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TAFE NSW Dubbo construction course boosting skills of Aboriginal men in recovery

[by Amy Johnson]


Students at Orana Haven. Image: supplied

Clients at an Aboriginal drug and alcohol rehabilitation service near Brewarrina are gaining job-ready skills in the growing construction industry thanks to a new TAFE NSW Dubbo course.


Orana Haven Aboriginal Corporation at Gongolgon is a leading provider of drug and alcohol services for Aboriginal people in northwest NSW, delivering culturally-appropriate case management to clients and their families.


Construction teachers from TAFE NSW Dubbo are delivering the newly developed Certificate II in Construction to 14 clients undertaking the three-month rehabilitation program at Orana Haven.

“The practical, job-ready skills students are learning gives them an opportunity to move forward from whatever has happened in their past into a career in construction or even further study,” said TAFE NSW Construction teacher Chris Newberry.


With practical units including measurements and calculations, using construction tools and equipment, working safely at heights, concreting, and demolition, the students are among the first in the northwest to undertake the new qualification.


“Throughout their training, the student have built timber benches, outdoor hardwood table settings, and outdoor cover areas, as well as carrying out maintenance at the centre,” said TAFE NSW Construction teacher Harry West.


“These are skills that can be the foundation of their new pathway once they move on from the centre.”

Alongside gaining practical skills and growing employment pathways, Orana Haven’s acting CEO Tracy Gordon said the enthusiasm for the training has grown with each week.


“At first, some of our clients weren’t all that interested in the course, but that has certainly changed as they’ve progressed,” said Ms Gordon.


“It’s been incredibly rewarding to see their confidence grow thanks to their TAFE NSW studies, both in developing their construction skills, but also other important work and life skills like organisation, teamwork, and time management.


“For all staff, it’s uplifting to see the clients work each day on maintaining recovery as well as putting effort into all aspects of the program.”


Rodney Robbins is one student enjoying his TAFE NSW studies and what the future may hold.


“Before this course I had no skills in construction, and at first I didn’t really want to do it,” said Mr Robbins. “But I got stuck in and I was hooked, and I’m now really enjoying the training.”


Eli Morris is another student who has embraced the practical training.


“I’ve especially enjoyed learning to use the power tools, working at heights, and the building,” said Mr Morris. “It’s been a really enjoyable course and I’m grateful for this experience.”



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