Vocational education is turning lives around – TAFE NSW

A proud Dunghutti/Gamilaroi woman is celebrating her personal success as the first person in her family to complete a TAFE NSW qualification and to pursue a career as a nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.  

Maroubra local Shanae Brown was encouraged by her high school teacher to complete the Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) program at TAFE NSW when she left school at the age of 16. The program, aimed at encouraging young people to gain qualifications and employability skills, has equipped her with the confidence and skills to pursue further qualifications and enter the workforce. 

“I have always wanted to work in the health industry because I believe that I am a good carer, having spent my life helping my sister to care for her 11 children. I love them all and know I do a good job caring for them; it’s not uncommon for me to have four or more children in my sole care at a given time.” 

“I want to show my family and wider community that if I can study and obtain a qualification at TAFE NSW, and pursue my dream career, they can too.” 

Shanae graduated from the YES Program with a Certificate II in Retail Services and commenced part-time employment at Glue Store. She has now completed Certificate III in Health Services Assistance and is now employed as an Assistant in Nursing.  

Shanae is fulfilling a growing need for more Indigenous Health Workers, with Aboriginal people representing only 2.5% of the NSW Health workforce in 2016.  Strengthening the Aboriginal health workforce is one of the core priorities for the St Vincent Health Network’s Aboriginal Health Plan for 2017 – 2020, which details several existing programs, services and initiatives specific to improving health and social justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

TAFE NSW supports the State’s overarching initiatives to strengthen the Aboriginal health workforce by providing meaningful pathways for Aboriginal people to secure local skilled work or study at university, and in turn improve the cultural competence of health-care services. 

“I would recommend TAFE NSW to anybody and especially to those who are struggling to engage in education and training for whatever reason. It has not always been easy for me and I struggled with assessments along the way, but I had a teacher who believed in and supported me to keep going.”  

TAFE NSW teacher Natalie Coulter said “I have witnessed an educational turn-around that is the greatest success story I’ve experienced in my 13 years of teaching at TAFE NSW.  

“Shanae is a shining example of how vocational education and training can transform people’s lives and equip them with the skills that they need to pursue the career of their dreams.” 

Current students will continue to study the Certificate III in Health Services Assistance at TAFE NSW this term using electronic and online media as well as modified face-to-face teaching. This type of connected learning supports social distancing, while enabling students to progress their studies and pursue employment opportunities.   

TAFE NSW has adopted connected learning as a new mode of delivery because it supports social distancing during COVID-19 and allows students to be connected to their teacher. In many cases, this still supports students to demonstrate their competency in their courses.  

As part of reconciliation week, Shanae’s story was featured on 7.30 with Leigh Sales along side Hannah Moore, an Aboriginal Health Practitioner and proud Githabul from northern New South Wales. Their stories can be viewed here.