STAFF PROFILE: Fairfield PGA Rudi Dominguez
No two days are the same for a Pathways Guidance Advisor. Just ask Rudolf Dominguez from Navitas Skilled Futures Fairfield College, who can pivot from form filling to mock interview practice to mental health support in the space of just one afternoon.
Rudolf, or “Mr Rudi” as he is affectionately known to staff and students, says he wouldn’t have it any other way. His work days are as diverse as his CV – he has a background in hospitality management and VET training, and qualifications in HR, management, leadership, a Bachelor’s Degree in Archaeology and Biology, a Graduate Certificate in Research Skills and both a Master’s of Studies and a Masters in Nuclear Science! And he is about to embark on his PHD.
“I’ve got quite an eclectic work and study background,” laughs Rudi. “How does it serve me in my role? Well, I get students from a variety of backgrounds, and when they come in from overseas with a medical degree, or they’ve have done engineering, or business or marketing, I understand what they’ve studied. I can help them with their resumes and what they need. It all comes in handy.”
But at Fairfield, where many of the students originate from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, Rudi is also frequently dealing with serious personal issues, including people who need trauma counselling, victims of domestic violence, even students who are suicidal.
“Given the cohort here, we’re supporting students through a lot of personal issues,” Rudi said. “A lot have trauma, suffered through their experiences, back home through war, and sometimes that translates into their own personal lives. So, the role is not just about helping with educational and employment pathways; it is also about assisting people to get help, like counselling services or legal aid services.”
But Rudi stresses that PGAs are “not psychologists, not psychiatrists”. They are there to support and refer, rather than counselling: “It is a supportive role and we have to refer to the agencies when people need help, sometimes urgently.”
Then there is the “every day” support, such as helping translate documents, assistance paying bills, work development orders, writing or giving feedback on CVs and job applications, or helping renew and apply for Opal and travel concession cards to ensure they can actually get to college.
“The role is very important,” Rudi said. “It is a crucial role because it supports students right around the edges. So where we can help them, that alleviates their ability to attend classes.”
While students can make appointments to see a college PGA, Rudi has an “open door policy”, enabling students to drop in on breaks and after classes when he is not in a meeting. Sometimes there will be a line of students waiting – and Rudi is ready for anything.
While he doesn’t speak Arabic (he is Spanish), he has access to bilingual support and often students with better English support their classmates on general matters, such as course information. All meetings are confidential.
Rudi also assists trainers and at local events to deliver training workshops and relevant resources, such as resume writing, job search, interview and employability skills, career pathways, goal setting, and the Australian Education system. Before commencing his PGA role in 2017, he worked at Navitas Bankstown and Auburn as a Pathways to Work advisor in the SLPET program, training students in employability skills, for industries including childcare, hospitality, housekeeping and workplace communication for professionals. He continues this role in supporting students and trainers in the current Pathways to Work courses at Fairfield, from enrolment and course work to work experience and post-graduation follow up.
He loves the variety of his job and mostly that, at Navitas Skilled Futures, students have a personalised service; “they are not just a number”.
“At the end of the day you make a difference and you’re helping people,” Rudi said.
“Like all jobs, sometimes there are frustrations, you have a tough day, but when you have students that come back, or they see you on the street somewhere and say hello and thank you for what you have done, that’s rewarding.”
Every Navitas Skilled Futures college has its own Pathway Guidance Advisor, available to support all AMEP students. For more information see: Pathway Guidance.