Meet Gavin – Tenancy Skills Staff Profile

31 May 2023
Gavin Ah Kee - Tenancy Skills Trainer

Meet Gavin – Tenancy Skills Staff Profile

What is your role at Tenancy Skills Institute, how long have you worked here and what does your work entail?

I am a Training & Community Engagement Officer and I call the Cairns Office home.

My role is primarily delivery of the Skillsets for Successful Tenancies training program.

I have a secondary role in community engagement and this involves building relationships, partnerships and networks within the community sector to increase and improve access to tenant education delivered by Tenancy Skills Institute.

Another aspect of my role is doing everything listed above, but in the context of engaging and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, organisations and communities in providing tenant education to improve housing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Before working at Tenancy Skills Institute, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? Or what was your first paying job?         

My first job out of school was in an Aboriginal Employment Program as a landscaper. I was supposed to go to TAFE to do Visual Art but got a job instead.

My most interesting job was as a Community Based Trainer with the National Family Violence Education Program for nearly 8 years in the 1990s. It involved plenty of consultation and facilitation around Domestic & Family Violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families and Communities. This program taught me a lot and how to use most of what I know, in what I do.

What do you like most about working at Tenancy Skills Institute?

Tenant Education will help to improve and increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to safe, secure, healthy housing as well as improving housing aspirations and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Housing is foundational to Closing The Gap in Aboriginal disadvantage and life-expectancy.

I have a vision of the ‘Big Picture’ for my people and what Tenancy Skills Institute offers fills a big gap in that picture. I have worked in the Housing and Homelessness sector for more than 25 years and I have never seen a program like it. That’s why I approached the CEO of Tenancy Skills Institute to come and work for here because I believe in the product we are delivering.

What advice do you have for the people you work with?

My only advice to the crew that I work with is to keep doing what you are doing. It is innovative, passionate, rewarding and a great team to be a part of.

What was your experience in the housing industry before working at Tenancy Skills Institute? 

I have extended Family who were largely responsible for the establishment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing organisations in the Far North Queensland region so my family’s involvement goes back some 40-45 years. I have worked for at least 2 of these organisations. I was employed as a Project Officer in the 90s to oversee the expenditure of ATSIC’s housing funds to the 11 member organisations in the region.

I worked for Ozcare (now Vinnies) Mens Hostel in Cairns for more than 5 years. I oversaw the Supported Parole Program when it was first run out of the Cairns site. I was eventually 2IC overseeing all of their accommodation programs.

I was employed by QSTARS for over 4 years as a Community Education & Network Development Worker. I have been on both sides of the fence.

My most recent job was with Access Community Housing Company in Cairns. ACHC are the largest community housing provider north of Bundaberg, and the second largest in the state.

Why is it important for tenants and prospective tenants to have the skills covered in the program?

To keep a roof over their heads and to increase their chances of getting a roof over their heads.

Housing is foundational to Closing The Gap in disadvantage and life-expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

What is your hidden talent or hobby we might be surprised about?

Now I am in my 50s, I find myself buying toys we couldn’t afford as a kid. ie Star Wars action figures; Dr Who memorabilia; Marvel (love Spiderman, among others). I buy stuff and it doesn’t come out of the box. Pristine.

I am a mad-as Darts fan. I follow the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) and myself and my 2 older brothers go to watch them when they come to Australia. I’ve never even seen a State Of Origin live, but I’ve been to the darts.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a student?       

“You understand us”……….