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Bendigo TAFE named 2022 Victorian Large Training Provider of the Year

Bendigo TAFE, alongside Kangan Institute, has been named Victoria’s Large Training Provider of the Year at the 2022 Victorian Training Awards held over the weekend.

The award is one of three Bendigo TAFE wins, with its students Desirae Kilduff and Franchesca Morrell named Koorie Student of the Year and Trainee of the Year respectively.

Winners were announced on Saturday night at a gala ceremony hosted by the Victorian Skills Authority, with Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute also a finalist for Inclusive Training Provider of the Year.

The results mean that Ms Kilduff and Mrs Morrell will now represent Victoria in their respective categories at the upcoming 2022 Australian Training Awards.

Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute CEO Sally Curtain said it was a privilege to be named Large Training Provider of the Year.

“It is an honour to be named Victorian Large Training Provider of the Year and we’d also like to congratulate the other finalists – GO TAFE and Builders Academy Australia,” Ms Curtain said.

“This award is an absolute credit to our dedicated and committed staff at Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute who put students at the centre of everything we do.

“Despite the challenges of COVID-19 over the past year, our teams were able to adapt swiftly to the challenges and go above and beyond to ensure our TAFEs and our students continued to thrive.

“It is also our second year in a year to be named a finalist for Inclusive Training Provider, which is a strong recognition of our efforts in this space.”

In November 2021, Bendigo TAFE unveiled its new $60 million revitalisation of its Bendigo City Campus. The state-of-the-art facility features a mix of new and refurbished heritage-listed buildings, including a new bakery and restaurant training facilities, hair, beauty and barbering salon, library, rehabilitation gym, life skills laboratory and an Indigenous education centre.

The revitalised campus also integrates inclusive and accessible elements, from availability of ramps and wheelchair-friendly restrooms to height-adjustable desks in classrooms.

Earlier this year, Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute were awarded the Victorian COVIDSafe Business Awards’ Community Award by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. They also achieved the 2021 Victorian Multicultural Awards’ Award for Excellence in Education (VET).

Ms Curtain said state-of-the-art facilities and strong industry ties were instrumental to Bendigo TAFE’s delivery of quality vocational education and training.

“By continuously evolving our campuses to incorporate best-in-class training facilities, we are able to meet the aspirations of our students and provide them with an exceptional learning experience,” Ms Curtain said.

“We are also incredibly proud of our connection to industry and our efforts in meeting local industry needs. Our strong ties, and the support of our industry and community partners, have enabled us to keep innovating and ensuring our programs make a real difference to the communities we serve.”

Named 2022 Victorian Koorie Student of the Year, Bendigo TAFE student Desirae Kilduff has a passion for supporting First Nations Peoples into training and career pathways.

Employed as an Indigenous Program Manager SA/VIC/TAS with Maxima Group, Ms Kilduff said the award win was an honour.

“It is amazing to be recognised by Victoria state training as Koorie Student of the Year,” said Ms Kilduff. 

“I hope to continue to advocate for education and training for community through TAFE; vocational education and training is an alternative and cost-effective pathway that can lead to rewarding and highly remunerated careers.” 

The 27-year-old’s interest in supporting First Nations employment outcomes was sparked by a traineeship stint at a bank – spearheaded by the inclusion and diversity team, the organisation had in place a Reconciliation Action Plan and a strong commitment to Indigenous employees. Inspired by this work, Ms Kilduff began exploring ways to forge a career in this direction.

She started by applying for a role with Maxima Group as an Indigenous Employment Consultant facilitating traineeships and apprenticeships. At the same time, she pursued qualifications to bolster her new career direction, including a dual diploma in Human Resource Management and Leadership and Management at Bendigo TAFE.

Now promoted to a managerial role, Ms Kilduff is continuing to develop her potential through further studies, including a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment developed specifically for Indigenous learners at Bendigo TAFE and an Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Management.

Also named Bendigo TAFE’s Aunty Melva Johnson Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year in March, Ms Kilduff said her experience at Bendigo TAFE has strengthened her love for vocational education.

“I didn’t have the best experience in education in high school; I suffered racial discrimination which impacted my attitude towards educational institutions,” Ms Kilduff said.

“That really changed over the last couple of years – the team at Bendigo TAFE’s Indigenous Education Centre IEC reached out to me as soon as I enrolled and let me know who they were. Throughout the year – and it was a tough year with COVID – they made sure I was doing well and offered their resources.

“I owe a lot to my teacher Nicole Bolitho. Whenever I doubted myself, she provided feedback and reassured me that I was on the right track. It felt like she was with me on my journey.”

Having completed the Certificate III in Dental Assisting and employed at Bendigo Health, Bendigo TAFE student Franchesca Morrell said winning Victorian Trainee of the Year came as a tremendous surprise.

“I still can't believe it (and) I'm very thankful. The fact that I was recognised has made me realise that I'm really meant for the dental field,” said Mrs Morrell.

“I hope to use this as a starting point to further my dental education and I hope that in some way, shape or form, this encourages people to take their oral health seriously.”

Raised in the Philippines, Mrs Morrell migrated to Australia at age 23. She worked for two years as a dental assistant in New South Wales, with the hopes of pursuing a formal dental assisting course to further her career prospects.

Upon moving to Victoria, Mrs Morrell clinched a role at a dental clinic that offered the Certificate III in Dental Assisting traineeship as part of the package, enabling her to enrol at Bendigo TAFE.

“It was great to study and work at the same time. What I learnt in theory at night could be put into practice during the day. It kept me on my toes and it kept me aware of everything I needed to do in my role,” Mrs Morrell said.

“Bendigo TAFE ensured that my education was world-class and very up-to-date, and the traineeship has helped me solidify my love and passion for the field.

“I would like to thank everyone at Bendigo TAFE; everyone there plays a key role in delivering courses to students like me. I would also like to thank my husband, family, friends, mentors, and colleagues. I wouldn't be here right now without their outstanding support.”

Earlier this year, Mrs Morrell was also named Bendigo TAFE’s Trainee of the Year. Since graduating, she has progressed into the role of Senior Dental Nurse. In addition to regular work, the 28-year-old also applies her skills in various community projects, including the Victorian Government’s Smile Squad and Bendigo Health’s dental outreach program.

“As I have progressed in my dental assisting journey, I have learned how extensive the dental field is and the vital role we play in people's lives,” Mrs Morrell said.

“I hope to advocate for greater awareness and acknowledgement of the dental community and its services. Having a healthy mouth is part of having a happy life.”

Ms Curtain congratulated both student winners on their success at the 2022 Victorian Training Awards.

“Desirae stands out for her commitment to vocational education and training – not only in improving her own prospects, but also in helping other First Nations people pursue success,” Ms Curtain.

“Franchesca’s journey embodies the beauty of traineeships where students can learn as they earn, formally gaining skills that enhances their career prospects.

“Bendigo TAFE is immensely proud of the achievements of both Desirae and Franchesca, and we wish them the best for the upcoming Australian Training Awards.”  

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