Supporting the community

AFTER leaving school in year nine, then giving birth to a child, Moe’s Rebecca Barry never thought she would complete a degree.

Five years after completing a short computer skills course at Moe Neighbourhood House, Ms Barry is now on path to receiving a Bachelor of Community Work and Counselling at Monash University, Gippsland.

Reflecting on her education journey, Ms Barry said “I never believed I would be able to go to university”.

This week mark’s Neighbourhood House Week, a state-wide celebration of the Neighbourhood Houses’ work in the community.

Ms Barry said without the support from the centre, she would be unable to get a job.

“I completed year nine, we moved around and I didn’t settle and then three years later I had my son Xander,” she said.

Raising her son and not completing school made it difficult for Ms Barry to obtain full-time work.

“It was scary making that decision to complete further study; the Neighbourhood House was the first step back in to the workforce,” she said.

“They encouraged learning in an environment that was comfortable, which allowed me and other people to explore and develop our potential.”

The short computer course opened educational doorways for Ms Barry who has since completed the Victorian Certificate of Education and certificate four in Diploma of Community Services at GippsTAFE.

“I did the computer course to update my skills; I knew I needed more knowledge about computers because it was required for any type of work,” she said.

“After I finished my computer course, I had a folder full of work that I had achieved. The people were so lovely and encouraging, it made me want to go further.

“My journey is not over yet though.

“After completing my diploma I had the option of a ‘pathway’ to university, so I am now completing a degree in community welfare.”

Completing five years of study has only been possible because of the “encouragement and support” from MNH staff, according to Ms Barry.

“When I completed my course at MNH I felt empowered to continue furthering my education,” she said

“They turned my dreams into a reality.

“Everybody I have come into contact with has been fantastic and supportive of me being a mature age student.”

Currently undertaking a student placement at the MNH, Ms Barry said she “wanted to give back to the people who inspired and empowered me”.

Her advice to people looking to get in to the workforce, was to “take that step and do it, you will be supported and encouraged along the way”.

Ms Barry is currently seeking part time employment in the community welfare sector where she hopes to use her knowledge in practical situations.