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Chris is as industry current as they come — all for the community

TAFE Queensland’s Community Services teacher, Chris Congoo, is as industry-current as they come, continuing his important work at South Burnett Contributing to Community (CTC) whilst sharing his knowledge with the next generation of community services workers in the South Burnett region.

Chris is a proud Ngara and Gia man, an area around the Whitsunday Islands and Airlie Beach.

“I am a descendant and Traditional Owner of the Ngaro and Gia Lands and Seas, some of the most unique in the world. As Ngaro people, we are the waves that hit our 74 islands and the reef that protected them. As Gia people, we are the rivers and creeks that run through this land. We are the trees that grow to give us food and shelter,” Chris shared.

“Our connection to this country is our sense of belonging. Our Lore of Country is our connection to our ancestors, whom we may never forget.”

Chris started teaching at TAFE Queensland’s Kingaroy campus in January 2024, but not before carving out a varied and significant career with South Burnett (CTC) — a not-for-profit human services organisation, focused on helping at-risk community members.

As a young man Chris didn’t know what the future held for him, he did know however that he wanted to positively contribute to the community in some way. 

Chris had moved to Kingaroy to be closer to his wife’s family and after spotting an advertisement for the South Burnett CTC in the local paper, he applied, completed training and began working as a residential support worker – fulfilling a newly-realised passion for working with youth.

This role saw him assisting at-risk young people with case planning, in-home care, taking clients to appointments and school, providing mentorship through developing social and interpersonal skills, and teaching clients how to live independently.

During his ten years as a residential support worker, he also completed a Diploma in Child, Youth, and Family Intervention (CHC50321) through TAFE Queensland, ensuring he had appropriate trauma crisis intervention skills.

Chris’s passion for teaching and sharing his culture motivated him to pursue an education qualification during his time off from his role.

“I loved teaching my clients, and sharing my culture, so during my days off with South Burnett CTC, I completed my training and education qualification,” said Chris.

“I learnt about the flow of learning, and how to make course work engaging — then eventually took the plunge and transitioned to teaching.”

“I just love teaching and sharing my experience,” Chris beamed. 

Chris teaches Certificate III in Community Services (CHC32015) and Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention (CHC40321).

“My goal is to teach the necessary skills within the community services field and I’m also trying to show students that learning itself can be rewarding.” 

“I want them to consider learning as a reward, and that these courses and job outcomes will provide students the opportunity to interact with people in a way they never have before,” Chris said.

Chris’s engaging teaching style includes role-playing and light-hearted moments to make heavy content more approachable.

“Class work includes written assessments and observations — so I always try to make the observations (role playing in front of peers — a chance to practise skills) a bit more fun with light joking at the start,” he explained.

“Overall, it’s heavy content we’re dealing with, especially with the knowledge that in the last 3 to 4 years, we've seen an increase for kids being placed into the child safety system within Queensland*,” Chris said.

Following his transition to teaching, Chris has appreciated the support from his team and the positive environment at TAFE Queensland.

“Honestly, the best aspect is the support from my team and the general environment.” he said 

“They’ve helped me to upskill so that I can incorporate what I know from my decade of experience, into the teaching space for my students,” said Chris.

And, like all TAFE Queensland teachers, Chris is dedicated to ensuring industry currency — electing to work at South Burnett CTC when he is not teaching.

“Yes. I still currently working for CTC on my holidays. I just go back because I enjoy the job so much,” ended Chris.

*According to the Queensland Government’s Department of Child Safety, Seniors and Disability Services website, demand for child protection services (such as out-of home-care and foster care) continues to grow with 36,000 notifications requiring investigation in the year ending 31 December 2023, a 9.1 per cent increase compared to the same period last year (32,994).