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Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Up for a challenge

After droughts, bushfires, plagues of mice and the threat of floods, Tracey Hosking who lives on a sheep and cattle farm in Bundarra NSW is used to dealing with the unexpected. But it took the pandemic to realise she was in a rut.

For 14 years Tracey worked at the town’s local corner store, which was across the road from her kids’ school bus stop and handy to her parents’ place.

But Tracey realised that even though she was extremely grateful for the opportunity, a job has to be more than convenient to keep you going.

By the time the pandemic hit in 2020 and after two months off work Tracey realised the time had come for a change. Her first day back at work was a shock. ‘It felt like groundhog day. I was so antsy to get out of there. I got home after my shift and rang my boss and said. “I need to do something different.” And I resigned.’

Half an hour later, driving to collect the kids, she heard an ad on the radio for the Community College course in Aged Care. ‘I thought “it’s not where I see myself” but it’s something.’

She applied and was accepted into the course at the Community College in the nearby town of Inverell.

Returning to study was a challenge. Tracey left high school half-way through year 12 and worked at a few different jobs until she started at the corner store.

Newly enrolled in the one day a week Aged Care course Tracey looked for work and applied for a position as a disability support worker at Brighter Access, a disability services provider with clients who have high needs.

The new job took her out of her comfort zone and each day was a challenge, but Tracey was determined to keep her studies up and finish the course. Her new employer supported her decision. It was the right move, Tracey says. A lot of what she’s studied in Aged Care is applicable to her disability role, including palliative care.

‘I’m the person in class who all the other students roll their eyes at because I always have a million questions.’

She’s since gone on to enrol in a disability course and a Certificate III in Community Services course at Inverell Community College.

‘I’m super excited to be doing these courses and I can’t wait to get to class. It’s a feeling I haven’t had before. I love my job and I feel really confident. I feel like everything’s panning out perfectly.

‘I hit the ground running – I’d never worked with people with disabilities before and these are people with high needs and behaviour issues but I’ve got so much confidence now that I’ve learned some skills. I really do love it. And I’m excited about learning more and I’m already thinking about what I will do after a Certificate 4 because I don’t want to finish. There’s so many things you learn that help your understanding and the way you do your job.

‘I stumbled on what I wanted to do and I’m so lucky.’

Recognised for her achievement

The day of the Adult Learners Week scholarship announcement Tracey was watching the launch on Zoom. ‘When my name was called out it was totally unexpected. I was super excited. I had such a feeling of accomplishment.

‘I feel super grateful. I read what my teacher had written on the nomination again and it made me look back on things and I thought “Good for you.”

It really is good to get out of your comfort zone. It is a great feeling. I don’t want to stop learning I want to climb the ladder and explore what else I can do.

‘It’s super early days but I’m thinking bigger picture and I’ve got lots of ideas and the future looks exciting.

‘I really have surprised myself. I know people who’ve worked for years in disability and aren’t as confident as I am. But if you’re really interested in something and you can apply what you’re learning then everything’s in synch and it all comes together.

‘The hugest lesson I’ve learned is to back yourself. Listen to your gut and once you’ve made a decision, don’t half start it, go forward and trust your judgement.’

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