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The remarkable story of Congolese refugee, Justine Ndayi, who used education to revolutionise her life direction

The remarkable story of Congolese refugee, Justine Ndayi, who used education to revolutionise her life direction

Justine Ndayi is a multi-lingual, highly educated woman in a public facing role in a State Member's Office. She has come a very long way both geographically and academically in the last 25 years. She puts this down, in no small part, to Macquarie Community College and the Government-sponsored English language program offered to her as a new Australian immigrant.

Prior to her migration to Australia at the end of 2004, Justine and her husband Isaac fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The country was experiencing social and political unrest and the two fled to Botswana amidst a massive wave of refugees exiting Rwanda in the mid 1990s. With ongoing disputes between rebel and government forces in the region Botswana was still not safe for Justine and Isaac so they applied to immigrate to Australia under the Australian humanitarian program.

Her life, had they stayed in the DRC, would have looked very different to what it is today. At just 18, when Justine married Isaac, she was destined to become a homemaker. For all intents and purposes, her education was over, and her career prospects were non-existent.

“Back home, when you get married that’s it. Once you finish Year 12, there’s no more education—that’s for the rich, not the poor. It’s still common there.Once you get married, you become a housewife,” she explains.

How Everything Changed and it All Started at Macquarie Community College

When Justine arrived in Australia as a 26 year old with ambitions to make the most of her new opportunities, she gratefully accepted the 510 hours of English language tuition at Macquarie Community College’s Blacktown campus as part of the AMEP program.

Offered by the Australian government to all adult immigrants, new citizens receive expert language tuition that helps smooth their transition to life in Australia along with integrated settlement skills as part of the program; including, how to access medical assistance and emergency services, government and community services, and banking.

Learning English Skills for Success

Justine and Isaac recognised early on that learning to speak fluent English would be the first step in their road to success in Australia.

“Macquarie Community College, Blacktown Campus, changed my life. By the time we came here, we knew that learning English was not optional, it was essential. I couldn’t speak much English and had no chance of getting a good job if I didn’t learn. Now I am working in a job I love,”says Justine.

Justine believes that non-English speaking migrants will never learn adequate English or Australian etiquette if their only source is what they learn on the streets.

“You need English to be successful at work and successful in the community– and your motivation to learn this comes back to what you want for your life,” says Justine. She and her husband went on to do courses in English for Work, English for Communication, and English for Further Studies.

Based on this strong language and social foundation, Justine proceeded with more studies.She completed another two diploma courses in Community Services and Management and then a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Peace and Development at Western Sydney University, all whilst also caring for her young children.

Learning Valuable Life Skills for Success

Justine thanks Macquarie Community College for teaching her some of the most valuable life lessons she’s learnt since arriving in Australia. “It was not about learning my ABCs. Macquarie Community College teaches you how to live in Australia, and how to integrate into society. Through their English programs, I learnt culture, which is really about what Australia expects of me and how I should behave in any setting.”

Study is not over for Justine yet. “I’ve always wanted to work with refugees or in an NGO. Next, I’m thinking of doing a Psychology or Political Science degree and working with UNICEF or the United Nations,” she says, revealing her passion for helping people who are in the same position she once was.

A Learner-Centred Approach

Macquarie Community College’s approach diverges from the standard one-size-fits-all training model offered by other training organisations. It features additional services tailored to the individual.

“It’s the wraparound service centred on the individual—our vocational education, skills-based teaching and English training—that gets people into work.Without the learning support we provide our students, many of whom come from non-English speaking or disadvantaged backgrounds, there would still be roadblocks stopping them from reaping the benefits that successful participation in education makes to the lives of individuals and their families,” says Ms Collignon (CEO of Macquarie Community College).

In addition to subsidised vocational educational training, Macquarie Community College teaches students crucial skills that guarantee success. Wraparound services include English language training and learning support programs under the NSW Government’s Smart and Skilled and JobTrainer/Skilling for Recovery programs.

Short workshops assist with resume writing, interview skills and identifying which skills a person already possesses that may be transferrable and sit alongside formal qualifications on their resumé. Basic office and computer skills, essential for all modern workplaces, are taught alongside certificate or diploma qualifications. Courses for simple things that others might take for granted—like creating a LinkedIn profile—are all part of the package in Macquarie Community College’s learner-centred approach.

For more information on the English language courses offered at Macquarie Community College Blacktown campus, visit our website or call 1300 845 888 to speak with a friendly consultant.