“Four years ago I was working as an unskilled labourer for a large mining company when I lost my job,” Mr De Bosch said.
“I had to temporarily move into a shack with no plumbing in Mapoon and I was just making ends meet on a pension,” he said.
Mr De Bosch, a Yupungathi man, remembers the moment his luck turned.
“A training network came to town and I was offered a plumbing apprenticeship and certificate III-level training with TAFE Queensland and I thought, ‘I’ll give it a go’,” Mr De Bosch said.
As a remotely-located apprentice with the Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council, Mr De Bosch had to travel to Cairns to complete study blocks.
“I arrived in Cairns and walked into a classroom that was full of computers, it wasn’t looking good,” Mr De Bosch said.
“I knew nothing about computers, I tried to turn one on and I couldn’t do it."
“I was half packed up ready to go when my teacher stopped me - he could have just given up on me, but he didn’t."
“My teacher really did go above and beyond to make sure that I completed the course and not just completed it, but really loved it and came out of it highly skilled,” he said.
Mr De Bosch said he knew that quitting would not have set a good example for his children, whom he had to leave with family members for up to six weeks at a time for training.
“I want my kids to see what it means to get an education and I want them to know what it is like to be a productive member of the community - they need to see me doing it if I expect that from them,” Mr De Bosch said.
“I want my kids to grow up and be successful and I think that I am showing them that it can be done,” he said.
Mr De Bosch and his three children now live in a four bedroom home and all embody the model student attitude. He was named the 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year at the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus Trade Excellence Awards. A few months later, Mr De Bosch went on to receive a 2018 Tropical North Queensland Training Award nomination. Despite his achievements, Mr De Bosch is prouder of his children’s accomplishments; they’re following in their dad’s footsteps and are also receiving awards at school.
Mr De Bosch, now a fully-qualified tradesman, has decided to continue his education with TAFE Queensland - he is currently studying a Certificate IV in Plumbing and Services.
Today, Mr De Bosch is passionate about sharing his education and training experience with other members of his community.
“I didn’t know that I could get a qualification, I thought you’d have to live in the city to do that,” Mr De Bosch said.
“I am so happy to be able to tell people that they can learn too, we might live miles away but we can do it too!”
Mr De Bosch said his work with the Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council is very rewarding.
“I used to drive trucks and stuff, but it was boring."
“Now I love what I do, it is interesting and I’m always learning and most of all, I love being able to do work in and for my community,” he said.