Recognising Talent and Apprenticeship Training Excellence


On Wednesday evening this week we held our Annual Awards Dinner.  Around 120 guests attended and the night showcased some fantastic examples of young apprentices and trainees, members and staff within the Victorian GTO industry.

The awards categories covered Apprentice of the Year, Trainee of the Year, Outstanding OHS Award, GTO Service Excellence Award and Industry Service Awards (10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service).

Congratulations to the following:

Trainee of the Year – Sponsored by VicSuper

The winner received a $500 gift voucher.

This year we had 3 finalists in the Trainee of the Year award category

Merinda Dryden, NECA Education & Careers – Winner
Craig McCauley, CVGT Australia – Finalist
Ryan Smith, Westvic Staffing Solutions – Finalist


Merinda Dryden – NECA Education & Careers
Certificate III in Business

Merinda commenced her traineeship with NECA after completing her year 12 studies, she commenced working at the Department of Justice and Regulation in the HR department.  In a short period of time, she excelled in her role, developing excellent communication skills, & quickly adapting to a changing environment.

This was her opportunity to succeed in her chosen field but to also represent her community, being a young aboriginal woman, Merinda wanted to work in an area that she would bring knowledge of her culture.  In 2016 Merinda was crowned Ms NAIDOC, appeared on Lateline to discuss Aboriginal children in Foster Care and took part in a Reconciliation program discussing respectful integration of the Aboriginal Culture in the community.

Upon completing her traineeship she was offered a role with the Victorian Aboriginal Childcare Agency.


Apprentice of the Year – Proudly Sponsored by AustralianSuper

The winner received a $500 gift voucher.

Matt Shipard, Ai Group – Winner
Michael Prout, BGT – Finalist
Peter Hodson, CVGT Australia – Finalist

Matt Shipard – Ai Group Apprentices & Trainees
Certificate III in Engineering & Mechanical Stage 4

In 2014 Matt commenced his apprenticeship with Ai Group as a Maintenance Fitter securing a position with Nestle Uncle Toby’s in Wagaunah. He is now in the process of completing his second qualification in Engineering Fabrication.  Matt has developed excellent leadership skills and is a mentor to new apprentices, he is highly regarded, and displays excellent work ethics, which makes him an outstanding member of his team.

In August 2016 Matt was awarded Ai Group Apprentice of the month, in 2017 he was awarded Apprentice of the Year at the Wodonga Youth Award.

Outside of Work he participated in the Cancer Council relay for Life, he also went on a mission trip to Papua New Guinea and is a volunteer fire fighter for the Goombargana Rural Bush Fire Brigade.


OHS STAR Award – Proudly Sponsored by EML

Paris Panteli – Ai Group

GTO OH&S Excellence award – Proudly Sponsored by EML

Isaac Chui – Westvic Staffing Solutions

GTO Service Excellence Award – Proudly Sponsored by Marsh Insurance

Skillinvest – Lift Off Program re engagement program for students in year 7, 8 & 9, designed to transition students back into education through a flexible safe and non-threatening environment.

ATEP – On The Road To Work Multi Industry, School Based & Pre-apprenticeship Program.  Developing innovative ideas to engage participants with long term unemployment and to acquire the and work experience in securing apprenticeships.


Industry Service Awards

Presented to staff in recognition of service to the group training industry.  On the evening we presented 43 awards for staff that achieved 10, 15, 20 & 25 Years.

10 Years

Alison Craig – Murray Mallee Training Company Ltd
Nicole Steendam – Murray Mallee Training Company Ltd
Ann Marr – NECA Education & Careers
Gary Vidler – NECA Education & Careers
Brendan Clarke – NECA Education & Careers
Neil Helsdon – NECA Education & Careers
Phil Honeywood – NECA Education & Careers
Rosalie Lake – CVGT
Steven Stubberfield – CVGT
Gina Stewart – Ai Group Apprentice & Trainee Centre
Ren Trinchera – Ai Group Apprentice & Trainee Centre
Paul Konig – Skillinvest
Linda Loft – Skillinvest
Ali Akkus – AGA
Alan Pump – AGA
Olivia Chapman – AGA
Dawn Comerford – AGA
Michael Dixon – AGA
Grant Sarolea – AGA
Anthony Magnuson – AGA
Karen Duffy – AGA
Murray Willett – CVGT

15 Years

John Taufer – NECA Education & Careers
Johanna Jones – CVGT
Leonard Dobbin – CVGT
Kate Clark – Skillinvest
Steve Barr – AGA
Kevin Breen – AGA
Elizabeth Board – AGA
Alan Brown – AGA
Paula Henry – ATEP
Peter Treseder – AustalianSuper

20 Years

Tam Lumsden – Westvic Staffing Solutions
Susie Stafford – Murray Mallee Training Company Ltd
John Clarke – NECA Education & Careers
Stephen Lewis – AGA
Lidia Mooney – AGA
John Lynch – CVGT
Robert Trew – CVGT

25 Years

Kelly McCusker – NECA Education & Careers
Philip Seeber – NECA Education & Careers
Paul Scofield – AGA
Anthony Zaghet – AGA

30 Years

Ian Grenfell – CVGT

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners of this year’s awards.