A Good Job by TAFE NSI and WSI

Story from a father, James
I saw your web-site and wanted to contribute details of how wonderful TAFE (NSI and WSI) has been for my son, Andrew. He missed a full 3 years of high school due to cardiomyopathy, a heart transplant and post-operative complications. After this he enrolled at Hornsby TAFE where he completed a Certificate III, Cert IV and a Diploma in I.T. This was of enormous vocational and social value to him. He is now doing a Management course at the WSI TAFE Baulkham Hills campus.
The other half of our TAFE story is that Andrew's younger sister, came down with the same cardio-myopathy condition, and also required a heart transplant, despite this being a rare condition. Our daughter only missed one year of school. She is now completing Year 10, but in parallel has already completed six Statement of Attainment courses at WSI Richmond TAFE, in the Animal Studies pathway. She will be commencing Vet Nursing studies there in 2015.
So, our family has had a varied and extended involvement with TAFE for five years and at multiple campuses. We are strong advocates of TAFE.


Another TAFE champion in the making

I am a mature aged student, and have been attending Ultimo TAFE undertaking Library and Information Studies since 2009. I am now close to finishing my Diploma.

Life has not been easy for me. My childhood was difficult as there was a lot of conflict, domestic violence and alcoholism in my family. This pattern recurred for me in adult life and I ended up in a violent marriage to an alcoholic man but fortunately this marriage did not last.

Near to the end of 2007, I had a fall and unknowingly ended up sustaining hidden multiple injuries to my body, and over time, these injuries took their toll on my emotional health. X-rays at that stage had only revealed deep bruising although it didn’t feel like it.

Over the next few months, most of the really bad pain seemed to settle down, and I had also decided on a sea-change and obtained a fabulous position working casual, mostly 6 days a week in a wonderful Library. Being one who has always worked and kept busy, the pain I felt I put down to wear and tear due to age. It was eventually discovered though that I that I had crushed discs in my back which needed reconstruction and was put on an emergency waiting list for surgery. Also around that time my mother who I cared for died.  

Through my work with the library, I was encouraged to start a course in Library and Information Studies. I was in a lot of physical pain and had not felt right in myself for some time. One of my teachers suggested I see a counsellor at TAFE. She helped me realise I had not had a chance to grieve for my mother. I was going about like a robot, on remote control. My sadness was not just over Mum, it related to my history of abuse in childhood and in my marriage.

The specialist units of counselling, psychiatric and physical disabilities have assisted me to stay on track with my studies and support me when times were particularly tough. I did experience a breakdown mid-way through my studies. My teachers advised me to lighten my work load by doing just one subject at a time and I cannot praise these teachers at TAFE highly enough. All the teachers have gone out of their way to help me stay at TAFE. Every time I have got to the point where I have emotionally struggled and felt I couldn’t go on, they have been there for me. I haven’t had to wallow.

If I wasn’t for TAFE, I do not think I would be alive. Without their help and intervention I would have ended up another unwanted statistic. I know now I’m worth more than that.

After TAFE I feel confident enough to offer my services as a volunteer. I am currently actively seeking positions in administration for NGOs and other volunteer organisations. I feel like I have something of value to give back to the community.

Peter's Story

I enjoy studying at TAFE especially when it comes to the practical aspects of learning. Last year though things were really going downhill, I was struggling with depression and anxiety and finding it very hard to get through my coursework, particularly getting assignments done. I really struggled with motivation and whenever I sat down to do my TAFE work I found it very hard to concentrate. Often I only lasted for a few minutes until things my body seemed to need, like something sweet to eat or a rest overcame any thoughts I had to continue with my TAFE work – even though I had only eaten recently and was well rested. I felt really frustrated. I was getting down on myself and life was getting on top of me. I was beginning to wonder what the point of it all was.
I talked to my teachers about this and one of them suggested I get in touch with the disabilities unit – which I did.
I’ve found the coordinators and support teachers very helpful and am now getting through my coursework and getting my assignments done in good time. What I find very useful are the homework/tutorial classes where students registered with disabilities can go and get help with any TAFE work that they’re struggling with. They can also go there if they just need somewhere where they can go to do their homework and assignments.
My TAFE life is much improved since I got in touch with the disabilities unit and I can now see myself finishing my course. I am also enjoying life more generally as I feel I’m getting back on top of things.


Tracey is another great TAFE success story

Tracey Sherlock was a student at Western Institute of TAFE last year. Another quiet achiever, when she received her marks for the TAFE tertiary preparation course she completed in December she was pleased. It was not until a teacher called her some time later she realised just how well she had done. 

The TAFE Community Alliance congratulates Tracey on her outstanding achievement. 

Read more on the Institute website.


Brendan – a TAFE Equity student

Brendan is a 21 year Aboriginal student who commenced studying at Foundation Studies (Literacy and Numeracy) program at Petersham TAFE College where he received intensive support for a learning disability. This support continued during his studies in aged care at TAFE Outreach in July 2012. In this Access to Aged Care course students study a range of access units and three subjects from the Certificate III qualification for which they receive advanced standing when they pathway to the Cert III.
Brendan has now successfully completed Access to Aged Care and as part of his studies completed a week of work experience at Wyanga Aboriginal Age Care at Redfern where they were so impressed with his skills and knowledge they offered him a job. During his work experience at Wyanga he visited UTS where he met Michael McDaniel’s, the head of the Jumbunna Indigenous Centre of Learning. He encouraged Brendan to look long term at Nursing at UTS where he will receive support from Jumbunna.
While studying Brendan received support from his teachers, TAFE counsellors and Head Teachers. His counsellor nominated him for a TAFE Equity Scholarship and fortunately this was successful which will help towards the costs of studying his next course a Certificate III Acute Care Nursing at Ultimo TAFE College in 2013.
Prior to 2012 Brendan had attempted to complete several mainstream courses but had not been successful. Brendan's story illustrates the importance of specialist literacy and disability teachers, counsellors and adequate access pathways – the professionals and provision that is being undermined by recent cuts to public education and that will be further undermined by Smart and Skilled in 2014.
Brendan’s time at Petersham TAFE has been transformative, he has gained so much confidence and sees himself as someone who can learn and apply his knowledge. One week after completing his course he visited the college and told of how he had used his newly acquired first aid skills to care for an elderly couple who were involved in a car accident. He was commended by both the paramedics and police for his actions that averted much more serious injuries.
There are many more people like Brendan and current government agendas are destroying future education opportunities for people experiencing disadvantage.


Ariyani – a TAFE Equity student

Ariyani first came into contact with TAFE at Connect Marrickville in 2005. She spoke no English and had a small baby and her first entry point was the Indonesian Women’s Group. From there she attended playgroups and the TAFE Outreach Community Engagement/English Class on Wednesday mornings. The crèche run adjacent to the TAFE class allowed her to study. This child care was funded by Outreach and a grant from Metro MRC. As her English improved she joined an Outreach WOW (Work Opportunities for Women) course (Certificate I) and later an Outreach course in Playgroup Facilitation. 
During this time Ariyani was employed by Connect as a casual childcare worker on one of their playgroups and for the crèche for the Community Engagement/English class and she continued to work in this role for several years (2009 to 2011).
In 2012 Ariyani enrolled in Petersham TAFE’s Multicultural Unit’s Cert II in Community Services (Children’s Services) and is now completing her Cert III in Children’s Services at Petersham TAFE College. 
Early in 2013 Ariyani was employed by KU Children’s Services and is valued as a highly skilled childcare worker. 
Ariyani’s education and employment pathway from 2005 to 2012 has been made possible by a strong partnership between Connect and TAFE Outreach and by the provision of a range of access programs and expertise including TAFE Multicultural programs. There are many people in the community with similar needs to those of Ariyani and thus the importance of retaining TAFE equity programs so that they too may have opportunities to pathway into mainstream qualifications, volunteering and employment.


Maria's Story

Having lived in many different places, I moved to Marrickville in 2005. I have two daughters and my eldest, Gloria, would be starting primary school in 2006 so with this in mind we visited Marrickville West Primary School.
Ms Ling our school's principal provided all the information we needed and as part of the school tour, took us to 'Connect Marrickville', which is a school as Community centre within Marrickville West Public. Connect has many different programs but we began our journey attending the Friday Playgroup.
The playgroup allowed my daughters to socialise with other children and get use to the school as well as providing me with the opportunity to meet, and later on develop friendship with other parents within our school community. I volunteered and helped in the playgroup and discovered I loved working with children so enrolled in a Playgroup facilitator course, which was one of 'Connect’s' TAFE Outreach programs.
I am now studying at TAFE the Diploma in Children's Services and working as playgroup co-facilitator for 'Connect'. 'Connect Marrickville' has changed my family's life by providing my daughters with a smooth transition from home to school and me with the self-confidence to take on study as an adult and build many wonderful friendships in our multicultural community.

Abdul's Story

One year ago I was struggling to finish my HSC at Granville Boys High School. I was already part of the Auburn Community Development Network (ACDN) when I got selected to be part of a new project Dream Big, that helped young people think about coming up with a social enterprise that they wanted to do. We were asked to Dream Big and all ten of us decided that we wanted to start an events management business especially one that helps out other young people get experience and jobs and work with communities. 
Part of the project was to get training so ACDN organised with TAFE outreach for us all to do practical training and we had a TAFE teacher come out to ACDN where we are based and designed a special accredited training for us doing a Certificate 3 in Events Management so after we completed the training at ACDN we would get a certificate that would allow us to go straight into a Diploma in Events Management as long as we did the last subject of the certificate in TAFE and that's what I decided to do. 
I finished my HSC finally at the same time as doing the training at ACDN with TAFE and was designing and managing events and I got more out of the practical side of training than I did at school. I really had no idea what I was going to do when I was in high school and until I got to be part of Eventasia Enterprises, that's the name of our social enterprise, I was lost. 
I love being at TAFE and doing the Diploma and I finish it in two months and hopefully by then we will get more work through Eventasia Enterprises which is available to help you out at any time by the way at any time. TAFE really did save me and if it doesn't have the funding to do what it does best like help people like me then I feel sorry for the young people who who are lost and looking for something meaningful to do with their lives. 
I am not a number at TAFE. I am a person who had a hard past and a bright future. Thanks.


TAFE in Action at Warwick Farm

The Project at Warwick Farm has continued to have a positive effect on the community as a whole. Since the inception of the program, a proposal for a social enterprise coffee shop was put forward and so OHS and Barista courses were requested and conducted at Wetherill Park College and this put the students in a position to work in the coffee shop. This was commenced with one of the ex-students managing and working in the shop initially but this has now grown from two mornings a week to five days a week with 5 students working in the shop and two days a week dinner is offered at reduced prices and the enterprise is making a profit.

Two of our original students now work for the Neighbourhood Centre: One is managing the coffee shop along with other duties, and one is working as a project officer.

At the request of students at Warwick Farm, a Certificate III in Micro Business was conducted and students were given the support they needed to complete and pass this course. For many of the students in the group, this was a first for them and they were very proud of their achievement. Many of those students are the ones who are employed in the enterprise and some of them are also attempting to set up their own business. The Woman's forum has become involved in order to provide seeding money. they have offered a business manager and a mentoring service to those who set up a small business.

In addition to these great outcomes, a new enterprise has just commenced of lawn mower for locals. They go out to mow lawns for those in the area at a very reduced price.

An internet cafe is also open on the premises and students who have already studied computers are assisting other participants to access the internet.

As a result of this program, there is also a women's health clinic being conducted out of the centre one day per week. There is also a chiropractor who provides a service one day per fortnight from the centre. A newsletter, Our Neighbourhood Our Future is the Warwick Farm community newletter which is distributed by students in the class.

Regular community events, fetes and information days are conducted by the current class and stalls are organised and manned by students and catered by the coffee shop, which is also the students. The coffee shop also provides service to local community, interagency and health meetings held on site.

The Heart Smart program, in partnership with the Department of Health, is also a partner with the Doorways program to encourage healthy exercise, walking and healthy eating programs.

Students have organised a range of seminars including Drug and Alcohol, and Community Safety.

Finally Links to Learning has agreed to partner with Liverpool TAFE Outreach to implement programs for the local youth.

Escaping the Poverty Trap

Having had seven children it was time to assess the future and make some decisions about how to balance children, work opportunities, earning capacity and goals. It did not take long to realise that with no recent paid employment history and no formal vocational qualifications, entering the lowly paid unskilled insecure workforce, having to report constantly to CentreLink with irregular income, losing family payments, extra costs associated with working would subsume any financial advantage. Children would be disadvantaged with less parental time and having to fit into our work schedules.
On the other hand if I could get some qualifications and become a professional the long term prospects for my family and the possibility of financial independence was much more likely.
Over a decade I juggled family, study and work. Within that decade I had achieved work in my chosen field and a post graduate qualification. My first course was two evenings a week and very challenging having been away from study for a long time and having significant family/domestic responsibilities. I learned from that year of study I was in the wrong field. I had gained confidence, knowledge and skills that enabled me to make choices to continue study in fields more suited to my achieving my potential. Through TAFE and the services it offered as a quality public provider I was able to build a series of qualifications.
It is almost two decades since I returned to study. I will always be grateful that TAFE facilitated my complex pathways that have led to me working in a secure job where I continue my lifelong learning, have job satisfaction and financial independence. My children have grown up and benefited from the opportunities I enjoyed through TAFE.

I cannot imagine how different my life would have been with only one entitlement to a qualification as is being proposed by the O’Farrell government. With that I would have not been able to continue my study and would have remained dependant on government payments. Clearly that would also have impacted on my children.
J G Grateful Escapee


Remarkable Achievements through TAFE NSW

Story by Nick Franklin 
Down a narrow Katoomba back lane around the kitchen table of a modest bungalow three TAFE students raise their champagne glasses to celebrate a remarkable achievement. The hostess Jude Pearce has just got an ATAR 94.7 for her HSC - her legal studies mark of 100% topped the state for TAFE. Her friends and fellow students Megan scored ATARs of 95 with a very high mark in English and Kate 94.3 with her highest mark in history. Jude's story provides a classic case study of how TAFE has the power to change lives and give people a second chance. Yet when she began her studies at Wentworth Falls TAFE in the Blue Mountains her prospects looked bleak. Aged 53 she'd had cancer and been on the wrong end of 28 years of domestic violence. Now a single parent surviving on a meagre Work Cover payment Jude was down and about to be made homeless. "I had absolutely no confidence. Doing the Tertiary Preparation Certificate has changed all that - it's a life changing course", says Jude who pays tribute to her TAFE teachers and fellow students for their support through often tough times. She's now planning to study teaching at Sydney Uni before getting a teaching job in the bush. It'll be a chance to teach Indigenous children in remote communities - something she feels strongly about, having only discovered late in life that she has Aboriginal and Torre Strait Island heritage. As Jude talks her young daughter is playing under a Christmas tree. "My daughter has epilepsy. It makes life difficult sometimes. When I broke my ankle working at Jenolan Caves, I couldn't pay my mortgage and lost our house. If you want to break the cycle of poverty, you have to give people proper access to education. TAFE is wonderful because it makes allowances for people including those with mental health problems". Her celebration with her friends is tinged with concern for TAFE's future. The three women have read about the State Government's plans to cut courses in Greater Western Sydney, particularly to the TAFE system. To Jude it just doesn't make sense. As a woman of over 50 she knows how hard it is to get a job without having any qualifications. She'd been applying for 10 jobs a week with no takers. Then she had a chance of a job at the new Dan Murphy's in Katoomba - they just needed her to have an RSA certificate - but her insurer wouldn't pay for her to attend the short course, and she missed out again. Now Jude is keen for her local politicians to hear about the success of herself and her friends - and will be inviting Federal member Louise Markus and state member Roza Sage to her graduation in April.