10 May 2023

Principal recognised for going above and beyond

| Matt Nicholls
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THERE’S doing your job and there’s taking it to a new level for the benefit of both your employer and the community.

While Western Cape College associate principal Dan Tonon felt like there were more worthy candidates to win the Citizen of the Year Award, he said he was proud to have his behind-the-scenes work recognised.

“Having a great school is the key to a strong community and Western Cape College is a fantastic place to both work and learn,” he said.

“I don’t think the general Weipa population understands just how complex the school is and what we offer to students.”

Weipa Town Authority chair Michael Rowland said it was a tough selection process to pick the Citizen of the Year winner but said Mr Tonon was a worthy recipient.

“He excels at finding ways to navigate remote teaching challenges and learn about students, communities and cultures,” Mr Rowland said.

“Dan was a finalist at the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Awards and has also been involved in the Western Cape Coordinated Care for Young People, a partnership between government and non-government agencies to provide coordinated care approaches for young people experiencing multiple and complex issues.

“Under his leadership, six staff members at the college have now completed the Queensland University of Technology’s graduate certificate in Trauma Informed Education.”

Mr Tonon, who moved to Weipa from Yorke Island at the beginning of 2018, said working at Western Cape College was a constant challenge.

“But that challenge is what gets me out of bed in the morning,” he said.

“It’s a big centre in a remote location. We’re a large school and I like the complexity of the kids coming from all different communities.”

Mr Tonon said he was thrilled the Western Cape Coordinated Care for Young People initiative was recognised.

“We have some young people who might work with up to 26 different agencies,” he said.

“There wasn’t a mechanism that enabled a coordinated approach between those agencies and we had a lot of young people who were falling through the cracks.

“Certainly, there were many young people and their families who were getting ‘agency fatigue’ and were frustrated in the turnover of agencies and staff.”

Now, the agencies meet at the school every three weeks.

“We’re getting much better now at supporting each other and I know if the RFDS has lost one of its workers or if Child Safety is changing managers, which impacts the students,” Mr Tonon said.

He said he was also proud of the work being done by the Clontarf Academy, as well as the GP initiative, which provides access to a doctor one day per week.

“All these little things add up and make Western Cape College a great place,” he said.

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