TAFE NSW offers Diyana a hand of hope

TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga

TAFE NSW offers Diyana a hand of hope

The trauma of persecution in her homeland still raw, Diyana Gundor and her family arrived as refugees to Wagga in 2017 without a word of English and with scant knowledge of their newly adopted country.

Two years on and Diyana – part of a wave of Yazidi refugees to arrive in Australia following a campaign of genocide by ISIS in Northern Iraq – has a thriving small business, two TAFE NSW qualifications and speaks improving English.

Her remarkable integration success story is as much a testament to her resilient spirit as it is to the support she has received from organisations like TAFE NSW.

Within weeks of arriving in Wagga, Diyana, her parents and her brother enrolled in a Preliminary Written and Spoken English course at TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga, part of the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

The AMEP provides up to 510 hours of free English lessons and childcare to newly-arrived eligible migrants and refugees.

For Diyana and her family, it has helped them integrate more seamlessly into their new home.

“My family wasn’t safe in Iraq; lots of our family and friends were killed by ISIS,” Diyana said. “I couldn’t speak any English when I came to Wagga and all I knew about Australia was kangaroos.

“TAFE NSW helped me and my family a lot. They taught us English but also taught us about Australian culture and things like body language. The teachers were very patient and very caring.”

An avid cook, Diyana build her confidence to the point where she was able to open a food stall at the weekly Riverina Producer’s Market and has quickly built a cult following for her Yazidi food, including her popular flatbread. She has recently started selling the bread at the iconic Thorne Street Café.

Diyana also volunteers as a teacher’s aide at Turvey Park Public School and makes regular visits to local nursing homes to brighten residents’ day and teach them about her culture.

Her next step is to realise her dream of being a childhood educators and she will soon enrol in a Certificate III in Childhood Education and Care and TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga.

Head Teacher of Career Pathways, Aboriginal Languages, Employability Skills and ESOL at TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga, Elizabeth Stott, said Diyana’s story was typical of many AMEP graduates.

“AMEP courses are the starting point to a new migrant’s journey in Australia and so often we see them thrive after they complete a course,” Ms Stott said. “It often leads onto other educational pathways or employment, just like it has with Diyana.”

To find out more about studying an AMEP course at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit

Caption: NEW BEGINNING: Yazidi refugee Diyana Gundor is thriving in Wagga, thanks in part to the education and support she has received from TAFE NSW.


Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.