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Finding your career of choice with help from VTEC


An Aboriginal man with beard and wearing a yellow safety shirt stands next to a beige coloured building. In the background is green grass, trees and another building.
Thomas Sullivan knew what he wanted (Photo courtesy of VTEC)
27 Apr 2018

Career success requires knowing what you want and knowing how to get there, but sometimes getting there is easier said than done.

Thomas Sullivan, a Kamiliaroi man from Walgett in NSW, struggled to find full-time, stable employment even after completing Year 12.

His low literacy and numeracy skills were a barrier to employment. He left Walgett to find work, but returned to look after his new-born daughter. During this time he found casual work but struggled with the needs of his new family. The birth of a son in 2014 added pressure to his responsibilities.

Thomas moved to Campbelltown in 2016 to improve life for himself and his children. However, it was still hard for Thomas to find work.

In 2017 the local Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC), Ability Options contacted Thomas after receiving his resume.

Ability Options VTEC helped him fix his resume, talked to him about his aspirations and discussed training and employment options. Thomas wanted to do warehouse work and one day obtain his forklift license.

Thomas’ VTEC consultant contacted a labor hire company regarding an advertised warehouse position. Thomas’ resume was sent through and an interview arranged within two days. 

Thomas was successful in gaining the position but in order for him to keep his job there, he needed to complete a forklift course.

Thomas’ nerves kicked in and he felt like giving up numerous times as he wasn’t confident with reading and writing. The VTEC consultant sought out a company that was willing to work with Thomas through the process of obtaining his forklift license.

After 3 attempts and continuous study with his consultant’s support, Thomas got his forklift license. With two kids in his care and working full time, Thomas finally felt that his life was stable.

Thomas has now moved from the labor hire company to work at SupaGas Ingleburn as a yard hand where he has been employed since mid-2017.

Thomas is grateful for VTEC’s continual support and has found a way to repay that support.

Giving back

Thomas’s key passion outside his family is painting. He was asked by his VTEC provider Ability Options to provide artwork to display at their offices over the 2017 Christmas closure period. Thomas produced the piece and now it is used on their promotional banner pull ups as well.

Ability Options has now sponsored Thomas to create a piece of artwork for the 2018 NAIDOC week theme and provided the canvas, paints and paintbrushes.

Finally, Ability Options asked Thomas to do a painting for the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations in New York City. Thomas is currently working on this piece.

Find out more

VTECs are funded by the Australian Government. They connect Indigenous jobseekers with guaranteed jobs and bring together the support services necessary to prepare job seekers for long term employment.

For more information read Vocational Training & Employment Centres or email

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