We caught up with three recent Free TAFE graduates to find out what their experience was like at RMIT, and how they’re kicking goals in their current careers as a result.
If you’re thinking about a change of industry, turning your passion into a career, or reskilling to get back into the workforce, Free TAFE can get you there sooner.
Free TAFE for priority courses enables eligible Victorians to build job-ready skills without paying tuition fees. From 2020, this also includes anyone whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19, opening opportunities to reskill and land a high-demand job.
As a dual-sector university, RMIT provides both vocational and higher education qualifications – including a range of Free TAFE courses – where graduates land jobs in the industry or pathway into further study.
Here’s how a few of our recent Free TAFE graduates plan to shape what’s next.
Having worked as an early childhood educator for over eight years, moving into community service was a long-time consideration for Edwina Saines.
“I enjoyed working with children and families and was curious to see how I could develop my skills in youth work or family services," she said.
Edwina was interested in studying community services for a number of years, but couldn’t afford the fees prior to Free TAFE.
“Free TAFE really was a gamechanger for me. I was incredibly excited when I found out the Certificate IV in Community Services was on the list of courses and I was eligible.”
“The certificate attracts such a variety of people with all types of life experiences that I had the privilege of hearing about throughout our study time together.
“These first-hand recollections are what stay with you and remind you what the community services sector is all about.”
After completing her certificate, Edwina went on to study RMIT’s Diploma of Community Services (Case Management) and graduated in 2020.
One of the subjects covered in the diploma helped her learn about Australia's domestic violence epidemic.
“When we covered this subject, it really shed light on the depth of this crisis and the root causes of it in Australia. It has influenced my career direction and I’m excited to be applying to study counselling next year.
“I’m hoping to use my next qualification to make a difference within the family violence sector.”
After Craig Bruty’s business was impacted by COVID-19 and he became a full-time dad, he made a choice to change the direction of his career.
Knowing firsthand how transferable bookkeeping and accounting skills are, he chose to study the Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping.
“Free TAFE provided me with a quick and smooth transition back into further education," he said.
"I am now empowered with the knowledge to establish, operate and maintain an accounting system for any small business. This includes evaluating business technologies and putting them into action, as well as successfully managing day-to-day business operations."
If Craig had to share his biggest takeaway from vocational study at RMIT, it would be to get hands-on experience outside the classroom through volunteering.
“Stay open to opportunities to be involved with organising and presenting industry panels, or networking and feedback sessions. Doing this helped me build strong connections with teachers and staff at RMIT.”
When Craig considers what’s next for him, the prospects are brighter than ever.
“Free TAFE has opened the door for me to complete a Diploma of Accounting in the future. It has also provided me with the knowledge and confidence to manage the bookkeeping for my wife’s floristry business, State of Nature.
“The long-term goal is for my wife and I to both work full-time in the business.”
When Rhys McKenzie first heard that demand for youth workers was growing, he was already considering a move away from the manufacturing industry.
“I thought about it long and hard and it came down to me saying to myself, ‘Someone was there for you when you were young, so why not be there for somebody in the same position?’”
With Free TAFE enabling Rhys to study a Certificate IV in Youth Work, he soon discovered that youth work is more than the ability to help others.
“It’s not just about learning how to work with young people; it’s about learning about yourself so you can help young people,” he said.
After completing the certificate, Rhys decided to continue his journey in youth work through further study at RMIT. He chose to undertake the Diploma of Youth Work, which included online enabled learning experiences in 2020.
He said one of his highlights of the diploma was being able to bring his personal passion for filmmaking into a virtual placement undertaken with the Deer Park Library.
"Our project was to provide young people with videos on topics they had enquired about with the library staff. The team of students and I created a massive pool of videos that addressed most of these topics. It was a lot of work, but I had a lot of fun doing them and would definitely do it again.”
Having completed his vocational training at RMIT, Rhys is now working as a support worker at the Salvation Army.
“We are currently doing outreach work for homeless people who are staying in hotels,” he said.
“This involves checking in on our clients that are staying in the hotels, completing welfare checks, helping with food and travel aid, and working with their case managers to help them achieve their goals.
“I aspire to work in a school as a youth worker or counsellor one day. Right now, my main goal is to gain as much experience as possible.”
Story: Pallavi Daniel
Acknowledgement of country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.
Acknowledgement of country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.