Macleay Borger and his family.
A Port Macquarie man, blinded at work by chemicals used to clean a beer line, has credited TAFE NSW with helping him overcome mental and physical challenges and find a new career as a student mentor.
After his accident in 2013, Macleay Borger spent eight months in hospital and underwent 13 surgeries for burns to his face and eyes. With the support of his wife, their young family, and his friends, at just 25 Macleay started to rebuild his life without most of his sight. In 2021, he took the courageous step to use his experiences to support others as a mental health peer worker.
The Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work is a 12-month course that empowers students to apply their lived experience of mental illness and recovery to provide support for those accessing mental health care. Units cover the legal and ethical aspects of the profession, diversity, recovery and other fundamentals.
Peer work is the fastest growing mental health workforce in Australia, and the use of mental health services nationwide surged during the pandemic, according to the Australian Government’s Institute of Health and Welfare.
Macleay said he first heard about the course during a tough time in 2020 when he reached out to the local Lifeline at Port Macquarie.
“I wish I’d known about the course sooner,” said Macleay “I ended up with an excellent support network at TAFE NSW, and they did everything to help me, like providing equipment and helping with note taking.”
“Not too many people turn up at TAFE with a vision impairment, so it was a learning curve for all of us and the teachers and support staff couldn’t have been more accommodating.”
“The course can be quite confronting as there are a lot of people with many different stories. It was important to know that what was said in the room stayed in the room, that you were sharing your experience and learning in a safe space.”
TAFE NSW Mental Health Peer Work Teacher Beck Miles said Macleay’s experience was a powerful example of why peer support work is such a rapidly growing part of the mental health sector.
“It’s a massively growing field and our graduates have exceptional job outcomes,” Ms Miles said.
“Peer work has a profound impact on the consumers and on the industry, and TAFE NSW plays a critical role in training the mental health workforce of tomorrow.”
Soon after completing the course, Macleay was hired as a student mentor at Port Macquarie’s MacKillop College.
“There’s definitely some deju vu for me with these young people. Helping them to understand that it’s okay to be themselves and be a bit cheeky, but to choose the right time and place.
“It’s something I learned from the course. We’re working on finding that balance with respect and gratitude.”
The Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work is a one-year course. For more information, call 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au
Media contact: Amy Johnson, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 02 7921 0354