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A Homecoming for Jo Savage

Supporting the vocational education and training goals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been Jo Savage's mission at TAFE Queensland for more than two decades.

Through hard work, determination and passion, Jo rose through the ranks and ensured that giving back to her community was at the heart of her every move.

Jo, the youngest of 11 children, grew up on Thursday Island and first came to TAFE Queensland in the 1990s for training.

"I studied business administration, had two babies and then returned to TAFE to study IT, as computers were coming in hard and fast," Jo said.

Using her new skills, Jo was able to secure a job with TAFE Queensland in Cairns.

"I jumped at the opportunity and started my career at TAFE 22 years ago. I was working with and assisting my people in the education space and I loved it."

"I took every education and training opportunity offered to me over the years to work my way up from an administration officer to a project manager," she said.

Jo's most recent appointment as Head of Campus of TAFE Queensland's Thursday Island and Northern Peninsula Area campuses meant a homecoming was on the cards.

"Being the Head of Campus for Thursday Island is so special because it’s my home and where my life journey started," Jo said.

"I will use my years of experience in the vocational education sector and my existing networks and relationships to ensure that vocational education and training is accessible to my people of the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Region."

"I will work closely with my TAFE Queensland colleagues from across the state to ensure we provide quality and meaningful training that empowers and creates sustainability."

Sustainability is a major focus for Jo in her role as TAFE Queensland’s Principal Project Officer for the Torres Strait Maritime Pathways (TSMP) Project, which she manages alongside her head of campus duties.

"The TSMP Project assists the region’s commercial fishermen and women to acquire their Coxswains Grade 1 near Coastal Licence and be compliant to work in the maritime, tourism and transport industry," Jo said.

"The initiative has been operating as a joint partnership between TAFE Queensland and Torres Strait Regional Authority, with UAV Industries as a sub-contractor."

"As the Principal Project Officer, I’ve had the opportunity to visit and work on islands I’ve never been to before and I’ve been able to reconnect and create new networks."

"At the start of each program I would arrive on an island and I was ‘the lady from TAFE’. But by the end of the program I was known as Sis, Aunty, Aka or even Mama Jo, it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience."

"It has been wonderful witnessing the change this initiative has made to people’s lives and seeing the smiles and reactions of the graduates when they are presented with their awards and licences," she said.

Jo, a proud Torres Strait Islander woman, said it’s never too late to improve your education and pursue your career goals.

"Acquiring new skills and knowledge is empowering. If you are looking to change jobs or just make a change in your life, contact your nearest TAFE Queensland campus to investigate the best training options available to you. You can even make an appointment with an Indigenous Student Support Officer or Student Counsellor."