29 September 2023

A latecomer to learning, Luna's found new skills, friends and 'doesn't feel old anymore'

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Luna and teacher Amber at the computer.

Luna Lay Leong is enjoying her studies, guided by TAFE teacher Amber Weyman. Photo: NSW TAFE.

Albion Park’s Luna Lay Leong has a message for people who think older people can’t learn new skills – learning can change your life.

Luna arrived in Australia from East Timor 40 years ago and since then has juggled raising a family with running a takeaway food business.

Now at 58, she is dedicating more of her time to improving her reading as well as keeping up with technology, something she said a lot of older people could benefit from.

“I felt I was missing skills in writing and reading so I enrolled at TAFE NSW, and I can tell you what I have learned has made my life much easier,” she said.

“My reading, speaking, and digital knowledge are much better.

READ ALSO ‘Not over til it’s over’: this mature-aged NSW TAFE Wollongong graduate is entering her Renaissance

“Some people probably think when they get older, they can’t do anything new or different, it’s not true. Learning can change your life. I’ve met new people and learned new skills.

“I’m keeping up with technology and not relying on my kids for it. I don’t feel old anymore.”

TAFE NSW Head Teacher for Employability Skills and Career Pathways Amber Weyman said the recent Adult Learners Week showed how people of all ages and backgrounds could learn life-changing skills and broaden employment opportunities.

“We have students of all ages and stages of life who are just starting or restarting their learning journey,” she said.

“Luna is a perfect example of this, as a mature-age student at TAFE NSW Wollongong who enrolled in literacy, numeracy, digital literacy and language courses.

“Education is for people of all ages and backgrounds, and we can tailor learning to suit the needs of our students, so they have the support and resources they need to succeed.

“TAFE NSW Career Preparation and Advancement Courses build reading, writing and communication skills for both personal and professional development.”

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The Australian Government estimates 44 per cent of Australians don’t have the literacy skills needed to successfully navigate everyday life.

Adult Learning Australia President Kathleen Priestly said people with low literacy and numeracy skills could struggle with essential tasks others took for granted.

“They are also likely to feel high levels of shame and powerlessness, which can lead to social isolation,” she said.

“We are encouraging people who might have given up on learning for any reason at all to have another go, no matter their background, previous education level and age.”

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