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Graeme Spence needs no incentive to get up and go to work in the morning. A carpenter by trade, and a supervisor after more than 40 years in the building game, Graeme reckons he has the best job in the world.

“I get to travel around, I get to work with really terrific people every day and I get to build great things and see them become part of the community,” Graeme says.

“My grand-kids can point to buildings and say ‘Pa built that!’. What more would you want?”

Known on Victorian worksites for decades by his nickname “Spanner”, his expertise has helped many iconic buildings get off the ground: from local college, council and hospital developments to multi-million dollar equine, agri-business and more. And he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

“My problem is I enjoy my job too much,” Spanner says.

A product of Shepparton’s South Tech – now the home of the McGuire Campus of Greater Shepparton Secondary College – Spanner has spent almost all his career with Hansen Yuncken (HY).

A major builder across Australia, HY is also local to Shepparton with an office in the town for almost a century. This year, they were awarded the contract to create a world-class secondary school in Shepparton – now well under way with construction on track for a 2022 opening.

Spanner is pretty familiar with the old Shepparton High School, which has been demolished to make way for the new Greater Shepparton Secondary College.

“I never went to Shepp High but my wife Arlene did,” he says. “Then my daughter Melissa went to Shepp High and so did my son Clinton.”

Clinton and Melissa are now in their 30s and 40s and with three of four grand-kids in Melbourne, the Shepp High tradition is now down to Chase – Spanner’s grandson who is already showing a keen interest in “Pa’s job” and is set to become a future student of Greater Shepparton Secondary College.

“I’m under Chase’s instructions that I need to build it right for him,” Spanner jokes. “And I will – this new school is going to be so amazing.”

Spanner is hopeful to see out the college development to its completion late next year. He is also pleased to be working five minutes from home and with many familiar faces from Shepparton-based sub-contractors.

He is aware, however, his skills may be needed elsewhere. Earlier this year, Spanner was working with the bushfire response for the Corryong community in north-east Victoria. He said the work was hard but rewarding in terms of helping traumatised people to rebuild their lives and property.

“Like I said, I have the best job in the world,” Spanner says. “I would encourage any student who wants to work in the building trade to do so.”

Greater Shepparton Secondary College: fast facts

The new, single-campus school will feature five new buildings: 

  • An Enterprise and Innovation Centre, providing a central heart for the school and a place to welcome the broader community.
  • Specialist arts, science, hospitality and technology spaces, as well as a gymnasium and dedicated areas for health and wellbeing.
  • The Enterprise and Innovation Centre will connect to three Neighbourhood buildings, each featuring three Houses, providing more intimate and inclusive “schools within a school” settings for students.
  • The Neighbourhood buildings will each have a learning resource centre, canteen and atrium with tiered seating.
  • A state-of-the-art performing arts space to showcase student talents.
  • A link to the site’s heritage with the retention of the 1909 Shepparton High schoolhouse.


Parents and carers are reminded they must register in advance each week to access on-site learning during Term 3. This is in line with strict protocols introduced by the Department of Education and Training for public schools across Victoria.

This  document Application Form (131 KB) for the week of 17-21st August must be completed and emailed to GSSC by Wednesday, 12th August. Parents will be notified of their application's success or otherwise by the close of business on Friday, 14th August. All students accessing on-site learning will attend their regular campus.

All students who can study from home must study from home, except for students in the following categories:

  1. Children on days when they are not able to be supervised from home and no other arrangements can be made. This will be available for children of parents who cannot work from home, and vulnerable children, including: children in out-of-home care; children deemed by Child Protection and/or Family Services to be at risk of harm; children identified by the school as vulnerable (including via referral from a family violence agency, homelessness or youth justice service or mental health or other health service and children with a disability)
  2. For learning requirements that cannot be conducted via distance, and considering operational requirements, small groups of VCE and VCAL students are permitted to attend school, with appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.