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Laura gets 'Koalafied' with TAFE Queensland

Growing up in Scotland just a few blocks from Edinburgh Zoo, Laura Hanning spent hours there learning about Australian animals and their natural habitat. But she never imagined she'd one day be living and studying in Australia cuddling koalas, giving health checks to kangaroos, and taking dingoes on their daily walks.

The 34-year-old recently completed TAFE Queensland’s Certificate III in Animal Studies (ACM30117) as part of a program with the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation and said it deepened her love and appreciation for the wonderful wildlife in Australia.

“Being able to work and learn alongside the wildlife keepers was a dream come true. Their passion and knowledge about animals was amazing and I learnt so much from them while building on my own skills and passion for animals,” said Laura.

“Sometimes I surprise myself at how much I now know about animals, especially when I realise that I know more about Australian animals than some of my Australian friends.”

As part of the program, students study in a classroom at TAFE Queensland's Coomera campus and spend at least one day a week on-site at Dreamworld with the opportunity to volunteer more hours.

“I threw myself wholeheartedly into volunteering, offering all my spare days where I was able to work with birds, reptiles and various mammals,” said Laura.

“It was amazing to be able get up close to such a variety of beautiful animals, and a definite highlight was getting to koala cuddles every so often.”

“Our TAFE teacher Jacqui was also fabulous. She has a lot of experience in the animal care industry which made our days on campus very interesting as we got to hear all of her first-hand stories.”

Laura volunteers in the mammals round at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) where she works closely with kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes, koalas, wombats and echidnas.

“My TAFE Queensland studies certainly helped me with my volunteer work at CWS. I get to use my skills and build on them to one day reach my ultimate goal of being involved in breeding and conservation programs that contribute to saving vulnerable species such as koalas and platypuses.”

Laura’s top tip for anyone who's studying animal studies at TAFE Queensland is to make the most of it and take every opportunity.

“Something I would encourage future students to do is to put all your effort into your studies as it's definitely true that you get out of things what you put into them.”

Applications are now open for aspiring wildlife carers to study the Certificate III in Animal Studies (ACM30117) through TAFE Queensland and the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation with the program commencing Tuesday 27 April 2021.

To apply, simply complete the application form and student details form and attach the relevant proof of ID when prompted. Applications close Sunday 18 April 2021.