Inspiring life stories from CCA Community Education Student of the Year Award winners

Inspiring life stories was the main theme at the Awards ceremony of this year’s Community Education Student of the Year Awards, presented by Community Colleges Australia (CCA). Grahame Neville (pictured), who completed his studies at Tamworth Community College, won the top Award this year. He participated in the SBS TV adult literacy series Lost for Words in 2022 and has since become an outstanding advocate for the value of adult basic education and literacy as a mature age learner and worker.

The Highly Commended Award went to Maya Wills (pictured below, with Helen Zwicker, Community College CEO), who recently completed Certificate III in Business at Kiama and Shoalhaven Community Colleges, where she also studied Certificate II in Skills for Work & Vocational Pathways and Certificate II in Workplace Skills. She works as a trainee at Waminda, the South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation in Nowra.

The other finalists in this year’s Awards were:

  • Gary Allen, Byron Community College
  • Bradley Robinson, Central Coast Community College
  • Ivy Nieng Tieh, Community College Northern Inland
  • Gloria (Yebing) Tang, Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Community College
  • Paramjit (Pam) Kaur Sunner, Macquarie Community College
  • Tracy Keenan, Parramatta Community College
  • Wayne Brown, The Junction Community Centre
  • Kathy Reiri, Western Riverina Community College

Seven finalists attended the Awards ceremony in person (see photo below), with the others online. More than 60 people gathered at the historic Mint in Sydney, with another 25 via Zoom from Byron Bay, Laurieton, Griffith, Tamworth, Gunnedah and Adelaide. Aunty Joan Bell, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, provided a Welcome to Country to Gadigal Lands. Joanna Maxwell, Chair of Sydney Community College, gave the keynote address on the topic the learning journey in adult and community education (read a copy of her speech here), with CCA Board Director Jennifer Aldred introducing her.

David Collins, Executive Director of Training Services NSW, presented the Awards on behalf of the NSW Skills Minister, the Hon Alister Henskens SC MP. CCA Chair David Mackay (CEO of TLK Community College) welcomed participants to the event, Kerry Johnson (CCA Treasurer and CEO of ACE Community Colleges) gave the “vote of thanks” to participants. CCA Manager of Policy & Projects, Evelyn Goodwin presented the ten finalists; CCA CEO, Dr Don Perlgut, acted as event MC; and CCA Office Manager, Clare Harris, administered the Awards for the third year in a row.

CCA congratulates all finalists and winners of this year’s Awards, and looks forward to running them again, with nominations for 2023 opening mid-year. Funding for the 2022 Awards was provided by the New South Wales Government. View the “Honour Roll” of previous Community Education Student of the Year Award winners – 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Photos of the event

Brayden, Maya Wills (centre) and Helen Zwicker (Kiama & Shoalhaven CC CEO)
The seven finalists present in person at the event

David Collins, Joanna Maxwell and Garry Traynor (Sydney Community College)

David Martin (Western Riverina Community College), Evelyn Goodwin (CCA) with Rachelle West & Mish Morris (both NSW Dept of Education)

Bernadette Mills (St George & Sutherland Community College, Stuart Bastock (Macquarie Community College) and Jennifer Aldred (Sydney Community College)

David Mackay (CCA Chair & TLK Community College) and Debbie Laarkamp (Central Coast Community College

David Collins, Erin Hutchinson (ACE Community Colleges) and Dr Don Perlgut (CCA)

Kerry Johnson (ACE Community Colleges)

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