SPECIAL MOMENT: TAFE Digital graduate Joey Gordon plans to use his TAFE NSW Excellence Awards as inspiration to improve health outcomes for his mob.
The winner of a prestigious TAFE NSW award has vowed to use it to help “close the gap” in Indigenous children’s ear health and inspire other young Aboriginal people to change their lives through education.
Joey Gordon, 23, a proud Kamilaroi and Ngemba man, was this month given two honours at the TAFE NSW Excellence Awards – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year, and Health, Wellbeing and Community Services Student of the Year.
Mr Gordon was the only one of eight siblings to complete his HSC and the only HSC student at Brewarrina Central School, which is 98 per cent Aboriginal.
He completed a Diploma of Audiometry through TAFE Digital in 2022 as part of an innovative partnership between TAFE NSW and Macquarie University.
Mr Gordon, a health worker at Brewarrina Aboriginal Medical Service, suffered from middle-ear infections as a child and plans to take the skills and knowledge learned at TAFE NSW to lead a project screening local Aboriginal children and educating their families about treating the condition.
Aboriginal children suffer from ear infections at nearly 10 times the rate of non-Indigenous children.
“As someone who grew up with hearing issues, it’s incredible to be able to go back into local schools and give them information that I would’ve benefited from at that age,” Mr Gordon said.
“I don’t want Aboriginal people to be the face of sickness, I’d rather we be the face of education. We are so much more than just our chronic diseases.”
He said winning the TAFE Digital awards was a “life-changing” experience.
“I really can’t describe how it felt when they read my name out,” he said. “I wouldn’t have completed the course if not for my TAFE Digital teacher and the Aboriginal support team.
“TAFE Digital is amazing; they understand how Aboriginal people learn best and do everything they can to help us succeed.”
Mr Gordon eventually plans to go back to TAFE NSW as a pathway to a career in nursing.
TAFE NSW Executive Director Education and Skills for South, Kerryn Meredith-Sotiris, commended Mr Gordon and the other award winners for the commitment and dedication they have shown to their studies.
“These awards recognise our most passionate, industrious and skillful students, and the fact teachers are the ones who nominate the students’ makes it even more special,” Ms Meredith-Sotiris said.
“I have no doubt these students will go on to forge highly successful careers and will be wonderful ambassadors for TAFE NSW.”
Ms Meredith-Sotiris said the awards exemplified TAFE NSW’s commitment to training the workforce leaders of tomorrow.
“TAFE NSW is proud to equip students with practical skills and work experience so they’re ready to hit the ground running in their chosen field,” she said.
“It’s very gratifying for TAFE NSW staff to watch students grow and transform their lives through education.”
Ms Meredith-Sotiris said the awards emphasised the commitment of TAFE NSW to train the workforce leaders of the future when, where and how it suits them.
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, (02) 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428