Parents Voice in Government School Education

Careers webinar Q & A

Parents Victoria and the Education Department ran a webinar in May 2021 titled “Supporting your child on their career journey”.

The webinar included a Q & A session – here is a transcript. The questions cover school based career education, work experience, gap years, gaining life skills for students and post-school course selection.

School based career education & Morrisby Assessment

Q: What if your school does not offer the subject stream your child needs?  What are some practical suggestions to address this?

A:   Talk to your child and their careers practitioner in the first instance to ascertain if your child is interested in the career pathway and if the subject/s are required for the pathway. If this is the case and your child wants to pursue the pathway, then discuss options with the careers practitioner and year level coordinator, for example, enrolling for the particular subject/s at a neighbouring school, TAFE or Virtual Schools Victoria.

Q:   Is the My Career Insights program parent initiated, (ie do parents need to tell their children to go to the website and fill in the questionnaire?)? Or is it school initiated in Year 9 where the school sets a time for all Year 9 students to complete the questionnaire during school hours?

A:    My Career Insights is school initiated, with schools providing time for students to complete the Morrisby questionnaires during school hours. Some schools have also supported students to do this from home, during periods of remote learning. It is important to note that students can only participate in the program if their parents complete the relevant consent form. If parents have any questions or concerns relating to the program that they would like to discuss before they complete the consent form, parents should contact the school career practitioner to discuss further.

Q:    How can parents be included in their children’s career discussions and what is the opportunity for parents to provide a feedback loop to the school?

A:     Parents often have good insights into their child’s areas of interest that would be valuable in career conversations and schools should encourage parents to participate in their child’s career exploration and journey. Parents can contact their child’s careers practitioner and request a meeting (face to face or online) with their child present to discuss their child’s course and career options. If their child has undertaken the Morrisby Assessment at school, parents are welcome to attend the unpacking session with their child, where they are taken through their Morrisby Profile report, and are provided with a demonstration of how to utilise the online version of the report.
The report provided to each student is intended to support career conversations between students and their parents and teachers, and all parents are encouraged to take some time to read through the report and utilise the insights to support their child’s exploration of possible pathways and careers of interest.

Q:    Where can I get the Morrisby Assessment report for my child? A physical copy did arrive but was drenched in rain and could not be utilised.

A:     Please contact your child’s careers practitioner and request a replacement copy.

Q:    Can the students repeat the Morrisby Assessment in later years as often interests etc change as   they get older?

A:     The interests questionnaire can be repeated by students at any time. The aptitude assessments are usually not repeated by students, as students’ comparative strengths do not usually shift in any significant way over time. In limited circumstances, these assessments can be reset, however it is generally not recommended, taking into account the limited impact on overall results.

Q:      Do you have a link for the Morrisby Assessment?

A:      Information on the program for parents and families can be found here: CEAV – Resources for Parents & Families

Q:    What support is available for students who do not know what they want to do after Year 12?

A:    My Career Portfolio is available in many government schools and is an online tool designed to support students with resources and a platform to capture their career goals and plans. Every student should have a Career Action Plan from Year 7 onwards that details their interests, skills and work-related learning and this can be accessed and stored in My Career Portfolio.

Students in Year 9 have access to the Morrisby diagnostic tool created to help students discover, develop and drive their career planning. It provides a unique opportunity for them to learn more about their strengths and abilities, while exploring potential career options – giving them the confidence to start taking control of their future.
Students may like to undertake work experience in one of the jobs or careers recommended to them through the Morrisby tool. Schools may also offer excursions to different workplaces and industries so young people can experience what it’s like to work there. Exposure to different industries and employers will help your child decide what they are interested in and what they are not, and may assist in selecting subjects and senior secondary pathways.
Your child can also access many helpful resources and career quizzes on myfuture, which contains excellent information about pathways Australia-wide. Talk to your school about the career education opportunities available to your child.

Q:     Some schools appear to discourage a student from taking a particular pathway (e.g. VET).  For example:  A female student wanting to become a mechanic was actively discouraged from taking this path.

A:     If your child is discouraged from pursuing a certain pathway they are interested in, raise your concerns with an appropriate member of staff at the school, for example the careers practitioner, year level coordinator or Assistant Principal. Ask if there is an opportunity for your child to participate in a career activity (work experience, excursion, taster day) relevant to that pathway to help them decide if it is right for them.
If your child has completed the Morrisby diagnostic tool, you may also wish to refer to their corresponding strengths and interests and advocate for your child’s preferred option. In all cases, make sure your child is included in discussions and has an opportunity to voice their concerns and aspirations.


Work experience

Q:    My child is in Year 8 now. At what age should he/she look into getting work experience?

A:  The minimum age for work experience is 14 years of age. For more information, see

Q:     Is work experience still an important part of secondary school? Is work experience voluntary or mandatory at secondary school? Who organises the work experience – school or family?

A:     Work experience is an important part of a child’s career exploration and career journey, and as such is an important part of a school’s program. Work experience may be mandatory at some schools. Talk to your careers practitioner if you have concerns about your child’s work experience. While work experience placements are normally organised by schools, schools would welcome parental support in sourcing placements.

Q:     Many places are not offering work experience this year due to Covid-19, for example Museums Victoria and ACMI. Any tips?

A:    Due to COVID-19, the Victorian Government may introduce restrictions across Victoria to help reduce community movement and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  There may be changes to work experience placements caused by the restrictions, and placements may be deferred, or if that is not possible, cancelled.
 If work experience placements are deferred or cancelled, all efforts should be made by the schools to arrange suitable alternative arrangements for students. Parents can contact their child’s careers practitioner and seek assistance in finding placements. In addition, as a result of the restrictions, some workplaces that offer work experience may have to close during that period or face density restrictions that preclude a student from attending a workplace.
However, there may workplaces that either choose not to or are not able to offer placements this year after restrictions are lifted. Your child should talk to the careers practitioner to see if alternative placements can be found.

Q:     At what age can a child volunteer?

A:      A child can volunteer from age 14 years and older – Year 9. For further information, please see

Gap Year

Q:     Many students elect to take a gap year (in the hope that a career plan “dawns on them” or comes to light in that year).  There can be pressure from parents for the student to find work and parents may be reluctant to support a gap year.  Is there guidance as to what could constitute a positive gap year – ie. volunteering?

 A:     A gap year, is generally a year-long break after completing Year 12 and before commencing further study, training or work, during which young people engage in various educational and developmental activities, such as travel or some type of regular work or volunteering.
Research points to gap years having a positive impact on university grades and while there is no official guidance on what constitutes a ‘positive’ gap year, there are many benefits (not just career-related). These include time to reflect and gain confidence, independence and self-awareness. Young people who take a gap year typically achieve a growth in maturity and are better prepared to benefit from higher education or make a more informed decision about the type of education they wish to pursue.
If your child has been accepted into a university or TAFE course, they should contact the relevant institution and apply for deferral of their studies, usually capped at 1 year. Please note that some courses may not allow deferral and some may not permit a gap year if the student is a scholarship recipient. Although COVID-19 means young people can’t embark on an international experience, here are some suggestions for how to spend a gap year at home.

Life Skills

Q:     Is there a repository for guidance and tips for students to navigate agencies/organisations such as banks, Centrelink, MyGov, ATO and their importance/relevance in the adult world?

A:     A good place to start is Youth Central which is the Victorian Government’s website for young people aged 12-25, with t information about life from every angle. Another great resource to find out more about financial supports and how to navigate applying for them is Headspace.

Q: What are the changes (or loss) of family support payments parents receive from the government once their child leaves secondary school?

A:   The best place to look for information about your individual circumstances is on the Services Australia website. Here is some information for parents about what happens when your child turns 18. If your child is between 16 and 19 and leaves school or stops studying it may affect your Family Tax Benefit. If you require further information about your specific circumstances, please get in contact with Services Australia directly.

Post school course selection

Q:  Students are often influenced by their peers (other students) in selecting university as a post-secondary course.  A student may complete 3 years of a University Bachelor’s degree and they realise that “…it is not really for them”.  They finish the degree with no real interest in the field they have undertaken and most likely with a resulting HECs debt.  Can there be a trial or tester period (e.g. over summer or early in the post Year 12 Year), where students can experience and feel what they will learn post-secondary school (especially when enrolling in University).

A:  It is strongly recommended that all students seek career counselling with their school careers practitioner before selecting and enrolling at a university.  The careers practitioner will help them identify and explore their nominated pathway and may also provide advice on how to obtain work experience as a way to gain a taste of the career path they think they would like to follow.
Students should also visit universities and TAFEs during their Open Days to explore and experience firsthand what the institution is like and talk to the university staff and students. This will help students to make decisions on what and where they would like to study and can usually reveal more than a prospectus about the institution.
 Students should always keep in mind that when they commence a university degree and then realise that “…it is not really for them”, or that they want to change their subject/s, they can do so by withdrawing from the course or subject/s by the census date. Every subject offered by a university has a census date. This is the last date a student can withdraw from a subject, a course, or apply for a leave of absence without remaining liable to pay for the subject, and without it appearing on their academic transcript and statements.

Q:   The “leap” from secondary college to “what’s next” is too big.  There is no period for reflection or change of mind.  How can students prepare for this?

A:    The “leap” from secondary college into further education, training or employment is a crucial period in a young person’s life.  Accessing high-quality career counselling and guidance whilst at school, undertaking work experience and having career conversations with adults will help young people to prepare, plan and reflect on the many post-secondary school options available to them.   Qualified careers practitioners provide students with access to career information and guidance; however, it is also vital to remember that parents play a significant role in helping their child to make informed decisions on their futures.
Students can also take a gap year where they engage in various educational and developmental activities, such as travel or some type of regular work or volunteering which gives them the time and the opportunity to reflect and gain confidence, independence and self-awareness. (see question above on Gap Year)


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