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Interview: Maurie Fatnowna

In the following interview, Churchill RPL graduate Maurie Fatnowna describes how he was able to make the most of his policing experience to gain a Diploma of Work, Health and Safety (WHS) through RPL (recognition of prior learning).

START

Churchill:
Can you tell me a little bit about your background, and where you were at before getting in touch with Churchill?

Maurie:               
I was 20 years with the police. I was the Detective Sergeant in the Child Protection Investigation Unit here in Mackay. So, I’ve worked all over Queensland, or mostly beyond the southeast corner, and up into Mackay. Then I got an opportunity to work for Shell Australia, managing a bulk field terminal here in Mackay. We distribute fuel to our customers in the Bowen Basin, and throughout, as well, service our stations and other customer needs in the area.

So, I took up that role and in the process of leaving the police and joining the private sector I just really saw that my qualifications that I’d racked up over my 20 years weren’t really translating the way that I would’ve thought.

I suppose when you’re in the police, like most jobs, you feel that what you’re doing is really, really important – which it is, don’t get me wrong, it is – but it is really pigeonholed into that justice or criminal sort of field, and doesn’t really translate in any other field. So whether you’re managing people or dealing with budgets or whatever that might be, that’s all well and good but it only really translates when you’re doing it with the police.

               
So I put my head down and did a bit of extra studying, and got my diploma in management with a couple of extra subjects on the back end of what I’d done in the police, but that took a fair bit of time and a fair bit of effort.

Churchill:
So when you did that diploma, you did a bit of RPL going into that.

Maurie:               
Yeah, a bit of RPL, and a bit of extra study. It just made me realise that it’s important not to rest on your laurels and just sit back and think that everything’s going to be fine, and then one day when you go, “Oh, Jeez, I wouldn’t mind being promoted” or “I wouldn’t mind being outside of the job.” Then you look at your qualifications and you realize they don’t really translate.

And I just thought to myself, after that experience, I’m not going to do it again. So this time, now being in the private sector, I really took note of all the things that I was doing, and made a little diary note of whatever I might be doing that I thought was fairly important to further studies. And then when I realized when I had enough I approached Churchill to look to translate all those extra stuff I was doing on a day-to-day basis into some sort of tertiary education.

And that’s where we come through with being eligible for the RPL for the Work Health and Safety. That was excellent, I was really happy with that, because all the work that I’d been doing over four or five years was easily translatable into the Work Health and Safety Diploma. So that was great.

Churchill:
That’s great. So, going back to when you first left the police force and started working for Shell, at that point did the role that you went into need qualifications that you didn’t have?

Maurie:               
Yeah, it did. The one thing that the police did teach me was to be a good communicator. So those so-called soft skills are really coming to the fore now in the private sector. Being a police officer, those skills that are taken for granted, like being able to communicate and problem-solve, and deal with people in crisis, and all those sorts of things, I had. And the acquiring of the academic side of things was what I had to really gather when I left.

So some of the things that were important here was that management side of things, given that I was managing people and contractors on a daily basis. And whilst I’d gotten the job with the other more … half of the qualifications, I really felt it was important, once again, not to sit back and go “Oh, well, I’ve got the job now so everything’s good, I don’t need to continue with my study.” I thought, it’s not necessarily about this job that I’ve got now, it’s making yourself available for possibly the next one.

Once I left the police, I got outside that bubble of being in the police; you get in that bubble sometimes and it’s just like “Well, there’s nothing else going on in the world apart from what I’m doing right now, because it’s really important, and it’s a great job”, and all those sorts of things, but once you get out of the police you realize, you know what? I am employable to do other things, and there are lots of other things that I’d be excited to do or interested in doing, and I just need to make myself ready for that next opportunity. And that could be leaving.

Churchill:
That’s really smart. So, getting in touch with Churchill, you know Randall?

Maurie:
Yeah, I knew Randall years ago and he’s a really nice bloke. And when I saw that he had started Churchill, I thought to myself, good on him for having a crack, and having a go; getting outside the bubble and having a bit of a go in the private enterprise. And when I looked further into Churchill, I thought to myself, this is exactly what I would have needed five years ago. They would have picked it up.

Because towards the back end of my policing career I was ready to go, to be quite honest with you. My mindset had changed, with family, things like that. If I’d known that Churchill was available back then, my transition into the private sector would have been a lot easier, because I would have done all that hard work before leaving, as far as collating all of my police work into real diplomas.

Churchill:
So do you suspect that if you had known about companies like Churchill who do the RPL process for you, that maybe you might not have had to study?

Maurie:               
Yes and no. But I tell you, there would be a percentage of police officers and people in the military and all those sorts of backgrounds that are sitting there right now, at work, and they don’t like their jobs. They don’t like their jobs, but they’re there because they don’t see another way out, and they don’t believe that there are other opportunities, because they look at their qualifications and they go, “I’ve been a copper for 20 years, and it doesn’t translate. This doesn’t translate.”

And if they knew that they could go to Churchill or something like that and go, “This is me, just tell me what’s available for me out there”, that would give them the boost, perhaps, to go “You know what, I am employable, I can get other jobs, look at these qualifications, real-world qualifications, that I’ve got.”

Churchill:
So, an example of some qualifications that police officers may be qualified for under RPL?

Maurie:               
Yes, 100%.

Churchill:
Right. So where are police offers looking? Are they on Facebook, are they on Google? Where do police officers do research?

Maurie:               
Seek.com, things like that. They look at Google, all those things. But in a sense, they’re a bit tunnel-visioned. They just look at the … “OK, I can be an investigator”, or “I can be an investigator with any number of government departments.” I think police officers have a lot more to offer than just that.

Churchill:
Absolutely, yes.

Maurie:               
These so-called soft skills now, that employers are looking for, an employee’s ability to handle crisis, handle employees that aren’t doing really well, give advice, whether it be easy or tough conversations, and be good communicators; they’re difficult things. And you don’t necessarily get them after a six-year degree, but I tell you, you get them after being in the police for six years. I guarantee you.

Maurie:               
And to accompany those sort of skills with real-world qualifications; I personally think police officers should be employable across the board when they enter the so-called real world.

Churchill:
Definitely gives you real people-management skills and crisis and conflict resolution skills, doesn’t it?

Maurie:               
Yeah, yeah, 100%. Sometimes they don’t see it. Particularly guys that have been in for 10 or 15 years, and may be looking to get out. This new generation will leave after four or five, they don’t blink an eye.

Churchill:
Right. So, are there any internal services in the police force for career transition? Is there any support for officers wanting to move out?

Maurie:               
I couldn’t really speak in the current, I’ve been out for five years now, but I know when I was there, there wasn’t necessarily that. I think there’s obviously that transition into retirement. But I don’t think the culture is there – I know it wasn’t there when I was there – to be the sort of person who’d go, “Listen, I’m really considering transitioning away from the police into the private sector; can somebody help me do that?”

I don’t think that’s there. Or wasn’t there, and I don’t think that’s really encouraged, to be honest, because they want to keep you.

Churchill:
OK. So it’s very much, if you want to leave it’s up to you, and you go to Seek, any kind of agency.

Maurie:
Recruitment agency, yeah. What I personally feel is the real avenue is there for Churchill to promote itself, to be translating current things that police officers are studying into registered qualifications across the board, that translate out in the corporate world. Because at the moment you might have to do five or six more extra studies, extra courses; that’s hard to do if you’re a shift worker.

Maurie:               
That’s hard to do, you know? You do a lot of work. I was a detective, so I obtained my detective qualifications, so you get your management diploma after that, I think it’s another six or seven subjects. So that’s a lot of time and effort. Not to mention the amount of time that goes into obtaining your detective qualifications can take up to five years. So it’s a lot of time and effort to get your detective’s appointment. And all it gets you is an Advanced Diploma in Investigations. And you’re talking about five years of work.

Churchill:
Wow. And you know, if you did five years of tertiary study, that would get you a master’s degree.

Maurie:               
Mm-hmm (affirmative). So it’s a lot of time and effort. And if you look at the current format, I’m not quite sure what they get now, they’ve changed it, but back then, five years ago, ten years ago, that’s how much time and effort a police officer gives.

So you’ve got a whole generation of detectives out there that have done that old model of training that really should have that developed into something higher that really translates.

Churchill:
So, tell me a bit about the process of getting in touch with Churchill, and actually getting your Qualification.

Maurie:               
Yeah, sure. So, I found Churchill, obviously, through Randall Smith, and dug a bit deeper and sent in an inquiry email online. Then when I got in touch and spoke to Kelly. I’d sort of looked at the courses that were available on the website. Website was great, really, really good, really helpful.

Showed all the courses that you make available or the courses that you can attain through RPL. I saw one that I believed would be beneficial to my current role, as well as in the future, being the Workplace Health and Safety Diploma. And when I looked at the courses and looked at the subjects, I felt, I can answer those fairly easily given what I’ve been doing for the last five years.

Then I sent Kelly an email saying, “Look, I’m interested in this course.” And then she sent me an email outlining areas that I would need to address that correlated with the subjects, and show real experiences. So I dragged those questions and put them into a spreadsheet, then put those there and then I put another column, so that was the questions, they were the areas or the subjects that she wanted to answer. Then in the next column I put evidence; what was the evidence I was going to put together for her. Then the next column, I put whether I could address it or not, yes or no, basically, saying “Yes, I do that evidence.”

Then I went about gathering it and making that spreadsheet, and putting into the evidence what I was going to add, whether that be a permit to work on our sites or a workplace meeting for safety that I might have, or an investigation that I conducted in relation to a safety incident at work, or safety procedures that I’ve developed through my time here, and then I’ve indicated that.

Then in the process I was making a folder on the line and dragging all those pieces of evidence, scanning them and putting them into the folder. So when I felt like I’d addressed it, I attached the spreadsheet and sent it to Kelly, as well as attached all the electrical evidence, and sent that to Kelly and said, look, I believe I’ve addressed it. Here’s the questions, here’s the evidence that I believe addresses them, and here’s the actual physical evidence in electrical form, physically showing you that I’ve done it.

So, I did that, that was the first draft, then I did a second draft, and then I gained the qualification, so it was pretty easy, really.

Churchill:
So how long did that process take?

Maurie:               
It took a while, because obviously you’re doing them every day. Then you’re sort of thinking, looking at the questions going, “OK, how can I address that?” But once I’d put my mind to actually address it, I left it alone for a little bit, to have a think about “OK, how can I address it?” And that’s when I came up with this spreadsheet idea.

Then once I’d come up with that idea it was pretty easy after that. I sort of typed it out in my mind what I thought the evidence was, went into my work and gathered, because as I said earlier, I’ve been in a position before where I’d spent weeks and weeks and weeks digging through stuff trying to address it, whereas in my new job now I really keep note of things, I place things in folders so I can find them in future, etc.

So it wasn’t too hard, I could just grab things and place it into the evidence email for her. So it was pretty easy in the end.

Churchill:
That’s great. So, officers who are still in the force and they’re not that happy but don’t really know what options they’ve got, what would you say to them?

Maurie:               
You’re employable! Don’t keep the job and be unhappy. Don’t sit there and look at colleagues getting promoted and being in jobs that you’d want to be in. Don’t sit there and think to yourself, “I can’t do anything else” and therefore stay in an unhappy job, which affects you and your family. You are employable, you just need your qualification that you’ve gained and that’ll be used to translate. That’s it. And they do. They do translate, into more roles that just being investigators.

I think good police officers have a lot more to offer than just that. And they’re adaptable, and employable, and they’re fantastic communicators and problem-solvers. All these different things that we do on a daily basis and don’t blink an eye. I think they really translate in the private sector. They maybe just need that little bit of encouragement … “Come and see me with all the work you’re doing; we can turn it into something. It’s possible. And if it can’t be turned into something, you’re really close.”

Churchill:
And what would you say about choosing Churchill to handle the RPL process?

Maurie:               
Wouldn’t hesitate. Not one bit. Best thing I’ve done in a long time.

The process was very easy. Once you see how you can address an RPL point, you can find something. Or if you can’t find something you know what to work towards to obtain it. So I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to anybody who’s in the force. And you don’t necessarily need to be unhappy, but you need to plan for the future, and in the future you might be unhappy.

Churchill:
That’s good advice. And my last question: is there anything that you feel we could do better , at any step of the process? The website? If you have anything that you think we could improve on, I’d love to hear it.

Maurie:               
I wish you were there five years ago. The only thing I can say, if you want to do something better, promote yourself better because I think you’ve got a wonderful product, and I honestly believe there’s a large contingent of people who will have been in the military or whether it be in the police service or AFP or whatever it might be, that are doing things right now that only translate to that one career and that they could translate to the private sector, if they come and see whether there’s any places with you.

END

 

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Maurie Fatnowna

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