Past student continues as mentor and TasTAFE supporter – TasTAFE


Past student continues as mentor and TasTAFE supporter

Djuker Willis-Hart is a proud First Nations man who is using his experience and expertise as a walking guide to help his peers in his community build their own careers.

A guide by trade and a guide by nature, Djuker is a living example of this year’s theme for Reconciliation Week: ‘Be a Voice for Generations”.

Djuker began working as a walking guide six years ago with wukalina walk in palawa Country/Bay of Fires. To continue building his career, he needed to complete a Certificate III in Tour Guiding with Tasmania’s public training provider, TasTAFE, but always had motivations larger than a qualification.

“I needed to get qualified to be a registered guide, but I also wanted to learn the skills to help me go further in what I wanted to do. My goal has always been to do my own tours and my own stuff, which I’m on my way to doing now. The TasTAFE course was really about getting the skills that I need to be better at what I do and present myself in a better manner.”

For his commitment to and his success with his study, he was named the Aboriginal VET Student of the Year for 2019 at the Tasmanian Training Awards.

As the longest working guide at wukalina walk, Djuker has become a mentor to and has trained all new guides who have joined in his time. While he feels pride as a leader of other young guides, he says he’s only doing what others did for him at the start of his career, out of devotion to their culture and their land.

“(Helping others) makes me feel good, I get satisfaction out of seeing other people succeed and enjoying what they’re doing. But the major part is just our culture really, in our way it’s our job as people who have knowledge and skills to share those knowledge and skills with others. Knowledge is wealth in our culture, so it’s about handing on that torch and giving other people a good opportunity.”

Over six years with wukalina walk, he has trained most of his colleagues and is now supporting them to begin their own Certificate III studies with TasTAFE. Djuker says it means a lot to him to see and guide others down the same path.   

“I didn’t have a lot of opportunities when I was younger. I made a lot of wrong choices. I feel that if I can give other people a different outlook and show them that they can be proud of who they are in better ways then it gives them a chance of wanting to do better things and make the right choices.”

Djuker completed his studies with TasTAFE four years ago but still has a close connection with the organisation, and particularly Aboriginal Support Officer, Jan Langridge.

“Culture for me was just a part of life, I didn’t really see it as a career. It was Jan who made me feel comfortable with going in and doing my study and also just supporting me in getting enrolled.”

He credits the mentoring and support he received from Jan with keeping him at TasTAFE and allowing him to complete his guiding course.

“Jan’s deadly. We need more people like her doing these sorts of things. It’s very comforting having someone like Jan, I know I can always give her a call.”

Through his connection with Jan and TasTAFE, Djuker has been invited back to perform at TasTAFE events, including the annual celebration of NAIDOC Week. He says he always enjoys performing traditional dance and challenging himself to come up with something new, and that it makes him feel connected to his history.  

“Dancing is a big part of my life. My father was a performer so for me it’s a way of keeping connected with that side. I get a lot of pride out of it.”

“It also helps me teach the young fellas. I teach them dance, it’s another part of being able to put people in the right areas and help them find pride in different things.”

To learn more about Djuker’s story watch TasTAFE’s video

Republished with kind permission of TasTAFE