Innovation and excellence driving WA Training Award winners

Thirteen individuals and organisations scooped top honours at the WA Training Awards gala dinner last Friday night for their commitment to innovation and excellence in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. The spotlight was on the State’s key skill areas including building and construction, social assistance and allied health and STEM which took out the awards for WA Apprentice of the Year, WA International Student of the Year and WA Small Training Provider of the Year.

After ten years in the oil and gas industry, WA Apprentice of the Year Anthony Di Cristofaro was ready for a change. He started an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery and never looked back. A passionate advocate for mental health in the workplace, Mr Di Cristofaro now mentors and coaches younger apprentices and believes training is key to producing quality skilled workers who are resilient and confident in their abilities.

Winner of the WA International Student of the Year Award, Dushica Poposki was employed as a nurse in Macedonia before relocating to Perth. Starting in aged care, she continually challenged herself and trained to work with patients with acquired brain injury. A job promotion gave her the final push to train as an enrolled nurse where she currently enjoys providing the best nursing care to the community.

Now in its 25th year, the WA Training Awards highlight the achievements of apprentices, trainees, VET students, trainers, training organisations and employers in the training sector. Some category winners will now advance to compete against the nation’s best at the Australian Training Awards in Brisbane on 21 November 2019. 

“Training is central to supporting the growth and diversification of the Western Australian economy to meet new and emerging skill needs, particularly in key growth areas such as the social assistance and allied health sector." said Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery. "Our government is working to ensure we stay ahead of the game in skilling Western Australians to take up the jobs of the future. The awards highlight those apprentices, trainees and students who are doing just that, as well as the trainers and employers giving them the opportunity and the skills. I congratulate all winners and finalists for their drive to achieve great things, inspiration to others and contribution to ensure a strong, industry-driven VET sector.”

Individual award winners

WA Apprentice of the Year 2019, sponsored by MEGT (Australia) Ltd
Anthony Di Cristofaro, (Darch), North Metropolitan TAFE   

Prior to starting a mature age apprenticeship, Anthony worked in the mining industry for 10 years. Committed to learning and excelling in his trade, he exhibits genuine care for his co-workers safety and mental health, mentoring younger apprentices and completing the Mates in Construction Connector course. Anthony believes in the importance of training to produce quality skilled workers that are resilient and confident in their abilities.

WA School-based Apprentice of the Year 2019, sponsored by Roy Hill          
Tiffany Heelan, (Bullsbrook), SEDA Group WA        

Sports have always been a passion for Tiffany and so the opportunity to train in sport and recreation felt like a natural pathway. Training has developed her determination – recovering from injury – and her leadership skills as well. As a WA netball program student ambassador she has worked on personal development programs and fundraising initiatives. Her goal is to help people live active and exciting lives.

WA Trainee of the Year 2019, sponsored by Crown Perth         
Rebecca Lee Hudson, (Dalyellup), Australian Training Management            

After years working in human resources, Rebecca decided to take on a completely different career as a crane operator. Despite having no experience, she found one of her biggest challenges of the traineeship was learning how to learn again. Her experience retraining herself to take notes and listen to her trainer’s advice after years in management roles taught her to be more confident and trust in her ability.  

WA Vocational Student of the Year 2019  
Chloe Baigent, South Regional TAFE

With 10 years of experience in Horticulture, Chloe dreamed of a career where she could support and empower young people and chose to pursue youth work. Chloe’s passion and ability saw her be named the 2019 South Regional TAFE Student of the Year. She continues to be an ambassador, creating a program to help youth write resumes to support them to become more financially independent.      

WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year 2019, sponsored by The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation  
Rekeisha Voss, (Ellenbrook), Aspire Performance Training

Rekeisha started her career in beauty therapy and hospitality, however felt the need to try something new and applied for a traineeship. Working as a trainee service desk officer has taught her many things about the behind the scenes world of ICT. With a passion for learning new skills, Rekeisha wants to break negative perceptions and shine a spotlight on positive work outcomes for Indigenous people.

WA Cultural Diversity Training Award 2019             
Elena Smirnova, (Armadale), South Metropolitan TAFE

Books and libraries provide a constant source of inspiration for Elena. She loves reading and literature but also the community that libraries create. It was this inspiration that motivated her to study English after arriving in WA. Her goal is to become ‘a warrior of the light’ - a Russian expression to describe someone who is educated and, through further training, fulfil her career in library services.

WA International Student of the Year 2019          
Dushica Poposki, (Nollamara), North Metropolitan TAFE

Employed as a nurse in Macedonia, a chance experience as an outpatient while visiting Perth inspired Dushica to relocate and train in WA. Starting in aged care, she continually challenged herself and trained to work with patients with acquired brain injury. A job promotion gave her the final push to train as an enrolled nurse where she enjoys providing the best nursing care to the community.

WA Trainer of the Year 2019, sponsored by Training Accreditation Council  
Matthew King, (Caversham), Swan Trade Training Centre  

Prior to becoming a trainer, Matthew was an electrician and still runs his own business. With a passion for working with young people, he believes through great teaching you can shape the next generation. As a mentor he provides inspirational learning experiences whilst remaining relevant to industry. Matthew was responsible for establishing the only school-based pre-apprenticeship electrical course, run by in-house staff in WA.

Organisational award winners

WA Large Employer of the Year 2019       

Barminco is one of the world’s largest hard-rock underground mining services providers employing 3,500 employees world-wide. Founded in 1989, the WA based company has 30 years’ experience in delivering hard-rock underground mining services both domestically and internationally. Its Barminco Leaders Program (BLP) has 102 employees enrolled, of which 24 have graduated with a BSB42015 Certificate IV in Leadership and Management.

WA Medium Employer of the Year 2019, sponsored by CCI Apprenticeship Support Australia
Eden Corporation Pty Ltd T/As McDonald’s Karratha

Since opening its doors in September 1997, McDonald’s Karratha struggled with crew retention and filling managerial positions as employees moved to higher paid positions in the mining sector. In 2016 it decided to bring back WA Apprenticeships with just 2 Apprentices. Since then, 41 employees have passed through the system. The operation now has 80 staff and a remarkably low staff turnover rate. 

WA Large Training Provider of the Year 2019                          
North Regional TAFE

North Regional TAFE is the largest provider of training and vocational services in the north of WA, servicing industries and communities across the region. With a total of 11 campuses and the College’s three largest delivery centres at Broome, Karratha and Pundulmurra in South Hedland, in 2018, it delivered more than 190 nationally recognised and industry-endorsed qualifications to over 7,300 students.           

WA Small Training Provider of the Year 2019                          
Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services

Since 1983, KAMS has been committed to providing high quality VET training in the Kimberley region. Established to offer a local study option for Aboriginal Health Work without having to relocate to Perth, courses offer flexibility and practical, supervised experience for Aboriginal Health Care Workers providing services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.                              

WA Industry Collaboration Award 2019                                    
The Electrical Industry Female Participation Program (EIFPP), Joondalup

EIFPP, led by the College of Electrical Training, partners with secondary schools, NECA WA and local employers to improve course accessibility and reduce barriers for female school students obtaining an apprenticeship. The program provides a structured career pathway into the electrical industry, promotes the electrical industry as ‘gender neutral’ and delivers a training experience aimed at giving students the best possible chance of employment.

Media contact: Emmeline Drake-Brockman 0428 925 699 or 6552 5700

Page last updated July 28, 2020