2018 Finalists

​​​​ VTA awards banner 

The 39 finalists for the Victorian Training Awards have been announced. Finalists have been selected across 13 categories, which include awards for individuals, employers, industry collaboration and training providers.


Employer Award for Apprenticeship Development Metro logo

Proudly supported by Metro Trains Melbourne   

SMART logoCapital S.M.A.R.T  

Capital S.M.A.R.T Repairs specialises in performing repairs to vehicles that have sustained low to medium collision damage.

They developed a unique apprenticeship program in response to serious deficiencies in the automotive repair industry. Because training is time-consuming and reduces output and profitability, apprentices spent a lot of time sweeping floors.

Their solution was to appoint dedicated trainers for twelve months, and a training space for apprentices to practise on old cars so they could reach their required skill level.

Capital S.M.A.R.T partnered with Kangan TAFE, supplied them with equipment and trained their trainers. Outcomes achieved are higher retention rates, apprenticeships completed in just three years, and vastly enhanced business efficiencies.

GForce logoGforce Employment Solutions and Transport Accident Commission

Gforce is a group training organisation dedicated to providing apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities in the Geelong region.

When the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) moved to Geelong in 2009, they joined forces to help young people from lower socio-economic areas who have barriers to employment.

They created a traineeship that provides vocational training within a structured environment that offers solid career foundations within the TAC, and a Certificate III in Business.

Students receive practical experience leading to a career in three areas: administration, legal assistant or library assistant. The results have been stunning, with 91 graduating the trainee program as of March 2018 and a further 82 were employed or went onto further study.

Sister of Nazareth logoNazareth Care

Nazareth Care in Ballarat is a 145-bed accredited residential aged care facility offering independent living apartments through to specialised care.

For years they relied on regional casual workers due to health care professional shortages. To address this, Nazareth Care partnered with various organisations including Federation University TAFE and Jobs Centre, created a traineeship, employed and trained 11 people to enhance their staffing levels, and established an ongoing training program.

The model includes VET, and certificate III to diploma options and was designed to attract jobseekers, including return to work parents and youth sourcing pathways into nursing. The model's tremendous impact on business exemplifies its effectiveness for adoption by the aged care industry.

Employer of the Year

Proudly supported by the Department of Education and Training

McDonalds logoMcDonald's Australia Ltd

A job at 'Macca's' means much more than flipping burgers for their 30,000 strong staff.

In 2017, more than 4,000 employees achieved a nationally recognised qualification and every Victorian employee through to management has this opportunity.

Most McDonald's employees are in their late teens and are considering their future careers. McDonald's provides development opportunities whether they stay with the company or are moving onto their next job.

One secondary school student completing Certificate III in Retail is aiming for a career in accounting. His studies gave him a good grounding in business operations. As a leading youth employer, McDonalds nurtures their talent with world class training and development.

Paccar logoPACCAR Australia

PACCAR Australia produces heavy duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF brands. It generates around $1 billion in annual revenue.

Maintaining current skills is vital for business growth. For instance, their newest Kenworth T610 truck has a unique technological platform so a range of new skillsets were required for everything from software to assembly.

Another initiative to address a skill shortage of spray painters capable of working on large trucks saw Kenworth partner with Chisolm Institute to develop their unskilled operators.

This leads to a Certificate III in Automotive (Body Paint). In 2017 PACCAR trained more than 6,000 employees who achieved an average of 7.5 courses each.

AssetlinkAsset link logo

Everyone at Assetlink, from cleaning staff to management, has the opportunity to build competencies.

Assetlink is an integrated facilities services provider with a 2,000 strong workforce. Their customer base ranges from large-scale national portfolios to single-site facilities.

Training is important, not only to stay competitive, but to enrich employees' lives. Assetlink adopted a blended learning approach with a combination of innovative online elective and compliance courses, and on-the-job learning.

This includes traineeships for cleaning staff that lead to a Certificate III in Cleaning Operations, and the new Assetlink Masterclass Series, introduced to enhance leadership skills for current and future leaders.

Industry Collaboration Award   

Proudly supported by:Victorian TAFE logo

The Victorian TAFE Association and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and industry logoBox Hill Institute and Cyber Security Industry Advisory Committee

Box Hill Institute, in collaboration with the Cyber Security Industry Advisory Committee, has driven the creation of a national solution to dealing with a critical shortage of cyber security technicians. Box Hill logo

Cyber breaches cost the Australian economy upwards of AU$15 billion annually.

Box Hill Institute developed courses in conjunction with industry experts who aligned with the Federal Government's Cyber Security Strategy, then senior delegates from TAFEs across Australia were engaged to generate a single national approach. This resulted in a first-of-its-kind national TAFE collaboration.

Box Hill Institute's initiative will enhance Australia's security, and there are plans to expand the program into overseas markets.

Homleglen Hospital logoHolmesglen Healthscope Industry Collaboration

In 2011 Holmesglen Institute launched a five-storey health science facility with a state-of-the-art simulation centre. They partnered with Healthscope, a private hospital healthcare provider and created a unique symbiotic health and education precinct. An onsite hospital is a first for Australia and takes training and skills development in a TAFE environment beyond traditional boundaries.

The Holmesglen/Healthscope collaboration has introduced a hospital into a once underserviced community, created 750 nursing and allied health positions, enhanced opportunities for students, and established a facility for collaborative applied research which includes a joint clinical chair. Holmesglen's partnerships and industry links are vital elements of the project's success.

Skilling the Bay logoSkilling the Bay 

Geelong Region Local Learning and Employment Network, The Gordon and Geelong Community Services and Health Industry collaboration

Skilling the Bay – Geelong Region Local Learning and Employment Network, The Gordon and Geelong Community Services and Health Industry collaboration initiative, is the result of a successful partnership with local industry. It was formed to support Geelong's economic transition from traditional manufacturing to new and emerging industries.

Health services are now the major source of employment in the region. Gordon TAFE's Careers in Community Services and Health program addresses the gap in entry-level, job-ready participants in the health and community services sector through SbATs and VETiS pathways.

Completion rates for accredited programs are an outstanding 87.3 per cent. As a result, student numbers undertaking SbATs have doubled, and many students once at risk of dropping out have continued onto a community services pathway.

Learn local logoCommunity Training Provider of the Year

Proudly supported by Adult, Community and Further Education Board

Diversitat Diversitat training logo

Diversitat has a 40-year history of supporting migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and disadvantaged learners in the Geelong region through settlement and training services.

To meet the training needs of new arrivals they design tailored pre-accredited programs to assist pathways into accredited training and employment. They have had great success in designing a pre-accredited Community Connector program for learners from refugee, CALD backgrounds to work within the Disability and Aged Care sectors.

Diversitat is dedicated to providing extensive support and responsive training solutions to meet community needs and for learners with barriers to participation in education and training.

They deliver a range of programs for disadvantaged and disengaged youth. Including the award winning ‘Try a Trade’ program to help disengaged youth transition into VCAL or trade qualifications.

SkillsPlus and BRACE Education and TrainingBrace logo

SkillsPlus and BRACE Education and Training are not-for-profit community organisations committed to delivering training that empowers and leads to jobs.

Around 70 per cent of their clients are from disadvantaged backgrounds, including at-risk youth, migrants and people with disability. A whole of community approach, including industry partnerships with practical placements, is employed to improve people's life options.

The trainers' main focus is on assisting students overcome their barriers, and schooling is adapted to accommodate each student's physical, social and emotional needs. SkillsPlus and BRACE Education and Training's 2017 figures show that 72 per cent of students who completed a vocational course were employed, and 63 per cent gained employment within three months.

Wyndham Community and    
Education Centre Inc

A broad range of adaptive educational and community programs are offered by Wyndham Community and Education Centre, a not-for-profit organisation. Their focus is across the western suburbs of Melbourne and Geelong. Wyndam logo

The organisation responds to disadvantaged learners, youth and refugees with tailored pre-accredited and accredited programs that provide pathways into further education or employment. In collaboration with industry, Wyndham Community and Education Centre created successful enterprises in the areas of hospitality, horticulture and bookkeeping.

For instance, their Saffron Kitchen project provides on-the-job learning in a hospitality environment for people facing multiple barriers to employment. Their philosophy is that a young person's life-circumstances shouldn't limit their opportunities. 

Small Training Provider of the Year

Proudly supported by the Department of Education and Training

FGM logoFGM Consultants 

FGM Consultants have delivered accredited training and consultancy for more than 20 years, predominately to the food processing sector. They go the extra mile to help 16-24-year-olds who've experienced life challenges.

An FGM program begins by assisting trainees with basic skills and building self-confidence. What follows are two days' education about the meat industry, then a two-day work trial. If they're successful they commence work the following day.

Employers are eager to be involved with the program because they see the difference it makes to the trainees and their eagerness to succeed. So far, they've successfully trained more than 5,000 people.

Builders academy logoBuilders Academy Australia

A key point of difference in the Builders Academy Australia (BAA) training model is that they're builders training builders. Their nationally accredited building and construction VET courses are developed in consultation with Simonds Homes.

BAA is deeply committed to maintaining pathways between education, sustainable employment and career advancement. Most BAA students are already employed and looking to expand career opportunities, so flexible learning pathways are offered such as evening and weekend, interactive, virtual classrooms. Industry shortages exist in foreman/supervisor, project manager and site manager skills.

Primary qualifications offered by BAA are the Certificate IV and Diploma in Building and Construction, with graduates readied to take on these types of positions.

VFA logoVFA Learning

To begin a learning journey, VFA visualises what success looks like for their students, then they design and develop holistic training and assessment strategies which include student welfare and pastoral care to inspire students to learn, grow and mature.

VFA provides vocational education for sport and fitness, health and education, and early childhood education and care.

Student feedback in 2017 indicated that 85-90% rated their experience as high or excellent.

Large Training Provider of the Year

Proudly supported by the Department of Education and Training

Box Hill Institute Box Hill logo

Box Hill Institute provides an abundance of inspiring programs, both domestically and internationally. These reflect the institute's capacity for robust innovation and growth. Key to this growth are strategic partnerships.

The institute partnered with iconic Sing Sing Studios, which led to the development of the finest recording studios in the southern hemisphere. Another landmark agreement was with Epworth Eastern to create a new health and education precinct that has long-term education and community benefits, including a student operated hospital café and florist.

In 2017, Box Hill Institute continued its focus on strengthening community links while building a strong foundation for a sustainable future.

Homlesglen logoHolmesglen Institute

Holmesglen Institute has an exceptional 36-year history taking it from being a specialist provider for the building, construction and ceramics industries, to one of Australia's largest TAFE institutes.

Innovation and partnerships are key to exceptional training. Their enterprise with acclaimed culinary school Le Cordon Bleu established their hospitality facilities, and cookery and baking programs, as a national benchmark. The MetroHub project will be the most significant VET initiative in Victoria's history, whereby an integrated recruitment, employment, training and business development facility will be established for the $6 billion Melbourne Metro Tunnel consortium.

Holmesglen's breadth of operations, delivering services across 43 fields, distinguishes them as leaders.

Wodonda TAFE logoWodonga Institute of TAFE

Ranked highest in the Victorian TAFE sector for student and employer satisfaction, and acknowledged as an exemplar model for improving youth outcomes, Wodonga Institute of TAFE provides vocational education services to diverse learners.

A low rate of tertiary education participation in the region inspired them to collaborate with other institutions to develop more relevant pathway courses. For instance, students who achieve low ATAR scores can access the Wodonga TAFE – Charles Sturt University Pathway Program and attain a dual Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation and a Diploma of General Studies.

Outcomes for their 211 participants have been outstanding with significant increases in course demand, and one student being awarded a PhD scholarship.

Inclusive Training Provider of the Year

Proudly supported by the Department of Education and Training

Alkira Centre and Box Hill Institute

Alkira is an intellectual disabilities service provider dedicated to facilitating inclusion.

Generally, Alkira clients struggle to enter mainstream education and the workforce because of the complexity of their issues.

In 2017 Alkira formalised a partnership with Box Hill Institute. Now instructors from both organisations work alongside each other to create learning experiences covering literacy, self-confidence, resilience, and employment readiness.

Because of their integration into TAFE life through the Momentum program, there's been an unprecedented reduction in students' disability support needs. Box Hill Institute provides added tools and technology to facilitate learning, and social and economic participation in the community.

Melbourne Polytechnic

Melbourne Polytechnic provides an effective and inclusive education and training environment for staff and students with disability.

The courses conducted by their Work Education department focus on empowerment. One program saw the establishment of several on-campus retail stores including a produce shop, and a not-for-profit store selling work clothes to students from low socio-economic backgrounds. These highlighted the value of hiring people with disability.

Strong relationships with local employers have yielded excellent employment outcomes. For 2016-17, 24 graduates achieved mainstream employment and 77 students went on to further studies. Sudents with disability participate in all aspects of Melbourne Polytechnic life through the provision of a range of support services.

Victoria University Polytechnic

Victoria University Polytechnic is enabling students with disability to achieve skills and qualifications to gain meaningful employment, as well as participation in all aspects of TAFE/university life. Its Disability Liaison unit works with individuals to make adjustments to achieve equal participation. This could mean providing loans for specialised equipment, or alternative assessment arrangements.

Accessibility liaison officers address each student's needs and tailor their study conditions. For instance, one migrant student with a hearing impairment was helped to acquire hearing aids and provided with an assistant for theory classes. He thrived and completed a Certificate II in Building and Construction.

Victoria University Polytechnic believes that inclusivity opens the door to opportunity.

Teacher/Trainer of the Year

Proudly supported by the VET Development Centre

Anne-Marie Banfield

Anne-Marie Banfield is passionately committed to overcoming chronic health conditions present in Aboriginal communities.

As a regional Aboriginal health practitioner and educator, Anne-Marie has a variety of interlinking roles that focus on wellbeing, mental health and community services in remote populations. What gives her the leading edge is her expertise in technology. She devises innovative instructional methods and online learning platforms that are applied to nurturing a community of learning. Her approach has achieved significant increases in student engagement, completion rates and learning satisfaction.

Anne-Marie believes education is crucial for our indigenous people in respect of health and social determinants.

Sarah Whitling

Being a trainer at Wodonga Institute of TAFE gives Sarah Whitling the opportunity to share her passion and skills with young people who are beginning their journey into the culinary arts. She's particularly enthusiastic about creating opportunities for marginalised groups, especially Aboriginal, ESL and disadvantaged youth.

Approximately 90 per cent of Sarah's Aboriginal students have a variety of special needs. In response she developed a method of training that was both practical and culturally relevant, leading to a Certificate II in Kitchen Operations for Aboriginal students.

Dedicated to providing the highest grade of training available, Sarah invites local, national and international chefs to work alongside her students and apprentices.

Wendy Lever-Henderson

For Wendy Lever-Henderson, the teaching of certificates in community services and case management is as much about the student's personal development as it is about their knowledge and skills.

Wendy is a senior educator. Many of her students have experienced life challenges. To help them be job-ready, she makes decisions driven by their needs and perspectives. This might mean altering timetables to meet student requirements and introducing online and night classes.

Wendy's passionate about developing and expanding community services and aims to inspire her students to have a positive impact on other people's lives. Her flexible approach to learning has doubled diploma graduate numbers. 

School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year

Proudly supported by the Department of Education and Training

Abbey Halton

Abbey Halton's dream was to work with animals. The dream became a reality when Gforce Employment Solutions came to her school and presented course options. Her subsequent decision to enrol in a Certificate III in Companion Animal Services at Gordon Institute was life-changing.

The work placements in a veterinary clinic and doggy day care centre gave her the skills and confidence to care for a range of animals. Abbey was shy, and initially she was terrified to even answer the phone at work. The course taught her communication skills and gave her the self-confidence to achieve her ultimate goal, a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing.

Kimberly Stoyanoff

Kimberly Stoyanoff aspires to become a nurse and midwife. She undertook a school-based traineeship while completing year 12, which meant working part-time at KFC doing a Certificate III in Retail through their RTO.

Even though Kimberly has had some major life obstacles to overcome — at 15 she found herself having to live independently from her family — she still managed to complete years 7–10 in three years through the Select Entry Accelerated program.

Achieving a nationally recognised qualification with no out-of-pocket costs, plus getting extra points towards her ATAR, meant that Kimberly could achieve her goal of entering university.

Sophie Babycz

The experience of doing a school-based apprenticeship with Wallan Neighbourhood House was extremely rewarding for Sophie Babycz.

When the opportunity presented she jumped at the chance to become an SbAT student, studying a Certificate III in Business at Goulburn Institute of TAFE. Sophie believes that business skills will serve her well in a changing world. Working in a community organisation with a broad range of people has been an exciting experience that's seen her develop strong communication skills.

Being given the responsibility of report writing, assisting with promotional material, and providing customer support has solidified Sophie's goals to work in the business field. 

Vocational Student of the Year TAFE Victoria logo

Proudly supported by TAFE Victoria

Christian Bashimbe

Since arriving in Australia from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2017, Christian Bashimbe has dedicated himself to creating a better future for vulnerable groups. Christian's experiences of war determined that he would do humanitarian work and he's already been a terrific ambassador.

In 2017 he received a Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence. His vocational pathway began by upskilling in English, but his ultimate aim is to achieve a Bachelor of Social Science.

Through his recent appointment to the Multicultural Youth Network in Melbourne, Christian hopes to advance his consulting, teamwork and project management skills, and looks forward to the opportunity to advise the government on issues affecting multicultural youth.

Elise Stewart

Elise Stewart demonstrates that having a disability shouldn't prevent anyone from achieving their goals.

Initially Elise was told she couldn't become a nurse because she is profoundly deaf and could put patients at risk. Through resilience and determination, she became the first deaf person to complete a Diploma of Nursing at Bendigo TAFE.

To accomplish this Elise accessed full-time interpreters, lobbied to have electronic materials subtitled, and worked with an audiologist to have equipment amplified so she could hear bodily sounds.

Elise's inspiring work helped to break down the communication barriers for teachers, peers and patients, and her current workplace now has deafness awareness training.

Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller's business is a community respite carer service called Heart 2 Heart. While completing a Certificate IV in Disability in 2017, she developed a carer framework that tailors programs and experiences based on client wishes.

Heart 2 Heart offers everything from Mustang rides to music lessons. One client wanted to feel like he was doing activities with a friend, so Lisa engaged a support worker of a similar age and demographic.

Lisa believes that working in disability is about empowering people to live a life that exceeds their expectations. The skills Lisa gained through her training were central to supporting her commitment to changing lives.

Koorie Student of the Year Crown college logo

Proudly supported by Crown College

Elva Richards

Elva is a proud Barngarla and Gubrun woman and has worked in the Victorian Aboriginal community for many years.

In 2017 she completed a Certificate IV in Community Services through E-Focus in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited (VACSAL).

She was honoured at graduation with the Latrobe University Leadership and Mentoring Award and is continuing her educational journey by studying a Diploma in Community Services (Statutory and Forensic child youth and family welfare) through RMIT University. She has also been accepted to study a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Deakin University and is on her way to becoming a qualified Psychologist.

Lewis Brown

Lewis Brown, a proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Gunditjmara man, chose community services as a career to help his community thrive.

He is passionately committed to assisting Aboriginal people in the justice system towards fair and justifiable sentencing.

The Certificate IV in Community Services gave him the skills to transition with ease into his new role as Koori Court Project Officer at Court Services Victoria. Lewis believes that education will break the cycle of poverty and transgenerational trauma. Studying helped him grow, not just educationally, but as a member of the community and a father.

Liam Flanagan

Liam Flanagan believes that as a young Aboriginal leader, his responsibility is to promote the importance of education for young Aboriginal people, and to help them find their voice.

In 2017 he completed the dual Diploma of Sports Development combined with Coaching and Management through the Richmond Institute of Sports Leadership and Swinburne University of Technology.

The confidence he developed through the course reignited his passion to work in education and he was soon employed at the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School. Integrating on and off the-job training enabled Liam to do a Certificate II in Indigenous Leadership course, which gave him the perfect balance of study and sporting industry experience.

Trainee of the Year Jobs Victoria logo

Proudly supported by Jobs Victoria

Amanda Woodhams

Amanda Woodhams works in an industry where you rarely see women. A passionate advocate for improving and shaping urban ecology, she recently completed a Certificate III in Arboriculture, which requires fearlessness, athleticism, balance, technique and the ability to problem-solve at great heights while operating a chain saw.

In light of that, Amanda believes she represents how encouraging, embracing and inclusive vocational training is. While studying arboriculture, Amanda felt completely supported to be herself and contribute her skills.

Amanda proudly advocates for hands-on skill building through traineeships because her own was so rewarding.

Keiran Curry

While working as a stevedore, Keiran Curry realised that he wanted a career at sea. Having completed a Certificate III in Maritime Operations, his trainee journey has been unusual because he's doing it as a seafarer employed through a GTO, rather than through a shipping company.

Keiran CurryThis means completing his sea service with three host employers on five vessels as opposed to accruing the mandated sea-time on one or two. Few trainees receive this breadth of experience. Keiran's learned to deal with isolation and rough conditions and has developed exceptional communication skills, vital for this unique environment. He plans to pursue officer training.

Lucy Smeaton

Lucy Smeaton discovered that the combination of working at Telstra and studying the Certificate III in Business with AFL SportsReady allowed her to find the right pathway in a broad and varied industry, as well as demonstrating the value of learning.

Lucy's a proud Aboriginal Australian who wanted the opportunity to build a career and become a role model for her community. Telstra provided opportunities for Lucy to arrange job shadowing, and learn more about various fields throughout the course, and at the same time work on some great company projects.

Lucy's hard work and dedication led to her nomination for the 2018 AFL SportsReady Trainee of the Year Award.

Apprentice of the Year

Proudly supported by the Apprenticeship Employment Network

Alyssa Heard

From an early age, Alyssa Heard knew that she wanted to be a chef. She started on her journey aged 15, working in hospitality as a waitress to earn extra money. When the head chef discovered Alyssa's passion for cooking, she took her under her wing and offered her an apprenticeship.

Alyssa enrolled in a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery and won several awards. The course generated a dramatic change in Alyssa's views on food. Now she's passionate about the creation of fresh, slow food that's been made with love. Her love of baking has seen her embark on a Certificate III in Patisserie and eventually Alyssa plans to have her own business.

Breanna Szitarity

Breanna Szitarity began her working life as a beauty therapist but found that she needed more stimulation. Now completing a Certificate III in Plumbing through the Master Plumbers' Association–Plumbing Apprenticeships Victoria, she has discovered that plumbing suits her because it's so multifaceted.

Breanna immersed herself in learning, accelerated it, and sat the Journeyman's registration six months early. The apprenticeship taught her resilience and how to think outside the box to solve problems. Breanna has been well prepared to become a competent, confident plumber and her host employer has offered her full-time employment.

Breanna's positive experience has led her to being a big advocate for encouraging women into trades. 

Matthew Shipard

In the time it takes to finish one trade, Matthew Shipard completed two certificates in engineering, mechanical and fabrication, and gained dual trade qualifications.

Matthew thrives on hard work and is committed to excellence, no matter what the job is. After seeing a complex machining job known as a cube in a cube in a cube, Matthew decided to design and make one. His TAFE teacher said it would be too hard. Regardless, he figured out the measurements, made specialised lathe tools, and completed it.

Matthew's passion is metalworking, which he's pursuing as a career, however he's dedicated to expanding his skills by studying a Diploma in Engineering.