Community Education Trainer of the Year Award 2022

CCA logo


Peter Wilson, nominated by Central Coast Community College

Peter is a Trade Trainer (Metal Fabrication and Welding) at Central Coast Community College. He holds a Diploma in Weld Inspection, Certificate IV TAE and Certificate IV in Community Services. He has a diverse background in the fabrication industry, having worked primarily in the ship building and defence industries. At 17 years of age, he was given the opportunity to be an apprentice as a fabricator ship builder and this set him on a lifelong path in his trade and as a teacher/mentor. He currently delivers training on ACE Multitrade Taster Courses, Apprenticeship Training - Certificate III in Engineering (Fabrication), Glencore Welding Competency training and White Card. He is a dedicated and talented trainer who leads with his heart and has worked tirelessly with community groups to develop and deliver customised programs to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable community members.

Highly Commended

Deborah-Leigh Bye, nominated by St George & Sutherland Community College

Deborah-Leigh has long been an advocate for the community service sector. She joined SGSCC in July 2018 and since then has transformed the work placement experience at the college. Deborah-Leigh's qualifications include Diploma of Quality Auditing, Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management, Certificate IV TAE, Bachelor of Social Science, Certificate IV in both Youth Work and Frontline Management. A thoughtful and wise leader, Deborah-Leigh has made it her mission to raise the profile of community colleges in Australia, ensuring that all host employers, students, and trainers have a positive journey and experience with community colleges. This has been most evident over the last years, as she has continued to lead her team with composure and grace despite the frequent disruption to work placements.

Highly Commended

Melanie Duck, nominated by ACE Community Colleges

Mel has been with ACE Community Colleges since October 2017 and now holds the role of Community Care Training Coordinator. During her five years with ACE, Mel has seen a great deal of transitional change. She has been at the forefront of supporting not only the compliance and quality staff, but also being a voice for the trainers within the community care space, championing the needs of trainers, students and the business alike. Mel is a qualified Enrolled Nurse and holds a Diploma and Bachelor of Health Science (Leisure and Health) along with a Certificate III in both Home and Community Care, and Aged Care. Mel is based in the ACE Burleigh Waters campus but is instrumental across the whole organisation in the community care space, providing support through other campus locations in Lismore and Murwillumbah.

Achievement Award for Contribution to Innovative Delivery

Claudia Cave & Lisa Chapman, nominated as a pair by Kiama and Shoalhaven Community Colleges

Lisa is the First Nations Community Engagement Officer at Kiama and Shoalhaven Community Colleges. She is passionate about her “Three C’s” – connection, community and consistency, which underpin her training and mentoring of students. Within this framework, Lisa networks within the community to close the gap of First Nations people for education and employment. Lisa has been a qualified trainer helping to develop students’ skills in hospitality, outdoor recreation, hair and beauty, community services, IT, photography and retail. She has worked at the college for 15 years with her deep care and concern about the welfare of her mob remaining at the heart of all she does.

Claudia has been a trainer and assessor with the college since 2006. She delivers a range of qualifications, including foundation skills, hospitality (café skills and barista), MYOB/Excel, retail, business, IT and accounts/finances. Claudia holds a TAE, a Diploma in Hospitality, Degree in Business, Certificate III in Business and Certificate I in IT. At the heart of her work is a desire to see her students move closer to employment. Claudia always makes the students feel comfortable and supported when learning.

For a long time now, Claudia and Lisa have taught together and it is their strong working relationship and partnership which makes their training success unique. They have strong ties within the community and have delivered training in successful programs such as Skilled and Styled, Binji & Boori, TTW Mission, Family Services, Waminda, within schools and other associated networks. Within these settings they teach employability skills, incorporating accredited foundation skills, hospitality, retail and business units. The unique team approach from Lisa and Claudia ensures that their retention and engagement of students is always at its highest.

Achievement Award in Recognition of Lifetime Achievement

Bruce Spence, nominated by Community College Northern Inland

Bruce began his career with Community College Northern Inland (CCNI) in 2019, where he commenced as an engineering trainer/assessor and progressed to VET Coordinator. He has extensive experience in the teaching and welding industries, teaching the Engineering Trade through TAFE for 34 years. He holds qualifications in Fitting and Turning (Trade), computer aided drafting, boiler making, metal fabrication and welding, as well as a Diploma of Teaching, Cert IV TAE and Cert IV LLN. Bruce is passionate about bringing quality training and assessment services to the metal fabrication industry. He advocates for funding and quality training in rural and remote communities and for bringing training to firms in regional towns to ease skills shortages. Currently, Bruce delivers Certificate III Engineering – Metal Fabrication in Gunnedah, supporting apprentices to obtain their qualifications.


Liz Elliott, nominated by WEA Illawarra

Liz currently works on the ACE program at WEA Illawarra, delivering foundation skills and digital skills to DES provider clients. She is actively involved in the co-ordination and delivery of the Tech Savvy Seniors, Be Connected and Be Connected Mentoring programs. She also trains other trainers in units from the Address Foundation Skills in Vocational Practice Skill set. Liz came to the college in 2010 with many engineering and logistics qualifications as well as an MBA. She soon developed a passion for LLN and following the completion of her Graduate Diploma in TESOL changed career direction to concentrate on LLN and digital competency training. She has undertaken additional qualifications to understand the complex needs of her student cohort and how to engage them. Her students love her as she is patient and works with them individually to encourage them to achieve their goals.


Shaista Imran, nominated by Sydney Community College

Shaista works in Sydney Community College’s ACE and Smart and Skilled programs, teaching foundation skills, business and community services and other work skills, as well as Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways. Her students are from suburbs of Sydney considered to be the most ethnically diverse in Australia. Shaista has a strong understanding of the cultural identity and separation issues faced by many within this part of Sydney. With her VET practice and individual approach, she ensures consistently strong outcomes and adjustment to the host culture for her students. Shaista has been a trainer and assessor since 2003 soon after migrating to Australia. Her work with adult learners spans over 25 years. She holds a Certificate IV in TAE, a Master’s Degree in English Language, A Teacher Training Certificate from Cambridge University, Certificate III in Business Administration and Certificate II in Foundation Skills.


Chakinta Jones, nominated by South Coast Community College

Chakinta has worked with South Coast Community College since 2011. Through years of developing key stakeholder relationships, she has become well-recognised in the community as the ‘go to person’ within the community services sector. Her qualifications include Cert IV TAE, Registered Nursing, First Aid, and a post graduate Diploma in Social Sciences. She is currently completing 25x UOC to cover the Cert III/IV in both Disability and Ageing. Chakinta prides herself in delivering quality training which is learner-focused and ASQA compliant. She is based at the Batemans Bay campus but also delivers training at the Merimbula and Ulladulla campuses, as well as online. Chakinta’s non-training achievements include her role as an Executive Producer on the American feature film More Beautiful for Having Been Broken, (watch it here).


Deborah Mercer, nominated by Atwea College

Deborah Mercer has been a passionate educator of aged care and disability for almost 16 years. She joined Atwea College in 2018 and delivers training in Certificate III in Individual Support in both Ageing and Disability, Certificate IV in Disability, Certificate IV in Ageing Support and Infection Control. Deborah is a lifelong learner and holds formal qualifications in aged care, disability and community services and regularly participates in training opportunities to ensure currency and expand her knowledge. Her love of the industry is demonstrated through her ongoing volunteer work at her local RFBI aged care facility.


Shirley Shirdon, nominated by Western Riverina Community College

Shirley specialises in the delivery of Certificate III Individual Support (Ageing). She has more than 15 years in the care industry, working as a Community Care Specialist, an advocate for people with disabilities and a carer in a residential aged care facility. Her qualifications include Certificate III and IV in Aged Care, Certificate lV TAE, Address Language Literacy and Numeracy Skills, Design and Develop Assessment Tools. Shirley currently inhabits many roles in the aged care industry and the disability sector, including workplace mentor, education coordinator, infection control officer and carer. She is a warm and down-to-earth person who has the ability to engage and inspire people from a diverse range of backgrounds. She fluidly brings together her knowledge, skills and experience into her training.

2022 Trainer of the Year Honour Roll

The following nominated trainers – although not finalists – all receive “Honour Roll” commendations in recognition of their achievements.

  • Karen Dallas, Coffs Coast Community College
  • Jasmeet Khanooja, Macquarie Community College
  • Sarah Dicker, North Coast Community College
  • Grace Wong, Parramatta Community College
  • Alison Quinn, Western Riverina Community College

About the Award

This Award celebrates the work and underlines the importance of Australian adult and community education (ACE) trainers and teachers. CCA is proud of the many thousands of Australian ACE trainers and teachers, who motivate, inspire, mentor and guide their students to learn new skills and grow professionally and personally, reaching economic, social and community life objectives. Trainers are the “cutting edge” of ACE education and training, as they support and facilitate increased student confidence and learning, bringing to bear their own substantial life, industry, teaching and other professional experience.

The CCA Community Education Trainer of the Year Award complements and expands on CCA’s successful Student of the Year Awards. The Student of the Year Awards reflect the diversity of the Australian ACE sector, and the importance of the personalised attention that ACE trainers give their students. The Trainer of the Year Award will reinforce, continue and deepen these traditions.

The 2022 Trainer of the Year Award nominations were open to those have taught or trained students (in a paid capacity) in at least one course of study at an Australian not-for-profit adult and community education (ACE) organisation during the period 1 January 2021 through 30 July 2022. Courses of study could be VET accredited or non-accredited (including pre-accredited or pre-vocational). Nominees must be citizens or permanent residents of Australia.

Award decisions will be made by an impartial judging panel, consisting of Evelyn Goodwin (CCA Manager Policy & Projects), Chemène Sinson (VET consultant and CCA Conference MC) and Joneen Troup (former Manager, Camden Haven Community College), based on judging criteria which can be found in the Award Terms and Conditions (PDF). The Award ceremony takes place on Tuesday 13 September at the CCA Conference dinner.

About the Community Education Trainer of the Year Awards Logo

The Community Education Trainer of the Year Award logo (see above) is based on the concept of nurturing and growing a seed. The seed metaphorically represents the student/trainee, and the trainer helps to expand the seed’s life experience as the student/trainee matures and grows, with skills and knowledge as the catalyst for growth and development.

Further Information

Please contact CCA by email

Promote the Trainer Award through this hashtag: #CommunityTrainerAward2022