A challenging early childhood and dashed dreams have not broken Billy, who is now in formal study in a bid to secure a brighter future for his family.
Billy, a 25-year-old Indigenous man from Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, was taken from his family as a young child to live in foster care. But as soon as he was able, and harbouring dreams of one day joining the navy, Billy travelled to northern Australia where he found promising work in the mining sector.
His progress, however, was short-lived, with a nasty spider bite to his lower leg causing an infection of such severity, that he was forced to give up work and any ideas about sailing the high seas. Billy’s leg eventually required amputation above the knee and required a lengthy rehabilitation.
Moving back to the Latrobe Valley with his partner and young children, Billy was determined to find work after a long period of unemployment. He was linked up with atWork Australia and his Disability Employment Services Job Coach from the Traralgon office, Anthony.
Anthony helped Billy to enrol in an Aboriginal Studies course at TAFE in Gippsland. The course not only helps participants learn about and develop pride in their culture, they also gain crucial skills to prepare them for employment, such as aptitude in literacy and numeracy, and a career plan.
Students develop their personal strengths and gain on-the-job experience in areas such as land management, conservation and community services. Anthony said Billy had never once missed an appointment at his office.
“Billy is an amazing individual who has faced great adversity in life but through it all has remained positive and focused,” Anthony said.
“Since starting the course Billy has made good progress with his studies, and forged strong friendships with his classmates and teachers.”
On completion, he will have a formal qualification and be well-prepared to enter the job market. In fact, there are already good prospects of local employment awaiting Billy, giving him every confidence in a fulfilling future.