20 December, 2015

Brendan's story

By Michelle Purdy

Growing up in the foster care system led Brendan Murray down a rocky education and employment path for many years. He knows first-hand the value of being a second chance learner and strongly advocates TAFE as a place of opportunity for all ages.

Brendan often tells his story to the young people he works with. “When I was a young man I was doing manual work landscape gardening and injured my back so needed to find a job that was less physical. My reading and writing wasn’t very good back then so I did a TAFE course through Aboriginal Training Programs that helped me on my way. I didn’t just want to do manual work for the rest of my life but wanted more than that. While I have had many other jobs since it wasn’t until my employment as a Youth Worker with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) in Burnie, starting almost ten years ago, that I feel I achieved anything academically or had a career.”

“What I love about my job is the rewards I get from working with young Aboriginal people in my community. Seeing them smile and be happy. In the sessions with the kids I love hearing their stories about the good things that have been happening to them. They say ‘Brendo this happened today….’ Youth Work is the most rewarding and the most challenging work I have ever done. There is nothing better than putting a smile a child’s face when you know what is going on at home. I have had young children attending my groups telling me that they are going to be a Youth Worker like me when they grow up and that just melted me. “

Brendan tells how completing the Certificate IV in Youth Work through TasTAFE has increased his professionalism as a Youth Worker and filled gaps in his knowledge and skills. It wasn’t easy overcoming the challenges of studying, working full-time and keeping up family and community obligations but it was all made worthwhile when he received his certificate and graduated.

Named Aboriginal Student of the Year at the recent 2015 Tasmanian Training Awards in Hobart has set Brendan on the path to the Australian Training Awards being held in Hobart on November 19. This is journey Brendan never dreamed of when he enrolled in his first literacy class as a young man.

Michelle Purdy is the Aboriginal VET Officer at TASTAFE in Burnie. She is also Federal TAFE President of the Australian Education Union