HVTC 40th Anniversary - Bonnie Mae Hammerschmidt

In 2015, Bonnie Mae Hammerschmidt completed a Community Services traineeship with HVTC and Wollongong City Council. We caught up with the now 26-year-old to find out what she’s been up to in the last six years.

Where are you currently working? I am a Case Manager with Next Step Plus, based in Toowoomba.

What does your role involve? As a Case Manager I support young people with a care experience up until the age of 25. The role also involves advocacy and consulting with Department of Child Safety. Young people with care experience have a lot of disadvantages, such as trauma and mental health, so there is so much to work through. I enjoy it, but it can be very challenging.

As a former trainee, have you supported other people into traineeships in your current role? With my cohort there’s a lot of work to do be done first. If a job or traineeship is the end goal then we have to break it down into smaller steps first.

What other jobs have you held since completing your traineeship? After completing my Cert III in Community Services, I worked for a Non-Government Organisation in NSW as a Specialist Youth Worker before progressing to a Coordinators position in the organisation. I then moved to the Northern Territory where I worked in Intensive Family Preservation for two years.

What have been some of the highlights of your career so far? In 2020 I was awarded a New Colombo Plan Scholarship and moved to Cambodia at the start of the year to undertake my fellowship program. Unfortunately, due to Covid I had to return home after just two weeks. The Program is an initiative of the Department of Foreign Trade and Affairs and aims to build relationships in the Indo-Pacific.

What did you do when you returned to Australia? When I returned I had family in Toowoomba so I decided to move there and that’s when I secured the role with Next Step Plus.
Have you undertaken any additional study since your traineeship? I am actually completing a Master of Social Work (professional qualifying) as we speak through Charles Sturt University. While I was working for the NGO in NSW I completed my Diploma in Community Services. I also completed a Bachelor of Criminal Justice during my time in the Northern Territory.

What do you love about your field of work? I believe education is power and working with people to build confidence is really rewarding. Being human and connecting with each other and supporting each other is important.

Did you always see yourself working in this type of career? If I am completely honest, no! I always thought I would go to University and study Marketing and Communications but towards the end of high school I decided I wanted to leave school and thought a traineeship would be the best option. I believe education is important and with a traineeship I could have a job and still be learning. At the time I didn’t really see myself working in Community Services, but after applying for the traineeship with Council and by doing that work, I realised it was what I wanted to do. The traineeship was really eye opening. I tried something I never really considered and learnt so much from it. It helps you figure out what you want to do by trying it out first.

How has your traineeship impacted your career? During my traineeship I got to work with some strong women both at Council and HVTC. I had 2 Field Officers during my time with HVTC who had a lasting impact on the person I am today. I am forever grateful for their support and input.

What are some of your favourite memories from your traineeship? I was named HVTC’s Trainee of the Year in 2015 and NSW & ACT Community and Human Services Trainee of the Year. I also won a Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) and was a finalist for Trainee of the Year in the Illawarra & South East Region and the NSW and ACT Group Training Awards.

Bonnie Mae Hammerschmidt trainee award