It was one of the best experiences of my life,’ says the winner. ‘It didn’t matter if I won. It was amazing just being a part of it.’

To find out more about how you can gain real skills for a real career through a VET qualification, visit