Tribute to the Training Awards winners


Apprentice of the Year (sponsored by TAFE NSW)

Brendon Hillsley
Meat Processing (Meat Retailing) Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW - South Western Sydney Institute
Employed by: Coles Supermarkets

Looking for a sustainable career, where he would be able to work with his hands, Brendon jumped at the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship. Brendon has excelled in the butchery trade, completing additional training to build and diversify his skills and participating in meat retailing competitions. Brendon has gained the support and confidence of his employer and is now undertaking a retail leaders program through Coles to become a manager. Brendon hopes to visit a cattle station in the near future to further expand his knowledge of the meat industry.

Trainee of the Year (sponsored by WorkCover NSW)

Renee Zacher
Community Services - Diploma of Children’s Services
Southern Solutions - Business, Training & Employment
Rainbow Cottage Kindergarten & Long Day Care Centre

Renee has a passion and enthusiasm for early education and enjoys helping prepare each child for their future. Renee is highly regarded by the children and their parents, who describe her as a fun, caring and dedicated teacher. Renee enjoys the diversity of her job, putting into practice the skills she has learned, and building her confidence. Through her work, sport and community commitments Renee is now able to mentor others. Renee has taken the opportunity to set herself professional and personal goals, and is planning to continue her career and training in children’s services and education.

School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year (sponsored by The Vocational Training Tribunal of NSW)

Madeleine Leigh
Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) Certificate III
Newman Senior Technical College
Bittersweet Cafe Patisserie

Having lived overseas for most of her childhood, Madeleine developed an appreciation for international cuisines and dreamt of becoming a chef. With her passion for food, Madeleine feels most at home in the kitchen and loves to create beautiful food. Beginning her career while still at school has given Madeleine a great head start and the
support and expertise of her teachers. When she completes her apprenticeship Madeleine plans to travel to France to learn and work as a patisserie chef. Madeleine is already incorporating other studies, such as learning French, to help her achieve her dream.

VET in Schools Excellence Award (sponsored by William Angliss Institute)

Picton High School

Picton High School has more than 1300 students from a range of backgrounds and needs, including single parent families, students with special needs and a growing aboriginal population. The school has been progressively expanding VET frameworks and facilities and has built strong networks with surrounding industry and organisations. Picton High School is constantly looking at ways to support the engagement and retention of students, with particular strength and success in the entertainment and metals courses.

VET in Schools Student of the Year (sponsored by Spress)

Benjamin Costa
Government Services Certificate II
TAFE NSW - Western Institute
Dubbo College Senior Campus
Murdi Paaki Regional Enterprises
Host Employer: NSW Police

Benjamin knew a traineeship with Murdi Paaki Regional Enterprises and NSW Police would help him to contribute to his community and become an advocate and role model for other young aboriginal people. Benjamin feels that he has been given an opportunity to improve communication in his local community. Benjamin is vice captain of his school, member of the NSW student representative council and holds a leadership role in army cadets. He was named Young Citizen of the Year 2011 by Dubbo City Council for his achievements in school, work and his commitment and leadership within the community.

Vocational Student of the Year (sponsored by State Training Services)

Galit Segev
Hospitality Commercial Cookery - Patisserie
TAFE NSW - Sydney Institute

At the height of her career and with three young children, Galit decided to pursue her passion for food and cooking. A scientific background, forever questioning mind and incredible thirst for answers meant Galit was able to use what she learnt at TAFE in innovative ways outside the classroom. In particular is her ability to share her passion and knowledge within the community. Galit is now thinking of innovative ways to teach vision impaired people to overcome the challenges of cooking and has already teamed
up with the CSIRO to look at new ways she can implement her ideas.

VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year (sponsored by Department of Education and Communities)

Robert Lawson
Department of Education and Communities
Illawarra & SE Region

Robert is a passionate and committed teacher who strives to achieve high outcomes for all his students. A strong background in both industry and TAFE has given Robert a strong platform for VET delivery in a school environment. He is always looking for new initiatives and programs that will not only enhance his training and delivery but also
assist other VET teachers. In a regional area with limited employment Robert has worked tirelessly with his network of industry contacts to organise work placements for his students. Robert has overcome the challenges of an isolated location in providing
a variety of opportunities for his students.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year (sponsored by Board of Vocational Education and Training)

Joshua Toomey
Electricity Supply Industry -Distribution (Power Line) Certificate III
Trained & employed by Ausgrid

Joshua joined Ausgrid in 2006 through their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pre-Apprenticeship Program. With focus and diligence Joshua gained a highly sought after apprenticeship position with Ausgrid and has now completed his full electrical trade qualification. With his communication skills, self determination and remarkable ability to motivate and encourage others, Joshua has not only transformed his own life over the last 5 years but the lives of many other young Aboriginal people who have suffered educational and social disadvantages. Joshua has a strong commitment to other Indigenous young people, demonstrating the opportunities and benefits of training.

Industry Collaboration Award (sponsored by NSW Department of Trade and Investment)


OCTEC works with its partners to develop learning and assessment strategies which meet the needs of individuals and communities in central and western NSW. To this end, new resources have been developed with a greater emphasis on practical learning for remote indigenous communities, assisting new migrants adjust to Australian working conditions and facilitating training to assist mature aged workers and working mothers. The partnership is committed to ensuring the skills and knowledge gained in training will be focused on meeting the complex health conditions and medical needs of the ageing population.

Small Employer of the Year (sponsored by Group Training Association of NSW)

Clovelly Community Bank

Clovelly Community Bank is a small retail bank with significant focus on the sustainability and progression of the local community. Clovelly Community Bank is a franchise of the Bendigo Bank and is owned by 257 local shareholders. Training is an integral part of the Banks business plan, with training programs implemented to meet the needs of the industry and the staff. As well as providing training for their own staff they have successfully employed two school based trainees, and promoted training opportunities to the entire Bendigo Bank network. The Bank now plans to progress staff
to higher accreditations.

Large Employer of the Year (sponsored by The Daily Telegraph)

Sydney Ferries

Sydney Ferries is committed to providing a better, safer and more reliable ferry service for all its customers, and has implemented a significant range of training and development programs to achieve this. Training initiatives and projects undertaken by Sydney Ferries cover all employees from induction to senior executive level, with an annual training plan for each crew member. As a registered training organisation, Sydney Ferries has worked tirelessly over the last four years to build a nationally recognised maritime traineeship that integrates fully with on the job learning, leading to the position of Master Class 4.

Small Training Provider of the Year (sponsored by Australian Council for Private Education and Training)


Operating across metropolitan and regional areas of NSW, Equalis offers a wide variety of courses in the Community Services sector, including disability, youth, aged care and children’s services. The organisation is dedicated to expanding the education, skills base and professional qualifications of people working within the Community Services industry. Providing training to many rural and remote participants, Equalis has established a number of training models to meet the needs of clients and enable participants to choose the model that works best for them. Equalis tailor their training to meet individual and organisational needs and provide a comprehensive student support system.

Large Training Provider of the Year (sponsored by State Training Services)

TAFE NSW – New England Institute

New England Institute (NEI) delivers an extensive range of training and assessment services through New England and the North-West region of NSW. With students from both isolated communities and large regional centres, NEI uses innovative and flexible solutions to deliver training to meet a range of educational, economic and social needs. Working closely with the community and industry groups, NEI meets a high regional demand for training in the farming and agriculture industry.

Top Apprentice in Vehicle Trades (sponsored by Motor Traders’ Association of NSW)

Bryan McFawn
Automotive (Light Vehicle - Mechanical) Certificate III
TAFE NSW - North Coast Institute
Shine Automotive & Marine

Bryan has always wanted to become an automotive mechanic. When he was young his parents owned a truck repair business and on weekends he helped his father work on
engines. Bryan enjoys the hands on style of learning and excelled in his apprenticeship, taking on many of his own projects to further develop his skills. Bryan has exceptional problem solving skills which allow him to diagnose faults in vehicles very quickly and accurately. He is now undertaking a vehicle inspectors course. Bryan is a member of the army reserves, and hopes to become a full time heavy vehicle mechanic with the Australian army in the future.

Excellence in Trade Skills (sponsored by Unions NSW)

NaSharna Maskey
Electrotechnology (Electrician) - Electrotechnology Electrician Certificate III
TAFE NSW - Hunter Institute
Beltana Highwall Mining

NaSharna began working with Xstrata as a school based apprentice and began her electrical apprenticeship at the Xstrata Coal Beltana mine two years later. After working in the industry for a short period, NaSharna realised there were endless opportunities for her to make a career in mining. Working in the male dominated mining industry has been no barrier for NaSharna, the first female apprentice with Xstrata Coal. She is an active member of Hunter Valley Youth Express and has represented NSW in water polo. NaSharna now promotes vocational education and training to school students and is continuing her own studies.

Phil Darby Memorial Award – Encouragement Award for an Apprentice or Trainee (sponsored by Australian Industry Group)

Harata Syme
Engineering - Fabrication Trade Certificate III
TAFE NSW - Riverina Institute
Byrne Trailers Pty Ltd

Harata showed persistence in pursuing her goal of working in the engineering fabrication industry, a non traditional trade for women. Harata’s interest in this career began at school where she completed a HSC VET pathway in metal and engineering. Harata developed strong leadership skills during her apprenticeship and has been promoted to supervisor, leading a team of thirteen. Harata is passing on her skills and knowledge to others and is looking at future training opportunities for herself. Harata also works with disadvantaged groups in the community and has set up a cultural arts program, helping kids showcase their work.