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TAFE graduate now helping others to a better life

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Four years ago, Ajah Duot came to Australia looking for a better life; now she’s helping others to enjoy a better life in their final years.

Originally from South Sudan, Ms Duot couldn’t speak English when she arrived as a refugee with dreams of a safer future and a better education.

Now the 20-year-old has successfully studied individual support at South West TAFE’s Colac campus and secured a job at Mercy Health.

It has been a life-changing turnaround and Ms Duot says she feels right at home in Colac.

Originally Ms Duot settled in Ballarat but after a few months moved to Colac to be closer to her sister and other family members and for educational opportunities.

She came to Australia after her mother passed away. “I had aunties and uncles in Australia so it was decided to move here so they could look after us,” she said.

“It didn’t happen for a few years but it all worked out eventually.

“My life is better. I was able to get the chance to finish my schooling and we feel safe, have a roof over our heads and we have food and clean water.”

Her decision to study individual support at the South West TAFE Colac campus reflects her caring nature.

“I’ve always been interested in aged care,” Ms Duot said. “I am interested in studying nursing but wanted to do this first to experience how aged care works.”

The one-year course has been beneficial. “I learnt a lot,” she said. “I had no English at all when I got here; it was difficult but I managed to get through.”

Ms Duot said she appreciated the support of TAFE’s teaching staff.

After a one-week placement, Ms Duot has secured work as a personal care assistant at Mercy Health, helping residents with their daily activities and personal hygiene.

“The placement was really good; I’m both excited and nervous about it,” she said.

“I never thought I’d be able to speak English, finish school, be able to drive and now get a job but I have.”

South West TAFE CEO Mark Fidge said Ms Duot’s success was an example of how TAFE works for everyone, even though many people underestimate and misunderstand the system.

“Surveys show 28 per cent of young Australians are deterred from studying TAFE/VET courses because they see a stigma attached to it,” Mr Fidge said.

“There’s no need for that,” he said. “TAFE has proven time and again to be the smart alternative.”

While the TAFE system across Australia produces excellent student outcomes, South West TAFE does even better with 87.2 per cent of 2018 graduates finding jobs, well above the national average of 72.4 per cent.

“People should be asking themselves are they smart enough to chose TAFE,” Mr Fidge said.

“TAFE offers practical skills and experience that industry demands for careers that the world wants.”