Western Australian VET achievers are nation’s best

  • WA women take out top awards at the Australian Training Awards in Hobart
  • Awards showcase excellence in the vocational education and training sector
  • Winners recognised nationally as leaders in their fields at a gala event attended by more than 700 guests

Two Western Australians have been named national winners at the prestigious Australian Training Awards 2023.

Now in its 30th year, the Australian Training Awards reward and recognise apprentices, trainees, VET students, teachers, practitioners, employers, and training providers from around Australia.

Kingsley’s Amy Hunt is the worthy winner of Australian Apprentice of the Year. She is the only woman and youngest cable jointer at her worksite.

Amy was drawn to the fast-changing environment of the power industry. She said her close relationship with her father (a panel beater) and her brother (a signwriter) inspired her to follow in their footsteps and pursue a similar lifestyle through a trade apprenticeship in the power industry.

Amy cites her experience working on low and high voltage electrical cables as having opened her eyes to the implicit value of safety – both on an individual level and within a team.She also credits her training experience with enhancing her leadership and communication skills.

The awards not only recognise students but pay tribute to employers, teachers and trainers who support them throughout their VET journey.

Cragie’s Holly Gudsell was named Australian VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year.

A teaching position in a remote Aboriginal community near Fitzroy Crossing was the catalyst for a change in career direction for Holly, as she discovered an interest in Aboriginal education.

Having previously worked as a teacher, and then abroad, teaching English in Kenya and China, it was while lecturing in Education Support at North Metropolitan TAFE that Holly was approached to develop and deliver a new program for the Department of Education, to upskill Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Officers (AIEO) across Perth metropolitan schools.

She delivered a ‘mixed mode’ course which successfully supported Aboriginal students through the Certificate III and IV in School Based Education Support (AEIO).

Aveley’s Anthony Nelson-Burns was the runner-up for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year after achieving his long-standing career goal of completing his Certificate III in Engineering (Mechanical Trade) and becoming a mechanical fitter.

Western Australian organisations also took out one silver and three bronze awards across multiple categories:

  • EK Contracting received the silver award for Small Employer of the Year
  • Defence Industry Pathways Program received the bronze award for Industry Collaboration
  • Hedland Senior High School received the bronze award for School Pathways to VET
  • WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin received the bronze award for Small Training Provider of the Year

Individual category winners received $5,000 prize money and runners-up received $2,500.

The Australian Training Awards showcases the amazing and diverse options the VET sector has to offer, and how it can transform lives.

This year, Western Australia had representatives in six individual categories:

  • Apprentice of the Year;
  • School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year;
  • Trainee of the Year;
  • Vocational Student of the Year;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year; and
  • Trainer of the Year.

Three Western Australian organisations were selected as finalists:

  • Defence Industry Pathways Program – A Maritime Defence Industry Collaborationfor the Industry Collaboration Award;
  • WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin for the Small Training Provider of the Year; and
  • EK Contracting for the Small Employer of the Year.

There were also two direct entries into the awards this year:

  • Anthony Georgeff – Advanced Skills Lecturer at North Metropolitan TAFE, for the Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award; and
  • Hedland Senior High School for the School Pathways to VET Award.

For the full list of award winners, visit: www.australiantrainingawards.gov.au

As stated by Training Minister Simone McGurk:

“I congratulate Amy Hunt for winning the Australian Apprentice of the Year title, and Holly Gudsell for taking out the Australian VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year.

“I am thrilled to see two Western Australian women achieve national recognition of their skills, talents, and community achievements by backing up their WA wins with national awards.

“These WA Australian Training Awards winners are spectacular examples of what Vocational Education and Training has to offer people and the community and how it can transform lives.

“I also congratulate the WA organisations for their achievements at the Australian Training Awards.

“Our world-class training system continues to help meet the State’s skills needs now and into the future while delivering some of Australia’s brightest training talents.

“Congratulations to all the winners, finalists, and those who have supported them to make a life changing choice through VET studies.”

Western Australian ATA winners/runner ups

Amy Hunt – Kingsley

Australian Apprentice of the Year

  • Certificate III in ESI Power Systems Distribution Cable Jointing
  • Trained at Power Training Services
  • Employed by Western Power

Holly Gudsell – Craigie

Australian Trainer of the Year

  • Delivers training in the Certificate III and IV in School Based Education Support (AEIO)
  • Employed by North Metropolitan TAFE

Anthony Nelson-Burns – Aveley

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year – Runner-up

  • Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade
  • Trained at Australian Skills Group Pty Ltd
  • Employed by Fortescue Mining Group (FMG)

Completing a Certificate III in Engineering Mechanical Trade with FMG was life-changing for Anthony. It has provided him with newfound confidence, personal and professional growth – as well as allowing him to become a mentor to his children.

Having received unwavering support from his employer and lecturers at Australian Skills Group during personal hardships, he was able to navigate through and successfully progress his studies to complete his apprenticeship.

The experience has helped shape the person he has become capable, empathetic, and resourceful. He is now ready to tackle any obstacles and plans to continue his training pathway in engineering.

EK Contracting

Small Employer of the Year – Silver

EK Contracting was established in 2019 to service WA in the civil and mining sector and is owned by a dynamic trio including an Indigenous ex-Olympic weightlifting champion, a Nyiyaparli Traditional Owner, and a Pilbara School Teacher.

Their vision is clear – generate a steady workstream to upskill workers and offer career advancement opportunities to ensure everyone has an opportunity to shine. EK offers training and employment opportunities to Indigenous people across WA through its connections with Indigenous land groups and organisations.

Defence Industry Pathways Program – A Maritime Defence Industry Collaboration (South Metropolitan TAFE)

Industry Collaboration Award – Bronze

The Defence Industry Pathways Program is an innovative industry collaboration designed to develop and ensure a pipeline of skilled workers for Australia’s defence industry. The idea of a ‘gap year’ program was conceived at an industry roundtable in July 2020, with the defence industry identifying a critical need to build talent through a vocational education and training (VET) program.

The 12-month ‘taster’ program was designed to provide graduates with a broad understanding of the maritime defence industry through work placements focusing on career pathway options. In 2023, the program has 32 maritime Defence-host employers.

Hedland Senior High School

School Pathways to VET Award (Direct entry) – Bronze

Hedland Senior High School is an Independent Public School, located 1,800km north of Perth, in the Pilbara town of Port Hedland. Over 90 per cent of their students in Year 11 and 12 are enrolled in VET pathways – including through the School Based Traineeship Program. They foster a total of 27 Local Industry Partnerships in Marine, Rail, Engineering, Child Care, Automotive, Health, and Business. This innovative program provides young people with direct links to full-time employment, completing Certificate IIs and IIIs with a 97 per cent success rate.

The School Pathways to VET Award recognises eligible organisations including schools, registered training organisations, group training organisations, industry bodies, and employers that have collaboratively delivered one (or more) excellent vocational education and training programs to secondary school students.

WA was a finalist in 2022, with Busselton Senior High School scooping the silver. Busselton Senior High School also won the award in 2018. This is the first year that Hedland Senior High School has made it through to the national awards in this category.

WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin

Small Training Provider of the Year – Bronze

The WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin has a long-standing reputation for achieving exceptional VET outcomes through developing highly skilled and employable graduates.

The college offers training opportunities that enhance the learning of all students – via a blend of theory and practical – in a variety of courses that are relevant, interesting, engaging and support students to transition into a large variety of industries and pathways, inclusive of the agriculture and allied industries.

Training is conducted between the commercial farm of 4,000 hectares and state-of-the-art Trade Training Centre, with focus on excellence through innovation, passion, and collaboration for all students, and strengthening the primary and trades industries.

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