2017 winners

Northern Territory Vocational Education and Training Hall of Fame

Inaugural inductee, Vale Mike Harrison

Mike was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the sector over a 30 year career in vocational education and training in the Northern Territory (NT).

The winners of the 2017 Northern Territory Training Awards are:

Austin Asche Apprentice of the Year

Sponsored by ISACNT.

Winner: Thomas Moulds, Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician

Employer: Electric NT
Registered training provider: Charles Darwin University (CDU)

Thomas Moulds completed his Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician this year.

In addition to the qualification he has also obtained multiple tickets through short courses such as Working at Heights, Working in Confined Spaces, First Aid, Advanced First Aid, LV Rescue, CPR, Test and Tag and an EWP Licence. 

Employed by Electric NT, his employer says, “due to his diligence and skill levels, Tom is on his way to becoming our main switchboard manufacturer and he is now teaching his skills to our other apprentices”.

Tom says a trade can be rewarding, can offer a lifetime career and that there are many different vocational pathways for people to choose. He has been playing soccer for 16 years and enjoys the teamwork skills he’s learned in sport and applying them to his work environment.In 2016 Thomas won the NT Master Builders Apprentice of the Year Award.

Runner-up: Timothy Childs, Certificate III in ESI - Power Systems

Employer: Power Water Corporation
Registered training organistion: Aurecon
Group training organistion: Group Training Northern Territory (GTNT)

Twenty-nine year old mature aged apprentice Timothy Childs successfully finished his linesman apprenticeship in 2016 completing a Certificate III in ESI - Power Systems (Overhead Distribution). 

So successful was he, that his employer, GTNT and his host business, Power Water Corporation, offered him a second apprenticeship to become a qualified electrician studying a Certificate III in Electrotechnology.

Timothy won the GTNT, Most Outstanding Apprentice stage 1, Most Outstanding Apprentice stage 2 and Most Outstanding Apprentice stage 3 in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Timothy has represented GTNT at numerous events including the Skills, Employment and Career Expo encouraging other ‘would be’ apprentices.

He is committed to vocational education and training and advocate for the ongoing life opportunities that learning provides.

Trainee of the Year

Sponsored by NEC.

Winner: Teah McCallum, Certificate III in Business

Employer: Department of Corporate and Information Services, Northern Territory Government
Registered training provider: Dovaston Training
Group training organisation: GTNT

Teah McCallum started as a school-based trainee, completed year 12 and transitioned into work with the NT Government as a full-time trainee. She completed her Certificate III in Business in 2017 and is now working to complete her Certificate IV.

Her training and hard work has enabled Teah to secure a temporary position as a program advisor, well above the trainee level that she commenced at and above her normal substantive position.

As an employee of the Employment Programs Unit for the NT Government she is a strong advocate for training and development and has had opportunities to participate in and promote employment programs in job fairs, career expos and open days.

Runner up: James Acton, Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques (Construction Materials Testing)

Employer: HiQA Geotechnical Solutions
Registered training provider: ABC Consulting

James Acton is a focused young man who completed, in 2016, his Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques (Construction Material Testing) in just over six months. He has now commenced a Diploma of Laboratory Technology with the aim of becoming both a senior technician and being a National Association of Testing Authorities signatory for his employer HiQA Geotechnical Solutions.

James prides himself on being able to work independently in very remote places far from phone reception and hundreds of kilometres from a major town. He has experience working as a both a field and laboratory technician and is highly motivated by his work.

James lives by the motto, gleaned from his laboratory manager, that 'there are no stupid questions, questions are free. A stuff-up isn’t' and he is keen to keep improving his skills and professional capacity through vocational training.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Sponsored by East Arnhem Regional Council.

Winner: Karen Rogers, Certificate IV in Visual Arts

Employer: Ngukurr Aboriginal Art Corporation
Registered training provider: Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

Having previously completed a Diploma of Business and working in payroll, Karen Rogers changed her lifestyle and career through art and training. Enrolling in a Certificate IV in Visual Arts she expanded her knowledge and skills set, learned many new techniques and completed her qualification in 2016.

Today Karen is an artist and is employed by the Ngukurr Aboriginal Art Corporation as sales person and director. She now earns a living from what she loves.

Karen uses her business skills and creativity to support others in producing pieces that are both creative and likely to sell.

Karen is excited by on-line and digital technologies that allow artists to showcase and sell their works to the world and she has personally seen her designs be reproduced on fabrics and other items. 

She says that new ways to express stories, culture and identity using business models that capitalise on technology advances must be integral in formal training.

Runner up: Lloyd Mitjpadada, Certificate II in Sport and Recreation

Employer: East Arnhem Regional Council
Registered training provider: Charles Darwin University

Twenty-three year old Yolngu man Lloyd Mitjpadada joined the East Arnhem Regional Council in 2013 and currently works as sport and recreation officer after completing his Certificate II in Sport and Recreation last year.

The council’s Youth, Sport and Recreation Program aims to create healthy minds and bodies through sport, recreation, art and cultural activities and it is Lloyd’s job to lead and coordinate many of these activities. Lloyd is a respected young man, student and employee in his community.

Lloyd is the only Yolgnu youth, sport and recreation mentor in East Arnhem Land and is now in the process of completing his Certificate III in Sports and Recreation. Lloyd is very supportive of ‘ongoing’ learning and can see the benefits. He says, “it is important in remote communities that we learn both ways”.

In addition to his Certificate II in Sport and Recreation, Lloyd has also attained a Certificate I in Horticulture, a First Aid Certificate and was awarded the Adrian Wagg Encouragement Award in 2016 by Northern Territory Government’s Department of Business.

Vocational Student of the Year

Winner: Patrick Rivers, Graduate Certificate in Community Service Practice (Statutory Child Protection) and Graduate Certificate in Community Service Practice (Client Assessment and Case Management)

Employer: Territory Families, Northern Territory Government
Registered training provider: Australian Childhood Foundation

Patrick’s vocational education and training (VET) pathway began in 2013 when he enrolled in a Certificate III in Community Services and the following year in 2014 in the Certificate IV. In 2015 he enrolled in and graduated from a Diploma of Child, Youth and Family Intervention and this year has seen him graduate from a Graduate Certificate in Community Service Practice (Statutory Child Protection) as well as a Graduate Certificate in Community Service (Client Assessment and Case Management). 

Patrick is employed by Territory Families, the Northern Territory Government agency responsible for the care and protection of children. His commitment to his work and his studies are driven by his own personal experiences as a teenager and being assisted and supported by case-workers to make positive choices in his life.

Patrick is now 24 years of age and was a previous finalist in the 2014 NT Training Awards, Vocational Student of the Year category.

Runner up: Richard Vogt, Certificate III in Fitness and Certificate IV in Fitness

Employer: Rich Life Health and Fitness
Registered training provider: Charles Darwin University

Richard Vogt gave up a secure job as regional manager with an offshore gas and drilling company to study and graduate with a Certificate III and a Certificate IV in Fitness to follow his passion and start his own fitness business, Rich Life and Fitness.

Richard has worked with the Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Program Services and is keen to develop physical programs specific for Aboriginal people to reduce the risks of lifestyle disease that are prevalent throughout communities. He is also in the process of establishing a fitness studio for his clients and will undertake additional training in ‘core strength’ courses to help clients suffering from back issues.

Richard was awarded the Most Outstanding CDU Certificate III Fitness Student Award for 2016.

School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year

Sponsored by GTNT.

Winner: Kate Gornall, Certificate III in Business

Employer: Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment, Northern Territory Government
Registered training provider: Charles Darwin University
Group training organisation: GTNT

Throughout 2016 and year 11, Kate Gornall worked on her school-based traineeship and Certificate III in Business with the NT Government’s, Office of the Public Service Commissioner as well as working for the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank at O’Loughlin Catholic College. 

In 2017 she intends to complete Year 12 and is taking on a Certificate III in Tourism with Charles Darwin University.

Kate is the recipient of an impressive array of awards for academic and dance achievements. From a young age Kate became involved with Darwin Performance Academy (DPA) and has danced in national competitions as well as becoming an assistant dance teacher.

On top of her school work, her VET and traineeship commitments Kate also works as a receptionist for DPA.

Runner up: Jaiden Thompson, Certificate III in Electrotechnology

Employer: JC Electronic Security
Training provider: Charles Darwin University

Jaiden was working part-time with JC Electronic Security when he was offered a school-based apprenticeship to join the firm and undertake a Certificate III in Electrotechnology. 

Undertaking the school-based apprenticeship allows Jaiden to realise several goals, namely finishing year 12 and working towards an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank as well as gaining qualifications, skills and work experience.

In 2016, Jaiden was asked to be the school’s Career Acceleration Pathway ambassador, the first year according to Jaiden that a VET student had been recognised as a school leader.

Jaiden also completed training for his White Card, Working Safely at Heights and First Aid.

VET in Schools Student of the Year

Sponsored by Glencore’s McArthur River Mine.

Winner: Cameron Brodie, Certificate I in Automotive and Certificate II in Maritime Operations

Registered training organisation: Charles Darwin University and AMFA

VET in School Student Cameron Brodie has achieved quite a bit in a short life.

The 16 year old is a student at the Good Shepherd Lutheran College where as part of his studies he is undertaking a Certificate I in Automotive and a Certificate II in Maritime Operations.

Cam’s school has received great employer feedback and he has started to enjoy learning more as he tackles new opportunities on top of his classroom work.

As a senior cadet he is an active member of the St John Ambulance Cadet Program and he attends weekly meetings to help junior cadets and train alongside adults. He is also a member of the NTFL Junior Umpiring Academy; on the school pit crew for the Pedal Prix competion; a LIONS volunteer and award recipient; as well as a volunteer for many other organisations and activities.

Runner up: Alison Morrison, Certificate III in Agriculture

School: Tennant Creek High School
Registered training organisation: Department of Education

VET in School Student Alison Morrison is from Borroloola and boards in Tennant Creek to attend high school where she is completing Certificate III in Agriculture as part of her Northern Territory Certificate of Education.

Alison has a passion for working with animals and an interest in horses, cattle and the livestock industry. English is not Alison’s first language and she attributes practical vocational education and training with advancements in her English literacy and numeracy.

Alison is a member of the Stars Foundation, a girl’s engagement program that has given her the opportunity to participate in ANZAC day activities and NAIDOC week events as well as experience excursions in urban settings.

In Tennant Creek she lives in a hostel and plays a leading role in supporting younger students also from the Barkly Region who board to attend high school.

In previous years Alison completed a Certificate I in AgriFood Operations and a Certificate II in Rural Operations. 

VET Teacher / Trainer of the Year

Winner: Fiona Plunkett

Subject area: Agriculture and rural operations, beef cattle production, horsemanship
Employer: Charles Darwin University

Fiona Plunkett is responsible for Charles Darwin University’s Workplace Trainee Program working with beef production enterprises in the pastoral and agricultural industry. A large part of her role is ensuring that the training is up-to-date and relevant for industry clients.

Currently the program works with 39 cattle stations and nearly 200 students and Fiona and her team spend a lot of their time working remotely in dusty cattle yards. They encounter significant challenges ensuring resources are contextualised, engaging, and support literacy and numeracy requirements in environments that experience technological obstacles, such as poor or non-existent digital access and telephony services.

In addition Fiona trains clients at the rural campus in Katherine, including participants of the NT Cattleman’s Association Indonesia Australia Pastoral Program and recently presented a case study, with a colleague, to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, entitled Tall Tales from the Top End: A Case Study of education, training and employment in the Northern Territory.

Runner up: Howard Pullen

Subject areas: Electrotechnology
Employer: Charles Darwin University

Howard Pullen commenced work as an electrician in 1968 and since that time has owned and managed electrotechnology related firms, worked as a trainer and engaged in further study to become the trainer he is today.

With a depth and breadth of industry experience, he is innovating training delivery at Charles Darwin University with the introduction of 24/7 internationally recognised, performance based, computer aided instruction program in electronics training used by the US Defence Forces and designed for the Aerospace industry.

As a person who believes teachers should adopt constant learning and adaptation to new technologies, he tries to make his delivery as interesting, as varied and challenging as possible. He draws his enthusiasm from positive student feedback and says he in turn never stops learning from the students themselves.

Small Employer of the Year

Sponsored by NT News.

Winner: Nail Lovers

Nail Lovers opened in 2012. Finding it difficult to recruit qualified nail technicians the salon owners embarked on a program of vocational education and training to ensure professionalism, customer service and high standards of hygiene.

VET has helped the business to streamline and professionalise its approach to training offering employees a Certificate III in Nail Technology. The VET qualification is supported with on-the-job training, monthly training nights to discuss trends, new product knowledge and showcase the latest techniques.

The business has 14 employees in a mix of full, part-time, casual and apprenticeship roles. The business is delighted that the training regime appears to have brought about stability in employee numbers and that half the staff have now been with the firm for over two years.

Runner up: Rainbows Holy Family Early Learning Centre

The Rainbows Early Learning Centre provides long day care and pre-school for children age two and a half to five years of age. 

The centre has seven trainees undertaking Certificate III in Early Education and Care or a Diploma of Early Education and Care. Last financial year, two of the centre’s leaders completed a Certificate IV in Leadership and Management and are now undertaking the Certificate IV in Business. 

The business supports the training with paid study time and a culture that encourages learning. 

Training plans have been developed for each staff member and employees are expected to attend external courses and workshops to stay current, such as behaviour management, team development, programming, autism awareness, cultural sensitivity, and work, health and safety training. 

The Rainbow Centre management attributes vocational education and training as a key factor in ensuring staff retention, promoting a culture of excellence and delivering a level of customer satisfaction that enables the centre to thrive.

Medium Employer of the Year

Sponsored by Charles Darwin University.

Winner: Hastings Deering

Hastings Deering has been operating in the Northern Territory for 69 years, has 114 local employees and 26 contractors with business centres in Darwin, Alice Springs and Nhulunbuy. The company specialises in sale of Caterpillar equipment, and parts and service support.

Hastings Deering has its own registered training organisation and has developed training packages tailored to specific areas of the business, always striving to be on the cutting-edge and ensuring the safety of its people. 

The company believes much of its financial success in the Northern Territory is directly attributable to its training, safety and after sales expertise of its staff.

Runner up: HiQa

HiQa has 26 staff and has traded for nine years specialising in geotechnical testing for the mining, construction and defence industries. The company developed its own bespoke program to recruit and train local people for the testing profession to counter the skill shortage challenges faced by the business.

The firm’s training program centres on meeting customer expectations and includes qualifications in laboratory work, civil construction and leadership and management. HiQa has 12 technicians engaged in either a Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques or a Diploma of Laboratory Technology.

HiQa knows VET is the key to ensuring ongoing productivity and without it, is at risk of not being the geotechnical-testing laboratory of preferred choice.

Large Employer of the Year

Sponsored by Southern Cross Television.

Winner: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation

The congress medical service commenced in Alice Spring in 1975 employing a doctor and an Aboriginal health worker to work alongside. 

The service is moving from strength to strength with two new clinics opened in Sadadeen and Larapinta continuing to provide culturally appropriate community-controlled services that are welcoming for Aboriginal people.

Congress today is an organisation made up of over 350 full-time, part-time and casual employees that spends about 5% of total payroll on training and development of its people. 

It has recently increased its Aboriginal workforce to 51%, established an Aboriginal Health Practitioner Training Program, implemented internal Indigenous Mentoring Program, has a Cadetship Program and currently has almost 50 staff members undertaking VET qualifications.

Training Provider of the Year

Sponsored by Hastings Deering.

Winner: Charles Darwun University

Vocational education and training at CDU delivers more that 160 qualifications from Certificate I to Diploma level. 

CDU has well over 10,000 students, campuses in Darwin, Casuarina, Palmerston, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Nhulunbuy and offers on-line, blended and face-to-face modes of learning.

The registered training organisation takes pride in delivering services across regional, remote and very remote Northern Territory to diverse, Aboriginal, multi-cultural and mainstream communities. In this complex environment CDU scored over 95% as part of the Student Outcome Survey for students recommending training to others - well above the national outcome of 89.7%.

CDU is committed to working with industry, creating purpose built courses to meet local needs and being an integral part of the Northern Territory’s economic and social development agenda.

Runner up: Nungalinya College

Nungalinya College is a combined (Anglican, Catholic, Uniting) churches, registered training organisation with 428 Aboriginal students. Working in partnership with Indigenous churches in remote communities each year the college receives more applications than it can cater for.

Nungalinya is proud of the work its doing in Indigenous education and the great improvements the college has made in student retention and completion rates as well as the extended course offerings in training Aboriginal teachers for the future.

The college has embarked on introducing assistant cultural advisors in classes to assist with language barriers encountered during the learning process and students report they love coming to Nungalinya because they feel safe - physically, culturally and spiritually.

Industry Collaboration Award

Sponsored by ISACNT.

Winner: The Hidden Workforce - Carers NT, Crest NT and Response Training Employment

Called The Hidden Workforce, the collaboration project aimed to qualify existing unqualified carers with a Certificate III in Individual Support. The project was formed to meet the skills requirements of the National Disability Service and the needs of the National Disability Insurance Scheme as the scheme is rolled out in the Northern Territory.

The Northern Territory, like the rest of Australia needs more qualified community services workers including carers in future years.

Carers NT worked to identify potential students, Crest NT project managed the collaboration and mentored the carers, while Response Training Employment was engaged to deliver the training and flexible learning environment for student success.

There were a number of successful outcomes for the industry and students alike. Of the 20 students, 17 carers completed and graduated with the qualification. The industry now has more qualified carers and some individuals have already gone on to find paid employment as a direct result of their training.

Runner up: Cadet Program - NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services, BCA National Training Group and the Department of Education

The NT Police, Fire and Emergency Service (NTPFES) Cadet Program for secondary school students is a joint initiative between NTPFES, the NT Department of Education and BCA National Training Group to provide career pathways to year 11 and 12 students.

At the end of 2016, Cadet Squad One, saw the graduation of 12 cadets, 7 of who have gone on to employment with the Tri-Services.

The Cadet Program runs over two years with students studying a Certificate III in Business through BCA National Training Group and Certificate II in Community Engagement with the NTPFES registered training organisation. BCA National has tailored the training to relate to Tri-Services operation.

Employment is not guaranteed but opportunities exist for applications as auxiliary, constable, Aboriginal community police officer and AO2 and AO3 government positions.

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Last updated: 12 October 2017