Eugene Dorante

Eugene Dorante grew up on Hammond Island in Torres Strait where his interest in repairing engines and motor vehicles grew out of a necessity.

"I was raised by my grandfather and he taught me how to repair engines and motor vehicles that our family owned, like a small generator, an out-board motor and a Mini Moke which we depended on," Eugene said.

When he was 17, Eugene met and married his wife Roxanne and, with little baby Alex on the way, they moved to Thursday Island where Eugene took a job at Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ).

However, he continued to work on his car and his in-laws' cars in his spare time and soon others in the area began to ask Eugene to repair their cars. "It gave me an insight into what I could do with my future," he said.

Another move, to Cairns, saw Eugene secure a mechanical apprenticeship with Ganes Mechanical. It took six years for Eugene to finish his apprenticeship, due to illness and moving away from home and other challenges, but his ability was always apparent.

He was Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year for 2011 and was chosen to tell his story before more than 200 people at the Institute's official National Closing the Gap Day celebration.

Finally he is on top after completing his apprenticeship and receiving a Certificate III in Automotive Mechanical Technology.

Eugene believes that education is a way to a better life and leads to an understanding of where you come from, where you want to go and the courage to believe in yourself.

"Because of my education, I know I can do this," he said. "I can do anything and I don't have to rely on anyone anymore because I am an educated man."

He intends to continue his motivational speaking and one-on-one work with the job networks and various Indigenous youth mentoring groups.

"I've learnt that what you put into life, you get out of life," he said.

DESCRIPTION: Eugene Dorante at work as a Mechanic at Ganes Mechanical, Machans Beach.