Chairman's Report - 2016

Another successful year has passed – another year of recognising the achievements of young skilled Australians by awarding them the opportunity to travel and work overseas to broaden their skills and develop their character.

Another successful year has passed – another year of recognising the achievements of young skilled Australians by awarding them the opportunity to travel and work overseas to broaden their skills and develop their character.  It is always a wonderful experience interviewing applicants and a great honour to them and to the Australian Overseas Foundation (AOF) for them to receive an Award.  Presentations once again took place at the William Angliss training restaurant, an ideal venue for this event with five young people receiving the opportunity to travel overseas.


For the AOF to be able to make these awards we need sponsors and we are extremely grateful for the generosity of our major sponsors.  Our thanks go to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, Incolink Employment Services, the Master Builders’ Foundation and the Geelong VOFA Group. Thanks also to the Victorian Government Department of Education and Training which this year has made an award available to work and study in the food industry in an Asian country. Selection for this award has been made in conjunction with the William Angliss Institute. These sponsors are the lifeblood of the AOF.  Without them we would not be able to function.  Skilled young people would be denied the opportunity to broaden their experience and this would be to the detriment of Australian industry.


The AOF has seven awardees overseas at present learning the latest developments in technology and in their particular skill, knowledge that they will bring back and pass on to their industry.  Their progress is monitored by the means of regular reports to our CEO John Bieske who keeps a close eye on their progress.  Upon their return to Australia debriefing sessions with the AOF Board and their sponsor will be conducted.  A very enlightening debrief took place with returned winner Owen Murray, a carpenter builder, who has gained not only in skill but most importantly developed in character and maturity.  Owen’s sponsor was Incolink Employment Services.


The Board is pleased to announce this year that His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd.) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia has accepted the position of Patron of the Australian Overseas Foundation.  We are extremely honoured by this appointment.


Four new members have been appointed to the Board this year.  Jacob Pitman a previous winner (2010) brings youth to the Board, Aarti Chopra brings a female presence and a representation in N.S.W.   Tommy Watson, Chairman of Incolink and Mark Callaghan, former CEO of WorldSkills Australia have also recently joined.  These new members bring a wealth of experience to the Board and will strengthen its operation.

Whilst the AOF wants its awardees to keep up with modern practices we must also be aware of the need for constant improvement.  With this in mind a new and updated web site has been developed with a modern and more meaningful corporate logo.  These improvements together with the new members will give the AOF a fresh approach.


The Board has continued throughout the year with regular two-monthly meetings with the selection panel spending further time interviewing applicants.  We once again express our grateful thanks to Toyota Australia for providing us with excellent facilities for our meetings throughout the year.


On a very sad note we record the death of our member Graeme Kellett.  Graeme served on the Board for a period of fifteen years and was a representative of the Jewellery industry.  Graeme was a valuable mentor to Jewellery awardees and a guiding force in the industry.  We remember Graeme as a dedicated member of the AOF Board.


The Board of the AOF consists of dedicated people who give their time on a voluntary basis, some travelling long distances including from interstate to attend meetings.  The reward for this dedication is to see the resulting development of those award winners who have returned after completing time overseas.


To all of the Board members I offer sincere thanks for their valuable work during the year. In particular I would like to express special thanks to CEO John Bieske for his work in looking after the welfare of our award awardees.  The position of Secretary is always a busy one and especially busy when combined with fund raising so special thanks go to David Williams for fulfilling this role. Also we give many thanks to Anne Najjar who has kept the financial situation on track as Treasurer.


The AOF looks forward to another rewarding year of producing future industry leaders.



Tom Thorpe O.A.M.


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