Community Education Student of the Year Awards 2022

Community Education Student of the Year Awards 2022

Community Colleges Australia (CCA) is pleased to announce the ten finalists for its sixth annual “Community Education Student of the Year Awards”:

Winner 2022

Grahame Neville, Tamworth Community College

Grahame Neville completed studies in Certificate II Work and Vocational Pathways and Computing for Work at Tamworth Community College. He has been employed in the Linen/Laundry Operations department at Tamworth Base Hospital for more than 28 years. Throughout his time in this role, Grahame had been unable to transition to a promoted role due to his level of language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills. For this reason, he initially enrolled at Tamworth Community College. Over time Grahame improved his LLN skills and developed the confidence that helped him to participate in the televised SBS Series Lost for Words in 2022. In November 2022, Grahame also participated in a discussion panel at the CCA 2022 Sydney Conference. Grahame’s trainer comments that he is “resilient, motivated, likeable, committed and has an excellent work ethic.”

Highly Commended 2022

Maya Wills, Kiama & Shoalhaven Community College

Maya Wills studied Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways, Certificate II in Workplace Skills and in 2022 she completed a Certificate III in Business. Maya is employed as a trainee at Waminda, the South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation in Nowra. Despite facing challenges with dyslexia and mental health, Maya remained diligent with her studies. Her trainer says “Maya was an outstanding student, always punctual and polite, and performed every task asked of her on time and to a very high standard.” Maya recently enrolled into university to study a Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health), which she is extremely passionate about. Her goal is to finish her degree and return to Waminda to be their Mental Health Nurse and to provide the community with healing and guidance along their journey.

Finalists 2022

Garry Allen, Byron Community College

Garry Allen studied Certificate IV in Community Services with Byron Community College. After running his own successful handyman business for many years, Garry came to Byron Community College when he was at a crossroads, considering semi-retirement. His work placement as a Diversional Therapist in aged care led to his interest in men’s groups and he is now on the Wellbeing Committee at the Men’s Shed Association. Garry’s trainer remarks that he “has shown that it's never too late to make a career change and that adult community education is a potent way of developing the strengths and capacities of those who can give back to the community.”

Wayne Brown, The Junction Community Centre

Wayne Brown has completed studies in the 1:1 English Class for Native English Speakers at The Junction Community Centre, Adelaide. Wayne’s commitment to attending class every week for a year has meant that he has made significant progress in a short period of time, improving his scale reading score from 68 to 79 in just a few months. He is currently employed by Orana two days per week and is active at the Community Centre, attending weekly lunches and building relationships with the community. Wayne’s trainers comment that he has made significant improvements with reading and comprehension, but also in self-esteem and confidence, adding that Wayne “will also always offer advice or help if required.”

Paramjit (Pam) Kaur Sunner, Macquarie Community College

Pam Kaur Sunner completed a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care at Macquarie Community College. Pam came to Australia from Punjab, India in 1990 with her family. She worked in a childcare centre, where she spent four years applying the skills from her Childcare Assistant studies. Pam took on a number of caring roles within her family including, her elderly parents and children of family members as well as her own children. After she commenced her Diploma at Macquarie Community College, she also endured the loss of two close family members but resolved to continue studying. Her trainer says that “despite this enormous load, Pam was a dedicated and committed student throughout”. Pam successfully completed her Diploma and has gone on to continue to work in childcare as a Diploma-trained educator.

Tracy Keenan, Parramatta Community College

Tracy Keenan completed her TAE16 upgrade at Parramatta Community College, while also caring for her son who has a disability, as well as her ageing parents. For the past three years she has worked for an RTO with scheduled travel in NSW to provide training for adults living with disability and significant learning barriers. In this role Tracy has honed her skills to create flexible learning practices that tailor to individual needs and deliver positive outcomes. Her current employer remarks that Tracy has “identified and rectified huge gaps in training amongst the clusters of staff and has suitably sourced external training packages which she has delivered in a highly professional and supportive manner.” As a dedicated trainer and assessor at Parramatta Community College, Tracy has also mentored and supported many students by providing them with job ready skills.

Kathy Reiri, Western Riverina Community College

Kathy Reiri studied Certificate III in Individual Support and Provide First Aid at Western Riverina Community College. She migrated to Australia from New Zealand in 2018 in order to support her children. Kathy found employment but wanted to find a more secure and permanent role, which led her to enrol at Western Riverina Community College. Throughout her work placement Kathy demonstrated “empathy, resilience, and a genuine concern for the clients”, so that at the end of the first block of placement she successfully secured casual work with an aged care provider. Since completing her studies Kathy now works full-time hours in aged care. Kathy’s trainer says she is a “real motivator” and that she encouraged others in her class, with her can-do attitude.

Bradley Robinson, Central Coast Community College

Bradley Robinson is in his third year of apprenticeship and studied Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade at Central Coast Community College. After trying out metal fabrication at school, Brad realised that it was exactly what he wanted to pursue for work. From the start Brad displayed an attitude and aptitude beyond his years. His Year 2 trainer comments that “Brad was a rare talent, earning a reputation for his accuracy, cleanliness, teamwork, and ability to follow instructions.” Brad is passionate about the quality of his work and enjoys being a part of the whole process, from consultation to design, testing, and installation. Brad’s dedication and passion for fabrication shine though in his course projects that frequently make the “table of excellence”, as well as in his leisure time when he helps others with their car repairs in between finishing his own car project, restoring a 1964 EH Holden.

Gloria (Yebing) Tang, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Community College

Gloria Tang completed Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home & Community) in 2021 at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Community College (HKCC). She is currently enrolled in Certificate IV in Ageing Support and is working as a trainee in aged care at Nurse Next Door, a business franchise she operates with her husband. Originally from Shanghai, Gloria arrived in Australia in 2018 and felt welcomed by her community, which fuelled her desire to want to give back to the community. The trainers at HKCC acknowledge Gloria’s work ethic and state that “her attitude and friendly persona that makes her an asset and valued member of the student body and community within HKCC.” Gloria’s business Nurse Next Door has been operating for 6 months and now has 20 employees.

Ivy Nieng Tieh, Community College Northern Inland

Ivy Tieh has completed studies in Introduction to Microsoft Excel, Design and Produce Spreadsheets and Certificate III Business (Administration) at Community College Northern Inland (CCNI). Ivy came to Australia from Malaysia in 1994. She initially studied a Bachelor of Applied Science (physiotherapy) and then worked as a physiotherapist. Ivy spent many years caring for her young family; after completing a CPR course at CCNI in Gunnedah, decided to equip herself with more qualifications. Ivy says her studies have “helped improve my general computer skills, helped me to equip myself with the current Australian workplace policies and updated business administration skills”. Ivy now wants to give back to the community that she felt has encouraged and nurtured her, so she remains active assisting the multicultural communities in Gunnedah, who need help with English, or caring duties.

The Awards ceremony took place at the historic Mint in Sydney on 7 February 2023 with about 60 attendees and another 25 via Zoom. Guest speaker at the Awards ceremony was author, teacher, lawyer and policy adviser Joanna Maxwell, Chair of the Board of Sydney Community College (read a copy of her speech here). Welcome to Country was given by Aunty Joan Bell, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

This year’s nominations are students who have undertaken formal study with an Australian not-for-profit adult and community education (ACE) organisation during the period 1 September 2021 through 31 August 2022. Nominations were submitted through community education providers.

Decisions on the Award winners were based on career and study achievements; communication, team and leadership skills development; and achievements in areas other than study and work, including community involvement. More details on judging criteria can be found in the Terms and Conditions (PDF). The judging panel for the 2022 Student Awards consists of Evelyn Goodwin (CCA Manager, Policy & Projects – panel Chair), Vanessa Iles (Manager, Reading Writing Hotline) and Joneen Troup (former Manager – now retired, Camden Haven Community College).

Previous winners: View the “Honour Roll” of previous Community Education Student of the Year Award winners here – 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Funding for the 2022 Awards was provided by the New South Wales Government.

About the Student of the Year Awards logo: This logo celebrates student achievement and symbolises the myriad possibilities and opportunities that learning provides. The triangle at the base of the figure represents the boost provided by the ACE provider, which supports and facilitates student confidence and learning. The multi-shaded vertical parallel lines, reaching upwards, embody the students’ potential and choice of pathways as they journey through life.

CCA 2022 Student of the Year Finalists at the Awards ceremony at The Mint, Sydney.