A lively crowd of over 700 attended the 24th annual Australian Training Awards (ATAs) at the National Convention Centre in Canberra on the evening of Thursday 23 November.

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, the Hon Karen Andrews MP said,

‘These men and women prove that the quality of our national VET sector is world-class and is providing real skills for real careers to its graduates’.

The event brought together finalists from across all fields of vocational education and training (VET)—from apprentices, trainees, VET students to teachers, employers and training providers—in recognition of their contribution to skilling Australia.

Finalists go on to become members of the prestigious national VET Alumni, which provides these individuals, registered training organisation and businesses with the opportunity to join a strong network of achievers in VET and share their success stories with the nation.

Winners and runners up are;


Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award (direct entry)


Kathrin Colgan, Victoria

Kathrin has extensive experience in the workplace as a Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) teacher and coordinator, in literacy youth classes, within industry, in independent learning centres and in rural and international locations. Her approach is always to look for positive solutions and to support peers to thrive as LLN educators.

VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year Award


Jane Goodfellow, Western Australia

Jane Goodfellow’s passion for training inspired her to overcome complete and sudden hearing loss six years ago. Despite this personal setback, Jane continues to lecture in education support and early childhood. She employs innovative communication tools such as blogs, QR codes, electronic devices and apps. Jane believes her job is not just about lecturing, but also building skills in students that allow them to discover knowledge for themselves, no matter what barriers they may face.

Runner up:

Matthew Eyles, Tasmania

Matt Eyles’ diverse career as a Registered Nurse, Science Teacher and VET Trainer, as well as working in government, community services and non-government organisations, has equipped him with a unique perspective and experience. He has many qualifications which he draws on to implement innovative approaches to preparing young people for the workplace.

Vocational Student of the Year Award

Rachelle Boyle, South Australia

Juggling work with the All Occasions Group, study for her Advanced Diploma of Management at TAFE SA and her commitments as an event and tourism industry ambassador, Rachelle Boyle is a passionate promoter of the importance of the tourism and events sector to the future of her state and nation.

Runner up:

Liam Muldoon, New South Wales

Currently a fly-in-fly-out technician with Gold Fields Australia, Liam Muldoon constantly identifies industry changes that require further training. Liam’s strategic study choices have equipped him with a unique skill set that’s highly sought after by employers.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award


Donald Dundas, New South Wales

For Donald Dundas, a Certificate III in Plumbing has not only led to a wide range of skill and leadership opportunities in the career of his choice but with the confidence and maturity his training and work have engendered, he’s able to mentor and encourage others in his community to take up a trade.

Runner up:

Abe Archibald, Australian Capital Territory

Abe Archibald is a proud indigenous man from Guyra, Northern NSW. Before commencing his Certificate III in Business traineeship, Abe was a competitive athlete and worked in various areas of the construction industry. The opportunity to work in human resources was a welcome one as Abe wanted to further his professional knowledge in business. Abe’s traineeship helped him to develop his skills and continue to move forward in his new direction.

Australian Apprentice (Trainee) of the Year Award


Dustin Cross, Victoria

Raised on 40-acres of land, 21-year-old Dustin Cross always dreamt of becoming a farmer. As a result, in year 11, Dustin started a School Based Traineeship before transitioning to a full-time traineeship with farm owners Janmac Pastoral Company, studying a Certificate IV in Agriculture. Dustin’s passion for agriculture continues outside of work and study, and he is now undertaking an advanced Diploma in Agribusiness Management and plans to take the next step toward becoming a farmer by seeking employment as a stock agent.

Runner up:

Katie Emmert, Queensland

Completing a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance prepared Katie Emmert for her transition from Year 12 into a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy. A dedicated and hardworking student, Katie also completed other recognised qualifications while undertaking her school-based allied health traineeship. This opportunity to obtain practical experience and become familiar with several different industries has helped her choose her next career move with greater confidence.

Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year Award


Bethany Simpson, Victoria

When a 16 year-old Bethany Simpson was working part time at her parent’s restaurant, a customer told her parents about the School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeship (SBAT) program. Prior to starting year 11, Bethany and her parents explored this opportunity, leading her to start a Certificate III in Business Administration. Bethany credits her SBAT to revealing her ‘passion for business’ and giving her the skills and qualifications she needs to enter the workforce.

Runner up:

Max Miegal, South Australia

At 17 years of age, Max Miegel is living his dream to pursue what he loves and follow an agricultural pathway to future employment. He attends Urrbrae Agricultural High School and is completing an Australian School-Based Apprenticeship in Agriculture while working on a dairy farm.

Australian Apprentice of the Year Award


Gemma Hartwig, Queensland

Determined to set a positive example for her three younger sisters, Gemma Hartwig completed her mechanical engineering apprenticeship with Otswald Bros. This experience helped her to develop her teamwork and communication skills and better understand the nuances of successful leadership. Now employed by Diesel Care, Gemma encourages others—especially women—to consider an apprenticeship pathway. She is a passionate advocate for vocational education and training, and a continuing success story for the sector.

Runner up:

Jordan Cahill, New South Wales

Jordan Cahill chose to complete a nationally recognised qualification through an Australian Apprenticeship in landscape construction because it enabled him to combine a variety of trades in one career. Through his on the job training he has demonstrated some exemplary skills in timber, stone masonry, brickwork and horticulture on projects ranging from multi-million dollar developments to public playground construction.

Lifetime Achievement Award


Bruce Mackenzie PSM

Mr Bruce Mackenzie PSM has played a leading role in the successful development and implementation of the TAFE system in Victoria. Through his drive, leadership and dedication to VET, Mr Mackenzie has made a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of students by providing them with high quality training to gain meaningful careers.

National Achievement Award


Suzanne Brandstater

Ms Suzanne Brandstater is an inspirational teacher who is committed to VET Education and ensuring that students put their skills into practice in authentic environments. In pursuing this vision for her students, Ms Brandstater has engaged the wider Picton community, building relationships with a variety of individuals, organisations and workplaces.


Australian Apprenticeships—Employer Award (direct entry)


SA Power Networks, South Australia

SA Power Networks has trained hundreds of apprentices in technical skills and safety, delivering training for 2200 employees and numerous contractors within the electricity supply industry.

Small Employer of the Year Award


Tradesmen on Time, Queensland

This Queensland small electrical contracting firm are committed to developing and investing in the next generation of electricians, hosting six apprentices and developing a strong training and professional development culture with employees for over a decade.

Medium Employer of the Year Award


Darwalla Group, Queensland

Darwalla Group is the largest Queensland owned poultry producer employing around 180 people, focusing on quality and adherence to RSPCA animal welfare standards to ensure that they are highly regarded within their industry. With a firm belief that employees are its most valuable asset, Darwalla Group goes to great lengths to help their employees reach their full potential through education.

Large Employer of the Year Award


Hutchinson Builders, Queensland

Hutchinson Builders is well-equipped to deliver training to all employees, offering mentoring and individual support while they engage in accredited training and other training activities. In addition, they recently introduced a fulltime Indigenous Program Group and Workforce Development Team, the ‘Statim Yaga’ (begin work) Strategy to set the framework for how Hutchinson engage, consult and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Industry Collaboration Award


Futuretech, Victoria

In a perfect match between a union representing 20 000 members in Victoria’s electro technology industry and a large training provider, Futuretech was created in response to an identified need by the Skills Council of Australia for a pioneering training centre to pilot innovative programs to drive the training of tomorrow’s skilled electrical and electro technology workers.

Registered Training Organisation

School Pathways to VET Award (direct entry)


Southern Tasmanian Catholic Colleges Trade Training Centre, Tasmania

The STCCTTC offers further vocational training for secondary schools and colleges across a range of industries, facilitated by community partnerships.

Small Training Provider of the Year Award


Avidity Training and Development, Tasmania

Avidity Training and Development has a strong sense of responsibility to their customers, their employees, and the communities and organisations they engage with. They believe that their work, particularly in the equity space, demonstrates a high level of professionalism and innovation that enables them to achieve outstanding results that contribute to employment outcomes and improves the health and wellbeing of their students.

Large Training Provider of the Year Award


The Gordon, Victoria

As a provider of vocational education and training for 130 years, The Gordon is working with industry and key community partners to support the development and innovation of emerging and exciting growth sectors as the regions employment market transitions.

International Training Provider of the Year Award


Holmesglen Institute, Victoria

Holmesglen Institute is the largest Victorian TAFE institute and international education has been part of its fabric since its establishment. It has continually refreshed its products and support services to attract international students and deliver high quality outcomes.

For more information on the Australian Training Awards, please visit www.australiantrainingawards.gov.au

Originally Published in Skills@Work Alert