Former Ballendella dairy farmer praises Free TAFE program

By Rodney Woods

A former Ballendella dairy farmer has praised the Victorian Government's Free TAFE program, which has been extended during the coronavirus pandemic.

Suzie Jacobs, who has completed Certificate IV in Agribusiness and is now studying Certificate IV in Agriculture via GOTAFE's William Orr Campus in Shepparton, said she wouldn't have started studying if the courses weren't free.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it wasn't free,” she said.

“By doing that course, I have learnt computer skills and other business skills and it has given me more confidence to work off-farm.

“I think it's fantastic being able to study for free because I wouldn’t have even contemplated it, so it's really beneficial.”

Mrs Jacobs said the confidence she gained by studying at GOTAFE was the reason for her continuing her studies at the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, where she is studying a Diploma of Counselling, which she would have completed at GOTAFE if the college had such a course.

Mrs Jacobs hopes to use her new skills to support those still farming.

The Free TAFE program has been expanded to include 10,000 extra Free TAFE places across the state, including the addition of new courses linked to government priorities due to the impact of COVID-19.

These new courses include Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work, Certificate II in Health Services Assistance and Certificate III in Civil Construction Plant Operations.

“The announcement from Minister (for Training and Skills Gayle) Tierney signifies an important commitment from the government to ensuring the TAFE sector is central to the rebuild of the Victorian economy coming out of COVID-19,” GOTAFE chief executive officer Travis Heeney said.

“Since its inception in 2019, GOTAFE has enrolled more than 2000 students in Free TAFE courses.”

The recent announcements by the Victorian Government include a $163 million allocation to make it easier for people who have pre-existing qualifications, previously making them ineligible for access to government-funded courses, to retrain and access government-funded education opportunities.

For more information on the Free TAFE program, visit:

Alternatively, call GOTAFE on 1300 468 233 or drop in to a campus in Shepparton, Wangaratta, Benalla, Seymour or Wallan.