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TAFE Queensland teacher Deb Stephens is passionate about using her knowledge, skills and experience to prepare the next generation of child protection workers.

Having worked with homeless youth, adult offenders and the Department of Child Safety Services for 20 years, Deb brought her sector experience and contacts to TAFE Queensland’s Caboolture campus to teach the Diploma of Child, Youth and Family Intervention (CHC50313).

"Having spent decades working with vulnerable children, young people and families I wanted to share my knowledge, skills and experience with the next generation of child protection workers — and I love teaching at TAFE Queensland,” said Deb.

Her dedication to the sector and the people within it shines through with her eagerness to guide and mentor students to be the best possible child protection workers of tomorrow.

"I teach to support anyone who wants to improve themselves while building their skills and professionalism to provide the sector with confident and capable workers to successfully support families in need," said Deb. 

"The best part of my job is celebrating with my students when they graduate and begin working. Seeing their passion, confidence and skills grow as they go out into the world to help others is truly rewarding," she continued.

While they study, Deb connects her students with professional development opportunities offered by child protection peak bodies, building their skills and introducing them to people in the industry.

Her classes also support community organisations to raise awareness of Queensland Child Protection Week, NAIDOC Week and White Ribbon Day.

After they graduate, Deb connects her students with suitable agencies, ensuring the right people are working in the right areas of the sector.

"I’m grateful for being a part of so many student success stories. Particularly those who now work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Moreton Bay to create innovative and inspiring programs,” said Deb.

“Former students stay in contact and often check in to let me know where they’re working, how they’re helping the community and sometimes they offer placements," she said. 

The child protection sector is changing and needs more qualified people to help vulnerable members of the community, something that Deb cares deeply about.

"The sector is pivoting towards helping strengthen families so they can keep their children at home rather than get child protection involved. This requires our students to develop resilience, confidence, empathy and have a genuine passion for helping," said Deb.

“We ensure our graduates can hit the ground running by giving them access to the best teachers, the highest practical experience and the most relevant up-to-date industry knowledge while they’re with us,” she said.

For anyone considering a career in child protection, Deb pulls no punches and recommends they be open to new ways of thinking.

“Working with children, young people and families in this sector is tireless. You have to be passionate, dedicated and committed to helping people traumatised from child abuse and neglect," said Deb. 

“You’ll also need to be able to look after yourself and have some great self-care strategies to ensure longevity working in this sector,” she said. 

For anyone thinking about studying, Deb simply asks "what are you waiting for?"

"The opportunities of studying and working in an area that you’re passionate about will lead to a real sense of career satisfaction and achievement," said Deb.

"Working in the human services sector is challenging but hugely fulfilling and there are many career opportunities where you can help people become healthier and have a better quality of life."


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