Holmesglen justice graduate Robert Haines explains the role of a Tipstaff in the County Court.

The Right Time For The Right Role

The starting line for a new career is not readily defined. In many ways, this is a refreshing thing for it suggests it's neither too early nor ever too late to change your career path.

Mature aged student Robert Haines appreciates the options available to those who wish to return to study. Having re-entered the classroom following a redundancy and lack of opportunity in his previous I.T role, he made the important decision to change professions and continue his higher education.

"I was comforted by my experience at an open day where I met two of the lecturers," Robert says of his introduction to Holmesglen. "Their practical industry knowledge and ability to relate to me, and other students, without being esoteric really connected for me."

While the decision to learn in a new field was significant, Robert was motivated by his goal to enter the court system. His ambition was focused on becoming a tipstaff (an officer of the court). Applying twice prior to joining Holmesglen, the qualifications then received with the institute helped him secure this goal. Currently, Robert works as Tipstaff to Judge Sexton in the County Court.

"After the second knock back I took up the court's option of application feedback and was told that if I could show a Certificate IV in a relevant field that this might assist my job application.  I finished my diploma [in June/July 2015] and when another Tipstaff position was advertised on the Victorian Government website; I applied and got an interview," Robert explains.

Robert's daily tasks are varied and equally extensive. They include primary roles such as making announcements, swearing in witnesses and preparing courtroom items. The graduate cites the information and knowledge gained while at Holmesglen as aiding with these job responsibilities. While studying, he participated in Victoria Police's role playing program and visited the Youth Unit at Port Phillip Prison as part of his prisons assignment.

"At my interview the judge asked about the units I took.  Being able to talk with some degree of knowledge about the hierarchy of the courts, current initiatives around family violence and restorative justice helped," Robert says.

Similarly, the communication and participation skills gathered in the classroom have helped when Robert needs to administer an Oath or Affirmation to a witness in front of the entire court room. As for the most fulfilling aspect, though, Robert believes a functioning court room is a reflection of a job done well.

"It really is a team effort between the judge, associate and Tipstaff, and so I find it rewarding when court goes well," he says.

Furthermore, Robert embraced the mature aged student role when studying, as he aimed to set a good example. "I was three times the age of my cohort so I was mindful of how I conducted myself with them.  I sort of took the 'Uncle' outlook in my interactions."

Everything that led to Robert's current work can now almost be viewed as a blessing in disguise, as it's the events of the past that have allowed him to achieve his career goal. Fittingly, he has very sensible and wise advice to those also considering further study. "Embrace the experience, relax and enjoy it."

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