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In remembrance of Vale Paula Barnett, Former Principal of Berendale School

Article Photo

Photo: Ticket to Work partnership meeting. Paula is on the right.

The team at Ticket to Work were saddened to hear of the passing of Paula Barnett in 2020. We send our condolences to Paula's family, friends and loved ones.

This news has only recently come our way, we would like to pause for a moment and provide a reflection about Paula, who was a visionary in her work to improve the life outcomes of students with disability. She received the Award for Excellence in Special Education and a well deserved Fellowship, which saw Paula studying transition to employment for students with a disability in the USA. Her paper that still holds true as a blueprint in improving school outcomes can be found here: https://www.issinstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Report-Barnett-Final-LowRes.pdf

Below is an excerpt from an email I sent Paula, before she left her position at Berendale School. The message is still the same, although the numbers have since grown from 300 to over 1,600 students that have found work while at school. The number of students that have commenced work experience and preparation activities have now increased from 600 to 3,541. This is all testament to Paula’s early work with Ticket to Work.

“I just heard that you are finishing up as principal at the end of this year. I wanted to let you know how important you have been in the school to work ‘movement’ for young people with intellectual disability. Ticket to Work would not have got off the ground, if it was not your belief that your students could do so much more and deserved so much more post school. Your leadership with other specials school principals meant that we able to grow to where we have over 300 schools involved in some way.”

“The results speak for themselves, just this year 600 young people commenced in work experience and work preparation activities and over 300 young people have started a Traineeship and their pathway to economic participation. I hope you take some pride in knowing that you were an important part in supporting all those young people access employment.”  

Paula has left a legacy of work that has impacted many people’s lives. I feel fortunate to have worked alongside her.

Michelle Wakeford