Another TAFE champion in the making

I am a mature aged student, and have been attending Ultimo TAFE undertaking Library and Information Studies since 2009. I am now close to finishing my Diploma.

Life has not been easy for me. My childhood was difficult as there was a lot of conflict, domestic violence and alcoholism in my family. This pattern recurred for me in adult life and I ended up in a violent marriage to an alcoholic man but fortunately this marriage did not last.

Near to the end of 2007, I had a fall and unknowingly ended up sustaining hidden multiple injuries to my body, and over time, these injuries took their toll on my emotional health. X-rays at that stage had only revealed deep bruising although it didn’t feel like it.

Over the next few months, most of the really bad pain seemed to settle down, and I had also decided on a sea-change and obtained a fabulous position working casual, mostly 6 days a week in a wonderful Library. Being one who has always worked and kept busy, the pain I felt I put down to wear and tear due to age. It was eventually discovered though that I that I had crushed discs in my back which needed reconstruction and was put on an emergency waiting list for surgery. Also around that time my mother who I cared for died.  

Through my work with the library, I was encouraged to start a course in Library and Information Studies. I was in a lot of physical pain and had not felt right in myself for some time. One of my teachers suggested I see a counsellor at TAFE. She helped me realise I had not had a chance to grieve for my mother. I was going about like a robot, on remote control. My sadness was not just over Mum, it related to my history of abuse in childhood and in my marriage.

The specialist units of counselling, psychiatric and physical disabilities have assisted me to stay on track with my studies and support me when times were particularly tough. I did experience a breakdown mid-way through my studies. My teachers advised me to lighten my work load by doing just one subject at a time and I cannot praise these teachers at TAFE highly enough. All the teachers have gone out of their way to help me stay at TAFE. Every time I have got to the point where I have emotionally struggled and felt I couldn’t go on, they have been there for me. I haven’t had to wallow.

If I wasn’t for TAFE, I do not think I would be alive. Without their help and intervention I would have ended up another unwanted statistic. I know now I’m worth more than that.

After TAFE I feel confident enough to offer my services as a volunteer. I am currently actively seeking positions in administration for NGOs and other volunteer organisations. I feel like I have something of value to give back to the community.

Peter's Story

I enjoy studying at TAFE especially when it comes to the practical aspects of learning. Last year though things were really going downhill, I was struggling with depression and anxiety and finding it very hard to get through my coursework, particularly getting assignments done. I really struggled with motivation and whenever I sat down to do my TAFE work I found it very hard to concentrate. Often I only lasted for a few minutes until things my body seemed to need, like something sweet to eat or a rest overcame any thoughts I had to continue with my TAFE work – even though I had only eaten recently and was well rested. I felt really frustrated. I was getting down on myself and life was getting on top of me. I was beginning to wonder what the point of it all was.
I talked to my teachers about this and one of them suggested I get in touch with the disabilities unit – which I did.
I’ve found the coordinators and support teachers very helpful and am now getting through my coursework and getting my assignments done in good time. What I find very useful are the homework/tutorial classes where students registered with disabilities can go and get help with any TAFE work that they’re struggling with. They can also go there if they just need somewhere where they can go to do their homework and assignments.
My TAFE life is much improved since I got in touch with the disabilities unit and I can now see myself finishing my course. I am also enjoying life more generally as I feel I’m getting back on top of things.