Bruce Johnstone is the perfect example of an active, working professional who has successfully pivoted his career, moving from one area of expertise into another that offers a vastly brighter future.

Offered an exciting role in his new profession before he finished his final qualification, Bruce has now re-invigorated his career and is on a new career trajectory.

Today, Bruce is enjoying his new mandate to restructure safety systems, close safety loopholes, and ensure workers throughout Melbourne go home safely every day, and it was facilitated by the qualifications he gained with Swinburne.  

Bruce has successfully created a career in safety and advocacy.

A rich career history

Bruce has enjoyed a varied and long career from film producer to advocate, and support worker in the disability industry. He has long been an active advocate for the community as a member of many community groups, and has fought for GLBTIQA* rights and against HIV stigma. Five years ago he made the decision to leave the disability workforce in order to create greater change.

Bruce said "Working as a support worker in the disability industry became frustrating, as I could see we needed to make lifestyle changes for residents, as well as clients, who attended workshops and disability centres so they could have a day out." He continued, "My main gripe was with the safety levels, and I could see that loopholes were being exploited to avoid new rules and regulations coming through. I'd have arguments with management right up the tree, including politicians, about changes that needed to happen to keep people safe."

It was around this time that he heard about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) being developed, and he immediately jumped on board. He attended an NDIS disability sector forum held in Melbourne during the structure of the NDIS. Bruce silently fought by speaking out for all persons with any form of disabiity especially those in the GLBTIQA community as a silent advisor. Towards the very end as the NDIS was being put to Parliament, he acted as an advisor on behalf of the GLBTIQA community within the NDIS.

It was clear that Bruce needed a more formal role where he could make true changes. "I needed a piece of paper, a qualification or two, before I could really start treading on toes," Bruce chuckled.

  • My new employer chose to hire me when I finished my qualifications with Swinburne Edge, in part because my studies were so relevant to the real world.

    Bruce , Diploma of Work Health and Safety and Diploma of Quality Auditing

Bruce's study path and experience

Bruce's plan was to find a job as a Case Manager, and he'd been passed over for jobs on the grounds that he wasn't qualified enough. We see many people in a similar position; they have lots of experience and need that final 'piece of paper', a qualification, that proves their expertise.

At Swinburne Edge, Bruce dived into his studies and got as involved as he possibly could. "I've been doing the Fast-Tracks, and I find the study is easier to prioritise in this format. It's so high-value, and the experience you get from other people in the industry is priceless."

Bruce found two key things among his fellow Swinburne Edge participants: positive outlooks, and gratitude. "In every workshop, there were people who held positions in their organisations, and still wanted to learn more. Getting feedback, and being able to talk to fellow professionals, you quickly all level up."

Bruce continued, "I've been able to share my experiences too, and the facilitator always evolved the content in the class to give us more relevant insights into what the industry is about, and I'm pleased to say that I've enlightened other participants in disability areas that they hadn't considered."

Swinburne Edge support

The Swinburne Edge team wanted to ensure Bruce had the best learning experience possible. The team worked with Swinburne Accessibility Services to develop an Education Access Plan for Bruce, and introduced Bruce to the Learning and Academic Skills (LAS) team for study support.

In addition, the course coordinator was enlisted to provide additional support and liaised with the Work Health and Safety faculty for reasonable adjustments. The two course facilitators, Rohan and Peter, were also active supporters of Bruce's study paths.

Swinburne Edge is highly committed to supporting our students so they have a successful and enjoyable study experience.

Swinburne Edge support
Education Access Plan
LAS study support
Work Health and Safety faculty support
Work Health and Safety facilitator support
Course Coordinator support
Customer Development Advisor support

Final outcomes

Bruce is now in his new role at Wise Employment as the new WHS Officer/Investigator and Auditor Facilitator.

He's working on how companies operate their WHS management systems, and if needed, reconstructing how WHS works for them. "For me, it's all about keeping productivity up, keeping claims down, making sure workers go home safely every day, and getting decision-makers to re-think their decisions and look out of the box."

"I didn't think I'd be doing this five years ago. But here I am. I can't wait to see my recommendations come to life in new companies and organisations."

When asked if he had any advice for prospective Swinburne Edge students, Bruce responded, "Talk to the Customer Development Advisors, and do a bit of research into the area you want to study - and where it will be taught - and simply compare it."

"Swinburne Edge (previously Swinburne Professional) were more accepting of me, my disability, and how much I wanted to be there as a student to learn. Other providers I met with treated me like a number. Here, I was treated as an adult, and someone who is knowledgeable in both life and work experience, and that's what is needed in any learning situation."

Find out more about the Diploma of Work Health and Safety

Ready for the next step in your career?

Learn more about our professional development courses and take your skills to the next level.

Visit Swinburne Edge