Virginia shines in community development

Virginia Selleck took the plunge and went back to study after taking some time out of the workforce to raise her two young boys. She found her passion in community development.

Virginia Selleck is not afraid to get her hands dirty when it comes to community development projects that she is passionate about.

At the time of writing this article, Virginia had just helped build a wellbeing centre at her children’s school, Eastbourne Primary School, where she volunteers as School Council President.

By “helped”, she had literally insulated and plastered the building so that it could be finished by the end of the year.

Not only that, she had just finished clearing seven trailer loads of dead foliage and was busy creating a culture sensory garden.

“At Eastbourne Primary School, we have a lot of students with special needs and one of the highest ratios of children who identify as being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander,” says Virginia.

“I’m creating a culture sensory garden, catering for the children with special needs but using culture as the basis. I’m putting in cultural plants around a pond, so that they can walk around the pond and touch, eat and smell the bush tucker plants.

“There’s also a spot where they can sit, take their shoes off and put their feet in the sand and reset themselves using their feet for grounding.”

A few years ago, Virginia’s life looked very different.

Being a single mother to two young boys, it was difficult for Virginia to return to study, but she knew she wanted to pursue a career in community services and would need to work hard to get there.

“Chisholm offered me everything I needed,” she says.

“They offered the course I needed. I was able to get government funding. It’s easy access to get to and they had a good reputation, so I was happy with that choice.”

Virginia enrolled in Chisholm’s Diploma of Community Services. She found the course interesting and felt inspired on many levels.

She says the teachers were knowledgeable and engaging, and she loved the content and class discussions.

“It opened up my eyes to so much,” she says.

“Grasping it and being able to apply it in my own life and seeing how I can benefit and assist others was really rewarding.”

Virginia discovered she had a natural flair for community development (one of the units of the course), which she was able to apply during placement at her children’s school.

Not only has she worked on the wellbeing centre and culture sensory garden, she also organised a friendship day to coincide with R U OK? Day.

“Now I have this toolbox of tools I can use to make these things happen. That’s what the course taught me.”

Initially Virginia wanted to work in family violence, but she now sees herself moving into youth prevention.

“I’d like to guide youth and help prevent them from taking the wrong direction and making the wrong choices in life,” she says.

Virginia is proud of how far she has come, and so she should be.

She was so highly regarded at Chisholm, she was nominated as Koorie Student of the Year at the 2023 Chisholm Education Awards. An outstanding achievement.