President Vince Costantino introduced the Guest Speaker for the Rotary Club of Pinjarra's Thursday 18th of February meeting; Miss Skipper Van Peer representing the Peel Bright Minds Group.
Skipper is a local girl, having completed her primary and secondary education in Mandurah. She enjoys sports activities, playing for the Peel Thunder AFLW team, and is an avid surfer.
Her background in graphic arts led to work with Peel Bright Minds lead to an opportunity to work there, and is now the Program Director for the organisation.
We live in a world where technology, jobs and the nature of work are changing at an increasingly rapid rate. To thrive in this context and in the future workforce, the community in the Peel region will need to be more multi-skilled and adaptable.
The Peel region comprises the City of Mandurah and Shires of Serpentine-Jarrahdale, Murray, Waroona and Boddington with a total resident population of 131,893 in 2015. The region has experienced rapid population growth; increasing by 31.4% in the decade 2005 to 2015. Population growth in Mandurah in particular has been driven by lifestyle-based migration, rather than employment driven. As a result, approximately 28.6% of those living in the region work in the Perth metropolitan area2. A major challenge for the region is persistently high unemployment, particularly among young people3. Mandurah currently has the second highest unemployment rate in Australia at 11.5% and a youth (ages 15–24) unemployment rate of 16.9%4. Workforce participation is constrained by a lack of career aspirations and work readiness among young people as well as poor linkages of training and education sectors with industry.

Jobs will increasingly need workers to have diverse skills and knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, "STEM". The workforce will also be required to be creative and critical thinkers, and to constantly learn throughout their lives and careers.

In Peel, passionate people who want to see a bright future for the region’s community, environment and economy are working together to inspire people of all ages in Peel to be more interested and engaged in STEM and lifelong learning. Together, they have formed a new initiative - Peel Bright Minds.

We believe that by being more curious and engaged in STEM, our community can be better prepared to thrive in the future of work - regularly up-skill, re-skill and change jobs. We also want to see our community use their knowledge and skills to benefit the region’s natural environment, community and economy.

Peel Bright Minds works with the community and our partner organisations to communicate, coordinate and promote regional activities and events that:

  • Promote STEM and connect the community, especially young people, to activities and opportunities in the region, including citizen science opportunities.
  • Encourage an aspirant culture among people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities in the Peel, celebrating our unique regional strengths through STEM and the arts.
We also work to facilitate collaboration among regional stakeholders, especially STEM champions and researchers.
With a Tag line or motto of  'Inspiring a Curious Community' Peel Bright Minds has a focus to present STEM to people in the community; encouraging people to value STEM; and getting students to enter STEM career pathways in order to
prepare people for the future requirements of the national workforce.
2018-19 saw Peel Bright Minds getting the idea of STEM out into the community by promoting events that included ESTEAM Event, Science Cafe Events, Teachers Network, Career Stories, Youth Engagement, and sponsoring of a visit from the "Naked Scientist". In 2020 however, the Coronavirus hit the world, so face to face contact opportunities stopped.
Peel Bright Minds looked at how they could still get STEM to people, and are doing so through a Podcast series - 'Curious Conversations' -
The organisation has also produced a Video series - 'Innovation in Action' - which features visits to workplaces, eg. i). Murray Engineering, and looking at new technologies, eg ii). Peel Harvey Catchment
After answereing questions from the meeting floor, Skipper was thanked for her inspiring talk by Rotarian Brett Loney.