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Education opens a world of opportunity for Haytham

With a dream to become a schoolteacher, Haytham Trueheart Harbus is studying with TAFE Queensland to enrol in university and study education.

Realising that university studies require academic writing, note taking and referencing skills he did not have, Haytham is now completing a Certificate IV in Adult Tertiary Preparation (10765NAT) (ATP).

“I'm studying to get the eligibility prerequisites to study primary education and become a school teacher, and TAFE Queensland is building that foundation for me,” explained Haytham.

While getting the skills required, Haytham is also developing a broad range of skills relevant to education.

From advanced literacy, numeracy and digital skills, time management, problem-solving, research and assignment writing skills, exam strategies and seminar presentation skills, Haytham is gaining the skills to complete a bachelor of education and be the best teacher possible for his future students.

A proud Torres Strait Islander man with ties to Gudumadh Village on Masig Island, Haytham’s focus within education is to work with children and young people and assist them to succeed.

“I love children's innocence, curiosity and creativity, and I am interested in childhood development, so I’m working to get in the best position to work with disadvantaged children, break the trauma cycle, restore their hope and help them succeed in life,” he said.

This motivation comes from his experience as a pupil at The Murri School in Brisbane, a community-owned and community-controlled school that builds healthy relationships between young First Nations people and adults.

“Many Murri School students come from challenging backgrounds, so the school puts culture, mental health and well-being first and brings education in. Being a skilled and qualified teacher able to help those students develop healthy relationships with adults is my dream career.”

“Thanks to my inspirational Murri School teacher, Miss Kim Peyton-Smith who shaped my future, I firmly believe that we need to ensure students are focused and safe to have a good education, and that's why I'd love to teach there. Those kids have pushed me here, and I want to be there for those kids,” he said.

Helping Haytham achieve his dream is Fee-Free TAFE funding, part of the Queensland Government's Good People. Good jobs: Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022–2032. It aims to connect, educate and attract the people needed to meet the state's workforce demand in existing and new industry sectors to support continued economic growth.

With approximately 37,000 Fee-Free TAFE and vocational education and training places available in 2024, the program will support Queenslanders to skill up to meet the state's current and future workforce needs by enabling them to complete selected qualifications at no or low cost.

“I learnt about the Fee-Free Funding from Aunty Morgan Cotter, the deadly Indigenous Support Officer in TAFE Queensland’s Kurilpa Room. It’s helped me so much – it’s made me take responsibility and commit to studying because opportunities like this don’t always happen. I'm very grateful for it, and I wouldn’t be here without it.”

A believer in education’s power to open doors and guarantee meaningful jobs, Haytham hopes to travel to California, join The Freedom Writers Foundation, and continue learning under Erin Gruwell.

“As a teacher, Erin changed the lives of disadvantaged young people in Wilson High School in America, where she inspired young, underprivileged students to write, and I see myself bringing learnings from her to Australia,” he explained.

“With the skills and knowledge that I’m learning, and being a Torres Strait Islander, I know the challenges First Nations children face, and I’m getting qualified to connect them to their culture through teaching.”

Teaching students to enhance and improve their lives through writing combines Haytham’s passion for positively performing arts and his culture.

“Having won awards like the National NAIDOC Youth Award in 2022 under my previous name, Elijah Manis, I’m looking forward to passing on knowledge and enhancing the outcomes of students under Haytham Trueheart, which is now my poet name and what I’m being published under.”

“I’m fortunate to be preparing to become a teacher that helps First Nations students connect with their culture – it’s great for healing the soul. The combination of my training and culture will set me up for a fulfilling and life-long career,” concluded Haytham.