“The greatest resource of the Philippines is its people. They are great and fantastic people,” says the Honourable Robert Smith, President of the Legislative Council in the Parliament of Victoria, during his speech at the formal inauguration of the Australian Centre of Further Education (ACFE) last 15 July at its training centre in Queen St, Victoria. He said a great number of Filipinos work overseas and their remittance is an important factor to the country’s economy.
Smith developed fondness for the Filipino people when he visited the country. His first encounter with Philippine Ambassador to Australia Ernesto De Leon, who also attended the inauguration, developed from business to close friendship. The two play golf and are now good friends. “I have never felt safe and comfortable in my life,” he said of his visit to the country, adding he enjoyed his visit and meeting Filipinos. In particular, he finds Filipino nurses as hardworking and courteous individuals. “Their being Christian and being able to speak English is a huge advantage,” he notes.
Admitting he has no connection with the forming of ACFE, Smith said his friendship with the Ambassador, the former Honorary Consul General of Victoria Raul Hernandez and the ACFE people is what drives him to support the training centre. Aware of the long months of preparation and government bureaucracy the group underwent to make the centre happen, Smith describes the process: “Absolutely horrific.” He adds, “But the fact that you made it happen, that’s incredible,” he said hoping the program will work. “We have more nurses to get. Every individual has the right to be the best possible he can be,” he quips.
Looking at the audience composed mainly of various nationalities including Australians, Smith said, “We have a diversity of people here and it’s fantastic. This is what we want to be,” referring to Australia’s strong preference for a multicultural country.
In his speech, Ambassador De Leon said it is not really easy to spend two and a half years of “dreaming” and going through the maze of government approvals. He congratulated ACFE and lauded the people behind it who just kept moving to make it happen.
John Franco, representative of St. Alexius College Board from Koronadal, North Cotabato, expressed joy that there is now an opportunity for Filipino nurses to work or study here in Australia.He said that the road to ACFE is not an easy one. His family, who owns the College, is one of the ACFE’s investors.
ACFE is the last training centre accredited by the then Nurses Board of Victoria to offer the Initial Registration for Overseas Nurses (IRON) Program in Melbourne. The board, now state-wide, is called Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).
Peter Funtusoff, CEO of ACFE, said that the nine months of preparation is now bearing fruit. The training centre will open its first program to overseas nurses this September and the response from Filipinos is great. They have a strict screening in choosing applicants for the program. They do overseas phone interviews and cross verify documents and information provided by prospective students. “We want to ensure that Filipino nurses are also well prepared to cope with the demands of the nursing profession here in Australia,” he said. Having visited the Philippines several times and dealing with Filipinos especially Filipino nurses, Funtusoff believes their being hardworking would see them through as they enter the Australian health care industry.
The program is open to nurses trained and registered overseas who intend to practice in Australia. A nurse seeking registration to work in Australia and was assessed by NMBA to complete a program is advised to enrol in ACFE’s program.
Students will undergo four weeks of theory and eight weeks of Clinical Placement. ACFE has partnered with Regional Hospitals for the Clinical Placements in Victoria.
The eight units consists of Introduction to Health Care Systems in Australia, Occupational Health and Safety in the Workplace, Nursing the Client with Mental Health Concerns, Nursing and Cultural, Legal and Ethical Issues, Professional Issues in Nursing, Gerontic Nursing, Acute Care Nursing, and Clinical Nursing Skills
The second eight-week component is composed of Clinical practice in an acute medical/surgical setting.
In 2011, classes will commence in January, May and September.
For enrolment information to the Program, please contact PMC Australasia or ACFE on (03) 8600 8600 or visit their website www.acfe.net.au.
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