Proud Kamilaroi woman Gabrielle O’Keeffe is doing everything in her power to help children achieve their full potential, with JobTrainer funding enabling the former youth worker to develop the skills she needs to transition her passion to the education sector.
Gabrielle grew up on Bundalung Country (Northern Rivers) in New South Wales and after finishing high school in 2013, completed a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, followed by a Certificate IV in Community Services.
It’s a path that initially led her to the Northern Territory, where she supported young Indigenous teenagers as a residential youth worker in the remote Aboriginal community of Wadeye.
“I felt drawn to explore Indigenous culture beyond my local area. Living and working within a remote Aboriginal community was an invaluable experience,” Ms O’Keeffe said.
Keen for a change in scenery, Gabrielle moved to Cairns in early 2020, where she continued to work as a residential youth worker with teenage girls from remote Cape York and Groote Eylandt who were required to live away from home in order to access secondary education.
Having worked closely with the girls and seen them embrace the opportunity to learn, Gabrielle jumped at the chance when the opportunity arose for her to become an education officer for Indigenous teenagers. Looking to enhance her skills, Gabrielle enrolled to study a Certificate III in Education Support online through TAFE Queensland under JobTrainer funding, which aims to assist eligible job seekers and school leavers in entering high priority skills areas by enabling them to complete selected qualifications for free or low cost.
And while Gabrielle is not set to graduate until later in 2022, the 26-year-old has used her new skills to transition even further into the education sector, now working full time supporting the next generation to create a strong foundation for learning as a teacher’s aide for prep students at an Anglican primary school.
“I enjoy playing an influential role to students who are in their first year at school. It’s a time in their lives where you can really impact a child’s experience and their attitude towards school and education,” she says. “Being a part of children and young people’s educational journey is a privilege and something I’ve always felt passionate about being involved in—I would highly recommend this rewarding, fulfilling and enjoyable career avenue.”
To find out more about how TAFE Queensland can help you kick-start your career in education support, visit tafeqld.edu.au or call 1300 308 233.