2018 Winners

The winners of the Victorian Training Awards have been announced. Winners have been selected across 14 categories for individuals, employers, training providers and industry collaboration.​

Lynne Kosky Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement

Jennie Barrera

Jennie Barrera has a long established history as an inspirational leader and community advocate supporting the most vulnerable members of the community to establish education and training pathways into real jobs. Jennie is recognised as a leader in innovation among the Adult Community and Further Education Sector with her programs setting a quality benchmark for others to replicate across the state. Throughout her career Jennie has won multiple awards, including the Multicultural Award for Excellence in 2009, the Case Worker of the Year Award – Migration and Settlement in 2013, and the Learn Local Legend Award in 2015. She has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Wyndham Community & Education Centre since 2007 and was awarded Life Membership of the organisation in 2017.

Teacher/Trainer of the Year

Proudly supported by the VET Development Centre

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 is 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. 

Wendy will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards.

Vocational Student of the YearTAFE Victoria logo

Proudly supported by TAFE Victoria

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.

Elise will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards.

Koorie Student of the YearCrown college logo

Proudly supported by Crown College 

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 recognises that the Aboriginal community is over represented in the jail system and is passionately committed to assisting them 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. 

Lewis will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards .

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.

Amanda will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards .

School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year

Proudly supported by the Department of Education and Training

​Sophie Babycz​​

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

When the opportunity was presented she jumped at the opportunity 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.  ​

Sophie will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards .

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 at 15 years of age, 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. 

Alyssa will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards.

Employer Award for Apprenticeship DevelopmentMetro logo

​Proudly supported by Metro Trains Melbourne 

Nazareth Care

Sister of Nazareth logo

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

PACCAR AustraliaPaccar logo

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.

PACCAR Australia will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards .

Industry Collaboration Award

Proudly supported by:
The Victorian TAFE Association ​and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry         Victorian Chamber of Commerce and industry logo

Holmesglen Healthscope Industry CollaborationHomleglen Hospital logo

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.

Holmesglen Healthscope will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards .

Inclusive Training Provider of the Year

Proudly supported by the Department of Education and Training

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. Students with disability participate in all aspects of Melbourne Polytechnic life through the provision of a range of support services.

Small Training Provider of the Year


Proudly supported by the Department of Education and Training

Builders Academy Australia

Builders Academy logo A key point of difference in the Builders Academy Australia (BAA) training model is that they're builders who are 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.

Builders Academy Australia will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards .

Large Training Provider of the Year

Proudly supported by the Department of Education and Training

Wodonga Institute of TAFEWodonda TAFE logo

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. ​​

​Community Training Provider of the Year

Proudly supported by Adult, Community and Further Education Board

   Learn Local logo

Wyndham Community & Education CentreWyndam logo Inc 

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

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 & 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. 

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