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Professional skills bring colour to TAFE campus

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Traditional costume and design from the heart of Africa brings extra colour to Wodonga TAFE’s campus – due in part to the talent and skills of Zabulon Birongo. Zabulon is an accomplished tailor who came to Australia from the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC) as a refugee 2 years ago with his family.

Since arriving in Australia Zabulon has been working to further his English language skills, and is currently studying full-time in the Certificate I in EAL (Access) on campus at Wodonga TAFE. Zabulon has also returned to tailoring in his spare time, using the skills he has honed to perfection through his career as a professional tailor in the DRC for over 40 years. He is again creating, designing and making clothes, including traditional garments, for members of his community. He brings his vibrant designs to life, creating clothing with fabric that clients bring to him, and he is also able to access traditional African fabrics online, as well as using material sourced locally. Zabulon is also volunteering his wealth of knowledge and skills, teaching others to sew as part of a program with Gateway Health in Wodonga.

Team Leader Access Education, Tony Hardham, said it was a privilege to be able to see some of the skills that the students brought with them from their previous lives. “The students in the English Language programs are not just refugees learning a new language and new skills”, said Tony, “They had very rich lives and professions prior to their experiences as refugees.”

The range of English Language programs on offer at Wodonga TAFE includes courses in initial skills through to certificate level programs. Wodonga TAFE also provides English Language programs as an approved service provider within the Adult Migrant English Program.

 “As well as improving and extending their English language skills, students also learn settlement skills that help them in their everyday lives here in Albury Wodonga”, said Tony. “We invite guest speakers to come into the class to share their expertise and talk with the students so students are able to learn more about life in Australian society.”

The students are also supported in their transition to Australia by the Humanitarian Settlement Program, as well as a number of organisations within our local region. Gateway Health, Albury Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau, Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group, and the Albury Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council are just some of the local community-based organisations that help refugees and migrants build connections locally.


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