When Yan Meng left Shanghai for Brisbane’s leafy inner suburbs in late 2017, the scenery would prove the first of countless changes.
Together with her husband and young children, she forged new roots in Mansfield, neighbouring the cultural melting pots of Sunnybank and Mount Gravatt.
"I liked the quietness of Brisbane," Yan said. After a fast-paced sales career in Shanghai, she was inspired to step into a new community, a new career, and — possibly the greatest hurdle — a new language.
"I found it very difficult because my English level was not high," Yan said. "When I went shopping or saw my doctor, I couldn't express my thoughts clearly to them. I was very depressed at that time."
But Yan's fortunes quickly changed when she discovered the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). While settling in Australia, eligible migrants and refugees can access free English language classes through the AMEP) as well as free childcare while parents attend class.
The program is delivered by TAFE Queensland in 34 locations throughout the state, and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.
"I liked the class very much," Yan said with a smile. "Not only did it improve my English, but I also learned a lot about living in Australia."
As her confidence improved, Yan expanded her studies into a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC50113). She also joined the Work Ready program, an AMEP subprogram.
At TAFE Queensland, Work Ready students develop employability skills, prepare for the Australian workforce, and participate in work experience with local businesses.
"It was difficult to find placements that term, due to COVID-19," said Gail McCann, TAFE Queensland Work Placement Coordinator, "but Yan was very flexible, and her resilience paid off."
Through Work Ready, Yan completed two weeks of work experience at Avenues Early Learning Centre in Camp Hill, where she was trained in the different aspects of the role.
"The staff and supervisors were all very friendly," Yan said, beaming. "They showed me around the centre, introduced me to the children and parents, and shared their experiences."
Yan’s enthusiasm didn’t go unnoticed by staff, either. Just days after beginning her placement, she was offered a paid role.
"I’m so grateful to TAFE Queensland for the opportunity," Yan said with a bright smile. "Work Ready helped me improve my English level, arranged my work placement, and gave me the chance to find a job."
TAFE Queensland teacher Jenna MacDonnell, said "Yan’s positive attitude and determination really paid off. She worked extremely hard throughout the program and applied what she learned on placement."
Yan encourages migrants in similar situations to consider the Adult Migrant English Program.
"I strongly recommend all of my migrant friends and neighbours to study AMEP at TAFE," she said.
"This is a very good opportunity for us new immigrants."
The AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. In Queensland, the AMEP is delivered through TAFE Queensland.