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Lived experience drives TAFE NSW grad's passion for community service

TAFE NSW Digital

Lived experience drives TAFE NSW grad's passion for community service

Chloe Wilson draws on lived experience in her peer work role with ACON

With increasing demand for community services workers, Rutherford’s Chloe Wilson (she/her) is one of many TAFE Digital graduates learning the skills needed to support the Hunter Region community, successfully obtaining a Bachelor in Community Services and recently being named TAFE NSW Higher Education Student of the Year.

The National Skills Commission has forecast an 11% increase in demand for community, youth, and disability service workers over the next three years, driven by an increase in demand for care and support services, particularly in regional NSW.

Chloe, 24, said her student placement led to paid employment with a leading community services provider.

“My very first TAFE NSW placement was working at ACON, which provides HIV and community health support services for people of diverse genders and sexualities. In this role I was talking to people, assisting with enquiries, delivering harm reduction, and checking people in for appointments – basically dealing directly with the community, which I loved. 

“As a queer person myself, this role felt very natural and, shortly after the end of my placement, I was offered paid casual work. By the end of my TAFE NSW course, I’d gained the skills to successfully transition to a full-time Mental Health Peer Worker role, which is where I am today,” Chloe said.

Chloe’s manager, ACON’s Hunter Region Team Leader, Counselling Services and Care Coordination, Louise Dunne, said skilled graduates like Chloe can be hard to find. 

“It’s hard to find people that are professional, skilled and knowledgeable, and who are also self-aware and committed to continuous improvement, but we’ve found it in Chloe.

“Lived experience is incredibly important, and TAFE NSW has shown Chloe how she can apply her own lived experience safely to support some of the most vulnerable in our community. 

“Chloe is passionate and works very hard. She’s shown a big increase in her skills and knowledge since completing her TAFE NSW degree and is now working with ACON full-time. Chloe is an integral part of our service and is well respected in our community and among her peers,” Ms Dunne said. 

Chloe’s TAFE Digital teacher, Beth Evans, said TAFE Digital meant more people with lived experience could access the right courses to help them start community service careers, like Chloe. 

“TAFE Digital provides flexible access to the best courses that are going to land people jobs in their chosen field. TAFE Digital makes the Bachelor of Community Services accessible to a more diverse range of learners.”

Chloe said TAFE Digital broke down the barriers she had to education. 

“Before I started with TAFE Digital, I was working a lot and was undertaking caring duties for someone close to me. I also had limited access to transport. If it wasn’t for the flexibility of TAFE Digital, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Chloe was humbled by her recent award win at the 2023 TAFE NSW Excellence Awards. 

“It was a shock to the system! But I feel honoured that my teachers believed in me and could see the hard work I was putting in. The TAFE NSW Excellence Award has really boosted my confidence at work,” Chloe said. 

Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7921 3756.