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Our volunteers make great happen

At a time when people in our community feel they need support more than ever, the efforts of our volunteers in encouraging our students, especially those from challenging backgrounds, cannot be overstated.

What do a former maths teacher, an ex-soldier, a medical practice manager, a cybersecurity student, a former nurse, some retirees and a Swedish intern all have in common?

An incredible desire to not only do an amazing job of supporting TAFE Queensland’s many students from a range of backgrounds but above all, to inspire them to believe in themselves and ultimately shine.

To mark National Volunteer Week this week and in honour of its theme, The Change Makers, TAFE Queensland East Coast region would like to acknowledge and applaud the wonderful work of this little army of diverse, selfless and highly dedicated volunteers who make the work of our educators in the classroom and outside much easier.

At a time when people in our community feel they need support more than ever, the efforts of our volunteers in encouraging our students, especially those from challenging backgrounds, cannot be overstated.

No one better exemplifies this invaluable support and encouragement than Laurie Gracie, Lê Văn Thiên, Danny O’Kearney, Ian Priest, Paul Wood, Trudi Parsons, Lina Molnar, and Pam Anderson, all of whom happily volunteer their time and skills for TAFE Queensland students studying the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program and the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

TAFE Queensland provides the SEE program which enables people who are looking for full-time work and are registered as a job seeker with Centrelink, to improve their English, reading and writing skills so they can find employment or enhance their job finding prospects.

This free program is designed to help students learn new and valuable skills so they can get a head start in the job market while earning a trade or diploma qualification either in class or online.

The AMEP offers free, basic English language classes to help migrants and refugees settle into their new life in Australia and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.

Whether students want to improve their English language skills for living, working, or studying in Australia, the AMEP offers different classes to suit students’ needs so they can choose from pre-employment English, social English or youth English.

Both Laurie, a former primary school teacher and university tutor, and Ian, an ex-soldier from the United Kingdom who’s also studying cyber security at TAFE Queensland, volunteer at TAFE Queensland’s Mooloolaba campus by helping students in the SEE program

Thiên, a migrant from Vietnam who previously taught high school maths in his home country, volunteers at TAFE Queensland to help both AMEP and SEE students.

Thien also tutors maths to the SEE students by sharing great resources and giving students tricks and hacks to memorise their times tables while Danny, a retired high school teacher and at 74 years old, is still enthusiastic about volunteering his time to help the SEE students move forward in life.

Both in their late 70s, Trudi and Pam, a former administrator and maternity nurse respectively, have collectively provided many years of volunteering service and support to AMEP students at TAFE Queensland’s Hervey Bay campus.

Having personally experienced the support she received through the AMEP as a former student from Lebanon, Lina now works as a medical practice manager and also enjoys volunteering and supporting the AMEP students at the Hervey Bay campus.

Like Lina, Paul also previously studied at TAFE Queensland when he trained to be a cook and says one of the biggest reasons he enjoys volunteering with the AMEP is due to the immense satisfaction he derives from helping others.

“I get more out of it than I put in and the bottom line is, apart from our First Nations people, we’re all migrants in this country so we should always do what we can to help each other,” Paul said.

Every one of these volunteers help TAFE Queensland students succeed and go on to do other great things through their kindness, compassion and patience – inside and outside of the classroom – and this can be seen by the mutual enthusiasm and joy the students show when working with the volunteers.

TAFE Queensland General Manager (East Coast region), Ana Rodger, said she could not be more proud of the dedication and contributions of all of TAFE Queensland East Coast’s volunteers.

“The success of our SEE and AMEP programs would not be possible without the generosity, and tireless efforts of our truly amazing volunteers so they deserve absolute recognition not just this week but every other single week throughout the year,” Ms Rodger said.

“Our volunteers come from diverse backgrounds with unique life experiences and each one has such a compelling personal reason for wanting to help our students which I find inspiring so it’s not hard to see why our students improve and thrive under the supportive and caring environment which our volunteers proudly provide every week.”