Home Ec in safe hands as Qld teachers awarded

19 July 2023
A man wearing a cap holds a piece of beef at an outdoors BBQ prep table.
CQU graduate teacher and award recipient Paul Miller

Two inspiring Home Economics teachers have had their hard work recognised by a new CQUniversity award, honouring former hospitality workers who traded commercial kitchens for kitchen classrooms. 

The Professor William Blayney Home Economics Award is a new prize for graduate teachers, and reflects the career pathway of the recently retired CQU academic. 

Awarded for the first time in 2023, the award’s two inaugural recipients were Brisbane teacher and inclusivity advocate Rose Gray, and Townsville teacher and BBQ entrepreneur Paul Miller. 

Both studying as mature-age students, and both former chefs, the duo completed their Bachelor of Education (Secondary) in 2022, and began new roles as Home Economics teachers.  

Mr Miller began his CQU studies in 2016 via a trade entry pathway, and spent seven years juggling the part-time course with running his family business Millwood BBQ. 

“I had lost my passion for food during my hospitality career; however, my passion for food was reignited through BBQing and my home economics studies,” he said. 

In 2019, Mr Miller co-founded the Townsville BBQ Battle community event, attracting 12,000 people to celebrate local food and fun. 

At the same time, he was completing a Home Economics unit called Individuals, Families and Communities, and said his lecturer Dr Jay Deagon challenged him to grow community impact through the event. 

“The content and assessment helped me see the potential to promote mental health awareness in my local community, and it strengthened my commitment to connecting with community partners to make the BBQ Battle grow and advocate for men's mental health especially,” he explained. 

A chef for over 15 years, Rose Gray said her path to the classroom followed her priorities as a mum of two children with diverse developmental learning needs. 

Training as a teacher’s aide supporting students with disabilities, she joined CQU’s Bachelor of Education (Secondary) through a trade entry pathway in 2019. 

In 2021 Mrs Gray received the King and Amy O'Malley Trust Scholarship to support her studies in Home Economics.

“I am proud to call myself a home economist and teacher today, and to model inclusiveness in schools and the wider community by sharing my work,” she said. 

“I am building and influencing the world into a place where my children – and others like them – are safe, respected, understood and celebrated.

“I am truly humbled to receive the inaugural William Blayney Home Economics Prize, and I know I wouldn't have achieved the academic results that I did without the support of the Home Economics Institute of Australia, the King and Amy O'Malley Trust, the lecturers at CQUniversity and Professor William Blayney and the pathway he paved for trade students to be included and celebrated at CQU.”

CQU Home Economics Senior Lecturer Jay Deagon said both graduates had grown and developed across their studies, and she commended their achievements. 

“Home Economics is a high-demand teaching specialisation, and passion and experience are so important to this unique role,” Dr Deagon said.

“Paul and Rose are outstanding role models and Home Economics advocates."

On his retirement from a three-decade career as an educator at CQUniversity, William (Bill) Blayney established the Professor William Blayney Home Economics Awards. 

His doctoral study had focused on creating seamless and supportive pathways for tradespeople to enter university, and his own hospitality background inspired him to establish the $1,000 award to help nurture Home Economics and Hospitality teachers. 

Prof Blayney was one of Australia's first male Home Economics teachers in New South Wales in the 1980s. 

To learn more about Education and Home Economics pathways at CQU, explore CQU’s Education courses now.  

A woman wearing a striped apron stands behind a kitchen bench, with baking items.
CQU graduate teacher and award recipient Rose Gray