Release type: Media Release


Top notch trainees take home national awards


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

Large and small businesses, trainees, apprentices and teachers have been named as the best in the country at the 2011 Australian Training Awards.

Minister for Skills and Jobs, Chris Evans, congratulated the national award winners announced at a ceremony in Brisbane tonight.

“These awards recognise the best in the business for their commitment to training and skills,” Senator Evans said.

“The winners come from every corner of the country, have a diverse range of skills and work in many different jobs. They are truly representative of what is possible with the right skills and qualifications.

“Each winner is very deserving of their place here tonight and should be proud of their achievements and their contributions to skilling Australia.”

Senator Evans congratulated Stella Axarlis AM for her Lifetime Achievement Award.

Melbourne-based Stella spent two decades overseas as an internationally acclaimed soprano, frequently returning home to sing with the Australian Opera, before becoming a pivotal part of the vocational education and training sector.

“Ms Axarlis’ commitment and contribution to the VET sector has been recognised in her many appointments to a number of peak training and education bodies,” Senator Evans said.

“Her appointments, over this prolonged period of outstanding service, include chair of the National Training Quality Council, the Modern Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Scheme, the National Industry Skills Council and deputy chair of the Australian National Training Authority.

“In these roles, Ms Axarlis has been responsible for mediating diverse and often divergent stakeholder interests in pursuit of crucial reforms for the VET sector.

“Her commitment to training throughout her career has culminated in this Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as being recognised in 1998 as a Member of the Order of Australia and with a Centenary Medal in 2003.

“Ms Axarlis continues to share her wealth of experience and knowledge with various community organisations. I congratulate her on her latest accolade and thank her for her endless dedication to training in the country.”

A full list of winners is attached. More information is available at

Photos of the winners can be provided on request.

Senator Evans’ Media Contact: Amy McKenna 0408 570 603

DEEWR Media:   Non-media enquiries: 1300 363 079

The 2011 Australian Training Award WINNERS

Lifetime Achievement Award - Stella Axarlis, AM

Vocational Education and Training (VET) Teacher/Trainer of the Year Award Winner:

Amanda Smith, WA

· Amanda Smith from the South West Institute of Technology, Margaret River Campus, has been committed to cookery training for 30 years – her Paddock to Plate initiative gives South West students the opportunity to learn from local chefs and producers.


Lewis Vaughan, SA

· Dr Lewis Vaughan, from Thebarton, celebrated 26 years as a TAFE teacher by being recognised for his work in animal science and technology, including teaching many aspects not available in the TAFE environment, such as hands-on work and access to expertise and resources.

Small Employer of the Year Award

Murray Bridge Veterinary Clinic, SA

· Murray Bridge Veterinary clinic integrated on the job learning for trainees and veterinary nurse students with formal training, which was supported by individual training plans.

Employer of the Year Award

Hutchinson Builders, QLD

· Hutchinson Builders employs more than 160 Australian Apprentices and spend around $3.7 million annually on education and training. It offers its 1000 staff access to an integrated Workforce Development Program, which covers school-based training, apprenticeships, leadership training and personal development programs and cadetships.

Small Training Provider of the Year Award

Equalis Pty Ltd, NSW

· Equalis, Port Macquarie, offers a wide variety of courses in the community services sector, including disability, youth, aged care and children’s services.

Large Training Provider of the Year Award

TAFE SA Regional, SA

· TAFE SA Regional delivers 573 nationally accredited qualifications at 43 campuses and learning centres to more than 24,000 students across the state.

Industry Collaboration Award

SPC ARDMONA in collaboration with AMWU and the National Food Institute, VIC

· The partnership took out the Award for developing an induction to leadership training program for more than 2000 workers in the Goulburn Valley.

Australian Apprenticeships - Employer Award

Dardanup Butchering Company, WA

· Dardanup Butchering Company works with 35 Australian Apprentices and four employees studying at the diploma level.

School Pathways to VET Award

John Forrest Secondary College – MPA Skills Partnership, WA

· John Forrest Secondary College, Morley, gives its students a hands on education through VET. Around 150 students each year take the opportunity to begin the first stages of employment through an integration of Australian School-based Apprenticeships in the senior curriculum.

Leadership in Quality Award

Jeanette Allen, NSW

· Janette Allen is the Chief Executive Officer of Service Skills Australia (SSA), a not-for profit, independent organisation that supports skills development across a range of industry sectors and is leading the way in VET reform and setting benchmarks on the global stage.

Community Pathways to VET

Western College, NSW

· Western College, Dubbo offers nationally accredited programs for around 30 qualifications, ranging from Certificate I qualifications through to the Diploma level and tailors services for disengaged youths, unemployed adults and people with disabilities and social and economic disadvantages.

Skills for Sustainability-Educational Institution Award

TAFE NSW - Western Sydney Institute, NSW

· With more than 114,000 individual, community and industry learners in its green skills training, accessing the latest green and renewable technologies as part of their training, the Institute is a leader in sustainability practices and vocational education and training.

Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year Award


Jessica Pendlebury, VIC

· Jessica Pendlebury has worked tirelessly to complete both her VCE and be a qualified Veterinary Nurse by the end of 2012. Working with GOTAFE and Northern Veterinary Group, she is the TAFE’s first student to undertake a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing as an Australian School-based Apprentice.

Runner Up:

Alexander Nikielski, SA

· Alexander combines studying at high school with working on-site and attending TAFE SA in order to complete his Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician.

Vocational Student of the Year Award


Vanessa Corbell, SA

· Vanessa Corbell is now working full time as a qualified florist and continuing her studies part-time at TAFE SA Adelaide North Institute.

Runner Up:

Jonte Pike, WA

· Jonte Pike has been announced as the runner up for her talent in the field of fashion design.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award


Joshua Toomey, NSW

· Joshua Toomey, is an apprentice with Ausgrid and completed his Certificate III Electricity Supply Industry - Distribution (Power Line). Josh has also excelled at leadership training and taken on a mentoring role, promoting the opportunities and benefits of training.

Runner Up:

Calvin Buckle, WA

· Calvin Buckle was recognised for his commitment to training and consistently high assessment ratings in his Certificate III in Engineering (Electrical).

Australian Apprentice (Trainee) of the Year Award


Abbey Lee Sergeant, WA

· At just 19 years old, Abbey Lee Sergeant was recognised for her work as a trainee youth development officer in the Shire of Katanning.

Runner Up:

Amanda Divola, VIC

· Amanda opened her own business Sweets and Treats Cafe in Wedderburn while she was still completing her Certificate III in Retail at GOTAFE.

Australian Apprentice of the Year Award


Colin Wilson, VIC

· Colin’s Award recognised his commitment to training at the award-winning Eleanor’s Restaurant and Sweetwater Café at the Yarra Valley’s Chateau Yering. Colin has won many awards in his career, including the 2010 AUSTAFE Culinary Challenge (Best Second-Year Apprentice, Best Overall Apprentice in Australia).  

Runner Up:

Benjamin Standen, TAS

· Benjamin is a Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) apprentice Working at Lebrina restaurant in Hobart. He has also completed his Certificate III in Hospitality withMEGT Institute. Benjamin had family responsibilities at a very young age, but being able to study through on-the-job training while working fulltime made it possible for him to pursue a cooking career while supporting a family.