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First Nations students among CDU honorees at NT Training Awards

Tiwi Islands man Jahdai Vigona is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year.
Tiwi Islands man Jahdai Vigona is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year.

A First Nations health researcher who wants to contribute to the wellbeing of his people is one of the Charles Darwin University (CDU) students and teachers honoured at this year’s Northern Territory Training Awards.

The ceremony was held in Darwin on Saturday 18 September. In its 66th year, the awards celebrate the achievements of Territorians in the VET (Vocational Education and Training) sector and recognise the outstanding contributions made by local trainees, apprentices, employers and training providers.

Jahdai Vigona from Tiwi Islands won this year’s award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year after picking up Trainee of the Year and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of the Year at the GTNT Awards earlier this year.

Mr Vigona is currently working at the Menzies School of Health Research as a project assistant with the Freemasons Centre for Male Health and Wellbeing. He completed a Certificate III in Community Services and is currently finishing a Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs and a Certificate IV in Mental Health.

Mr Vigona said he’s passionate about health care, especially for First Nations peoples.

“I want to contribute to my community and to First Nations people's social and emotional health and wellbeing. I feel that these qualifications will open higher education pathways for me that could lead anywhere,” Mr Vigona said.

Runner up for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year was Alma Ngalmi, who completed a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and a Certificate IV in Retail Management.

Ms Ngalmi, originally from Numbulwar, achieved her goal of becoming the first Aboriginal retail trainer at Outback Stores, which she said was one of the proudest moments of her life.

“VET helped me grow my skills, develop confidence and opened up career pathways that I thought weren’t possible,” Ms Ngalmi said.

Austin Asche Apprentice of the Year Savanne Canobie is a graduate of CDU’s electrotechnology training. The Nhulunbuy native said she was drawn to the electrical trade in high school.

“I enjoyed math and physics and I didn’t want to get stuck behind a desk, so this was an ideal direction for me,” Ms Canobie said

“I completed my apprenticeship with Rio Tinto here in Nhulunbuy and I’m currently working with the high voltage department.”

Ms Canobie is continuing her CDU studies with a Certificate III in Instrumentation and Control, a course whose graduates are in high demand. 

The VET in School Student of the Year award went to Taylah Dehne a Year 12 student who is completing her Certificate III in Rural Operations at CDU's Katherine Campus. Ms Dehne hopes to continue her studies with CDU next year to become a VET lecturer. 

Runner-up for School-based  Apprentice or Trainee of the Year was Ricki Challis, who’s studying a Certificate III in Community Health at CDU’s Katherine campus.

VET Lecturer and Workplace Assessor, Business, Retail and Accounting, Wendy Blight took out the award for VET Teacher Trainer of the Year. Ms Blight said the experience was overwhelmingly positive.

“This has empowered me to strive for bigger and better things for my students, myself and for vocational education. I love being part of the student journey,” Ms Blight said.

Category winners and runners-up share in cash prizes and some—including Mr Vigona—will have the opportunity to represent the NT at the Australian Training Awards.

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