TAFE NSW student plants seeds of connection for Newcastle’s Chinese community

TAFE NSW student plants seeds of connection for Newcastle’s Chinese community

Newcastle’s Chinese community is overcoming pandemic induced isolation thanks to an innovative multicultural partnership launched by civic champion and TAFE NSW Community Services student, Jie Tang.

Jie has lived in Australia for 12 years and spent the pandemic supporting his Chinese neighbours and friends, including collecting groceries for them when they were too fearful to leave the house.

Jie said it was a confusing time for the older people with a Chinese background.

“It was especially confusing as these people were getting mixed messages from the Chinese government about going out and the impacts of COVID. They were also afraid of being blamed for the so-called ‘China virus’,” Jie said.

Jie is learning skills such as building relationships in the community, planning and conducting group activities, and working within a community development strategic framework since undertaking a Certificate IV in Community Services at TAFE NSW Glendale.

TAFE NSW Community Services Teacher, James Campbell said the purpose of the framework unit is to give students the opportunity to put into practice the theory they’ve learned to deliver a real-world community project.

“The first step is finding something they’re passionate about and interested in,” James said.

With James’ support, Jie was inspired to approach Hunter Multicultural Communities at Waratah with an idea to develop a Chinese community garden.

“It all started because I was thinking of ways to get the community outside again, to feel safe and like they were contributing.

“I suggested that gardening would be a positive and social idea, where they plant herbs and vegetables and share recipes. They had lots of questions, but they loved idea,” Jie said.

Hunter Multicultural Communities, and its mission to provide for the diverse needs of all people within multicultural communities in the Hunter Region, proved the right fit for Jie’s project.

Community Engagement Officer, Karen Varnum said incorporating the Chinese garden into the existing community garden has been a great success.

“Jie’s project has a real purpose, and it’s giving the local Chinese community a great opportunity to socialise in a welcoming environment where they plant, potter and share recipes,” Karen said.

The group meets up every second Friday to tend to the garden, socialise – and feel part of the community once again.

“From little things big things grow, and Jie’s TAFE NSW studies have enabled a wonderful project which is having a positive impact on Newcastle’s Chinese community,” Karen said.


IMAGE | The Newcastle Chinese community garden.


TAFE NSW is Australia’s largest training and education provider with more than 500,000 enrolments and 1,200 courses. As an education innovator, we’re focused on shaping the future through state-of-the-art facilities, systems, technology and teachers. Our graduates are equipped for the jobs of today and the careers of the future.

TAFE NSW offers the best of campus-based delivery as well as flexible, online and work-based learning. Collaboration, diversity and the strong relationships between our locations contribute to and magnify the value of TAFE NSW and importantly, the benefits that we deliver to communities and the economy of NSW.


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