In 2010, Viveka Simpson (Cohort 2012) was living in Warrnambool, working with the National Green Jobs Corps (NGJC), offering unemployed young people a six-month training program. The program offered accredited, on-the-job training to prepare young Australians for work in emerging green and climate change industries.
“It was really difficult to get engagement from the participants and to get them to feel any sense of achievement,” Viveka recalls. “My days consisted of driving to everyone’s houses to get them out of bed, and get them to come out and do the work, then dropping them home.”
“It got me thinking: how can you be only 18 and not have choices available to you? You’ve lost the ability to make choices for yourself because the access to your benefits hinges on your participation in this program, and this isn’t a program that you are particularly interested in.”
Viveka had a sense that she wanted to work with younger people and empower them sooner. “What happened up to this point? I’m working with people who are 18 to 20 years old, but at this stage, it’s probably too late. What happens when you work with students who are 13 to 17, or 10 to 13? Where is the crucial point that you can have those conversations to empower students to start making better choices?”
She’d first heard of the Leadership Development Program through her mother-in-law who happened to be Principal at a Teach For Australia Partner School that had just taken on Associates for the first time.
Initially, Viveka thought she would never become a teacher. “Both of my parents were teachers and my dad always said, ‘Be more than a teacher,’” says Viveka. However, constantly surrounded by people who were making a difference in young people’s lives, it was inevitable that she would follow in their footsteps. “While all of the main influences around me were teachers, I do still truly believe that it was the work I’d done previously that made me want to explore the earlier experiences of young people before they got to that point.”
Viveka taught science at Manor Lakes P-12 College for five years, and now works at Teach For Australia as a Teaching and Leadership Advisor, helping to coach new Associates as they fine-tune their teaching practice.
“I really enjoy the engaged discussions and buy in that Associates have into what is best practice education, what that looks like and how we can help achieve that.
This story was originally published as part of Teach For Australia’s Ten Year Anniversary timeline. Explore the timeline here. You can find Viveka Simpson’s story in the year 2010, as well as many more stories and milestones throughout the years.