Gary Smith – Regional Finalist for QTA Awards 2020

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July 17, 2020
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August 27, 2020

Gary Smith – UNE Partnerships Academic Director for Practice Management, has been nominated for the Queensland Training Awards 2020, VET Teacher or Trainer of the year and is now a Regional Finalist!

Gary has been shortlisted to the top 3 from more than 700 nominations across all categories.

Gary has been involved with the design and delivery of our Certificate III in Business Administration (Medical) since 2008 to meet the needs of Queensland and Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC).


We would like to congratulate Gary and wish him all the best for the next round!


Below is the full submission from UNE Partnerships, written by Margaret Kirby – Program Manager, Health & Medical for Gary’s nomination for the QTA 2020 Awards.


  1. Design and delivery work on updating the CIII Business Admin (Medical)
  2. Feedback collection from students attending his workshops 2025 -2019
  3. Community work and giving back.
  4. Photos Gary at QAIHC Graduations 2017 -2019                                     
  5. Article: Gary Smith – The success of working together by Colleen Sullivan 
  6. Article: Sector Leader magazine. UNE Partnerships QAIHC Success
  7. Article Gary Smith CIV Medical Practice Assisting HLT47715 


  1. History of the delivery of CIII Business Admin (Medical) with Design and delivery by Gary Smith, for UNE Partnerships.

This course is delivered as an online/ correspondence course to individual students all over Australia. Gary is the Academic Director of the qualification.  Gary has had many students and trainees, enrol and graduate with this qualification. Gary has managed changes to content, materials and assessments. He has assisted in the design of an RPL guide and template to complete which is evidence based. He has managed RPL applications, which are very comprehensive,  from students for many years.

2008-2009 Gary Smith as Academic Director of CIII, for UNE Partnerships, developed a design content and delivery plan for a standard CIII BSB31107 Business admin (medical) to meet the needs of QAIHC.  Gary, understanding cultural appropriation and diverse needs of the participant profile, completed a training needs analysis and a training assessment strategy, to identify and address client and student needs.  Gary managed the authoring, planning and development. He assisted writing of course materials and assessments. The assessment for this client group were customised to include tailored scenarios which reflect the complexity of managing service delivery in the ATSICHS environment. Aboriginal Medical Services documentations and workplace examples, while meeting compliance and UNE Partnerships level of excellence in quality learning materials and assessments. Gary managed this project and delivered quality materials, on time and within budget.

This course delivered was a standard offering, by correspondence with a blended face to face delivery of five training days. The format was accepted by QAIHC and the contract was agreed in 2008. The delivery began in 2009.

2010 Second cohort enrolled and trained. The client advised UNE Partnerships “The success of this program and others to come has and will assist with building capacity and sustainability of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Community Health Services in Qld.”

2011 Gary, with UNE Partnerships staff, managed the change, upgrade of the qualification version 6 Release 2 with an upgrade of three units’ added and 3 units being removed. Gary worked on rewriting course materials and assessments. Once these were approved and replaced our standard offering, a delivery plan was recalibrated and created.

2013 Gary managed the change to the new release 7.0-9.0 of BSB30112 New materials had to be written, updates to assessment criteria meant new assessments. Once Gary oversaw all of these changes a delivery plan was implemented with QAIHC to be a 10 day or two x 5 day training face to face workshop training days.

2017 Gary developed a design content and delivery plan for a standard CIII BSB31115 which was implemented in 2018. The new course criteria and elements meant a bigger body of work for students. Gary managed a plan to succeed culturally and academically with workshops including time for meaningful engagement, role plays and skill demonstration in the workshops. The assessments became standard and the customisation blended into diverse and cultural compliant course materials and assessments.

2020 Gary has again developed an inclusive, student focussed training plan. He has added using a flipped classroom approach. This approach includes emailing students individually each week, from eight weeks before the workshop. Each week a new topic is introduced with extended learning questions about how this occurs at your workplace and why and how processes are completed.

Each student will receive a personal introduction from him, with readings and suggested activities to increase their understanding of each unit of competency, delivered in the workshop. This year he has also included two 1 hour live webinars to get to know the students before the workshops. These will allow for questions and get to know you sessions, about the upcoming workshops what to bring and what to expect.

Of all the many quality assessors that have worked with UNE Partnerships Gary Smith has always been stand out. Deeply committed to learning processes, student focussed, efficient, and charismatic. He commands respect due to his high integrity and equality. Gary always puts his student’s needs first and for an amazingly busy man, he always makes time for the program, his students. From my, QAIHC and students perspective, Gary is always quick to assess, with meaningful positive engaging feedback that motivates and guides students.

This programs extraordinary success is remarkable. Gary’s cultural connectedness, industry expertise and understanding of both VET Education and student profile has been the guiding steadfast driver in this educational project. To his credit QAIHC will not run the course unless Gary is available to facilitate.

The continued repeat support of this program since 2009 of the participating Aboriginal Health Services in Queensland is testament to how highly respected not only by the attendees but the Services and their management. The positive outcomes and success can be directly linked to his management and influence.  QAIHC competency rate is above 93% over a 12-13 year span, this is amazing results

  YEAR Students
Enrolled QAIHC Cert III
Students competent Gary Smith
approval rating
Total competent Success rate
2020 23 N/A N/A N/A TBA
2019 14 4 so far* 100% N/A TBA
2018 16 14 92% 152 89% success rate
2017 15 15 95% 138 100% success rate
2016 18 14 91% 123 89% success rate
2015 5 5 100% 109 100% success rate
2014 15 15 100% 104 88% success rate
2013 13 13 96% 89 100% success rate
2009 -2012 84 76 90% 76 90% success rate


Overall satisfaction rate 81% for UNE Partnerships on average, for Gary it is 89% in CIII as above

Overall completion rate 93% QAIHC students

Gary’s approval rating as the trainer at workshops is also over 95%


  1. Collection of feedback from student evaluations QAIHC delivery CIII Gary Smith trainer

Evaluations from QAIHC Students all over QLD 2015 – 2019

Additional comments on the Facilitator Workshop 2015
He provided really good information and he knew what he was talking about, very well presented.
Gary explained what he needs to be done. Thank you.
Very funny and felt comfortable/confident throughout the course.
Very helpful when needed help.
Very nice man, funny and confident.
Able to connect as well as make relevant to course material.
Very, very helpful overall loved this course.


Additional comments on the Facilitator 2016
Great course great presenter. Made me feel special to be there  E
Good, enjoyed it Em
Very, very nice and calm and funny and  helpful overall I loved this course., thanks G
Excellent Loved Big G, he was smart and funny and I learned heaps C
Awesome presenter, he was expert in reception training – really good  Ca
Deadly training – awesome  Jo
“Thank you Gary for delivering fun, warm and informative training sessions and reassuring me that training is enjoyable and educational –

not daunting and stressful, as I thought before accepting and attending this course”

Additional comments on the Facilitator 2017
It was great to be able to attend this workshop and be able to meet other students and see how they do things in their clinics”
Yeah. Nice Garrrryyy. (Ty Gragan)
The workshop has exceeded my expectation. I have gained a lot more knowledge. Thank you. (Karina Martin)
Excellent class, very interesting, learnt so much, Gary is an excellent teacher. (Sharon Ward)
To [sic] deadly. (Brett Wason)
Excellent workshop. Gary was very informative and made everyone very comfortable. Interesting!! (Jordanna Ghee)
 Workshop 2 (5Days)
Great workshop learnt a lot of information that I could use in my workplace also everyday life (Karina Martin)
The facilitator would be the best to facilitate all the Cert 3 Bus Admin Medical as he clearly meets the expectations that every trainee would expect and he keeps the students engaged and at a suitable pace (Brett Wason)
Gary and Sandy made the classes so interesting, very informative (Sharon Ward)
All expectations were honestly impressive (Semra Deshong)
I found the workshop very educational and useful for my future understanding of policy and procedure in the workplace (Davina Toby)

Additional comments on the Facilitator 2018
Really excellent. Thanks for the opportunity
Learned heaps this week, thanks. Looking forward to next workshop
Highly skilled, knew his stuff made me think about a career in health. Ex J
Loved it
Great Qualification; confidence; education; knowledge; the assessments and case studies; recommend as an ongoing course for all AMS.
 Workshop 2 (5Days)
It was great to share ideas from each Practice. Thanks RCrawford
Learned heaps this week, thanks. Thank you very much It was awesome
He was so good. I got learn stuff I did not know about.
Gary is the best trainer ever. Got everyone excited about their work and explained heaps of things. Thx G
Additional comments on the Facilitator 2019
Great teacher thank you
  • Very good teacherAnon
  • Gary has been the best facilitator i have encountered yet with any training i have attended. the delivery of assessments was always made fun and it was structured in a way that it was broken up into sections, we went through a different section of the booklet every so often so we were not getting bored on one topic. Gary also made us feel welcome and not scared to make suggestions or part take in the discussions had. absolutely loved the week at the workshop Anon
  • everything’s great just one point is when it comes to audio it’d be good if all files were kept together.Anon
  • Gary was excellent i found as a older person and had not studied for years he made it clear, informative and fun, was a great learning week lisa
  • The material was a little confusing, was hard to follow, also a lot of audio’s to do. Gary was great at guiding us and helping us through it.Anon
  • Workshop 2
  • Very good.Anon
  • Thank you Gary & Sandy for an enjoyable time of learning and completing Cert III Anon
  • Thank you for the 2 weeks. Would not have completed this training if it wasn’t for the workshops. Also the staff here for making us feel welcome. Thanks Aunty Sandy and Uncle Gary, yous are amazing! Shanyta-Lee Simmons
  • Keep Gary around forever. Loved the workshops.Taylor Wilson
  • Well-structured course and great hospitality by QAIHC. Gary is a great teacher Hayley Granzien
  • “Gary and Sandy made the classes so interesting, very informative “Gary delivered every bit of the course beautifully, 12 out of 10!” Anon


  1. 3. Community input, giving back and adding value to Vet education.
  2. Gary has also delivered non accredited single days workshops on communication skills for QAIHC to supplement the training for the staff and new staff. The feedbacks been excellent. Gary has travelled to remote locations, taking two to three days to arrive and return. Gary has not claimed travelling time, to make sure the training goes ahead and is held at the most suitable locations for students to maximise attendance and needs are met, not his needs.
  3. Gary’s generosity is well known. Each year Gary takes the class of CIII QAIHC whole team out for dinner at his expense. This networking and student bonding experience is an annual event and enjoyed by all his students, particularly those remotely located that may have never experienced a capitol city before.
  4. In 2014 Gary financed an award for mentoring within AAPM for 2015. This award – information on page 11) brought purpose and information flow in the primary care health industry of. It gave new Practice managers and students of UNE Partnerships, a source to reach out for assistance and support.
  5. Gary is an amazingly gifted public speaker. He is very much in demand at conferences and speaking events especially those that encourage community involvement, aboriginal health and practice management. Gary was master of ceremonies at the AAPM 40th anniversary celebration dinner, 600 attending in Brisbane last year. This speech was extraordinary, engaging and very well delivered.
  6. As a very experienced business manager and Practice manager in western Sydney, Gary’s information and industry expertise is well documented and his knowledge and information is always shared to his students at a level the student can understand and relate to. Gary’s motto is knowledge is for sharing.
  7. This year’s 2020 QAIHC intake has been very high we have turned students away. The student’s managers have now also been trained by Gary and it is very clear they want the same quality of training for their new staff in medical reception.
  8. As the program manager of this qualification, I can confirm Gary is focussed, responsive and very much engaged with students learning journey. He is an outstanding communicator, a pleasure to work with, a very fast and comprehensive assessor with marking and always puts his students needs first. He manages change in curriculum and training package rules and regulations well. He is proactive and is always willing to reassess approaches and assist with issues.


  1. QAIHC & UNE Partnerships Ongoing collaborative success with

 Training in Cert III Business Administration (Medical) 2009 -2018

Written by Colleen Sullivan OAM, AAPM (Australian association of Practice managers) Life member.

The Success of Working Together

This is a remarkable story and one that demonstrates the value of working together to achieve great outcomes. It is a story of organisations and of people who have quietly set out to make a difference to the delivery of healthcare in their communities. It’s also a story about the students who have participated in the course. For many, when they start the course- they are sometimes hesitant and unsure about their ability and about the other students. It’s about how they grow through their journey and start to share ideas and information, they want to connect, learn and bring what they have learnt back to their communities and not only do things differently but do them better! These students get a qualification based on achieving competency and demonstrating this through assessment.

I remember being told a long time ago “educate your staff and they will educate your patients” and these students are a perfect example of this philosophy. They are making a difference in their community as well as to their own future.

So where do the students come from and how far have they travelled to attend this course? This by itself is extraordinary! So far the students have come from 27 towns / communities around Queensland as well as one from Western Australia and one from New South Wales.

If we look at these towns, the opportunity for these students to make a difference is extraordinary!

Gold Coast, Townsville, Brisbane, Stradbroke Island, Cleveland, Rockhampton Area, Mt Morgan, Mt Isa, Mackay, Dalby, Ipswich, Charleville, Roma, Mitchell, Quilpie, Gladstone, Cherbourg, Hervey Bay, Toowoomba, Warwick, Innisfail, Babinda, Tully, Ravenshoe, Cairns Region, Mareeba, Atherton, Cunnamulla and Palm Island.

The Organisations:

Its 10 years since QAIHC (Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council) and UNE Partnerships started working together to offer training to the ATSICHS (Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Community Health Services). QAIHC is committed to developing and supporting the Community Controlled Health Sector in Queensland in a peak body role. QAIHC has assisted with coordination of the program since 2009. They provided leadership, administration, communication and onsite support.

ATSICHS supported Medical Reception staff to attend the course and cover all costs – nil funding.

Note: QAIHC is also the Queensland affiliate of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

UNE Partnerships provided flexibility and the facilitation and commitment of the support team at UNE Partnerships. Gary Smith – Academic Director, customised the course and the delivery of the course to suit the needs of the communities and the students so they can achieve competency as well as a qualification. Gary has been presenting the course since its inception in 2009.

How did it start and what were the reasons for this venture?

Sandy Robertson is the Workforce Project Officer at QAIHC and she came from a background at Medicare Australia to work at QAIHC.  Sandy identified a need for formal training particularly for Medical Receptionists:

  • To build confidence in the position they have within ATSICHS
  • To build capacity within the ATSICHS
  • To provide career pathways for Medical Receptionists
  • To provide the opportunity for participants to share knowledge and experiences

Why UNE Partnerships?

  • UNE Partnerships customised a relevant course to meet the needs of the ATSICHS
  • Offered flexible delivery options
  • Student completion success
  • Excellent communication with QAIHC and students
  • Outstanding student support
  • An experienced, knowledgeable and culturally sensitive facilitator who has been with them from the beginning.

2009 – Certificate III in Business Administration (Medical)

In 2009, after the first two courses and just 26 participants, UNE Partnerships wrote:

“Developing the right skills and knowledge was a key objective for the QAIHC for staff from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services in Queensland. From the beginning, the benefits of training to the individual and the workplace was obvious and the response to the program was positive. According to Gary Smith “reviewing our skills and knowledge is a great way of managing challenges we face, particularly when “change” is a constant in most workplaces”. Colleen Sullivan (who also presented in some of the early workshops) said “a huge advantage is that students are able to complete their assessment tasks as they go. The group has the opportunity to work together during the course, see how other Health services function and develop strong networks for the future” Sandy Robertson has witnessed the positive outcomes this course has provided. “As the organiser, I can see the confidence of participants growing each day. It’s just amazing”.

UNE Partnerships and their support team have been committed to this remarkable program from the beginning and the administration, commitment, communication and flexibility has helped this program grow.

The outcomes – August 2019 

What is interesting, is to look at the student numbers, where are they from and where has their qualification, motivation and opportunity taken them?

169 Students have completed the full Certificate III in Business Administration (Medical)

75% of the students who have completed the course are still employed within the ATSICHS Sector.

Approximately 50 % have taken up other roles and it is interesting to see the scope of participants’ progression:

  • Chronic disease coordinators & team leaders; Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners
  • Clinic/Practice Managers; Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Worker (Hearing Program)
  • Medicare clerks; CQI Administration officer; Finance Administration officer; Allied Health Services Coordinator; Child & Wellbeing Administration receptionist; Indigenous Outreach worker and
  • Senior Medical receptionists.

Further career pathways include – studying nursing, positions within government departments.

The benefits for the ATSICHS

  • Completion of Nationally recognised qualification
  • Increased staff confidence in the role as a Medical Receptionist
  • Building capacity within the front line at the ATSICHS
  • Assistance with career pathways to another career and/or higher positions
  • Option to complete as a traineeship

The benefits for UNE Partnerships

  • An important part of the aboriginal engagement strategy
  • Indigenous initiative
  • High success rate for students and student progression
  • Student satisfaction
  • UNE Partnerships is classified Not For Profit and feel strongly about providing fair and equitable high quality training and education to all students

The benefits to the Students

Here is just a little of the feedback:

Qualifications; confidence; education; knowledge; the assessments and case studies; recommend as an ongoing course for all AMS.

“It was great to be able to attend this workshop and be able to meet other students and see how they do things in their clinics”

“The venue was perfect, peaceful and quiet in our own space”

“Great to be able to understand what I was being taught”

“Thank you Gary for delivering fun, warm and informative training sessions and reassuring me that training is enjoyable and educational – not daunting and stressful, as I thought before accepting and attending this course”

“Gary and Sandy made the classes so interesting, very informative “Gary delivered every bit of the course beautifully, 12 out of 10!”

Graduation 2018

The current group of 18 students, graduated on 10th August 2018

Some have travelled from communities in Mareeba, Atherton, Rockhampton, Ipswich, Gladstone and Brisbane. When you talk to them they have enjoyed not only confirming their knowledge but learning new things and gaining a better understanding of the delivery of their services. The group has come together to learn and they have had fun along the way. They have formed friendships and connections that will grow.

As part of the course, I had the opportunity to see this group do individual presentations as one of their assessments. What surprised me was the creativity and insight the students had. They have obviously come together and were there to support and encourage each other.  Everyone loved the opportunity to “perform” for their colleagues and demonstrate their knowledge.

The graduation ceremony is a celebration of their achievements and a presentation of their Certificates. It is a time to be proud of what they have done but also a time to thank the people and organisations who have helped them reach their goal. For many of the students, this is just the beginning. One student told me, “Now, I am going to complete my Diploma and continue studying because I am going to do Medicine”! QAIHC and UNE Partnerships have shown them the way and highlight the program and the success of working together.

As I said at the beginning this course is very much about the people involved, Neil Willmet, CEO at QAIHC , Kathryn Hogan from UNE Partnerships and many of the staff attended the graduation to celebrate with the students and take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with them talking about the course, their communities and future opportunities.

Community Feedback

What was important was the interest in providing specific feedback from some of the communities. Bevan Ahkee, CEO of the Mamu Health Service in Innisfail, Sheryl Lawton CEO of the Charleville Western Areas ATSICHS and Deb Malthouse CEO Wuchopperen Health Service, Manoora Cairns provided detailed feedback on what participating in the Certificate III Business Administration (Medical) Course has meant to the students, their practices and their communities. Their feedback included higher qualifications and career pathways, high success rate for students, workplace relevant course, the importance of qualifications and accreditation requirements, locally qualified people as the first point of contact, progression to Aboriginal health workers accredited with AHPRA, growing the local workforce across the service footprint, skills, tools and understanding of legal requirements and customer service.

The success of working together continues.

Support for education for the Indigenous Health Communities is increasing and the outcomes are far reaching.  UNE Partnerships and the Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM) provide scholarships for Indigenous Health workers to achieve qualifications and further education. These are exciting times and as I said at the beginning, this story is a demonstration of the success of working together and the belief and commitment of QAIHC and UNE Partnerships to the students, and their communities.


4.  Photos Gary at QAIHC Graduations 2017 -2019                       

2019 Gary Smith, Sandy Robertson, students and Colleen Sullivan OAM



2018 Gary Smith, with eager QAIHC graduating CIII



5. Submission article: Gary Smith – The success of working together by Colleen Sullivan    


6. Submission article: Sector Leader magazine. UNE Partnerships QAIHC Success                 




7. Submission article Gary Smith CIV Medical Practice Assisting HLT47715