From working as a server and kitchen hand at a restaurant and bar to becoming a vocational administration intern, Mathew Pitovao has overcome many barriers in his quest to support his family while living with a disability.
A proud member of Nuanua O le Alofa (NOLA) Disability Advocacy Organisation and the Deaf Association of Samoa, Mathew recently started his new role at the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) Samoa Country Office in Apia.
Mathew, 24, said having a hearing impairment does come with its challenges. However, he never limited himself by dwelling on his disability and chose to focus on his abilities.
Thanks to the collaborative partnership and meaningful engagement between APTC and NOLA to support inclusive employment pathways for persons with disabilities, Mathew was able to study Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways (FSK20113) at APTC Samoa in 2020.
After completing his studies, Mathew began his internship at APTC, and he credits his course for helping him thrive in the workplace.
“I joined APTC as a student to develop my work skills. It helped me a lot in many ways. I want to advise anyone considering upskilling and gaining new skills to join APTC,” Mathew said.
“When I first got the news that I was joining APTC as an intern, I got emotional. NOLA informed my mum, and I didn’t believe her initially, but when I received a congratulatory text, I was so happy I cried.
“I know that this role will be challenging, but this is my opportunity to support my family and to apply the skills I have gained through the APTC course,” he added.
Mathew is focused on building his capacity through teamwork.
“I have to be brave and remain connected with everyone to achieve success. I want to gain experience and learn how to effectively express my opinions and my ideas to the work we do here at APTC,” he added.
Mathew’s recruitment is part of APTC’s Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Action Plan priority, which is to design APTC internship programs for persons with disabilities. This will pave the way to scale up the internship program within other APTC country locations and to promote equitable employment opportunities for persons with disabilities within the Pacific.
While at APTC, Mathew looks forward to teaching his colleagues about the deaf community and its culture.
APTC is managed by TAFE Queensland (RTO 0275).