State recognition for Zunera

07 December 2021

Zunera’s journey is more than a learning experience

“I am highly grateful that Community College Gippsland nominated me. I also feel proud and content on choosing Australia as my home.”
- Zunera Najam

Nominated for the prestigious Victorian Learn Local Pre-accredited Learner (Skills for Work) Award, Zunera Najam is proof that determination and drive, coupled with a supportive community, can overcome adversity.

Zunera’s journey has taken her from her homeland of Pakistan on a road of self-discovery to learn of her own resilience and passion to help others. When she enrolled in the Kickstart your Career course at Community College Gippsland, she discovered not just a love of learning but a level of tenacity that allowed her to continue to learn despite numerous barriers.

Due to her child’s medical needs, Zunera had to withdraw from the Kickstart course. However, COVID struck and the course moved online, and the teacher continued to send her the work. Completing the tasks, Zunera rejoined and her confidence and skills improved to the point where she secured work locally as a cook’s assistant.

Studying with Kickstart, Zunera relished the chance to improve her English fluency and pick up invaluable life skills such as first aid and food handling. The positive learning experience led her to enrol independently in a Certificate IV in Food Handling and she is now actively seeking a career in cooking, preferably in a hospital setting. Meanwhile, she is keen to volunteer in food services such as Meals on Wheels and would like to extend her newfound understanding of the migration process to helping other migrants settle here.

Moving to a new country is an upheaval in itself: learning the language, understanding her new life choices went beyond homemaker and mother. All this, coupled with balancing her son’s needs with study and work, is a mark of Zunera’s resilience. Her rare persistence and courage have been recognised and rewarded with this Learn Local nomination.

Zunera says that undertaking the Kickstart course was a turning point. “It has changed my life entirely and has given me the confidence to follow my passion.  I want to do anything I can to help people wherever I can – but especially cook for them.”

The Victorian Learn Local Awards are held annually by the Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) Board and celebrate the success of individuals, programs and training providers across Victoria.

For further information, please phone (03) 5622 6000 or email