TAFE NSW has helped an Albury mum-of-eight who sacrificed her career to raise a family reconnect with her professional dream and secure a job – as a youth worker.
Robyn Hochkins had long harboured ambitions to work in the mental health field but after falling pregnant with her first child in her early 20s, chose to put her career hopes on hold.
Fast forward quarter of a century and Ms Hochkins last year enrolled in the Diploma of Community Services at TAFE NSW Albury to gain the practical skills and work experience to finally start a mental health career.
In January this year, just weeks after completing the course, Ms Hochkins accepted a job as a youth crisis worker at Albury’s Big Brown House, a facility that offers therapeutic placements for young people in crisis.
According to Labour Market Insights, the number of welfare support workers nationwide is expected to grow by more than 25 per cent over the next four years.
“I was always drawn to the mental health field and as a domestic violence survivor, I was acutely aware of the struggles many people go through to find help,” Ms Hochkins said.
“I went through some stuff growing up and there was really no one I could talk to that was private and could tell me where to find that help. It’s such a privilege to play that role in a young person’s life.
“My ultimate goal is to open a drop-in youth centre where kids can hang out, see a doctor, nurse or psychologist if they have to, and know it’s all confidential and safe.”
She said the TAFE NSW Albury expert teachers had armed her with the skills – and confidence – to make an immediate impact on the job.
“I decided to do the Diploma at TAFE NSW because it gave me the depth and flexibility to work across a number of community services roles,” Ms Hochkins said.
“The youth and child development stuff was fascinating and all the ethical and legal information was also helpful. The work placement gave me a real sense of what it’s like to work in the industry.”
TAFE NSW Albury community services teacher Rosemary Buckle said Ms Hochkins was a powerful example of how TAFE NSW changed the lives of students and those they helped.
“Robyn has all the right attributes – she’s grounded, has life experience, is empathetic and does what she says she will do,” Ms Buckle said. “There are such broad job outcomes from the diploma course; it could be coordinating a Neighbourhood House, becoming a case manager, or being a youth worker or community development worker.
“It’s such a growing area and there are so many job opportunities out there. Of the students who successfully complete the course, 100 per cent of them get employed, many while they’re doing work placement.”
TAFE NSW Albury is offering a mid-year intake for the Diploma of Community Services. For more information, visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.
Media contact: Dan Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0477 722 428