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PLAYING IT SAFE: TAFE NSW Shellharbour launches first ever occupational self-defence course

TAFE NSW Shellharbour

PLAYING IT SAFE: TAFE NSW Shellharbour launches first ever occupational self-defence course

PROTECTING LIVELIHOODS: TAFE NSW Shellharbour Head Teacher of Fitness Paul Shannon shows some of the finer points of self-defence to Southern Cross Housing’s Tiagan Cosgrove-Maissin and Chris Wright.

7 June 2022

A unique new course at TAFE NSW Shellharbour is equipping workers with the practical skills to protect their safety on the frontline.

The Statement of Attainment in Occupational Self Defence, which had its first intake last week, comes amid an alarming increase in assaults on frontline workers during COVID.

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Fitness Paul Shannon, a fifth dan black belt who has represented Australia in taekwondo, said the short course focused on defensive skills and was suitable to a wide range of professions.

“There is such a need for frontline workers to have the tools to defend themselves in a controlled way, especially when they may have a duty of care to the person attacking them,” Mr Shannon said.

“We know there have been an increase in assaults on frontline workers during COVID and we know frustrations are rising in the general public and some people are lashing out.

“That’s why TAFE NSW has decided to offer this course for the very first time and we’re hoping to roll it out more broadly if it’s a success.”

Mr Shannon said the hands-on training would include evasion skills, restraining techniques and advanced release techniques.

The first local organisation to sign up is Southern Cross Housing, which has supported six of its frontline workers to attend the course.

Southern Cross Housing CEO Alex Pontello said the company’s frontline workers were “often exposed to people dealing with severe issues including drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health episodes”.

“This places our people at significant increased risk,” Mr Pontello said.

“Our team at SCH often visit the most complex and vulnerable people in our communities and our main priority is to ensure the safety of all involved. It is absolutely paramount to ensure our staff are equipped with the tools to read warning signs, de-escalate, and avoid high risk situations by removing themselves when necessary. Acknowledging that the use of verbal and body language negotiations is always the ‘best case’ scenario, we hope to also give staff the tools to best protect themselves when physically challenged or threatened while reducing risk of injury to all involved.”

To explore the range of courses available at TAFE NSW and via TAFE Digital, visit or phone 131 601 for more information.


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