Career aspirations to help ex-prisoners

Visually impaired TAFE NSW graduate and Illawarra local Rhiannon McLeish has career aspirations to open a community services centre for ex-prisoners.

Emerging as a respected and committed advocate for social justice, Ms McLeish completed a Diploma of Counselling at TAFE NSW Wollongong to help achieve her ambition.

“My dream career is being able to work with people. I think there’s an opportunity to reduce the rates of people going back into jail,” she says.

Ms McLeish felt being a visually impaired student enhanced the learning experience for everyone, including herself.

“Not many people get a blind person’s perspective. I could share experiences with students and how my needs can work in a mainstream environment,” says Ms McLeish. “The course gave me a lot of confidence that I didn’t have before. I loved the atmosphere and the interaction at TAFE.”

Ms McLeish recently won the annual TAFE NSW Illawarra Community Services Award and says: “I wasn’t expecting to win but I was honoured to be acknowledged.”

She also appreciates the support services and staff at TAFE NSW.

“My teachers took a deep interest in people’s stories and they didn’t treat me any differently. When I came to TAFE, it was a bit of a struggle at first. But I found it amazing using a computer that talked to me,” she says.

Jodie Hoger, TAFE NSW Teacher Consultant for Vision Impairment, helped Ms McLeish with access to electronic books, technology and resources.

“I felt privileged to be part of Rhiannon’s learning journey. What really impressed me about Rhiannon is her desire to adapt and not want to be seen as special. She’s very much a straight shooter and a wonderful self-advocate,” says Ms Hoger.

“Rhiannon has a real thirst for knowledge. She has the capability, tenacity and drive to be whatever she wants to be. Rhiannon didn’t want her disability to get in the way.”

Be whatever you want to be and join us at the TAFE NSW Open Week, 19 to 24 June, to discover your next career move. Visit to find out what activities are happening at a TAFE NSW location near you, or call our team on 131 601.