Aboriginal students shine with new skills and confidence from traineeship

Aspiring students from Aboriginal Clontarf College are forging their career paths with a traineeship at Perth Zoo.

“I never thought I’d be working at the zoo as a student; it’s really exciting!” says Tavian, from Kununurra, who has completed his first year of the Certificate II in Conservation and Ecosystem Management. Ezra, another trainee who’s also from Kununurra, was equally animated. “I would definitely recommend others to join the program,” he says.

Tavian and Ezra are among the first cohort of students taking part in the program, which is a partnership between Perth Zoo and the Clontarf Aboriginal College, supported by ASA and Shoreline.

With a goal of empowering Aboriginal youth by enhancing their future employment prospects, the traineeship presents the students with opportunities to develop crucial practical skills and conversation qualifications, while also fostering lifelong friendships and people-to-people connections.

Here’s what the students say

Ezra, Kununurra

Ezra, Perth Zoo trainee“[The] most memorable experience would probably be making all the friendships and building the relationships with all the zoo staff,” says Ezra.

“Having mates and good co-workers. Having good people around me gives me motivation.

“It also gives me more confidence. Working with animals is fun but it’s good to make those close connections.”

Having received a casual employment opportunity with the zoo earlier this year, Ezra is finding the experience rewarding”.

“I wake up in the morning every Wednesday, looking forward to going to work,” he says.

For others, the traineeship is an “exciting” experience working at the zoo.

Tavian, Kununurra

Tavian, Perth Zoo trainee“I am enjoying it, it’s a really good program,” says Tavian, who can’t wait to start working independently at Perth Zoo in 2024.

He has “developed some team working skills and communication skills” while overcoming various barriers.

“One of the challenges I faced was talking to people I didn’t know. And then the more I went to work, the more I got to talk to other people and eventually I got used to it,” he says.

Inspired by his father’s work with the nature and wildlife, Tavian hopes to follow in his footsteps and “try to become a ranger” upon his return to Kununurra after graduation in late 2024.

The traineeship program has also helped the students ignite their interest for a career in wildlife, while engaging with their culture and connecting to Country.

Pawuya, Warakurna

Pawuya, Perth Zoo trainee“I want to go back home to work as they just started a ranger project,” says Pawuya, who’s from Warakurna.

With a keen interest in interacting with animals and taking children on zoo tours, she particularly enjoys helping students understand animals.

“I help out with activities and the experience gives me the chance to improve my public speaking skills,” she says.

“I also enjoy working with others in the zoo.”

Curtis, Meekatharra

Curtis, Perth Zoo traineeAnother highly motivated student Curtis (left), Meekatharra, is excited to go to work and learn beyond the traditional classroom.

As the third youngest child in the family with a sister who’s a ranger, Curtis thrives in the traineeship as he delves deeper into the cultural significance and gains a better understanding on animal habitats.

“I enjoy getting to know the zoo staff and feeding animals, especially the giraffes,” he says.

Tavian says the traineeship has sparked his interest in nature and “would recommend others to consider the program”.

While two year 12 students completed the traineeship program in November 2023, Perth Zoo is delighted to welcome a new trainee Winnie to the program, along with five others to continue with the journey in 2024.

The collaborative workplace program at Perth Zoo recently celebrated its first anniversary year, and this milestone is paving the way for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to realise their career aspirations with nature.

Powered by CCIWA, Apprenticeship Support Australia (ASA), can facilitate employment, manage training and offer support and advice to companies seeking apprentices to boost their workforce. Contact ASA at [email protected] or phone 1300 363 831. 


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