Your TAFE stories
"If governments are serious about improving the liveability of rural, regional and remote communities then they MUST include the opportunities that a publicly funded TAFE system can offer." Tanya Cameron OAM, National President, Country Women’s Association of Australia
— Tanya Cameron OAM, National President, Country Women’s Association of Australia
Adam Goodes is an Indigenous Australian AFL star, who has won 2 Brownlow medals throughout his career. Adam studied Indigenous Studies at Eora TAFE, Adam said “I learned so much about my people and my culture in a broader sense. It made me so proud of my Aboriginality and our history in this country, which dates back over 40,000 years.”
— Adam Goodes
Adam Moore is a chef and television personality - "TAFE gave me a thirst for learning...it unlocked my creativeness and really got me passionate about what I am doing right now. And if it wasn't for TAFE, I wouldn't be in the position that I'm in; I wouldn't have had the experiences I've had. TAFE offers so much."
— Adam Moore
Akira studied at East Sydney College. Of his fashion head teacher Nicholas Huxley, Akira commented "When I first met Nicholas, he told me I had talent and kept insisting it was a fact. His belief in me meant a lot." Akira's advice: "Don't give up. Keep going. Take the appropriate courses you need. Learn your craft!"
— Akira Isogawa
Anh Do scored 98 in the HSC and enrolled to study law at university… but he also signed up to study fine arts at TAFE. “I ended up skipping just about all my law classes so that I could attend my art classes,” he says. “It wasn’t even a close contest.” Anh then focused on his comedy career. He has since twice been a finalist in the Archibald Prize, and has been involved in the TV series “Anh’s Brush With Fame” where he simultaneously paints and interviews celebrities.
— Anh Do
Barry completed a Diploma of Architectural Technology at TAFE and worked as an architectural draftsman for the best part of a decade. He is now pursuing a career in illustration. His first exhibition in 2011 explored mundane household objects and rituals. This has been echoed in his Beers in The Sun series.
— Barry Patenaude
Bill Henson studied design, visual arts and photography at Prahran College of Advanced Education in the early 1970s. He has gone on to be one of Australia's most controversial artists. Henson represented Australia at the 46th Biennale of Venice and has exhibited in galleries around the world and Australia.
— Bill Henson
Catherine O'Donnell is a visual artist whose practice is "about the beauty of the uncelebrated and ordinary." Initially she worked as a lab technician, but after her youngest child went to school she went to TAFE and completed a Certificate IV and Diploma of Fine Arts. She has exhibited extensively in Australia and was selected for Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial in 2016.
— Catherine O'Donnell
Former student and current teacher at Sydney TAFE's Design Centre, Chris was one of a clutch of TAFE graduates who worked on 2014's The Lego Movie. Chris is obviously a proud product of the TAFE system, encouraging young animators to study at "a respected school" and teaching at TAFE "to pass my knowledge on".
— Chris Ebeling
Claire Atkin is the ceramic artist behind Pinky & Maurice Ceramics. "My lecturer, Peter Travis, told me that if I was serious about clay, I had to go to TAFE. That's where all the serious potters were. Ever since I have continued to study ceramics and pottery at a TAFE wherever I have lived."
— Claire Atkin
Deng came to national prominence after featuring in an ad for Western Sydney University. The ad told Deng's remarkable story from a child soldier in Sudan to a law student at Western Sydney University. Prior to studying law, Deng completed his HSC and then an Advanced Diploma in Accounting at TAFE. Deng now works as a lawyer. He has written his biography Songs of a War Boy and was awarded the 2017 NSW Australian of the Year.
— Deng Thiak Adut, lawyer & author
Dion Lee is a New York based fashion designer. Dion studied at the Fashion Design Studio at Sydney TAFE. In 2017 he won the highest accolade of the Australian fashion industry being names the Australian Fashion Laureate for 2017. Check out this video to hear from Dion about his experience at TAFE.
— Dion Lee, fashion designer
Dr James Charles is an academic at Charles Sturt University and was awarded 2017 Scholar of the Year at the NAIDOC awards. Dr Charles has been conducting research on foot health. He left high school early, and was almost illiterate. After having kids, he decided to go to TAFE and redo high school. This led to University where he ended up studying podiatry. He has since completed a Masters and a PhD.
— Dr James Charles, academic
Emma studied fashion design at Ultimo TAFE. The young designer's label has blossomed with stockists around Australia and in New York, and rave reviews for her SS13/14 collection. Her bold, bright designs have been championed by the likes of Kanye West, Azealia Banks, Grimes, M.I.A. and Kimbra.
— Emma Mulholland, fashion designer
George Gittoes is an artist and film maker who has worked around the world. He was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2015 for "for enlivening the creative spirit to promote tolerance, respect and peace with justice." George studied at the St George School of Fine Art, part of Sydney TAFE.
— George Gittoes, artist and filmmaker
Giovanni arrived in Australia at age 20 from Sardinia. By 22 he was studying at Brookvale TAFE. His restaurant Pilu at Freshwater has been serving up Sardinian and regional Italian food for over 10 years, and has been awarded 2 hats by the Good Food Guide. Giovanni puts his success down to his studies at Brookvale: "If it wasn't for TAFE... maybe I wouldn't have made it."
— Giovanni Pilu, chef
Jamie studied CIV in Horticulture & Landscape Design at TAFE. Since then he has become a TV presenter, and won a number of awards including at the Chelsea Flower Show. "Ryde TAFE has produced some of Australia's top horticulturalists, and their reputation speaks for itself...no regrets and nothing but positive memories of my time at Ryde TAFE."
— Jamie Durie, gardener
Jan was a disability advocate and a founding member of People With Disability Australia. After 30 years in an institution, Jan enrolled at TAFE and completed a Certificate IV in Disability. She went onto University ultimately completing a Masters of Education.
— Jan Daisley, disability advocate
Jandamarra is of Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Warung descendent. He undertook both an Indigenous Art traineeship and a Fine Arts Certificate at TAFE. He blends traditional aboriginal art techniques along with his own signature contemporary portraiture. He has been an Archibald Prize finalist, and has exhibited extensively around Australia.
— Jandamarra Cadd, artist
Jason Hodges is a TV presenter and landscaper on the popular lifestyle show Better Homes and Gardens. Jason studied Landscape Horticulture and Construction at Ryde TAFE, NSW, which he enjoyed so much, he later taught the course at the very same TAFE.
— Jason Hodges, TV presenter and landscaper
J'Aton Couture is a Melbourne-based couture house established by Jacpb Luppino and Anthony Pittorino. Both are graduates of the Melbourne College of Textiles which was subsumed into RMIT. J'Aton has been worn by celebrities like Rebecca Judd right through to Beyonce.
— J'Aton Couture, fashion house
Lidia Thorpe made history when she won the Victorian state by-election in the division of Northcote and has been a Senator for Victoria since 2020. She is a Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman and the first Aboriginal woman elected to Victorian state parliament. Lidia studied at Preston TAFE, now part of Melbourne Polytechnic.
— Lidia Thorpe, politician
Robert (Bob) Woodward studied manual arts at Sydney Technical High school and took lessons at East Sydney Tech while doing an apprenticeship in metallurgy. He is best known for the design of several fountains, including the El Alamein Memorial fountain in Kingscross, the Canberra Times Fountain, and a cascade at the High Court. He also competed in the 440 yard hurdles at the 1950 Empire.
— Robert Woodward, architect
Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett, the team behind cult fashion label Romance Was Born, met at TAFE while they were both studying fashion design at Ultimo's Fashion Design Studio. Their designs are stocked internationally and have been seen on the likes of Tavi Gevinson and Cate Blanchett.
— Romance Was Born, fashion label
Rone studied at TAFE for two years before commencing at RMIT. Originally working mostly with posters and stencils, Rone is now mostly focused on large scale paintings. His biggest work to date is the 8 storey mural at pop up restaurant Rue and Co in Collins Street, Melbourne.
— Rone, street artist
An Australian icon whose achievements include the first trans-pacific flights between the US and Australia, the first flights between Australia and New Zealand, as well as serving in both the army and airforce in WWI. Sir Kingsford Smith studied at the Sydney Technical College, now the Sydney Institute.
— Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
Susan Kiefel was made Australia's first female Chief Justice of the High Court in January 2017. Prior to studying law, Justice Kiefel undertook secretarial training at Kangaroo Point Technical College. She also completed high school at night school whilst working.
— Susan Kiefel, Chief Justice
Tony Birch was expelled from two high schools and worked various jobs before completing his HSC at Broadmeadows TAFE. He went on to get a Masters and PhD at the University of Melbourne, worked as a curator at the Melbourne Museum, taught at universities, and published 3 novels and two short story collections. In 2017, he was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University.
— Tony Birch, writer
Tracey is an internationally renowned artist. Her works are held in the collections of many major galleries including the Tate, the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA, and the National Gallery of Australia. Tracey studied at the Queensland College of Art in the early 80s.
— Tracey Moffatt, artist
Vernon Ah Kee is a member of the Kuku Yalandji, Waanji, Yidinji and Gugu Yimithirr peoples. He is best known for his large-scale drawings of his ancestors. Vernon represented Australia at the 2009 Venice Biennale in the group exhibition Once Removed. He attended TAFE in Cairns.
— Vernon Ah Kee, artist
After a disrupted and difficult childhood and adolescence, Vincent Shin had a low ATAR score, but aspirations to be a lawyer. He first completed a Legal Services qualification at TAFE (Victoria University), and then went on to complete his Bachelor of Law. Vincent is now Australia's first school based lawyer, helping students and families in the western suburbs of Melbourne with diverse legal problems from workplace issues, to migration, to family violence.
— Vincent Shin, lawyer
Wendy's writing career started at the Gordon Institute in Geelong studying a three year course in "Vocational Writing". After a stint at the Geelong Advertiser, Wendy had a career change and became a stand-up comedian. She now curates The Hoopla, a news and opinion website "through the eyes of women".
— Wendy Harmer, writer
Joan Ross works across a range of mediums including drawing, painting, installation, photography, sculpture and video. Her bold and experimental practice investigates the legacy of colonialism in Australia, particularly in regard to its effect on Indigenous Australians. In 2017, she won the Sir John Sulman Prize (best subject painting, genre painting or mural project by an Australian artist). Joan went to Liverpool TAFE. Check out this short video where she talks about TAFE.
— Joan Ross, artist
Matt Moran is a chef, TV presenter, restaurateur and author. He studied Commerical Cookery at TAFE Northern Sydney Institute. Matt is still a strong supporter of TAFE - "if we're looking for young apprentices, if they're at TAFENSW... it's definitely going to give them the thumbs up."
— Matt Moran, chef