Fea overcomes language barriers to chase his dreams as a bus driver

Fea stands beside the bus he drives. He is wearing a bright red jumper and smiling at the cameraSamoan-born bus driver Fea moved to Australia several years ago with his family to start the next chapter of their lives.

For someone who loves routine, has a passion for the automotive industry and genuine interest in people around him, bus driving was the perfect career fit for Fea.

But when relocating to Victoria, it quickly became apparent that his skill set wasn’t as easily transferable down under as he’d initially anticipated.

Given English wasn’t his first language, Fea found the licence application process gruelling and difficult to understand. Coupled with chronic back pain and a diabetes diagnosis, he faced several challenges in securing sustainable employment within the industry he loved.

That’s when Fea’s unwavering determination led him to WISE.

Pita Tapara, Fea’s employment support worker, was by his side from the very beginning, providing counsel and support to help overcome the various hurdles in the way of his career progression.

Understanding that language barriers were a huge contributing factor, WISE organised a translator to ensure Fea could better interpret the licence test he needed to pass.

Despite several attempts, Fea still struggled to comprehend the questions and contextualise what needed to be done to pass the test.

But he never allowed these failures to damage his spirits – something Pita was incredibly inspired by.

“When I first met Fea, it was obvious how ready he was to continue his career as a bus driver in Australia. He had all the necessary skills, and just needed a helping hand in finding his feet in a new location.”

“Fea had been thriving in the industry in Samoa, and to feel like he couldn’t live out the same dream here was incredibly frustrating for him.”

“His energy and positivity was infections, and I was determined to help in any way I could,” Pita says.

Thinking outside the box, Pita reached out to several different WISE offices across Victoria, searching for an employment support worker who could speak Samoan. Very quickly, Pita was put in touch with Nelson Fesolai, who is bilingual in both languages.

Joining forces across two WISE offices, Pita and Nelson were instrumental in supporting Fea for his third attempt – as his mentors, while also providing financial support.

In order to set Fea up for success, WISE funded the fees associated with taking the test multiple times. And acting as his translator, Nelson accompanied him for the final attempt, to which he passed with flying colours!

While Fea is now happily employed at Otobus, Pita is still regularly in touch to ensure he remains settled and comfortable within his workplace. He continues to provide support to assist in ongoing challenges surrounding his chronic back problems and diabetes.

Given bus drivers spend long periods of time seated, support includes working closely with him to develop and implement healthy meal plans and exercise regimes.

“I am so appreciative of Pita and Nelson for supporting my goal of becoming a bus driver in Australia,” Fea says.

“While there were times I thought I’d never make it, they continued to believe in me and my ability.”

“I love the structure the job gives me and how empowered I feel every day to provide for my family. Australia now feels like home – and that’s thanks to WISE.”

Always seeking further opportunities to expand his horizons, Fea is now in the process of obtaining his taxi drivers licence to broaden his employment opportunities even further.


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