TAFE in Action at Warwick Farm

The Project at Warwick Farm has continued to have a positive effect on the community as a whole. Since the inception of the program, a proposal for a social enterprise coffee shop was put forward and so OHS and Barista courses were requested and conducted at Wetherill Park College and this put the students in a position to work in the coffee shop. This was commenced with one of the ex-students managing and working in the shop initially but this has now grown from two mornings a week to five days a week with 5 students working in the shop and two days a week dinner is offered at reduced prices and the enterprise is making a profit.

Two of our original students now work for the Neighbourhood Centre: One is managing the coffee shop along with other duties, and one is working as a project officer.

At the request of students at Warwick Farm, a Certificate III in Micro Business was conducted and students were given the support they needed to complete and pass this course. For many of the students in the group, this was a first for them and they were very proud of their achievement. Many of those students are the ones who are employed in the enterprise and some of them are also attempting to set up their own business. The Woman's forum has become involved in order to provide seeding money. they have offered a business manager and a mentoring service to those who set up a small business.

In addition to these great outcomes, a new enterprise has just commenced of lawn mower for locals. They go out to mow lawns for those in the area at a very reduced price.

An internet cafe is also open on the premises and students who have already studied computers are assisting other participants to access the internet.

As a result of this program, there is also a women's health clinic being conducted out of the centre one day per week. There is also a chiropractor who provides a service one day per fortnight from the centre. A newsletter, Our Neighbourhood Our Future is the Warwick Farm community newletter which is distributed by students in the class.

Regular community events, fetes and information days are conducted by the current class and stalls are organised and manned by students and catered by the coffee shop, which is also the students. The coffee shop also provides service to local community, interagency and health meetings held on site.

The Heart Smart program, in partnership with the Department of Health, is also a partner with the Doorways program to encourage healthy exercise, walking and healthy eating programs.

Students have organised a range of seminars including Drug and Alcohol, and Community Safety.

Finally Links to Learning has agreed to partner with Liverpool TAFE Outreach to implement programs for the local youth.

Escaping the Poverty Trap

Having had seven children it was time to assess the future and make some decisions about how to balance children, work opportunities, earning capacity and goals. It did not take long to realise that with no recent paid employment history and no formal vocational qualifications, entering the lowly paid unskilled insecure workforce, having to report constantly to CentreLink with irregular income, losing family payments, extra costs associated with working would subsume any financial advantage. Children would be disadvantaged with less parental time and having to fit into our work schedules.
On the other hand if I could get some qualifications and become a professional the long term prospects for my family and the possibility of financial independence was much more likely.
Over a decade I juggled family, study and work. Within that decade I had achieved work in my chosen field and a post graduate qualification. My first course was two evenings a week and very challenging having been away from study for a long time and having significant family/domestic responsibilities. I learned from that year of study I was in the wrong field. I had gained confidence, knowledge and skills that enabled me to make choices to continue study in fields more suited to my achieving my potential. Through TAFE and the services it offered as a quality public provider I was able to build a series of qualifications.
It is almost two decades since I returned to study. I will always be grateful that TAFE facilitated my complex pathways that have led to me working in a secure job where I continue my lifelong learning, have job satisfaction and financial independence. My children have grown up and benefited from the opportunities I enjoyed through TAFE.

I cannot imagine how different my life would have been with only one entitlement to a qualification as is being proposed by the O’Farrell government. With that I would have not been able to continue my study and would have remained dependant on government payments. Clearly that would also have impacted on my children.
J G Grateful Escapee