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Inspiring TAFE NSW partnership delivers hope, skills to disaster-hit Batlow


Inspiring TAFE NSW partnership delivers hope, skills to disaster-hit Batlow

VITAL SKILLS: Some of the participants in the special bushfire recovery skills workshops being run by TAFE NSW in the Tumut region.

4 October 2022

An inspiring partnership between TAFE NSW and St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn is helping the community of Batlow recover from the heartbreak of the Black Summer bushfires – and be better prepared for any future disasters.

As part of its Bushfire Recovery Program, Vinnies Canberra-Goulburn reached out to TAFE NSW to deliver a range of fee-free courses – from food handling to first aid – to residents of Batlow and surrounds.

One person was killed, 26 homes were destroyed and a host of farms and businesses were lost in Batlow during the 2019-2020 disaster.

In partnership with Vinnies, TAFE NSW has offered a range of courses to help Batlow residents gain employability skills, learn fire management techniques and better equip the community to build back.

The courses, which commenced in July and run through to November, include chainsaw, first aid, white card and safe food handling.

Among the latest to run were first aid courses on 12 September and 16 September at the Batlow Resilience Hub, attended by 24 locals.

TAFE NSW Team Leader of Nursing Andrea Purnell said the courses were arming locals with the practical tools to make a difference in their own lives and support the community.

“This is a tangible example of how TAFE NSW tailors courses to give students the real-world skills when they need it most,” Ms Purnell said.

“Having more locals trained in skills such as first aid and chainsaw operations could be invaluable, especially during times of crisis.”

Snowy Valleys Council deputy mayor Trina Thomson welcomed the TAFE NSW courses and said the benefit was already being felt across the council area.

“It’s important people recognise that fear and grief don’t have a time frame and our communities are still very much rebuilding,” Cr Thomson said.

“It’s great to see TAFE NSW and Vinnies responding in this way.”

Coordinator of the Vinnies Canberra-Goulburn Bushfire Recovery Program, Ray Akhurst, said the TAFE NSW courses were one of the many ways Vinnies was helping disaster-hit communities.

“This is something we can give communities and help them be better prepared for future disasters,” Mr Akhurst said.

“We’ve had excellent feedback from Snowy Valleys communities – they are very appreciative. The TAFE NSW teachers have been excellent and I think the communities have benefited greatly.”

Many of the courses are run out of the Snowy Valleys Resilience Hub in Batlow but others, such as chainsaw, are being run out of nearby Tumut.

For more information about enrolling in a Bushfire Recovery Program course, contact


Media contact: Dan Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0477 722 428