13 Oct 2011

by Bi Lee 

COLLEGE students dawdled along the corridor, entering a lecture hall at the Berwick campus of Monash University on an April weekday, lugging their laptops and reading materials.


Barbara Dalton pushed a button on the lectern and brought fourth her presentation slides on the screen. In a black blazer and plastic-rimmed glasses, she looked the part of a psychology professor.


But Ms. Dalton’s other life often demands different attire: She wears T-shirts and slacks at the social work department in Monash Medical Centre Clayton where she works three days a week as a counsellor.


At other times, she prefers to be in sweatpants and tank tops when she picks up her grand-daughter from school to her bed and breakfast on Berwick, Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.


Ms. Dalton, 68, is currently doing her Masters in Social Work at Monash University. Unlike most of her other classmates, she obtained her Victorian Certificate of Education at the age of 33.


Always having find herself struggling with words, grammar and punctuation because of the missed years in education, she thought it was “sheer luck” she got through VCE.

“I got a C in English and the lecturer was saying to me: ‘I hope I never have to read such a terrible essay again’,” Ms. Dalton said.


Since the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) made its commitment to lifelong learning in 1996, there has been growing interest in lifelong learning in the Australian policy community.


For Ms. Dalton, who stands at five feet tall and wears cropped blonde hair, it all begun in 1987 when her welfare work experience for the Department of Human Services transported her into a new world.


“I saw this connection between human behaviour and child development. I had this need to know why certain issues occurred and how we can prevent them. So I decided to enroll in an associate Diploma of Welfare as an external studies student in Monash University,” Ms. Dalton said.                                                                                             

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