2015 winners

The winners of the 2015 Northern Territory Training Awards are:


Sponsored by the Gil Court Memorial Fund.

Winner: Taylor Fishlock - Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician

Employer: M&K Lee Electrical Contractors
Registered training provider: Charles Darwin University

After growing up on a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory (NT), Taylor Fishlock was keen to pursue a trade that could take her anywhere she chose to go. She identified electrical work as the path to new opportunities and gained an apprenticeship with her Katherine-based employers.

Taylor describes herself as having a strong work ethic and drive. This has seen her dedicate herself to her studies and resulted in her winning the NECA Australian Electrical Apprentice of the Year. Taylor is also breaking down gender roles in her work field, being the first woman to win a NECA Australian Industrial Award.

As well as studying her Certificate III in Electrotechnology, Taylor has also gained other work-related qualifications such as First Aid. She intends to continue her studies and focus on the small business skills sector, with the aim of opening her own electrical contracting business in the future.

Runner up: Liam O’Reilly - Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade (Maintenance - Diesel Fitting)

Employer: Hastings Deering (Aust) Ltd
Registered training provider: Hastings Deering Institute of Technology

An interest in agriculture and aquaculture led Liam to consider how to combine the two into a future career path. After completing a science degree in Aquaculture, Liam decided to undertake an apprenticeship in diesel fitting at Hastings Deering in Darwin. He sees an opportunity to use both qualifications in the future, aiming to own an aquaculture farm and have the skills, knowledge and abilities to repair and maintain all his equipment.

Liam says the relative isolation of the Darwin branch has given him the opportunity to learn on a wide variety of equipment, from smaller farm machinery to civil road work equipment, moving further up to the mining industry and in some cases, power generation, marine, plus the oil and gas industry. It has given him exposure to a range of industries and developed his technical skills.

Liam says the communications, team and leadership skills he learned during his apprenticeship facilitated opportunities to undertake work internationally. He accompanied a field service fitter to a job on an oil rig off the Timor Leste coast. With a multinational crew on the rig, Liam had to ensure he communicated effectively with the team to successfully complete the task. He has also been sent by his employers to work in the field at locations such as the Granites Gold Mine.

Liam has supervised other apprentices in the work place and is described by his employers as a proactive high achiever. Liam is proud of reaching his personal milestone of having two qualifications before he turns 30.

Sponsored by Apprentice Employment Network.

Winner: Michael Perez - Certificate II in Telecommunications

Employer: SKILLED Group
Host employer: Telstra
Registered training provider: Ramsden Telecommunications Training

Michael achieved good grades in senior school, especially in maths and the sciences, but couldn’t see how his school-based learning would translate to real life. But with his traineeship in Telecommunications, his skills in 'getting the numbers right' are proving their benefit and he is able to put his theoretical knowledge into practice.

He is an enthusiastic proponent of the value of traineeships and their role in developing a more skilled and efficient workforce that is relevant to industry needs. Michael says on-the-job training combined with formal learning means trainees are fully competent when they transition into qualified positions.

Michael says it’s been six years since he graduated high school, but it is only now he is discovering the value of learning. His traineeship has instilled a desire to learn more, which he sees reflected in the quality of his work. He says undertaking vocational education is a great start to a fulfilling career path.

Runner up: Drew Thomas - Certificate IV in Civil Construction Supervision

Employer: Group Training NT (GTNT)
Registered training provider: TAFE NSW, Riverina Institute

Drew says the saying 'Short term pain for long term gain' describes his approach to life and his career. He worked in the building construction industry before a serious car accident saw him off work for 12 months. While recuperating he defined his long-term goal as managing projects in the civil construction industry and decided to apply for a traineeship.

Drew gained his traineeship with the Department of Infrastructure in 2013 and his outstanding work and achievements have been recognised with many awards, including the Mike Makepeace High Achiever Award Civil Supervision. His pathway from labourer to trainee to now a permanent project officer position has given him an appreciation of the many aspects of the industry.

Drew has developed to the stage where he now supervises construction projects and teams. His training has helped him develop confidence in his communications. He mentors new trainees and apprentices and offers guidance, support and the benefit of his learning experiences.

Sponsored by East Arnhem Regional Council.

Winner: Philadelphia Hughes - Certificate IV in Frontline Management

Registered training provider: Charles Darwin University

A desire to progress in her career led Philadelphia to undertake what she describes as a life-changing experience. Her studies have not only increased her skills, they have given her the confidence to take on new challenges personally and professionally.

Philadelphia has progressed from being a young woman who didn’t finish high school, to one who was awarded Most Outstanding Student in her class. This sparked a thirst for further education and she is now undertaking a university degree through the NT Public Sector Indigenous Cadetship Support Program. She sees her certificate studies as giving her the building blocks to build a new future.

Philadelphia has incorporated the communication skills, learned as part of certificate IV, into her university studies and her personal life. She aims to be a role model for Aboriginal students starting on a journey of further education. Her personal motto has become 'Never stay comfortable, keep striving and stay hungry for knowledge'.

Runner up: Josephine Grant - Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management

Registered training provider: Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

Josephine began her studies in Conservation and Land Management when she started as a Muru-warinyi Ankkul Ranger in 2012. As an adult learner, her interest in Conservation and Land Management was sparked by a childhood growing up on country with her elders, learning traditional land management practices. As a ranger, she combines traditional knowledge with Western science-based practices learned through her certificate-level training.

Her supervisors say Josephine’s strong work ethic and enthusiasm for learning drives the successful Muru-warinyi Ankkul Ranger team, inspiring others to learn new skills. She is taking on an operational team leader role and manages small teams in the field undertaking cultural and natural land resource management projects.

After a broad career including working in the health and employment and training sectors, Josephine now enjoys working outdoors and learning new skills. Her commitment to learning is demonstrated by her willingness to travel long distances to undertake courses and spend many weeks away from home and family in order to achieve her qualifications.

Sponsored by ConocoPhillips.

Winner: Karen Rose - Diploma of Logistics

Employer: Rio Tinto Alcan Gove
Registered training provider: Learning Partners

Studying her Diploma of Logistics through a stressful work period helped Karen adjust to a changing work environment. She saw the completion of her diploma as an opportunity to structure her learning and support her team during a tumultuous time as the curtailment of operations at Rio Tinto Alcan was proceeding.

The learnings from her studies assisted Karen in maintaining productivity while managing change effectively and with sensitivity. She says her sense of loss and grief in having to support the dismantling of a team of six years standing was counterbalanced by her focus on completing the diploma. She believes the benefits of her vocational education and training (VET) experience may assist other workplaces going through major change.

Karen’s VET experience has stimulated her to continue with her learning journey. She is researching further education opportunities she can pursue in a remote location such as Gove.

Runner up: Melissa Bridge - Certificate III and IV in Fitness

Registered training provider: Charles Darwin University

Melissa’s previous studies in a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science were a leg up when she began her certificates in fitness. Her theoretical knowledge of anatomy and physiology put her ahead of the game and this was supported by her leadership skills and dedication to completing her studies at a high standard.

Melissa’s high standing even as a novice in the fitness industry is highlighted by her Most Outstanding Personal Trainer Award. Her trainer at Charles Darwin University (CDU) trusted Melissa to manage her personal training business while she was on study leave. She also supports her peers and has established a social media network of Darwin Personal Trainers to mentor and share knowledge and experience.

Melissa is continuing in her studies towards a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science and is also undertaking specialised fitness short courses. After more than 13 years in the Australian Defence Force, including a stint overseas, she is excited at the new direction her career path has taken.

Winner: Raymond Fordimail - Certificate III in Business

School: Katherine High School
Employer: Nitmiluk Tours
Registered training provider: Charles Darwin University

Raymond is passionate about his traditional Jawoyn country and sharing its beauty with visitors from all over the world. His work and studies have enabled him to develop the skills to share his country and culture through a successful Jawoyn-owned tourism business at Nitmiluk National Park.

Raymond says his school-based apprenticeship has given him the opportunity to finish year 12 and gain formal qualifications while doing a job he loves. He has always enjoyed the peace of the Katherine River and now he has the skills and confidence to talk to visitors about the significance of the area. He sometimes even gets to drive the boats.

His literacy and numeracy skills have been enhanced through his apprenticeship and certificate studies. Raymond’s colleagues describe him as a passionate storyteller who is able to connect with people from different countries and backgrounds. He is dedicated to his work and goes beyond what is expected, even dressing up as a crocodile to teach kids about water safety.

Raymond is ambitious for the future and has developed confidence in his abilities as a leader. He aims to one day become the boss of Nitmiluk Tours.

Runner up: Hayley Statham - Certificate III in Business

School: Good Shepherd Lutheran College
Host employer: Casuarina Senior College
Registered training provider: Charles Darwin University

After getting a taste of the business world through work experience placements, Hayley gained a school-based apprenticeship working at Casuarina Senior College. She had decided mainstream classes weren’t the pathway to achieving her personal and professional goals but wanted to make sure she completed year 12.

By the end of 2015 Hayley will have gained three certificates in business, gained an ATAR score and completed two school-based apprenticeships - achievements she is justly proud of.

She says skills she has learned through her VET courses have assisted her at work and in school. They have also opened up future opportunities in work and further study and assisted her in becoming more financially independent. Hayley’s communication skills and confidence have developed to the stage where she now publicly shares her work-ready journey with other students at expos and events.

Sponsored by VETnetwork Australia.

Winner: Georgia Lowery - Certificate III in Agriculture

School and registered training provider: Taminmin College

Georgia’s dedication and success in her VET studies is an inspiration to younger students. She has completed three certificates in her time at Taminmin College, including completing a Certificate III in Agriculture while undertaking her year 12 studies.

Her passion for working with animals led her to pursue VET studies in agriculture. She enjoys the hands-on skills she has developed that can support her working with cattle, horses, operating a tractor, spraying for weeds, judging cattle and other tasks in the rural industries. She has completed work experience on different stations around the Top End that has enabled her to compare different styles of working on large properties.

Georgia’s skills and knowledge have seen her awarded for her judging and handling at various NT shows and recognised as a Rural Young Achiever.

Georgia is currently focusing her studies on horse breeding and then wants to attain her Diploma in Agriculture. She aims to operate a horse and cattle stud in the future.

Runner up: Josh King - Certificate I in Engineering

School and registered training provider: Nhulunbuy High School

Josh is dedicated to his VET studies. He is currently enrolled in Certificate II in Engineering Pathways and previously completed two different certificates in engineering qualifications over years 10 and 11. He has also completed a Certificate I in Information, Digital Media and Technology.

Just as he has diversified in his VET studies, Josh has a staged career path in mind. He wants to gain an apprenticeship as a diesel fitter before going on to gain teaching qualifications in technical studies. He says practical, industry-based skills and knowledge as a tradesman will assist him in being a better technical teacher.

His certificate studies enabled him to transfer skills learned in the workshop to real work environments such as mechanical, diesel fitting, boiler making and fabrication workshops. Josh says he has gained skills including welding, folding, machining, operating machinery and operating as a team that will give him an edge when he enters the workforce.

Winner: Matthew Deveraux

Subject area: Agriculture
Employer: Taminmin College

Matt Deveraux grew up on Territory cattle stations with a passion for horses and polocrosse and he is imparting his knowledge and skills in the rural industry to his students at Taminmin High.

Matt’s strong local industry connections have helped set up partnerships to professionally develop the Taminmin Agriculture program. Since his appointment as farm manager and VET trainer at Taminmin High in 2011, student numbers and outcomes in the Certificate III in Agriculture program have increased.

His knowledge of the local industry and conditions has led to the development of programs tailored for tropical conditions and catering to local industry such as live export. Matt also brings in professional experts in areas such as equine dentistry, dog handling and cattle work to broaden students’ experiences.

Many past students have gone on to successful careers in rural industries and vocational education students have been recognised with Territory and national awards. Past students have also returned to take up training positions in Taminmin’s agricultural VET courses.

Runner up: Marlene Organ

Subject areas: Hospitality, Business, Retail IT
Employer: Nhulunbuy High School

Marlene’s skills and qualifications see her delivering a range of skills to her students at Nhulunbuy High School. She can be found in the school Home Economics kitchen guiding students undertaking certificate work in hospitality. She also supports trainees and apprentices undertaking business, retail and information technology VET studies.

Working in a remote high school with small senior student numbers means Marlene has to be creative in maintaining a range of programs. She has facilitated combined classes of certificate levels over different areas of qualification simultaneously to ensure maximum student offerings.

Marlene has worked at Nhulunbuy High School for more than 10 years. She is now teacher, trainer and manager of the registered training organisation (RTO) and also teaches home economics and oversees the Gove Gourmet Café operated by hospitality students. She works closely with an established industry stakeholder network to ensure students have a smooth transition from the school to work environments. Marlene’s drive and commitment has seen many Nhulunbuy students take out VET awards.

Sponsored by Southern Cross Television.

Winner: Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation

Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA) was founded on the principle of increasing Yolgnu employment and economic opportunity. A large part of ALPA’s success is due to its commitment to and investment in quality training for staff, which includes operating its own retail training school.

Now one of the largest Aboriginal businesses in Australia, ALPA employs around 780 people and 612 of these are Aboriginal. Its operations include 25 remote retail stores, an enterprise RTO, delivery of employment services and community-based social enterprises.

The Yolgnu Board of Directors invests in vocational training as means of creating local employment opportunities in a remote region. As an RTO, ALPA delivers Certificates I to IV in Retail Services and up to 100 trainees are employed at any given time in the retail group. More than 1,500 ALPA trainees have been supported to complete retail traineeships in remote communities. ALPA believes better training opportunities leads to increased employment opportunities and real jobs on communities.

Runner up: Carpentaria Disability Services

Carpentaria Disability Services (CDS) builds community capacity by supporting the training, mentoring and employment of people from culturally diverse backgrounds. Around 80% of staff are from non-English speaking backgrounds, including Aboriginal people and refugees and migrants. The service works collaboratively with BCS Training to deliver certificate and diploma qualifications in community services.

CDS is proud that 90% of its workforce is qualified at the Certificate III level and higher. It continues to build capacity by giving program managers the opportunity to become workforce trainers and assessors. Three members of staff have so far achieved this qualification. This gives CDS the ability to deliver internal competency-based training and assessment tailored to staff requirements.

CDS credits its commitment to increasing the professional training of staff to its reputation as an employer of choice. It no longer needs to advertise for support workers as competition for vacancies is high and staff retention has increased since the increased investment in VET.

Sponsored by NT News.

Winner: HiQA Geotechnical

HiQA Geotechnical provides a quality control service to the civil construction industry, testing construction materials such as soils, concrete, aggregate and asphalt throughout the NT. The company began in 2008 as a one-person operation and now has 18 full-time employees in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs.

HiQA has found quality training helps retain skilled staff. To support continuous improvement they facilitate and present an annual Training Conference where opportunities for upskilling are offered and have created a training officer position.

Two HiQA trainees have completed a Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques and a further four are currently enrolled in the course. The company’s training officer is undertaking a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety which will give HiQA two qualified WHS staff members.

HiQA sees their investment in training as giving them a competitive edge by providing clients with skilled and professionally qualified staff.

Sponsored by NEC.

Winner: Charles Darwin University

CDU is building on its successes to further strengthen its position as the NT’s leading training provider.

Its significant footprint across the Territory enables CDU to respond to changing industry and student needs. Mobile learning units support training in more than 150 locations and existing and new facilities offer VET and higher education courses.

One of the university’s major strengths is the links between the VET and higher education spheres. The two sectors share lecturers in the areas of creative industries, IT and business, conservation and land management, financial services and health and community services. These links greatly assist pathways between VET and higher education qualifications. For example, approximately 20% of CDU VET students articulate to higher education qualifications, compared to a national articulation rate of 10%.

The university has a total of over 23,000 VET and higher education students, with VET delivered in over 150 locations across the Territory. It offers 220 VET qualifications, from Certificates I to IV and diploma courses. In 2014, the university delivered nearly 2.8 million training hours to some 12,500 students, apprentices and work-based trainees.

Runner up: Matrix on Board Training

Matrix on Board Training (MoBT) offers accredited and non-accredited training to money management workers, who are mainly employed by non-profit organisations to deliver financial literacy education to Aboriginal people in remote areas. MoBT provides training and support in community services and financial literacy.

It takes a holistic approach to training, helping students not only gain competency in course requirements but also to build capacity and become more effective in their workplace. Training is delivered in Certificate I in Work Preparation (Community Services) and Certificate III in Community Services Work that includes units of competency in financial literacy.

MoBT understands the challenges faced by Aboriginal students living and working in remote areas who are undertaking training. These are taken into account when training is delivered by making sure there are culturally appropriate supports, that face-to-face mentoring is available whenever possible, and that learnings relate back to students’ real world experiences.

MoBT’s vision is to build capacity in Aboriginal families, especially those with high needs and living in remote communities, through delivering quality training in financial and community services.

Sponsored by the Ichthys Project.

Winner: Motor Trades Association NT in collaboration with Department of Correctional Services and Centre for Appropriate Technology

The Board of the MTA in the NT identified the need to be proactive around issues of skill and staff shortages and low retention rates impacting on the local automotive industry. The MTA Indigenous Employment Program collaboration was formed to address this, focussing on skills development in areas such as detailing, tyre fitting and general trades assistant roles.

Under the project, 36 prisoners are being trained in automotive industry skills. Participants are carefully identified and Certificate I in Automotive Vocational Preparation delivered by CAT. Work experience placements are sourced through the MTA’s industry networks and mentoring provided. Support services and training are provided covering life skills, driver licencing, white card, first aid and other relevant courses.

Participants that successfully complete Certificate I move on to Certificate II with the support services continuing. Stage three involves participants moving into paid employment with ongoing mentoring to ensure employment is sustained. Participants involved in the Alice Springs-based component of the project have successfully moved into paid employment. The MTA Indigenous Employment Program’s unique blend of training, mentoring supports, work experience and development of rounded employment skills is leading to real jobs and support for prisoners to change their lives.

Runner up: IE Project in collaboration with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

60+ Jobs was a collaboration between IE Project and Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education to increase Aboriginal employment by providing wraparound support services to participants undergoing training for jobs. The aim of the two-year project that wound up in March 2015 was to see a direct pathway from training to sustainable employment.

The project success relied on strong industry connections, innovative practices and flexible learning. The team worked with employers to identify jobs and skills requirements, co-ordinating work experience placements during training and providing support services to participants from the start of pre-employment training. Cross cultural training was also conducted at the start of the process to assist trainees to ‘walk in two worlds’.

There was no one-size-fits-all approach to training delivery. Training was designed specifically to meet each job opportunity identified and pledged. The range and variety of jobs included hospitality, grounds maintenance, pre-apprenticeship training, community service, administrative, construction and childcare.

Training largely delivered skillsets and participants went on to employment, some completing certificate qualifications relevant to their new careers. Examples include childcare, community services and trade apprenticeships. The 60+ Jobs project has directly transformed the lives of 104 people who commenced on pre-employment programs.

Last updated: 24 June 2019

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