Brendan James Watson OAM is an educational leader, Principal and CEO of Catholic Regional College Sydenham and Catholic Regional College Institute of Training (CRCIT). As one of the most innovative, insightful, passionate, innovative and inspiring educators in the country, this executive manager leads a faith-based learning and educational community in Melbourne’s Western Suburbs.
Brendan’s ongoing dedication to working with students, parents and schools of the western region to help students select a senior secondary education that will lead to a career pathway, has seen him firmly establish a reputation as a valued leader within his community. His incomparable ability to design educational spaces and learning environments to meet modern educational outcomes and engage students has inspired a generation of students and educators.
With a remarkable track record of delivering vocational education and training, coupled with VCE and VCAL, and the creation of a variety of trade-specific training facilities, Brendan has successfully delivered the highly successful Trades Training Centre; a centre which incorporates the CRC Bakery and Patisserie - where trainees produce superb quality cakes, breads and pastries; Sydsigns - a producer of signage for every business and every occasion; Quatrefoils Restaurant - an exceptional function space and ala-carte restaurant; The Crate Theatre - a versatile performance and event space for every occasion and a picture framing business, Frames @ CRC, which sells high quality, masterful picture framing. In 2014, Brendan introduced CRCFit, a personal training fitness centre also offering Certificate III Outdoor Recreation.
Holding formal qualifications in Education, Visual Arts, Human Resource Management, Industrial Relations, Business Administration, Education Policy, Educational Leadership & Management and a Bachelor of Education / Visual Arts from The University of Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma in Religious Education from Australian Catholic University, a Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations from RMIT, a Masters of Business from RMIT, a Masters of Educational Research and a Masters of Education Policy International from The University of Melbourne, Brendan continues to demonstrate his commitment to his personal development. He has commenced a Doctorate of Education at The University of Melbourne with his thesis topic focussing on applied learning, vocational education and the difference these programs can achieve in school communities.. As a highly sought after public speaker, Brendan is regularly asked to undertake key note speaker roles or to deliver seminars on educational leadership, educational policy development, trades training, senior secondary pathways VCE, VCAL and vocational education and training and establishing and managing an RTO. Organisational change is also one of his specialist areas.
As the first in his family to attend university, Brendan benefited under the tutelage of several highly capable mentors and principals. Later in life, his passion was fueled by a drive and energy to ensure that young people receive a positive educational experience and one that supports their chosen pathway. He also draws great satisfaction from his ongoing work with young people throughout Victoria as the the head of an NGO in the role of Chief Commissioner of Scouts Victoria having previously held the role of International Commissioner for Scouts Australia.
Brendan’s future ambitions include building the most successful trades training centre in Australia. With a bold vision and an unwavering desire to improve the quality of learning in Australia, he seeks to re-imagine secondary schooling as we know it by creating a differented curriculum which is both inclusive and engaging for students. His mission also includes ensuring that postcode is never a determinant of the quality or level of education received by students.
Reflecting on a stellar career working in education, Brendan has learnt that “The work of an educator is never really seen or known until years later when the stories of past students’ successes are read about or heard about. The most rewarding aspect of the role is meeting these past students and hearing from them about their life journey, where they have ended up and how the start they received at school made all the difference.”
Awards and Recognition
Victorian Compassionate Employer of the Year 2015
- Since the inception of the Compassionate Employer Recognition Awards in 2004, 173 Victorian organisations have been recognised for their outstanding support to their employee following the death of a loved one. The annual recognition program, conducted by The Compassionate Friends Victoria Inc., providing Mutual Support Self Help services to bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents, was initiated to acknowledge and highlight organisations that were going above and beyond standard workplace bereavement practices.
In recognising organisations supportive practices towards bereaved employees, the Awards program brings greater community awareness to grief and loss and the impact on employment and work. The Awards inspire and encourage organisations and workplaces to review their current practices, and provide best practice and practical examples of effective ways of incorporating bereavement support into the workplace.
This initiative is stimulating broad interest and discussion in the community and business on the issue of bereavement in the workplace, and the need for policies that ensure both care of the bereaved person and better outcomes for businesses and an award that Brendan acknowledges he would rather not have if the staff he supported did not have to go through the loss of a child. Brendan supports a family friendly workplace and will always reach out, support and care for those in their times of real need.
- In 2014, Brendan was appointed as an official White Ribbon Ambassador. A passionate advocate for men taking action and speaking up to protect women and children against violence, Brendan was honoured to be selected as one of the official White Ribbon Ambassadors. White Ribbon Ambassadors are the leaders and faces of the Campaign, men and boys who incorporate White Ribbon values into their daily lives. Any man can be a White Ribbon Ambassador and use their influence to affect change within their social and professional circles and beyond. White Ribbon Day is 25 November each year. Feel free to contact Brendan for more information or to find out how you can become involved.
On 1 February, The Chief Scout of Australia, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, appointed Brendan Watson OAM as Chief Commissioner of Scouts Victoria for a period of 3 years;
- On 1 July, Brendan was awarded the Scouts Australia Distinguished Service Award, the Silver Koala;
- On 22 March, Brendan received a 20 year service award from Scouts Australia for his service as a volunteer leader;
- On Australia Day 2007, Brendan was honoured to be awarded The Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division for service to the Scouting movement, particularly as International Commissioner for Scouts Australia;
- On 22 February, Brendan was awarded the Scouts Australia Outstanding Service Award, the Silver Wattle;
- During 2000, Brendan was recognised by the Australian Government with a Certificate of National Recognition for his outstanding work as a volunteer particularly with the United Nations in East Timor during operation UNTAET
- On 1 February, Brendan was awarded the Scouts Australia Excellent Service Award, the Silver Arrowhead
- As a Rover Scout, Brendan earned and was awarded the Baden-Powell Award by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, presented by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria at Government House;
- As a Venturer in the Scout Association, Brendan earned and was awarded the Queen's Scout Award by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, presented by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria at Government House.
Julia Gillard and Brendan O'Connor visit Catholic Regional College Sydenham in 2010
His Excellency the Governor of Victoria visits Catholic Regional College Sydenham
Victorian Minister for Education, Martin Dixon, visits Catholic Regional College Sydenham
Archbishop Hart visits the award winning Performing Arts Centre at Catholic Regional College Sydenham which won an Australasian Award for innovation in educational design
Brendan is often asked to speak at functions and conferences given the innovation and success of the VET program implemented at Catholic Regional College Sydenham
Brendan supports White Ribbon. It is the world's largest mens' led movement toe top violence against women and children. Brendan believes that it takes good men to stand up for what is right and just, that silence is never acceptable. Support White Ribbon Day as well as taking a stand against such violence in our community.
never to commit, excuse
or remain silent about
violence against women or children
this is my oath