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From language to law

After 15 years in a Chad refugee camp, Fabrice Merci could never have foreseen the road that would lead to him becoming a law student in Australia.

In 2018 Fabrice was accepted for resettlement through Australia’s humanitarian program. Within weeks, he would make the 16-hour flight to the coastal city of Townsville.

While relieved to be leaving the uncertainty of life in a refugee camp, and excited to be starting a new life in Australia, Fabrice faced many new challenges upon his arrival in Townsville.

“I had little English, no friends, and there was no Sango interpreter available, only French,” Fabrice said.

While wading through the adjustments of life in a new country, Fabrice began attending English language classes at TAFE Queensland’s Pimlico campus.

To support settlement in Australia, eligible migrants and refugees are entitled to free English language classes through the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

The AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs and delivered by TAFE Queensland in 33 locations across the state.

Once Fabrice started his studies, he was quick to find his feet within the AMEP.

Contract Support Officer Melissa Noble said Fabrice's attitude and desire to learn was evident from day one.

“He worked extremely hard. Fabrice’s dedication was evident in the classroom and his English language skills skyrocketed as a result,” Melissa said.

For Fabrice, the AMEP was more than just an English class — it allowed him to meet other new arrivals to Australia and allowed him an opportunity to make plans for his new life in Australia.

"The AMEP has been very good for me. I made friends and I learned English for the first time. Now, I want to help people — my goal is to become a police officer in Australia," Fabrice said.

This innate desire to help others led Fabrice to a part-time job at Centrelink as a Sango interpreter, where he continues to improve his English language skills in tandem with his AMEP classes.

Now confident, settled, and determined to help others in his community, Fabrice has successfully applied to study a Bachelor of Law at James Cook University.

The AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. In Queensland, the AMEP is delivered through TAFE Queensland.