Opening corporate doors for public school teenagers

Tracey and Peter at KPMG’s Melbourne office.

Peter Raftopoulos, credit controller at KPMG Australia, is giving back to his community and inspiring young people by taking part in Ourschool.

Peter, an alum of Springvale High School, which is now Keysborough College, recently hosted two Year 10 work experience students from Keysborough College. He also held a seminar at KPMG’s Melbourne office for a Year 11 accounting class from his old school and has returned to Keysborough College to take part in an alumni career pathways session.

This is what Peter, and Tracy, one of the Year 10 students, said about the work experience week:

Peter: “I wanted to provide a work experience placement through the Ourschool alumni program because I thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to my school and also to be able to mentor public high school students who really want to come into a Big Four accounting firm in the future after completing their studies.

“I remember as a young person myself, I had an older brother who worked at KPMG, and on occasion after my school day I would catch the train into the city and go to his office, which was so empowering as a young person to see the inner workings of a large firm. So this program is a great opportunity to show other young people, that they too, from a public school, can have the same opportunities as private school students do.

“Even within my workplace at KPMG, there are so many diverse jobs that young people can aspire to, ranging from accountants, consultants, finance and IT support staff, secretaries, even catering staff.

“It’s a wonderful environment and I feel it’s a privilege to be a mentor to these students via the alumni program.”

Tracy: “I wanted to do work experience at KPMG through the alumni program because it felt like it was a good opportunity for my future. I’ve observed and learned about what they do at KPMG. I like the flexibility of the workplace, the flexible working hours and how everyone is so friendly.

“I thought everyone might not be so approachable but it’s the opposite.

“If I didn’t have this opportunity through the alumni program, I probably would have done work experience at a primary school because my mum wanted me to be a teacher. But that wouldn’t have suited me because I’m really interested in business.”

Ourschool’s Nobel prize-winning friend

Excitement about Ourshool is growing, with more than 160 people attending an Ourschool friends’ event at PwC.

Photo: Panel discussion at Ourschool Friends’ event at PwC, Melbourne

The event was held to celebrate Ourschool’s achievements in our first 22 months of existence and to thank our generous supporters.

Our special guest was Nobel Prize winner and scientist, Professor Peter Doherty. Professor Doherty is a proud public high school alum and a strong advocate of the benefits of a public school education.

Professor Doherty took part in a panel discussion with public high school alumni guests who’ve been involved in Ourschool. His fellow panellists were Manisha Blencowe, a lawyer and Princes Hill Secondary College alum, Jenny Liao, a psychologist and Mt Waverley Secondary College alum and Paul Broecker, Assistant Principal of Fountain Gate Secondary College.

The panel was hosted by Shaun Carney, author and journalist, who is a Monteray High School alum.

Our guests spoke about the importance of their public school education and the opportunities that vibrant alumni networks can provide to public high school students and school communities.

Ourschool features in parliament

Thank you to Gary Maas for mentioning Ourschool in his maiden speech to the Victorian parliament.

Video: Gary Maas maiden speech in parliament

Gary is the new MP for Narre Warren South. He’s a Keysborough College alum (Springvale High) who’s been involved in our alumni program at Keysborough, helping to inspire public school students and provide work experience.

Ourschool makes the news

Herald Sun Ourschool Article

A feature article about Ourschool’s work appeared in the Herald Sun newspaper on Saturday 1 December, 2018. If you’re a subscriber to the newspaper, you can read a digital copy of the article by clicking here:  How the old school tie is making its mark in the public system

The newspaper has a solid paywall so non-subscribers can’t access the link. However, the accompanying photo shows the article as it appeared in the newspaper.

Returning to school, an alum inspires others

22-6-18 Brent Novak general manager Flight Centre Travel Group and Ali

Photo: Brent Novak, General Manager at Flight Centre and Ali

Brent Novak’s participation in an Ourschool alumni session at Sunshine College led him to offer a work experience placement to Ali, a Year 10 student.  Brent, General Manager of Flight Centre Travel Group, and Ali, discuss what that placement meant to them:

BRENT: “When I came back to the school a few months ago to speak to the students I didn’t have any intention of taking on a work experience person. But after meeting Ali and seeing his determination to succeed I thought it would be good to give him the opportunity to see how a large business operates.

“In hindsight I’ve got more out of the work experience week than Ali has. Because it not only reconnects you to your own childhood and aspirations when growing up. It also connects you to hearing how the younger generation are trying to better themselves and forge their own career paths.”

ALI: “It’s been one of the most incredible weeks of my life. I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve learnt about finance, marketing, how to have meetings – meetings discussing issues and challenges that might arise at work.

“I’ve learnt in order to run a big company like this you need to be good with your staff. That’s something that Brent does. He’s polite with staff, he’s got a certain connection with them. . . He makes the workplace a fun place.

“A student might sometimes think that because I live in Sunshine I might not get far but seeing some of the alumni in the alumni program is very encouraging. When I saw Brent come in I was very surprised.  It made me think, ‘Wow, I can do something’. It gives students hope; it shows us that we can be something. It gives us motivation.”



Class of 1963 group starts a student scholarship

News page_Class of 1963 articlePhoto: Class of 63 alumni Graeme Thompson and Jill Galbraith with Sydneyrita, school vice-captain and Hasnain, school captain


ALUMNI from Sunshine High School have established a student scholarship at Sunshine College as part of Ourschool’s alumni development program.

Sunshine College is one of nine public high schools receiving Ourschool’s help one day a week to build the school’s alumni community.

Caroline Milburn, Sunshine College’s alumni program manager and co-founder of the Ourschool alumni program, has connected with many alumni from the College and its six foundation schools, including Sunshine High School.

This has led to a group of alumni from the Class of 1963 at Sunshine High School stepping forward to raise funds for a student scholarship. “Our alumni program is in its very early stages and we’ve been focusing on inviting alumni back to school to inspire current students,” Ms Milburn said. “An alumni scholarship program is one of our goals and it’s exciting to see that alumni are keen to help and inspire students in this way.”

The college and the Class of 1963 alumni group have established the student scholarship on a two- year trial basis. The alumni group hopes to encourage other alumni from Sunshine High to contribute to the “Sunshine High School Alumni Scholarship”.

Graeme Thompson and Jill Galbraith, two members of the Class of 1963, recently visited Sunshine College’s senior campus to discuss the scholarship with the school’s leaders and the alumni program team.

Mr Thompson said the group wanted to encourage students to work hard to achieve their goals. “As a beneficiary of a very good education at SHS that allowed me to progress to university, I see the Sunshine College scholarship program as an opportunity to support students through to year 12 and encourage their progression onto tertiary education.”