In a wide-ranging career, Frederick Maddern has held foundational and significant roles with numerous government and community organisations, including Councillor and Mayor of the City of Footscray, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria and President of the Australian Local Government Association.
It was during Mr Maddern’s time as the CEO of the Western Region Commission (WRC), formed in 1974 with membership comprising of the nine member councils in Melbourne’s West, that he began to address the high level of youth unemployment in Victoria’s Western Suburbs, where young people had traditionally faced economic difficulties.
In 1983 Mr Maddern worked with the board of the WRC to develop Western Region Group Training (WRGT), the first community based GTO established in Victoria. Mr Maddern and the other founders of WRGT travelled interstate and researched similar regions to learn the advantages of Group Training and maintained WRGT to best serve the youth of the Western Region.
Officially relaunched on 14 August 2007, the GTO’s name was changed to WPC Group. This was a time when there was a lack of focus and lack of funding for traineeships and apprenticeships. As Chairman of the GTO Mr Maddern recognised that group training needed to adapt to the changing environment while keeping focus on traineeships and apprenticeships. Environment and trades became a priority.
Mr Maddern, with WPC Group’s CEO consulted overseas and again reinvigorated group training. While other GTOs were going under WPC Group rose from the ashes. Mr Maddern had repositioned the GTO for the 21st century, never losing focus of the apprentices and trainees and the communities he had set out to help. Mr Maddern continues this work, still Chairman of WPC Group today.
Mr Maddern also chairs the Skilling Australia Foundation, set up in 2012, to bridge the gap between unemployment and a meaningful career for disadvantaged young Australians. The foundation works in innovative ways to support young Australians facing disadvantage to forge their own career pathways through training and meaningful employment. By teaming up with schools, industry, business, governments and the vocational education and training sector, the Skilling Australia Foundation has helped more than 1,300 young people build the skills towards a meaningful career, setting them up for a career of their choice.
Mr Maddern is actively involved in the foundation’s pre-employment programs, speaking regularly to the groups of young people on their pathway to employment. Mr Maddern takes an encouraging interest in each participant’s pathway and goals and engages and inspires all, offering a wealth of knowledge and experience.
As a promotor of the critical role of Vocational Education and Training in Victoria Mr Maddern encourages young Victorians to pursue VET qualifications that will make them ‘skills ready’ meaning they are much less likely to face long term unemployment in the years ahead.