Vocational education and training students, teachers and the businesses who train them have been honoured for their outstanding achievements at the 65th Victorian Training Awards, with six women taking out top honours.

Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education Gayle Tierney congratulated the 14 winners at the prestigious annual event, dedicated to the state’s vocational education and training system.

Women took out the top awards for Trainee of the Year, Teacher/Trainer of the Year, School-based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year, Vocational Student of the Year and Koorie Student of the Year, as well as the Lynne Kosky Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Winner of the Vocational Student of the Year Award Rachael Hilder returned to education when she was 48, after many years as a primary carer and parent – proving you’re never too old to start something new.

She started a Diploma of Community Services but realised she was drawn to justice and after completing a Diploma of Justice at Kangan Institute, she now works as a Corrections Officer at Ravenhall Correctional Centre.

Other winners include Tanya McDonald who took out Koorie Student of the Year. Tanya enrolled in a Diploma of Community Services at South West TAFE to follow her passions of helping others and Aboriginal advocacy.

Halfway through her diploma, which she says completely changed her life, Tanya gained employment as a paralegal at a Warrnambool law firm.

Other highlights include the presentation of the Lynne Kosky Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement, which was won by Patricia Neden for her significant contribution to the Victorian TAFE and Training system for more than 25 years.

Winners were selected from 39 finalists, with the winners receiving $5,000 each in prize money. Winners from eligible categories will represent Victoria at the Australian Training Awards in Brisbane in November.

Since 2015, the Andrews Labor Government has invested more than $1.3 billion to rebuild our TAFE system and ensure students can get the skills they need for the jobs they want.

For more information on the winners, visit https://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/awards/vta/Pages/vtawinners.aspx