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Eva Atkins at the awards ceremony with Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales

TAFE NSW Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Coordinator Eva Atkins has been awarded the 2021 NSW Humanitarian Award for Education for her passionate work to break down barriers to education for former refugees.

Ms Atkins most recently worked with CORE Community Services and South West Sydney Local Health District to design a program promoting career pathways in the health industry for people from a refugee background.

“Healthcare is earmarked to be one of the largest sectors of employment for Western Sydney residents and I wanted to be able to help our community thrive by assisting local migrants to gain employment in the industry,” Ms Atkins said.

“It was very much a group effort, but I saw a potential opportunity with the South West Sydney Local Health District to help refugees pathway into meaningful careers in health.”

The pathways program gives refugees an introduction to a career as a medical receptionist, clinic administrator, wards person and assistant nursing.

“This year, each of the seven graduates from the program who applied for positions at Fairfield Hospital received job offers, which is an outstanding result,” Ms Atkins said.  

“I’m humbled to have received this prestigious award and it has only further fuelled my ambition to grow the program. We are extending the delivery of courses to include TAFE NSW locations at Wetherill Park, Granville, Liverpool and Campbelltown.”  

Recently, Ms Atkins also presented the model to Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District and managers at Nepean Hospital and will support her work colleagues to replicate the program for refugee groups across Western Sydney. There are plans to extend the program into other industries including manufacturing and construction. 

Regional General Manager of TAFE NSW, Michael Cullen, said Ms Atkin’s genuine commitment to linking education with meaningful employment pathways for people from refugee backgrounds has been widely acknowledged.

“At TAFE NSW we take our responsibility to train job seekers with a culturally diverse background for the jobs of the future very seriously,” Mr Cullen said.

“We are so proud of Eva’s achievement; the award is a testament to her dedication to the sector and the success of the students who have gone through the pathways program speaks for itself.”

To find out more about the range of study options available at TAFE NSW including the Career Pathways for Refugees in Health program, visit or call 131 601.  

Media contact:  Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, mobile 0402 528 210.