Victoria government logo

On Thursday 25 August, Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education Gayle Tierney announced 47 finalists in the 67th Victorian Training Awards, which recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of individuals and organisations in the Victorian TAFE and training sector.

Congratulations to all of the 2022 Victorian Training Awards Finalists. Winners will be announced on Saturday 10 September.

Learn more about this year's finalists.

  • Chhunly Taing

    • Holmesglen Institute
    • Certificate III in Civil Construction

    As a woman working in a male-dominated industry Chhunly Taing has faced plenty of challenges, but they never stopped her pursuing a career in the construction industry.
    When Chhunly started the Holmesglen RII30920 Certificate III in Civil Construction, she didn’t know what a drill was, and she felt intimidated by the men onsite. But her confidence grew and she gained the respect of the men she works with, many of whom she now leads in her role as a Leading Hand on the Metro Tunnel project.

    Chhunly is making a real contribution to changing the way men view women in construction. Many of her male colleagues ask her to speak to their daughters about working in the construction industry.
    In 2022, Chhunly was named Holmesglen’s George Kline Apprentice of the Year. She has the ‘tickets’ she needs to work in construction and a dream to work in a leadership position.

    Gerritt Maiai

    • The Gordon Institute of TAFE
    • Certificate III in Cabinet Making

    Gerritt Maiai loved to build things for his family. In Samoa, his country of origin. When he moved to Australia in 2017, he took up the opportunity of further education, something he could not have had in Samoa. His dream was to qualify as a cabinet maker.
    He took on an apprenticeship and completed a Certificate III in Cabinet Making at The Gordon TAFE where he learnt to create bespoke items, express his creativity, develop his craftsmanship and improve his communication, numeracy and English skills.

    Gerritt brought the techniques he learnt at trade school into his workplace, creating greater efficiencies in the workshop and was given the responsibility of leading on jobs and teaching new staff.
    His skill and hard work were rewarded in 2021 when he received two awards including The Gordon’s Apprentice of the Year. As a qualified cabinet maker, he’s proud of every piece he makes.

    Madison Giordano

    • Kangan Institute
    • Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology

    Madison is wheely dedicated to huge vehicles. She’s completing her final year of an apprenticeship, Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology at Kangan Institute, and works as a diesel mechanic in a bus company.
    She was inspired to embark on an apprenticeship in 2018 after travelling around Australia where she encountered the Finke Desert Race team in Alice Springs. She watched as they serviced and rebuilt vehicles. Awed, she relinquished her previous aspirations for midwifery and embarked on a career that would see her working on road trains, massive dump trucks and excavators in the outback.

    Now as a qualified diesel mechanic, she can diagnose and repair an issue from start to finish, relishes the satisfaction of completing a job well and is skilled to work on a huge range of vehicles. Maverick Madison is living proof that women can successfully manage and thrive in heavy duty trades.

  • Claire Bartlett

    • Chisholm Institute
    • Certificate III in Business

    After a shaky start in life, Claire went to great lengths to set herself up for a secure future. She travels 2.5 hours round trip from Poowong to her job in Traralgon to undertake a traineeship and complete a Certificate III in Business at Chisholm Institute.

    During Year 12 she left home. Then she was hospitalised for 3 months with an illness, fell behind with schoolwork, left school and took a job in an abattoirs. Eventually, Claire discovered a traineeship on SEEK, got a job at a property valuation firm , ran her own car detailing business on the weekends, and completed her Certificate III in Business. The traineeship gave her the confidence and skills to further develop her business and within her job she was recognised for her positive energy and great work ethic.

    Claire advises other early school leavers to complete a traineeship because it’s been such a positive experience for her.

    Franchesca Morrell

    • Bendigo TAFE
    • Certificate III in Dental Assisting

    Franchesca knows that visiting a dentist can be a fearful experience and it’s her goal to make the experience pleasant for her patients. She grew up in the Philippines and migrated to Australia, settling in NSW in 2017. Initially, she got her teeth into dentistry by working as a dental assistant. The dentist trained her on the job but there was no opportunity to do a formal course.

    The course cemented her aspiration to become an oral health therapist and enhanced her skills and confidence. There was also great satisfaction in knowing that her work was benefiting the community.

    All her hard work was honoured in 2022 when she was awarded Trainee of the Year at Bendigo TAFE. Since graduating she’s progressed to a new role as senior dental nurse at Bendigo Health and she’s excited about the opportunities to expand her career through the various initiatives across the region.

    Danica Taliloa

    • Murray Mallee Training Company
    • Certificate IV in Business Administration

    Proud young Wiradjuri woman, Danica Taliloa, had a clear idea that she wanted a career in business from a young age. In 2019 she took the opportunity to take on a traineeship and study a Certificate III in Business with Sunraysia & Murray Group Training.

    Initially, the traineeship was overwhelming; a busy workplace with many different areas required strong communication skills. Danica’s determination paid off, and with the support of colleagues, her communication skills improved to the point where she could present confidently to a room of hundreds of people.

    Completing her second traineeship in Certificate IV Business ahead of time, Danica is now employed with SMGT as a Apprentice / Trainee consultant. The traineeship enabled her to improve her skill set and increase her connections in the wider community. Now she wants to share what can be achieved to young local Aboriginal woman.

  • Kai Bucktin

    • GOTAFE
    • Certificate III in Information, Digital Media & Technology
    • Certificate IV in Cyber Security

    When Kai Bucktin studied Information Technology at GOTAFE, it turned out to be a time of intense, yet positive transformation. At the time he commenced studying he was homeless, suffering from depression, and had been disengaged from school since Year 8. Kai was unsure about whether he’d be able to complete a demanding course.

    With grit and determination, Kai completed two qualifications in three years. The Certificate III in Information, Digital Media, and Technology and Certificate IV in Cyber Security.

    On arriving at GOTAFE, Kai was extremely shy and daunted by the new environment; unsure if he could handle the demands of the course, alongside the challenges in his personal life. The training transformed him dramatically in a short time, his confidence skyrocketed, he took a leadership role on projects, and formed deep friendships. To top it off, he received the GOTAFE Information Technology Student of the Year award for 2021.

    Amanda Meehan

    • Holmesglen Institute
    • Diploma of Nursing

    Mother of five, Amanda Meehan, transitioned from a career in engineering to pursue her life-long passion, nursing. She completed the Diploma of Nursing at Holmesglen Institute and is now studying the Bachelor of Nursing. Her great experience with vocational training inspired her further studies.

    Amanda discovered that vocational training offered flexible study arrangements to work around her busy family life. She enjoyed the challenges of working in acute hospital care, mental health, aged care, rehabilitation and community settings, as well as the broad areas of opportunity she discovered including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety.

    Now she’s registered as an enrolled nurse. Caring for others is not a new concept for Amanda, who’s always considering how she can benefit her community. She was recently named City of Greater Dandenong’s 2022 Citizen of the Year for her ongoing civic duties. Amanda champions vocational education, describing it as the perfect steppingstone.

    Caitlin Cook

    • South West TAFE
    • Diploma of Nursing

    Caitlin Cook was a young stay-at-home mum of five children and although she’d always wanted to be a nurse, she hadn't completed school and never believed she could achieve her dream. She joined the Young Parents VCAL program at South West TAFE and soon after applied for the Diploma of Nursing at South West TAFE.

    Caitlin loved her time studying then tragedy struck; her partner passed away and she and her children were left homeless. Nevertheless, Caitlin was determined to see her course through and create a successful career and positive future.

    Her goal was to care for vulnerable people and the elderly. Now Caitlin works as an Endorsed Enrolled Nurse and after winning South West TAFE’s Vocational Student of the Year, she’s embarking on the Bachelor of Nursing/Midwifery at Deakin University. Caitlin said she changed so much that she hardly recognises the person who started the course two years ago.

  • Brittany Taylor

    • The Management Edge Pty Ltd
    • Certificate III in Horticulture

    Brittany dreams of someday buying a house with land and starting a cattle or dairy station. As a student at Monterey Secondary College, she’s taken positive steps towards achieving that goal. She embarked on several VET programs including a Certificate III in Horticulture as part of a School-based Apprenticeship.

    With her school as her employer, she’s had the opportunity to gain skills in everything from setting up irrigation systems to preparing a garden filled with fruit trees and vegetables. She loves the idea that gardening positively impacts the lives of others, through providing food, or the aesthetic.

    A major challenge has been being the only girl in the SBAT horticulture program. Initially Brittany was overwhelmed because the boys were hard to relate to but she demonstrated what a good work ethic could achieve. The SBAT experience provided her with valuable life skills and the benefit of learning while earning an income.

    Jaynaya Miller

    • Skillinvest
    • Certificate III in Business

    Jaynaya enrolled in a Certificate III in Business that was designed specifically for Aboriginal students. Through her training provider, Skillinvest, she undertook work at the Warrnambool Police Station.

    Driven to succeed, Jaynaya juggled school, two jobs and her course. Now she’s passionate about a career in the police force and because she knows the internal workings of the station and programs, she feels it will help her in the application process.

    The SBAT was a journey of self-discovery for Jaynaya as she found her passion which solidified her career goals.

    Jaynaya is also deeply involved with her Aboriginal community and has become the strong voice for the girls who don’t have the confidence but want to achieve change. She mentors them to speak up and express their needs and goals. Her leadership resulted in her winning the 2021 Kalay Academy Camp Leadership Award, and she represented Skillinvest and Victoria Police when she was nominated for the 2021 AEN Indigenous Trainee of the year.

    Brooke Ware

    • Federation Tafe
    • Certificate III in Hairdressing

    Everything related to hairdressing is a source of excitement for Brooke and her ultimate goal is to become a salon owner. She’s begun that journey with a HeadStart SBAT through Federation TAFE, studying a Certificate III in Hairdressing.

    Brookes a self-starter with an abundance of initiative. Once she turned 15, she prepared a resume, created an Instagram page for her portfolio, and contacted hairdressers for work experience.

    Embarking on such a passion project transformed her view of secondary school and she became more motivated and involved in learning. For example, she found the value in mathematics, because ratios and percentages are used daily to calculate hair colour formulas.

    With much enthusiasm, Brooke’s well on her way to achieving her dream of completing her hairdressing apprenticeship and hopes to be a colour specialist by then. Her next goal is to work part-time as a qualified hairdresser whilst studying a Diploma of Beauty.

  • Desirae Kilduff

    • Bendigo Kangan Institute
    • Diploma of Leadership and Management and Diploma of Human Resource Management

    Desirae has a desire for two things; learning, and leadership in her work for First Nations people.She started her professional career as a full-time trainee at ANZ Bank in 2019, this provided Desirae with a pathway into the First Nations Employment Industry. In 2020, Desirae moved into the role of Employment Consultant at Maxima group; the organisation that facilitated her traineeship. Allowing her to share her experience with other First Nations job seekers.

    Desirae has achieved great success, completing a Diploma of Business, Diploma of Leadership & Management and Diploma of Human Resource Management and in 2021 was awarded Indigenous Student of the Year. In 2022, she was promoted to Indigenous Program Manager SA/VIC/TAS with Maxima. Every career step is for the advancement of her people. By providing culturally safe spaces for First Nations jobseekers, she assists Mob engage with employment and training, impacting positively on the wider community.

    Chelsea Cooke

    • Holmesglen Institute
    • Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management

    Chelsea Cooke is an example of how vocational training can change lives. She’s keen to use her experience and job as a platform to inspire and motivate other young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    As a proud Arrernte woman, Chelsea chose a career that would connect her more deeply with her people. After completing Holmesglen’s AHC31416 Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management in 2021, she became a Cultural Heritage Representative for the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. Working on Country, learning from Elders, and salvaging and repatriating ancestral remains and artefacts has deepened her connection with her heritage.

    Chelsea is a natural leader. Her greatest dream is to create a school program to teach Indigenous students about conservation, land management and cultural heritage. She wants to contribute to preventing young Indigenous people from getting involved with drugs and alcohol and show them that education can change everything.

    Edward Bryant

    • Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited
    • Certificate IV in Community Services

    Edward is a proud Yorta Yorta and Gunai/Kurnai man, from a long line of indigenous leaders who paved the pathway of opportunity, respect and acknowledgment for Aboriginal people today. Following in their footsteps, he’s dedicated to empowerment through education, and has been heavily involved with his community in every aspect of his life.

    He embarked on work in community services prior to having qualifications. On the job training was productive but having qualifications broadened his scope and fostered new ways of thinking. His year of learning combined with working in the sector, helped him develop personally and professionally in areas of family violence, mental health, drug and alcohol misuse, case management and community development.

    Edward, as a young Aboriginal man who attended more funerals than weddings, wants to drive change. Working now as Liaison officer for the Koori Academy of Excellence, he does what he loves, facilitating access to education.

  • Brooke Pallmann

    • Wodonga TAFE
    • Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care

    Brooke, a member of the early childhood teaching team at Wodonga TAFE, transformed the learning pathway for future early childhood educators. By embedding practical, hands-on training with a particular focus on experiential learning, she made training more accessible, which also addressed the serious shortage of qualified early childhood staff.

    The predominant barrier to training was that many early childhood workers didn’t believe they had the academic capacity to complete a Diploma qualification. Brooke devised an applied research model to explore how Wodonga TAFE could upskill both staff and support services. The project resulted in a redesign of the delivery of the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. Brooke revised the diploma to enable workplace learning that embraced workplace skills as part of the assessment.

    Since the commencement of the new model in 2020, 67 employees successfully completed diploma qualification across 40 ECEC services and Brooke was acknowledged at Wodonga TAFE for teaching excellence.

    Felicity Symons

    • Elisabeth Murdoch College
    • MST20616 VCE VET Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design & Technology

    Felicity has a stellar reputation in the theatre industry for creating costumes for the Australian Ballet, Victorian State Opera, and musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera.

    In 2003 she chose to become a VET trainer teaching fashion at her local high school, where she bestows her exceptional experience on students via face-to-face and innovative online learning.

    When she began teaching VET Fashion in 2003, there was no curriculum documentation so she created a 222-page training manual that facilitated proactive and self-paced learning. Later, she pivoted to an online learning program called a NewSpring supporting students with a range of learning styles. Her students completed assessment tasks ahead of schedule because of its flexible learning approach.

    During pandemic lockdowns, industry placements stopped so Felicity and her students created scrubs to donate to two local hospitals. Students were pleased that donating their hard work made a positive impact on the community.

    Rebecca Toleman

    • South West TAFE
    • Certificate II in Agriculture, Certificate III in Agriculture, Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production), Certificate IV in Agriculture

    Raised in Hawkesdale South-west Victoria, Rebecca Toleman grew-up with farming in her veins. She understands the industry inside out. After secondary school, she detoured into pharmacy, but the call of the wild was too strong, and she returned to milking cows in a herringbone dairy.

    After 10 years as a farmer, her passion to teach future farmers led her to SWTAFE. The course began with 30 enrolments. By 2021 this expanded to 370 students, a staggering 1,140% growth, with eight teachers, across 10 programs.

    Her drive to innovate and create the best outcomes for her students saw Rebecca design an agriculture program for secondary school students from non-farming backgrounds which expanded across the region. Rebecca also led SWTAFE to revolutionise calving training by introducing a life-size cow simulator that enabled students to develop their skills without endangering live animals. The ground-breaking initiative became an industry talking-point across the world.

  • Smart Business Solutions Group

    SMART Business Solutions are in their 15th year of providing quality accounting and business advisory, financial planning and mortgage broking.

    Business leader Shannon Smart ensures that her entire team participates regularly in training so they’re always up to date with finance and market trends.

    Regular structured training sessions happen for two hours each Monday over lunch run by different team members who communicate their specific skill set. Otherwise, team members are involved in ongoing learning in their area of expertise with 59% being enrolled in an external qualification.

    This targeted approach to training has shaped a team of high-achieving individuals. They’re encouraged to enter industry awards, which has resulted in 85% achieving finalist status in in the past two years.

    Training upskills the team technically, creates internal efficiencies, helps grow the client base and develops soft skills such as client communication and health and wellbeing, to make for a happier work life.

    Bira Bira Early Learning Centre Pty Ltd

    Children are the protagonists of their own knowledge at Bira Bira Early Learning Centre. The learning program is inspired by Reggio Emilia so not only are the children fostered to be the best they can be, Bira Bira provides a culture of lifelong learning for educators, so they too can maximise their full potential.

    On-going professional development is pivotal to Bira Bira’s philosophy. Each trainee’s assigned a workplace supervisor to mentor them. Management and team members are involved in programs such as ‘Be-You’, which tackles mental health as well as building an inclusive and resilient environment. And, in partnership with Selmar Institute of Education, and Holmesglen College they design certificate and diploma training for their educators.

    Bira Bira’s staff surveys and informal research indicates that ongoing training makes staff feel valued, appreciated and more confident. They’ve reduced staff turnover and increased productivity and revenue and established a reputation for excellence.


    Anywise, a 100% Australian and veteran owned SME, formed in 2014 to offer an alternative to large multinational consulting firms. In 2018, they became a Certified B Corporation, meaning they met the highest standards as an ethical, sustainable and environmentally responsible business.

    To grow its capability, Anywise fosters innovative, high performing teams that mobilise and deliver projects on behalf of large clients including the Department of Defence. In 2020 they identified a need to implement a training and development project for defence industry to upskill, cross skill and grow capability. In March 2021, they launched their mentoring program across all departments with 100% staff involvement. Employees are trained internally across various skillsets including offsite professional development in security training, cyber and insider threat training.

    The result, a highly efficient, agile and confident team with a culture of leadership and decisiveness, making Anywise an employer of choice with high retention rates.

  • McDonald's Australia Ltd

    McDonald’s provides employees a myriad of training options to nurture talent, develop leaders, and reward achievement. Each year more than 1.3 million employees train nationally at a cost of $40 million per annum.

    When employees join McDonald’s, they undergo a thorough induction which is basic training to be able to work safely and effectively in the restaurants. Employees have the opportunity to gain Nationally Recognised qualification or skill set with McDonald’s.

    Currently, 945 Victorian restaurant employees are working on completing a Nationally Recognised qualification, which equates to roughly 5,670 hours a month in training. The atmosphere for growth and development spans all levels of the business from a new crew person up to restaurant manager level, which can lead to management, or corporate roles in head office.

    McDonalds believes in giving young Australians a chance at success in their first job, and encourages employees to follow their aspirations from crew to restaurant manager.

    M.C. Herd Geelong

    M.C. Herd, established in 1951, is a third-generation Australian family business. It began life as a small abattoir providing services to the Geelong and district areas and has evolved into a large export abattoir employing over 300 local staff to process beef and lamb for world markets.

    New staff begin their journey with a ‘warm welcome’ - a four-day program using accredited materials customised to industry needs. The program ignites the learning culture by introducing the many opportunities offered by the industry.

    They offer nationally accredited qualifications in meat processing, slaughtering, boning, quality assurance and leadership. Currently, 73% of the team are undertaking some form of training including certificate levels.

    Their commitment to providing opportunities for every cohort is seen in their ethos that there’s a job for everyone. They work to match roles to the strengths of the individual, including people with disabilities.

    G8 Education

    G8 Education Limited is an early learning education and care provider, dedicated to establishing children’s learning foundations in the first five years of life, which is a period that’s critical to Childrens’ future learning and development.

    More than 50,000 children may attend G8 centres each week, and more than 10,000 team members support them. Employees have the opportunity to further their skills and achieve nationally accredited qualifications through the G8 Study Pathways Program. This includes Certificate III, Diploma, and Bachelor qualifications.

    On average, G8 students spend 12-16 hours per month engaged in formal studies, which is a combination of study time, and time spent on the job completing directed activities for each unit of competency within their qualification.

    G8 Education is able to draw on their size and scale to invest in sector-leading employment opportunities with genuine career pathways.

  • blueAPACHE

    blueAPACHE helps organisations access technology and telecommunications to their business advantage, providing IT management, IT strategy and converged IT services delivered ‘as a service’.

    The blueAPACHE traineeship program was developed to address business needs identified across several departments. The foundational learning and training delivered through the program instils best-practice work habits for trainees during their first entry working within the ICT sector. The program offers new opportunities for industry entrants to build foundational skills with a pathway to become strong technical operators.

    The traineeship encapsulates technical skills and personal development, mentorship and business operations. All training across the organisation is tailored to individual needs with built-in development planning to ensure staff have access to non-linear career pathways. No trainee is ever considered temporary, and they’re onboarded with a vision to become influential members who play an integral part in blueAPACHE’s future aspirations.

    New Plumbing Solutions

    Established in 2009, New Plumbing Solutions (NPS) has a family-style culture with a corporate structure. They nurture their apprentices to be more than just ‘tradies’, and rather full-fledged professionals with a vision to deliver exceptional service in both plumbing and civil services for commercial, industrial, education and government customers.

    The company has excelled at training apprentices, who have then flourished into fully qualified plumbers who go on to lead the next generation of NPS apprentices. They’re committed to innovation, a forward-thinking approach and continuous improvement as central elements of their company’s training.

    When the pandemic struck, NPS collaborated with the Learning Management System application Edapp, so plumbers and apprentices could remain up-to-date with training, even while working remotely and with social-distancing regulations in place.

    The application’s custom-learning tools ensured that the apprenticeship program would be tailor-made to the team and remain relevant as opposed to a generic learning environment. By installing groundwork from the beginning and rotating apprentices through all three divisions of the business (Maintenance, Civil, alongside Relining and Water Metering), as well as investing heavily into the development of their apprentices NPS ensures a skilled workforce committed to company values.

    Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency CO OP Ltd

    The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, VACCA, is a state-wide Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation protecting and promoting the rights of children, families and community. For over 40 years, it’s delivered more than 70 programs across Victoria covering sectors including family violence reform, youth justice and homelessness.

    In 2018, VACCA established a traineeships program where young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could undertake a 12-month workplace traineeship and complete a Certificate IV in Community Services with VACCA. The goal was to increase indigenous workforce capacity, create professional pathways, and empower young Indigenous people with educational and career opportunities.
    Due to its success this program continues on today, with new trainees joining VACCA.

    VACCA's training focus is on students reflecting on their professional development and career paths within the community services sector. The qualification is designed and delivered by Aboriginal people and content relates directly to the unique work undertaken by VACCA. For many participants it’s a healing and empowering journey as they develop resilience and thrive.

  • Wyndham Community & Education Centre Inc.

    Wyndham Community & Education Centre in Werribee provides agile and tailored solutions to keep pace with one of the fastest growing Local Government Areas in Victoria. Their cohort includes a large migrant and refugee population, as well as disadvantaged learners.

    Their pre-accredited and accredited courses in areas such as early childhood, hospitality, textiles and bookkeeping pathway to either further learning or employment programs. In addition, a suite of community and employment services, and social enterprises provide wrap-around support for learners. Workplace English programs designed for the horticulture industry and delivered on site for the communities from Burma, also meets needs of local employers by facilitating better communication.

    Wyndham CEC learners are provided with a range of supports beyond the formal structure of program delivery. This includes Centrelink outreach, emergency relief, tax help, youth workers and scholarship options; whatever it takes to support people to ensure better futures.

    Prace Inc.

    Prace offers flexible and inclusive education opportunities, driving meaningful change in people's lives. It is a not-for-profit, adult community education provider and registered charity that works with disadvantaged youth, adults facing barriers to education and employment including culturally and linguistically diverse communities and asylum seekers in northern Melbourne.

    Since 1993, Prace has met the vocational training and further education needs of the local community. It’s a key provider of English as an Additional Language, and literacy and numeracy education for adults.
    Working with industry and community partners, Prace’s accredited and pre-accredited programs are designed to pathway into further learning and employment. Their employability skills programs include the pre-accredited course, Civil Construction Labourer codesigned with industry partners Mirvac property group and Winslow Constructors.

    To ensure maximum engagement and maintain good learner completion rates, Prace employs localised program delivery with wraparound supports and provides opportunities that build confidence and improve life outcomes for their learners.

    Wellsprings for Women

    Located in one of the most culturally diverse and marginalised communities in Melbourne - Dandenong, Casey and Cardinia, Wellsprings for Women has improved the lives of thousands of vulnerable women since its inception in 1994 as a small drop-in group for socially isolated women.

    Subsequently it grew to provide 50 education, employment and support programs for around 500 women and children weekly in a safe, encouraging environment where women thrive.

    Aside from English and computer literacy and vocational pathway programs, they provide case management to women impacted by mental health, isolation, family violence, poverty and homelessness so they can overcome their complex barriers to education. Services include safety plans, risk assessment, emergency relief, supported referrals and material aid.

    Wellsprings impactful work not only meets the needs of learners, it contributes to the wellbeing of the wider community and enables women and children to live free from violence.

  • Victoria University Polytechnic

    Victoria University Polytechnic has inclusivity, diversity and opportunity at the core of its values to enrich workforces and the wider community. Its primary catchment is the western corridor of Melbourne, containing areas of extreme disadvantage and high levels of disclosed disability.

    In response, VU Polytechnic developed robust strategies to support a diverse cohort. Access workers perform comprehensive student needs assessments and develop individual learning plans so students with disabilities can participate equitably. As required, students are provided with specialist learning software, Auslan interpreters or note-takers.

    Other opportunities come from VU Polytechnics alliances with major organisations such as Western Health and Western Bulldogs, who provide work placements for students with disability, which may lead to continuing employment.

    Victoria University Polytechnic promotes the transformational power of education for all students and develops capabilities for the changing world of work. In 2021-2022, 75 intellectually disabled students participated in a bespoke curriculum to prepare them for further studies or employment. Encouragingly, most progressed to further studies.

    The Gordon Institute of TAFE

    The Gordon is one of the largest regional TAFEs in Victoria with multiple campuses servicing the Geelong, Wyndham, Ballarat and Colac regions. Their pedagogical model places students with additional needs at the centre of planning and implementation.

    Their unique pre-enrolment consultation is an initiative that offers a further level of support for prospective students with additional needs. Prospective students are assessed regarding their requirements, and facilitators collaborate with the student to develop a personalised learning support practice so they can achieve course competencies.

    This collaboration ensures that everyone understands any reasonable adjustments that are made. This could mean for instance an anxious student could enter a classroom ahead of others with the course work ahead of time.

    Pedagogical practice is central to student achievement and The Gordon focuses on enhancing teacher capability. A solid workforce ecosystem adapts learning and teaching strategies and surrounds students with learning support, wellbeing, and inclusion teams.

    Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute

    Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute are committed to inclusivity across their 300 courses. They work to ensure that every student, regardless of age, ability, cultural background, gender or sexuality, graduates having had every opportunity to succeed.

    At enrolment, students living with a disability that requires support are automatically referred to a Disability Liaison Officer who develops an individualised learning access plan. Direct learning support is tailored to individual needs and may include note taking, interpreting, tutoring, advocacy and assistive technology. Location of classrooms may need adjusting for mobility issues. They do whatever it takes to help students thrive.

    All new staff members are assigned an accessibility learning module as part of their induction on commencing employment, which provides a clear view of their commitment. Both TAFEs place students at the centre so they can provide the highest quality education and training that leads to real employment opportunities.

  • Technical Advanced Training

    Students are safe and secure in the hands of Technical Advanced Training (TAT), an Registered Training Organisation (RTO) providing niche training qualifications in security operations in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs. Their nationally accredited certificate courses span security operations, transport security protection, security risk management and firearms instructor courses.

    To achieve excellence and high-level vocational training performance, trainers are selected based on not only their industry experience and qualifications, their enthusiasm is also a prerequisite. TAT trainers captivate students with personal and relatable experiences of the study material.

    Because security training has no placement component, TAT provides a simulated work environment that offers a window into real-life application with current equipment such as airport X-ray screening machines.
    In 2019 and in 2021, TAT was awarded the Australian Outstanding Security Performance Award. In addition, they achieved high student satisfaction rates, making it one of the highest scoring RTOs in Victoria.

    Master Builders Association of Victoria

    Master Builders Victoria serves the entire building industry by providing quality training, leadership and professional development services.

    Their Building Leadership Simulation Centre, the only one in the southern hemisphere, immerses students in common worksite challenges and provides them with real-world problem-solving opportunities in simulated construction environments. This accelerates learning while eliminating the risks inherent in a real-world setting.

    Learning is both flexible and inclusive. Most students work full time and many have limited academic backgrounds. Before undertaking a course, students have a learning, literacy and numeracy assessment to ensure they are an appropriate fit for their courses.

    MBV focuses on why people want to learn and the process of learning. They’ve exceeded average outcomes for private training and VET providers across Australia, with 79.5 per cent of graduates having improved employment after training.

    MBV continues to deliver valuable training to support the development of a future-ready industry that builds a better world.


    All systems are go at GOTAFE, Victoria’s largest Vocational Education and Training provider servicing a 40,000km region from the NSW border to the fringes of Metropolitan Melbourne across 11 campuses. With over 500 dedicated staff it operates in some of Victoria’s most challenged communities who rate lowest in educational, health and wellbeing outcomes. In Greater Shepparton for instance, 17 per cent of families with children under 15 are jobless.

    GOTAFE is more than just an education provider. GOTAFE helps communities overcome significant education and employment barriers by investing in innovative state-of-the-art training facilities to address new and emerging training needs Within the last year, GOTAFE launched innovative programs including their Social and Sustainable Procurement Strategy 2022-2024 and their Mobile Campus, a facility featuring workshop spaces and community computer lab engages an additional 200,000 northern Victorians with critical employment and education services.

    Over the past year GOTAFE has invested millions of dollars to deliver new innovative and inclusive learning facilities in Seymour and Shepparton, and atisfaction surveys show that GOTAFE exceeds Victoria averages across all student experience and outcome measures with 81.1% student satisfaction compared to Victorian averages of 77.3 per cent.

    Builders Academy Australia

    Builders Academy Australia’s (BAA) learning model is underpinned by the belief that builders are the best teachers of builders. This draws on traditional notions of a ‘master apprentice’ style relationship, while providing the most current pedagogy for nationally accredited qualifications for the building and construction industry.

    As a vocational education and training provider, Builders Academy Australia scores way above average. Enrolment numbers grew by 144 per cent over 24 months, with 48 per cent of new students saying they chose BAA after direct recommendations from graduates, with student satisfaction rates and completion rates exceeding industry averages.

    Learning is flexible and students can choose from a variety of delivery models made available. There are individualised streams for students with existing experience, and online virtual classroom delivery that embeds extensive content from real home builds.

    BAA’s initiatives to promote increased women in trades and men’s mental health awareness initiatives have been impactful across their student groups.

    Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute

    With a solid gold history dating back to the gold rush, Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute operates eight TAFE campuses providing leading-edge training in state-of-the-art facilities and vocational education and training across Melbourne’s northern suburbs, regional Victoria, and internationally through partnerships with overseas training institutes.

    Education and training spans across diverse study areas, including centres of excellence in automotive and trades, business and IT, food and fibre, health and community services, culinary and hospitality, and Indigenous and foundation courses.

    Their TAFEs ensure Victorians have access to world-class skills for a world-class economy. In response to a strong demand for cybersecurity skills in Victoria, they launched the Certificate IV in Cyber Security at Kangan Institute’s Cremorne Campus in March 2022. Innovative skilling solutions are also delivered in conjunction with overseas providers, including partnering with Jiaxing Nanyang Polytechnic Institute in Zhejiang, China to deliver a one-of-a-kind mechanical technology marine program.

  • Arborists don't grow on trees
    Arbortrim Australia Pty Ltd, Citywide, Arboriculture Australia and the Victorian Tree Industry Organisation

    Top of the tree of the federal government’s Priority Skills Shortage list is Arboriculture. To address this, the Arborists Don’t Grow on Trees (ADGOT) collaboration was formed including Arbortrim, Citywide, Arboriculture Australia and the Victorian Tree Industry Organisation.

    Demand for tree workers continues to grow due to expanding urban forests, the need to maintain vegetation around power infrastructure and responding to storm damage.

    As arborists don’t grow on trees, ADGOT is targeting jobseekers and school leavers. They are encouraging more women to join the industry and constructing partnerships to engage indigenous communities.
    Training initiatives include pre-employment programs and safety refreshers, as well as writing “Minimum Industry Standards”, industry reviewed learner guides and operating procedures.

    Arbortrim’s Certificate III in Arboriculture and Diploma programs have become a centre of excellence turning out highly skilled and safer workers.

    The collaborators have taken a holistic approach to the skills challenge achieving industry wide recognition.

    Health Navigator Project/Melbourne Polytechnic Collaboration
    Melbourne Polytechnic, Whittlesea Community Connections and Northern Health

    One challenge for migrants who arrive in Australia with health qualifications from their country of origin is to understand the Australian health system. To tackle this, the Health Navigator Project was developed by Melbourne Polytechnic in partnership with Northern Health and Whittlesea Community Connections.
    Co-design got underway in February 2021 for a Health Navigator elective. It addressed English language and health literacy so participants could understand the Australian health system and pathway into work or further education within the sector.

    The course included digital and presentation skills, so Health Navigators could share their newly acquired knowledge with their communities. Employment pathways were facilitated through collaborations with local health and settlement services, which provided volunteer positions and work as bi-cultural Health Navigators.

    This partnership has become the blueprint for future health and community collaborations. The Health Navigator model is being adopted by The Cancer Council of Victoria to address falling cancer screening rates in Whittlesea.

    Turning Point / YSAS / SHARC
    Turning Point, YSAS - Youth Support and Advocacy Service & SHARC – Self Help Addiction Resource Centre

    In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, its effect on the alcohol and other drug (AOD) sector and an increased demand on services, led the Victorian Government to fund a workforce development program for 100 additional AOD workers including training contextualised with a youth focus and the lived experience. In response, the collaboration between Turning Point (RTO), an education, treatment and research centre, YSAS – Youth Support and Advocacy Service, and SHARC - Self Help Addiction Resource Centre was established.

    The collaborative training program and delivery model is a first of its kind in this sector. SHARC provided trainees with models of practice including the perspective of people living with addiction, which led to more compassionate and effective engagement.

    An impactful aspect of the YSAS delivery was to expose trainees to AOD interventions and treatments that were relevant to young people rather than providing services in the same way as adults.

Reviewed 07 September 2022

Was this page helpful?