Decade of learning and leadership transforms Rockhampton education

30 June 2024
Kim Harrington standing in automotive workshop
Kim Harrington in the CQU automotive workshop

By Tiahna Fiddling

Since CQUniversity became Queensland's first and only dual sector university in 2014, Kim Harrington has seen firsthand how providing comprehensive educational opportunities has changed lives in the Rockhampton community. 

As Associate Vice President for the Rockhampton and Central Highlands Regions, Ms Harrington has been a key influence in the university offerings, championing courses to meet the skills needed in the region.

“Being a dual sector university, we offer everything from a Certificate I to PhD.  This makes us a one-stop shop for all training and educational needs, including short courses and research - it’s our point of difference.

“CQUniversity is exceptionally good at giving low socioeconomic and first in family individuals training and educational opportunities,” Ms Harrington said.

“To me, this is key to what we do and why, for more than a decade, I have woken up every day, happy and excited about going to work. 

“I know we make a difference for individuals and in turn contribute to economic development.”

Over her 12-year career with CQUniversity, Ms Harrington has served under many positions, firstly as the Director of Business Development during the CQ TAFE merger approval. 

Bringing a wealth of expertise and resources to the amalgamation, Ms Harrington said her experience at TAFE Queensland allowed her to contribute across different capacities.

“TAFE Queensland as an employer helped me to grow from a teacher to middle management, senior management, and to undertake projects at a local, state and national level and at an international level,” she explained.

“Before I joined CQU I managed a World Bank-funded program for establishing a polytechnic vocational system in Mongolia. 

"I distinctly remember applying for the role of Director of Business Development with CQU from a Soviet-era barrack building in Govisumber, only one room had an internet connection.”

It was this strong background in curriculum, governance, and pedagogy which led to her appointment as the Director of Academic Unification pre merge once the TAFE merger was approved - expanding her portfolio to include the Director of the Mining School (VET) and Manager of RPL. 

Later that year, Ms Harrington became the inaugural Associate Vice-Chancellor for the Rockhampton region where her responsibilities continued to expand to include VET International. 

“It has been an asset to stay in education while changing sectors within the profession,” she said.

“When I reflect on where I first started my career as a teacher in 1991, I learnt to really understand the power and importance of education. I even remain registered with Queensland College of Teachers just in case I go back into the classroom one day!

“I genuinely believe education changes the lives of individuals, their families and their communities. I have seen countless situations where large families band together to financially support one member in undertaking further education, demonstrating the value it has.”

Looking back on what has been achieved over the past 10 years, Ms Harrington expressed her enthusiasm to build on the foundations laid by the merger with CQ TAFE. 

“Vocational education is critical to the success of Australia. In Central Queensland we need a skilled workforce which is developed through apprenticeships and training. 

"The future holds opportunities for innovation and collaboration which is formed through establishing relationships. This is a key priority in my role," she said.

“Organisations and companies place importance on VET skills and are willing to offer job opportunities and increased salaries as a result. By staying responsive to industry needs and technological advancements, we can ensure that CQU's TAFE remains a cornerstone of workforce development."

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