Written by Kathryn Tonges
Thank you Annie for agreeing to be interviewed. You have just conducted your first P.E.T. course. There is so much that other instructors can learn from your experience.
Tell us a little about yourself and the studies you have completed?
I am a happy, energetic woman with lashings of travel, qualifications, and life experiences. I have a broad spectrum of studies and have completed a Bachelor of Ed. (Monash Uni. Melb.), a Master of Special Ed. (Monash Uni. Melb), 18 months of studies towards a Ph D Sp.Ed.(Monash Uni. Melb.) which I decided not to complete, a P.E.T. Course – Mildura Vic 1982, a P.E.T. Instructor Course with Kathryn Tonges 2021, a Diploma of Civil Celebrancy (Monash Uni. Melb. 2000), a V.E.T.T.A.S.E.S.S. Community Service Civil Ceremonies -R.M.I.T. Melbourne, and Justice of the Peace and more.
I completed a P.E.T. course in 1982 in Mildura Vic. However, I didn’t realise how much it impacted my emotional, social and professional life until the ‘penny dropped’. My employment has had ‘many hats’. These have often been in leadership positions where my role has always been about relationship building and conflict resolution engagement. Staff /clients/ students always acknowledged my copious skills to encourage each individual to take responsibility for their actions, seek balance and find solutions.
Where did I get those skills from? I realized the skills I learnt in the P.E.T. Courses had quietly taught me to ‘listen with my eyes’. It has been invaluable particularly working with students with intellectual disability, trauma related diagnoses, school refusal phobias, refugees and dysfunctional living environments. By engaging, using Active Listening and subconsciously effectively finding solution-based outcomes my life at times has been a breeze. I am confident to support individuals to find reasonable, realistic strategies to have harmony, respect, and resolution in their daily life.
What inspired you to become a P.E.T. instructor?
I have a ‘thirst for knowledge’ and to find out ‘what makes people tick’. I have always worked on the premise that: people in discussion don’t have to tell me what I want to hear. Therefore, honest communication and the gaining of insight are primary skills. We learn/reconnect these skills and many more during the P.E.T. courses. It is actually an inspirational way of having your needs met, whilst also providing the same for whoever is being engaged with.
Congratulations Annie, you have earlier in the year completed your P.E.T. ITW course and you are now an Authorised Instructor. How was that experience for you?
It was a great course and Kathryn could not have been a better tutor. She knew when to step in and when to let others guide discussion and learning activities. The group were terrific people with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. I learnt so much and am very grateful for the whole learning process.
How did you gather your first group of participants especially as you live in Central Queensland?
I am the Senior teacher in a Special Assistance School in Emerald Qld 4720 – 350 kms from Rockhampton. The students have social and emotional issues, and some have been through the juvenile court system. When I realized I had to pull out all the skills I knew to do with behaviour I also saw most staff had challenges with creating a positive learning environment and how to engage in a toxic workplace. A hard ask. It was funny, as people watched me engage in pretty dire situations with students and resolve issues without hostility and negativity, I started to be questioned. How do you do that they asked? Along came P.E.T. Training. I invited the staff to partake, and they did.
What were the significant areas of growth and change for your participants after completing the P.E.T. course?
Staff became more aware of differences in discipline. Some staff became aware that often we parent the same way our parents did. Some staff realized that they raised their voices too much and yelled at students – they wanted change. Some did not want enlightenment.
What are your future plans as a P.E.T. Instructor?
I’m moving to Cairns Qld 4720 in early 2022. I am over full-time teaching, but love engaging with people. I have spoken to Kathryn and would like to start some P.E.T. classes. I would like to apply for funding to work on Communities, Youth Detention, Mental Health, disengaged youth, etc. If people read this and would like to join me or offer input, I would be delighted
Any words of encouragement for other instructors about to conduct their first course?