Swags for the homeless wins TAFE award

Media Release

Helping the homeless has earned a young Aboriginal TAFE student the Encouragement Award for Outstanding Achievement in vocational education and training.

Aaron Phillips (pictured right) from Ilford, who is studying at TAFE Western, is helping to raise money to buy 21st century swags for the homeless. He was one of 18 TAFE students from NSW whose achievements were recognised at the 2016 TAFE NSW Gili Awards.

Minister for Skills John Barilaro congratulated the winners as shining examples of the reward that comes from hard work, dedication and a thriving TAFE sector in NSW.

“Gili is an Eora word meaning ‘to shine’ and that’s what these students and staff have achieved,” Mr Barilaro said.


Aaron Phillips (right) and Harley Brown, who are part of a group of TAFE students from Mudgee helping the homeless during the winter months.

Each year TAFE NSW showcases the remarkable achievements in Aboriginal vocational education and training with the Gili Awards.

TAFE NSW was proud to celebrate the 26th annual Gili (pronounced “kili”) Awards at the Star Room, Darling Harbour last night. Gili is a word coming from the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, meaning “to shine”.

And shine they did. Eighteen awards were presented, celebrating student, teacher and Institute excellence. This year, the awards celebration also coincided with National Sorry Day as a part of Reconciliation Week.

TAFE NSW has a rich history of fostering indigenous education programs. Receiving a Gili is the pinnacle of recognition, helping to close the gap in vocational education.

Some of the ceremony’s  more significant awards include;

The Bruce Kendall Award for Recognition of Service to TAFE NSW

Presented to (Uncle) Len Waters

This award recognises excellence and a long term commitment to service in TAFE NSW. For 2016, no-one was more fitting that Len Waters of the Kamilaroi people. Significant to Len’s 15 year career with TAFE NSW is his unwavering commitment to providing education to isolated Aboriginal communities in the TAFE NSW New England area. He is also a dedicated mentor and advisor for many students, combined with his passion for his community. It’s easy to see why Uncle Len is such a deserving winner. Recently retired from teaching, Len accepted this award modestly, praising instead the staff and students around him.

Award for Academic Excellence

Presented to Bronte Ayoub

Bronte is a proud aboriginal woman from the Wiradjuri nation. In a 12-month period she completed her Diploma of Youth Work and a 240 hour work placement at the Champagnat Catholic College. Bronte then continued to serve her community in a voluntary capacity at the completion of her work placement. Testament to her skills and talents, she went on to secure employment at Champagnat Catholic College in her chosen field of Youth Work.

The 2016 Gili Award winners are:

  • Award for Academic Excellence – Bronte Ayoub, TAFE NSW Sydney Institute
  • Apprentice of the Year – Dylan Bolch, TAFE NSW Hunter Institute
  • Trainee of the Year – Shaylyn Whyman, TAFE NSW Western Institute
  • Bruce Kendall Award – Len Waters, TAFE NSW New England Institute
  • Aboriginal Staff Award – Larraine Townsend, TAFE NSW Western Institute
  • Non-Aboriginal Staff Award – Craig Sommerville, TAFE NSW New England Institute
  • Industry Partnership Award – Coles First Step Employment Program, TAFE NSW Sydney Institute
  • Community Engagement Award – Toomelah Cemetery Project, TAFE NSW New England Institute
  • Youth Engagement Award – Dubbo Opportunity Hub, TAFE NSW Western Institute
  • Award for Institute Innovation – SWSi Aboriginal Learning Centre of Excellence, TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute
  • TVET Awards – Katherine (KC) Bradbury, TAFE NSW Western Institute & Aliesha Prince, TAFE NSW New England Institute
  • Achievement Awards – Larissa Cooper, TAFE NSW Northern Sydney Institute; Kristen Harford, TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute & Brett Allen, TAFE NSW North Coast Institute
  • Encouragement Awards – Aaron Phillipps, TAFE NSW Western Institute, Samantha D’Elboux, TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute & Mary Mumbulla, TAFE NSW Sydney Institute.