A Brogo grandfather whose property was ravaged by the New Year’s Eve bushfire has used a fee-free TAFE NSW course to help him take the first steps towards rebuilding.
Andrew D’Arnay is trying to exorcise the memories of the devastating blaze, which destroyed much of his nine-acre property, including fencing, water tanks, a shed and the verandah of the home he built himself.
Determined to rebuild, Mr D’Arnay last week completed a fee-free White Card course at TAFE NSW Bega, one of a suite of courses offered by the NSW Government to bushfire-affected communities to assist in recovery.
“I need to get my owner-builder’s licence and it was great to be able to get the White Card at no cost,” Mr D’Arnay said.
“The course was fantastic and the teacher was brilliant.
“The assistance that TAFE NSW is offering is absolutely critical to the community and makes so many people’s live that were affected by bushfire so much easier.”
The range of fee-free courses that are available at TAFE NSW Bega include first aid, food safety supervision, licence to operate a forklift, espresso coffee-making skills, welding, asbestos awareness, business sales, chainsaw operations, Responsible Conduct of Gambling, and agricultural chemical application.
Mr D’Arnay recounted the harrowing moments the fire took control of his property.
"I had my son, his partner and their three kids staying with me and I remember going to bed about 10pm, thinking it was still miles away,” he said. “I woke up at midnight to hear the leaves dropping on the roof and when I walked outside I could see this eerie red glow just over the hills.
“Before we knew it, fire was falling from the sky and we just got out of there.
“We lost a small part of the house, a shed, three water tanks and all our fencing, but I know at least 10 or 15 friends locally who lost their homes. It was just horrendous.”
TAFE NSW Regional General Manager Belinda Mackinnon said TAFE NSW was proud to play a role in helping bushfire-ravaged communities recover.
“We recognise the enormity of the task in rebuilding these communities and we’re committed to providing residents with the skills they need to rebuild and repair critical infrastructure such as homes and businesses, and to help create new employment opportunities,” Ms Mackinnon said.
“We’ve worked hand in glove with local government, local people and local industry to ensure these fee-free courses are tailored to the needs of individual communities.”
To find out more about studying a fee-free course at TAFE NSW Bega, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au/bushfire-courses.
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.