Indigenous Education testimonials

Student testimonials


Aunty Janice Bakes , Certificate IV in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts

Tamani Nicholls, VCAL Senior


Aunty Janice Bakes, Certificate IV in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts
Class of 2016 Uncle Norm Hunter Gold Medallion – Indigenous education

“Education should always come first and I’m just grateful I can get to learn more.”

Learning can take place at any point in life and 62-year-old Aunty Janice shows us that it’s never too late to return to education and pursue one’s passions.

“Cultural art has always been part of my life. I came to TAFE to learn how to use the computer but saw the art room and found myself drawn to it. That’s when I decided to sign up for certificate studies in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Arts,” she said.

“I’m very satisfied with the course. I’m learning so much about my own culture again and this is really important because people in the past didn’t talk much about their lives and the same thing happened with my life. Art has given me a way to tell my story through my artwork.”

According to the Aboriginal Elder, the opportunity to complete her studies at the dedicated Indigenous Education Centre (IEC) has also added to the joy of learning.

“I was a mother and housewife at 18. I also worked at various places and performed as a musician. Those were all learning stages of life but I never had the proper opportunity to learn and gain knowledge. Education should always come first so I’m just grateful I can get to learn more now,” she said.

“Having a dedicated centre that helps with Indigenous people is great. The IEC provides a respectful and helpful environment; everyone there is like an extended family. The teachers are really supportive and help you one-on-one."


Tamani Nicholls, VCAL Senior
Class of 2016 Arnold Davis Koorie Student of the Year Award

“Returning to education gave me a sense of purpose and the confidence to be a role model for my son, my nieces and nephews, and my community.”

Tamani had two goals in mind when she decided to return to studies at age 25: to gain a job to move into her own house and to pursue her dreams of being a café owner.

“I was a stay home mum for many years and decided to return to education so that I could better my own life,” she said.

“I had completed a Certificate I in Information Technology at Kangan Institute in 2008 and it helped me get a job at a solicitor’s office, so I know studies can help me find employment.”

Coming back to education wasn’t always easy for the single mum who also faced domestic and housing issues during the course of her studies. But Tamani says the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

“The Indigenous Education Centre (IEC) provided me with a safe family environment and studying helped me deal with the personal issues I had. I knew that if I put my mind to it I could successfully complete the course,” she said.

Tamani’s success in studies was evident in the work she produced – as part of her course she coordinated a Cultural Community Day to raise funds for the HeartKids Foundation.

“The fundraiser was a success and it brought a lot of the Indigenous community back together whilst raising awareness about education opportunities at the IEC,” she said.

Tamani has one message for others hoping to transform their lives – stay positive and have faith that education can make a real difference.

“Returning to education gave me a sense of purpose and the confidence to be a role model for my son, my nieces and nephews, and my community. It’s important to strive for the best and be positive. You’re never too old to learn and the choices you make will affect your life in a big way,” she said.

“My focus now is to find a great job, get my own house and build towards my dream of being a café owner.”