Refugee to fashion designer
I came to Australia as a refugee from Vietnam in 1981, aged 11 years. I completed some primary school and all my high school in Australia and then trained as a fashion designer/seamstress at Bentley TAFE.
I am good at fashion designing and worked for a clothing designer in Perth in their bridal shop, but was let go after two years because management could pay a new recruit less money. I also worked for another exclusive bridal couture for nearly 2 years. I worked very hard, and was underpaid and never got paid on time. The pay cheque often bounced so I left that place and lost all my entitlements.
After that I decided to open my own bridal shop and had it for 3 years. The rent doubled and it was hard to keep the shop going. Also I was having my first child so I moved back home and worked from home. I also worked from home making clothes on consignment.
I found all of this hard and was afraid of going back into the workforce.
From back injury to career change
My first visit to Ishar was after I injured my back at netball. I came to see the doctor and take part in the exercise program.
From there I learned about other Ishar services like the computer course. Through Ishar I did the Wider Opportunities for Work (WOW) course at TAFE. Then I returned to TAFE to do a Cert 3 course in Community Services.
A big difference in my life
Ishar made a big difference to my life. Every staff member at Ishar has helped and I took up every opportunity that came along. I was helped in many ways with my studies and especially with language issues and with computer skills.
The Manager of Health Services recommended that I become a support worker with Ishar and that helped me rebuild my confidence. I was linked to an Ishar staff member who managed the perinatal program and she encouraged me to become a bi-cultural worker with the perinatal program.
I have learned a lot and am a much stronger person. I can now speak in front of people and have the confidence to manage a group of people.
This story is an example of how little things can make major changes in a person’s life and how setbacks can contribute to positive changes.