A busy Port Stephens mum juggling a young family with a new career has been announced as one of 12 recipients of a state government study support initiative.
Joe Williams, from Nelson Bay, said she was thrilled to receive a scholarship to study for a diploma in event management as part of the NSW Government's $6 million regional conferencing strategy and action plan, which includes a partnership with Meetings & Events Australia (MEA).
"I was just over the moon to hear that I had been accepted," said the 40-year-old mother of three children aged from seven to 12.
"I am new to this industry and my goal is to make a difference within my community and support small businesses across the region. This scholarship will give me the knowledge and network to build on the Port's growing tourism industry."
Ms Williams said that she understood the difficulties of juggling home life and a career, especially during a pandemic.
"But I am fortunate to have a very supportive husband [Mark Williams] who runs his own surveying business from home."
Ms Williams said that she wanted to give back to the Port Stephens community now that she was ready to go back to full-time work.
"I am grateful for the opportunity at Murray's, having only started working there a little over six months ago."
In congratulating Ms Williams on her scholarship, Catherine Cusack, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, said the the hard-working mum would be connected to an online community of students, providing a great opportunity for networking and learning more about the development and delivery of events from fellow peers.
"I am delighted to announce that Joe is 1 of 12 recipients who will benefit from this scholarship program which aims to upskill and create more job opportunities for rural and regional NSW communities," Ms Cusack said.
"The summer bushfires, and now the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, has severely affected the Port Stephens community so it's great to be able to share this news which will help to generate positive outcomes for the region.
"It's fantastic that we can provide an aspiring local with the opportunity to learn new skills in a field which is a major contributor to the Port Stephens economy."
Minister for Jobs, Investment & Tourism Stuart Ayres said the business events sector presented a major opportunity for the visitor economy, particularly as the state steers a path to recovery.
"We know that the best way forward is helping to create more jobs and these scholarships will do exactly that - giving people the tools and extra support needed to kick start their careers in the field of event management."
The 12 recipients were selected by a panel, which included representatives from the NSW government's tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, MEA and the six destination networks.