Distracted by a difficult home life, Julie-ann Lambourne never got the chance to learn much at school. . .but she certainly made up for that later.

As the CEO of enVizion Group Inc, an organisation dedicated to improving access to education and employment, Julie-ann Lambourne knows a thing or two about teaching and training. She’s now had a successful career with more than two decades of State and Federal government experience – but she herself had far from a straightforward education. 

A Torres Strait Islander woman hailing from Mabuiag and Darnley Islands, Julie-ann grew up in Cairns in a family experiencing intense social and financial stress. She doesn’t recall much of her schooling experience other than “really struggling with the learning process” and left school before completing year 10.

“When I told my maths teacher that I was going to leave, he said, ‘Yeah, I’m not surprised. You’re not cut out for learning’,” she remembers. “When your home life isn’t great, school is low on your priorities.” 

Julie-ann’s mother was a chronic alcoholic, and despite having a strong extended family network, had no close role models to look up to. “We practically grew ourselves up,” she says.

After leaving school, Julie-ann did a few odd jobs. But it wasn’t long before she’d enrolled in TAFE to do an associate diploma of early childhood education and surprised even herself when she began excelling in study. By the age of 18 she’d begun a traineeship in the public service and hasn’t looked back. 

“My path to higher education didn’t start until 17 years ago, when I was doing social services work,” Julie-ann explains. At the time, she was working with homeless and at-risk youth.

“I knew I needed to do extra study to upskill and change my brain’s ways of thinking. Many of their stories were so similar to my own, which I had great empathy for, but would personalise in my own mind, at times causing me to regress.  Studying helped me to differentiate between self and client.” 

Julie-ann strongly believes that “regardless of where people come from or what their circumstances are, everyone has the ability to learn.” And that’s the philosophy that drives her work at enVizion. The group provides training and education to people of all ages and backgrounds.

“We structure support around differing abilities so that all people have an opportunity to gain an education,” Julie-ann says. “To help our students succeed, we let them know they have people they can rely on and look up to.”

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