Congratulations to the 11 winners and all the finalists of the Darling Downs South West region.

Thank you to everyone who attended the regional final held on 14 July 2023 at the Clifford Park Racecourse.

The winners will now represent their region at the state final on 9 September 2023 in Brisbane

Harry Hauenschild Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Gabrielle Clift

Qualification: Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology
Training provider: MTA Institute
Employer: Highfields Mechanical

Gabrielle Clift is a qualified light vehicle mechanic and Auto Women Mentor, helping young girls enter the industry. She completed her apprenticeship with Highfields Mechanical in Toowoomba after inheriting a love of cars from her father. During her apprenticeship, Gabrielle won several awards, including some work experience with Triple Eight Race Engineering. Gabrielle impressed so much that she was asked to join the crew at the Bathurst 1000 and is now working for Triple Eight full-time.

Regional finalists

Joshua McKay, Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician / Certificate III in Instrumentation and Control
Jesse Stevens, Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade

Bob Marshman Trainee of the Year

Winner: Chloe Chudleigh

Qualification: Certificate IV in Business
Training provider: Australian Trade Training College
Employer: Stanwell Corporation

Chloe Chudleigh completed a Certificate IV in Business with Stanwell Corporation via their competitive apprentice and trainee program. Now based at Tarong Power Station she is already enjoying leadership roles including becoming the inclusion and diversity working group lead. Chloe initiated the automation of vehicle checks via a QR code, helping transition to a paperless environment. She has a passion for volunteering and promoting the opportunities for women in the resource industry.

Regional finalists

Sharlette Calvert, Certificate III in Business
Addisen Hawks, Certificate III in Work Health and Safety

Vocational Student of the Year

Winner: Rachael Laurie

Qualification: Diploma of Business
Training provider: Major Training Group
Employer: Joe Wagner Group

Five years ago Rachael Laurie decided on a radical career change, leaving her medical receptionist job to enter the civil construction industry. Joining the Joe Wagner Group, Rachael completed multiple qualifications and short courses as well as a Diploma of Business through Major Training. Her newfound passion for training and helping others has lead to her current role as HR and training coordinator. Rachael's ongoing study and training have equipped her to deliver a range of support to others.

Regional finalists

Molly Choyce, Diploma of Child, Youth and Family Intervention
Poppy Metzroth, Certificate III in Individual Support

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Winner: Aiden Le Rossignol

Qualification: Certificate III in Work Health and Safety
Training provider: Harness Energy Services
Group training organisation: Harness Energy Services
Host employer: BOC Limited

Aiden Le Rossignol, an Aboriginal Arrernte Man from Alice Springs, completed a Certificate III in Work Health and Safety in September 2022. The traineeship, hosted by BOC Limited near Miles, provided him with a strong foundation for a long-term career and allowed him to navigate challenges with the support of a mentor. He has developed a passion for safety in the work environment, taken on multiple leadership roles, and is a proud community member.

Regional finalists

Charmaine Georgetown, Certificate II in Workplace Skills
Peter Heinemann, Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology

School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year

Winner: Lucy Hutchison

Qualification: Certificate III in Business
Training provider: Youth Development and Training
Employer: MET Phys, Highfields
School: Mary Mackillop Catholic College

Lucy Hutchinson, a student at Mary Mackillop Catholic College, completed her Certificate III in Business via a school-based traineeship at MET Phys, Highfields. Finishing her traineeship ahead of schedule, her communication and teamwork abilities, along with her passion for business, earned her recognition and multiple job offers. With a clear career path in mind, Lucy is now aiming to pursue further training in leadership and fulfil her dream of becoming a fighter pilot.

Regional finalists

Peter Heinemann, Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology
Claire Keleher, Certificate III in Meat Processing (Retail Butcher)

Equity Student of the Year

Winner: Sabastian Fisher

Qualification: Certificate I in Workplace Skills
Training provider: SkillCentred Queensland
Employer: SkillCentred Queensland

After facing challenges as a youth worker and experiencing homelessness Sabastian Fisher returned to Cherbourg to care for his grandmother. Turning his life around he chose to take on a Certificate I in Workplace Skills traineeship at SkillCentred's Bus-I-Ness Hub. This led Sabastian to develop a business action plan for this dream car detailing business. He hopes his entrepreneurial skills will bridge gaps in youth justice, empower others, and help his community thrive.

Regional finalists

Max Murray, Certificate II in Business
Celeste Purcell, Certificate III in Business

VET Teacher or Trainer of the Year

Winner: Craig Jones

Employer: UQ Skills

Craig Jones has revolutionised the Certificate IV in Farriery for apprentices at UQ Skills. Using his 35 years of experience shoeing horses, Craig overhauled the traditional farriery program to include modern, digitised training materials. Craig spent weekends filming himself performing a series of basic to advanced farriery skills to use in structured videos and presentations. These high-quality resources now complement practical training and align to the course requirements.

Regional finalists

Sheryl Dooley, TAFE Queensland
Steve Peucker, CHM Alliance

Community Training Initiative of the Year

Winner: Chinchilla Community Centre

Program: Skilling Queenslanders for Work—Knowing Nutrition
(07) 4662 8528

The Chinchilla Community Centre is a not-for-profit organisation that has been operating for 40 years. It offers various services to support vulnerable people, including emergency relief, job support, and community events. A recent 20-week Skilling Queenslanders for Work project, Knowing Nutrition, provided hospitality training, workplace expectation information and employment opportunities resulting in successful outcomes for vulnerable and disadvantaged local people.

Regional finalists

BASE Services – BASE Services Traineeship
Downs Industry Schools Co-operation (DISCO) – School Leaver Support Program

Large Employer of the Year

Winner: Western Downs Regional Council
(07) 4679 4000

Western Downs Regional Council provides services and innovative solutions for its growing population of around 35,000 people. With approximately 540 staff including 34 apprentices and trainees, its vision is to create an organisation ready for the future through workforce development, mentoring programs, and skills gap analysis. The council focuses on training, compliance, and personal development for employees, through local providers and various initiatives.

Regional finalists

Global Engineering & Construction
NHFoods Australia – Oakey Beef Exports

Medium Employer of the Year

Winner: JRS Skills Academy
(07) 4162 1692

The JRS Skills Academy, part of JRS Group, focuses on developing industry-led training programs to prepare young people for future leadership roles in manufacturing and aerospace. By partnering with registered training organisations the company offered an Advanced Diploma of Engineering higher learning pathway to address critical skill gaps such as boilermaking, CNC machining, non-destructive testing and mechatronics. The JRS Skills Academy aims to redefine training and job pathways for the manufacturing sector.

Regional finalists

BLASK Engineering
South Burnett CTC

Small Employer of the Year

Winner: ParisiAnn Patisserie

Toowoomba's French pastry shop, ParisiAnn Patisserie, is preparing aspiring culinary artists. With owners who are qualified trainers, they focus on providing high quality training tailored to industry and individual needs. With off-site theoretical learning and on-site practical training and assessment, staff spend around 10 hours per week gaining experience in customer service, cake-making and other areas. The company has an inclusive philosophy, championing trust, equity, and innovation.

Regional finalists

Conquer Fitness
Little Pig Consulting

Last updated 15 July 2023

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