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'It changed my life': How TAFE NSW helped Julia shine

TAFE NSW Narrandera

'It changed my life': How TAFE NSW helped Julia shine

19 January, 2019


Love is what drew Julia Zhang to Australia but it’s a passion of a very different kind that has kept her here.

In 2012, Ms Zhang arrived from her native China to the Riverina town of Narrandera to marry a local man. With barely a word of English, Ms Zhang’s job prospects were grim and she struggled to integrate into Australian life.

But just as hope was about to evaporate, a friend suggested she consider an English language course at TAFE NSW.

In quick succession, Ms Zhang, 47, completed a Certificate I and II in Spoken and Written English.

For Ms Zhang and thousands of other new Aussies, these courses can be a gamechanger.

“When I enrolled, the only English I knew was ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’,” Ms Zhang said. “But the course helped me so much in understanding Australia and how to speak to people; it was really good and I would recommend it highly to others.”

Confidence bolstered by her new language skills, Ms Zhang, 47, applied for a job as a kitchen hand at aged care facility Opal Narrandera and secured the role.

As part of the position, Ms Zhang was responsible for taking meals around to elderly residents, unlocking a secret talent for aged care. She soon successfully applied for an Assistant in Nursing position at Opal Narrandera, thriving in the role and even enrolling in a Certificate III in Individual Support – Aged Care at TAFE NSW Narrandera to support her.

Opal Narrandera General Manager Vicki Hopper said Ms Zhang had been a “wonderful asset” to the aged care facility and credited TAFE NSW with playing a crucial role in her quest for employment.

“She’s a beautiful person and gives her heart and soul to the job,” Ms Hopper said. “She always has a smile on her face and is so kind and sympathetic. She’s also really tuned in to the residents’ personal likes and dislikes.”

Ms Zhang said the job had given her life greater purpose and made her more connected to her community and country. “I love my job so much and I love the residents,” Ms Zhang said. “They really feel like my family in my heart.”

To enquire about enrolling in an English language course at TAFE NSW, phone 131 601 or visit

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