Mark James

Mark James is a proud Gubbi Gubbi man, with traditional long established links to Apple Tree Creek in the Bundaberg region.

Mark was recently a finalist in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year category for the Metropolitan Region of the Queensland Training Awards.

This was an extraordinary accomplishment for Mark, given he was in a life threatening accident in 1996 that resulted in severe head and spinal injuries. Mark worked hard for a number years of rehabilitation learning to walk and talk again.

Mark was told he'd never work again and should apply for the disability pension. Raised not to depend on welfare it was crucial for him to find employment.

Following his rehabilitation Mark embarked on various labouring jobs and in 2008 commenced a Skilling Queenslanders for Work Program with Kurbingui Youth Development Association. This led Mark to obtain work with Koobara Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Kindergarten as their Groundsman.

Mark loved working in the outdoors but knew he had to improve his skills and knowledge of the horticultural industry. In January 2010, as a mature aged job seeker, Mark secured an apprenticeship in horticulture with Brisbane City Council.

With lasting memory problems from the accident, Mark struggled completing his training modules, but with the patience and one on one support from his trainer, Mark was able to complete his Certificate III in Horticulture (Parks and Gardens) and finish his apprenticeship.

Armed with loads of new skills in horticulture, Mark has returned to work with the Koobara Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Kindergarten. He's proud to be working for an Indigenous organisation and volunteers to work at community events to help raise funds for the Kindy.

Mark has overcome some massive obstacles yet manages to have a wonderful sense of humour and a great outlook on life.

He believes we should do the best we can with the situation we are dealt, and wants people young or old to recognise the many opportunities available to them.

Mark hopes he can be an inspiration to others, especially his daughter Tori who is about to finish high school.