Celebrating Sam Bullen, One Tree’s longest serving employee
The Sector > Provider > General News > Celebrating Sam Bullen, One Tree’s longest serving employee

Celebrating Sam Bullen, One Tree’s longest serving employee

by Freya Lucas

December 01, 2021

Manager of the One Tree Registered Training Organisation (RTO), Sam Bullen, recently passed an impressive milestone, celebrating 18 years of continuous service with the early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider. 


In this interview piece, Ms Bullen shares the challenges and highlights of her career thus far. From humble beginnings, working as a barmaid while studying her Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, she has risen to meet the many opportunities which have come her way. 


“I moved to Karratha when I was 22 after I’d been working with children for six years,” Ms Bullen began. 


“I enrolled in my diploma which I never thought I was going to do. I was able to complete it in two years. While I studied, I worked at the local rec club behind the bar. Then, I started at One Tree Millar’s Well as a qualified Educator on the floor. After two years I got promoted to Director and learnt how to do the wages, child care benefit, and all the accounts.”


After a period of parental leave, Ms Bullen undertook casual work, before accepting a Director position at One Tree Bulgarra for 18 months. She then moved into operations and was overseeing four services. 


Her workload grew when One Tree opened Len Taplin, Wickham, Pannawonica and Onslow and “it snowballed from there.”.


Ms Bullen worked side-by-side with the One Tree CEO and Pilbara community to save all of the One Tree Karratha services. This, she said, is when the One Tree Spirit was born: Working together, meeting the challenge, determined to lead.


“We’d just upgraded Millar’s Well and Bulgarra to be advised these services were going to be put out to tender. So, we rallied the community and had the decision overturned. We wrote letters, we met with people, we got the community involved. Since then, One Tree has just grown and grown and grown.”


One Tree then set its sights on new horizons. Because of her ability to learn fast and succeed in new roles Ms Bullen was one of the people chosen to help the organisation get there.


Becoming a Registered Training Organisation


“In around 2010, Karri, our CEO, wanted to become an RTO. I got my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment  and we started offering the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care,” Ms Bullen shared.


“In 2013, our Executive Director Coral Callan called me and asked if I wanted to take over the RTO. It was a big challenge. There were lots of hurdles and I was learning as I went…no one really knew the training world. It was just like, okay…let’s do this. It was the best move I ever made; I absolutely love it”.


During this time, Ms Bullen also helped to pioneer high school traineeships for Certificate lll in Australia. 


“I was fortunate to get a job in an education and care service when I was 16, so I wanted to get training into high schools,” she explained. 


“It took me two years. First, we had to get Certificate III on the traineeship list for high schools. At that time, it wasn’t available anywhere in Australia. I had to keep persevering and meeting with the state training board. There was a lot of hesitation, but we finally got it approved and we started running the program in Karratha and Port Hedland. It’s been running since around 2013”.


“High school-based traineeships are a great career path for students, many do their diploma afterwards and still work for One Tree. Our traineeships are about giving people quality training. We don’t fast track people in three months because that’s not quality training. We do lots of face-to-face and we do lots of sessions with our students, even our students in remote areas. We train to people’s abilities and their needs.“


What’s on the horizon? 


Ms Bullen is still looking forward to what’s next for her career and One Tree. “We have expanded the RTO into the Northern Territory and we’re also looking at offering a Certificate III in Communities. We want to get into the community and offer training on Country, where people are for Aboriginal people. It’s not about being a big business, it’s about helping people”


“I love my job. I’m an advocate for children and I’m passionate about it. I love my managers; I love my team. It’s all about our people.”

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