Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services and Member for Kiama Gareth Ward MP has today congratulated Sarah Elliott, an inspiring blind woman training at Nowra TAFE to be a chef.
Mr Ward said that Sarah Elliott could fillet a fish and debone a bird better than most.
“The fact she’s doing it blind with three per cent vision in one eye is testament to Sarah’s determination and her teacher’s motivation to see her succeed,” he said.
Ms Elliott’s timing to enrol in a TAFE NSW qualification in commercial cookery couldn’t be better. A rising interest in foodie culture is forecast to underpin restaurant industry growth over the next five years.[i]
Mr Ward considers Ms Elliott’s experience to be a wonderful example of how TAFE NSW breaks down barriers by offering training and qualifications to people of all abilities.
Mr Ward has been legally blind since birth and said there are times when disability can fuel a culture of low expectation.
“Low expectation is certainly not something Sarah has experienced in the restaurant-standard, commercial kitchens at Nowra TAFE,” he said.
“Her teachers call on their own industry experience to share the latest techniques and skills with Sarah, just as they do with her fellow-students.
“We are fortunate to have TAFE NSW teachers who have the capability and expertise to work with students with a diverse range of abilities,” Mr Ward said.
Ms Elliott was impressed with how well-prepared TAFE NSW was when she enrolled.
“Being blind I honestly thought I would have to do the hard-sell to be accepted – I couldn’t have been more wrong about that,” she said.
“I attended the TAFE NSW Open Day, met the teacher and he was very welcoming.”
Ms Elliott said that while her first day was a challenging experience, she had always felt supported by the staff.
“At first the heat, sounds and smells, were incredible, it was like walking into a sensory battlefield,” she said.
“My teachers and fellow students never look at me as a blind person, I feel equal in this space, and they see me as me.”
“I have learned new skills including food preparation, menu planning, food hygiene and safety in order to create culinary delights.”
“At home, I work at my own pace in the kitchen, here we are learning how to operate under the constraints of time, precision and output,” Ms Elliott said.
Mr Ward said that the Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at TAFE NSW was a perfect entry point into the growing restaurant and café industry.
“TAFE NSW is not only training the workforce of the future, it is opening doors to careers some might have thought out of reach,” Minister Ward concluded.
For more information about TAFE NSW qualifications to suit growing industries visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.