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If returning to work after raising a family wasn’t hard enough, try doing it during COVID-19. To her credit, Kylee Mingham has used her time in lockdown to turn uncertainty into opportunity and is now starting a new career in the health industry thanks to free online training from TAFE Queensland.

COVID-19 has provided some unique challenges this year, but for the former stay-at-home mum the pandemic has afforded her an opportunity to renew her confidence, gain new skills, and pursue her passion for helping others.

“I suffered from postnatal depression for many years; living through issues like depression, anxiety, PTS, and panic attacks. After working through the issues I have faced, I feel I can not only relate to those in a similar situation, but most importantly I can help them to understand what they’re going through and [on a much broader scale] do away with the stigma that comes with mental health,” Kylee said.

“I want to make people aware of just how common mental health is, how you can overcome it, and help society to accept people with mental health.

“Drawing on my lived experiences, my dream is to one-day support people with ways to improve and overcome their mental health and addiction problems – they don’t have to suffer alone, they don’t have to suffer in silence,” she said.

As an eligible Queensland job-seeker, Kylee was able to complete a fully-subsided Community Care Skill Set during lockdown and retrain in an area she was passionate about.

"I'd been thinking about getting back into study for years, but I hadn’t studied since school and that was over 30 years ago. I was very unsure if I was going to succeed with the course work and assessments," Kylee said.

Despite her reservations, Kylee thrived in her new study environment and loved being able to connect with her teachers and fellow students online.

"The teachers were so helpful and encouraging. I'm so pleased I took the skill set to find out how much I love studying a subject that I feel so passionate about and how easy it can be," Kylee said.

In fact, Kylee loved studying so much she went on to complete a Certificate III in Health Assistance (HLT33015) and plans on continuing her studies with a Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work (CHC43515) in pursuit of her dream job.

The skill set was the perfect stepping stone for Kylee, allowing her to not only dip her toe in the water of studying again, but also to use her newfound skills to find work while studying and she is now in the enviable position of having in-demand skills in one of the country's most in demand industries.

"The job opportunities are amazing — two weeks before even finishing the skill set I got offered a job in the health industry working with mental health and disability, which I really enjoy," Kylee said.

"I've actually been offered so much work I've had to turn some down!" she said.

Looking back on her experience, Kylee can see the silver lining in what has been a challenging year.

"I was given the chance to study which I'd wanted to do for the past two years, but never had the courage to stop life and spend the time to do something like this for myself," Kylee said.

"I think COVID-19 has taught me that to be successful, you must make the most of the situation you're in by thinking outside the box.

"I would recommend TAFE Queensland's courses to anyone. It gave me the confidence to follow my dream and the success to make it happen," she said.

As the state’s largest and most experienced provider of vocational education and training (VET), TAFE Queensland is playing a critical role in Queensland’s recovery from the pandemic.

Skill sets like Kylee's were developed in close consultation with both industry and government to provide Queenslanders with valuable technical, digital and soft skills to retrain in areas of high demand.

These skill sets are fully subsidised by the Queensland Government and are available to Queensland residents who have been impacted by COVID-19.

More about TAFE Queensland's COVID-19 response

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