With a background in engineering, communication and management, Peter Bonnell brings a diverse array of industry knowledge to his role as Program Coordinator in the School of Fashion and Textiles.
Bonnell manages the Certificate IV and Diploma of Textile Design and Development, as well as the industry-based training area of the School.
He coordinates industry based traineeships and apprenticeships in various disciplines including textiles, textile design, merchandising, dry cleaning, laundry and front-line management.
Prior to joining the School of Fashion and Textiles, Bonnell travelled widely, working as an engineer on petro-chemical and mining projects in Australia, Africa and the Middle East.
Inspired by the “inventive drive” and diversity of individuals at his various work-sites, Bonnell decided to pursue a career in communication and management.
“It may seem unusual to end up in the School of Fashion and Textiles, but I became very interested in how to get the best out of people, whoever they are, through supporting their development,” he says.
“In this respect, it doesn’t matter which discipline you are involved in.”
After completing his graduate diploma in teaching, Bonnell taught Communications and Management at William Angliss and the Melbourne Institute of Textiles before joining RMIT University in 1998.
“If there was one thing I learned from my time in industry, it was that there is a vast difference between thinking about doing something and actually doing it,” he says.
“Knowledge and a will, or idea, to do something is not enough – we need to actually get out there and do it.”
Industry based learning is widespread within fashion and textiles programs at RMIT, with each program combining theory with practice.
All vocational programs in the School of Fashion and Textiles include a work integrated learning component, where students are required to partake in practical work experience.
“For campus based students, it’s vital they experience working in industry: it gives them a reality check, a jolt along the road to responsibility,” Bonnell says.
“Similarly, staff members maintain the currency of their vocational experience through working in, or undertaking projects with, industry.”
Industry connections in the School of Fashion and Textiles are also forged through links with industry bodies and organisations including the Design Institute of Australia and the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia.
Bonnell is currently working on increasing participation in RMIT’s Certificate III in Dry Cleaning Operations.
The School of Fashion and Textiles, along with the Dry Cleaning Institute of Australia and the Environment Protection Authority, recently produced a best practice manual for chemical safety.
The RMIT Brunswick campus hosted the launch of the manual, with Bonnell presenting his insights on innovation and training in the dry cleaning industry.
Bonnell also been invited by Brown Gouge Company, the largest franchisee dry cleaning group in Victoria, to present information on RMIT’s unique programs and workshops in their future meetings.