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VCAL Achievement Awards

The VCAL Achievement Awards celebrate outstanding achievements of young people who participate in and complete a VCAL qualification. The awards also recognise the exceptional efforts of committed teachers and community partners who have played significant roles within the VCAL program. The VCAL Achievement Awards take place in Term 2 each year.

The students, schools and their community partners are living examples of excellence in applied learning. They demonstrate that we can and must find diverse ways of challenging, extending and promoting learning for the full range of young people.

Nominations open for VCAL Achievement Awards, class of 2022

Applications are now open for the VCAL Achievement Awards celebrating the class of 2022. Applications close 11.59pm on Friday 18 November, 2022. Please read the Conditions of Entry and Nomination Guidelines below before beginning your nomination.

Conditions of Entry 

Nomination Guidelines 

Your nominee/s must sign the Acceptance of Nomination Form, and this must be submitted along with your nomination below.

Celebrating the Class of 2022

The VCAL Achievement Awards for the class of 2022 were presented in a ceremony at the Edge, Fed Square on Tuesday 2 May 2023.

Sue Bell, Executive Director of Senior Secondary Certificate Reform at VCAA hosted the ceremony with guest speaker Jason Henderson, Wantirna College, recipient of a Senior Work Related Skills award.

Recipients of the 2022 VCAL Achievement Awards

Award recipients

Student Awards

Intermediate Outstanding Achievement

Skye Ferguson – SEDA College Victoria, Wurundjeri Country

Skye Ferguson displayed a continued focus on improvement in 2022, while addressing all four VCAL curriculum strands to a very high standard. At SEDA College, Skye thrived in the applied learning environment, whether that was at sporting clinics or in class. She cared for class members, approaching each task with a positive mindset, and her peers flourished in her presence.

This was evident in the way Skye managed her peers in the Great Outdoors subject area Skye took the lead role in her group as they planned and delivered a class event. Her planning was meticulous and her ability to incorporate all group members exemplary. On the day of the event, Skye directed all class members, offering feedback where required. Finally, she reviewed her event in an accurate manner, requesting feedback and future suggestions from key stakeholders. Another task required students to draft, edit and prepare a gratitude tribute for someone special in their life. Skye delivered an exceptional audio recording, celebrating the positive influence of her mother.

As part of SEDA’s The Team subject, students had to complete a numeracy-based task that examined all aspects of team involvement. Using the Supercoach AFL fantasy platform, Skye produced a brilliant assessment with a particular focus on budgeting and identifying player values and ranking. Overall, Skye created a team that was wellbalanced with the most viable options available within the budget.

Last, Skye also produced an excellent task when she examined gender-based harassment within the workplace. This task was within a subject area known as The Apprentice, which helps students prepare for navigating the world of work. She provided a wonderful resource for business that incorporated all elements of workplace harassment, genderbased violence, workplace incidents and strategies to improve workplace culture.

Intermediate Personal Development Skills

Fergus Rann – Mentone Grammar, Bunurong Country

Fergus utilised the VCAL program to follow his passions, develop effective relationships and take on new challenges. All this encouraged his development of exemplary leadership and communication skills.

In his Cadet unit, Fergus earned the rank of Sergeant and proudly mentored Year 9 and 10 students through a week-long bivouac at Puckapunyal. Leadership, teamwork and communication were key skills required for this activity to ensure the younger students felt safe and supported but also were following instructions.

This example of leadership was not a singular occurrence, and Fergus assisted his house in various school events, helping in class when needed, modelling appropriate learning behaviours to other students and managing the sound and lighting for the

Middle School play. Furthermore, for one weekend each term, Fergus led school tours for prospective students and their families, communicating confidently and enthusiastically about his love of his school and of the VCAL program.

Fergus could always be counted on to help other students with their work in class and ensured all students were included in activities. He has well-developed emotional intelligence and is sensitive to the needs of other students. He has ultimately been recognised for his leadership by earning the role of Performing Arts Captain for 2023.

Intermediate Team Achievement

Dree Carson, Evelyen Faisst, Ary Smith and Hazel Walley – Kyabram P–12 College, Yorta Yorta Country

Drea Carson, Evelyn Faisst, Ary Smith and Hazel Walley felt that Kyabram P–12 College lacked an outward sign of acceptance and support for the LGBTIQ+ community. To address this, as a Personal Development Skills project, the team decided to raise

awareness by recreating the Pride Flag on a prominent footpath in the College, which would be combined with uplifting messages and contact information for support networks.

They submitted this plan to the College council for approval while simultaneously reaching out to Ro Allen, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner. Co mmissioner Allen contacted Todd Fernando, the Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ C ommunities, who was able to provide significant financial assistance for the initiative.

The initiative and resilience demonstrated by the students throughout this process was excellent. The students worked well together in planning and painting the mural; at one point expanding the project to include a seating area. The team planned invitations, speeches, decorations, food and sound systems in concert with the Wellbeing leader at the school.

Unfortunately, two days before the unveiling, the mural was vandalised by a member of the public. However, demonstrating exceptional resilience and great teamwork, the students were able to repaint the entire mural just in time. At the opening, the students emceed the event and spoke exceptionally well to a group consisting of their peers, school leadership, council representatives, members of Goulburn Valley Pride Inc., Commissioner Allen, and Commissioner Fernando. The event also allowed these guests to present and provided a forum for the work of the students to be celebrated, validating their persistence in implementing this initiative and strengthening their resolve for further advocacy for the community.

Koorie Student Achievement

Kiara Taylor – Cranbourne East Secondary College, Bunurong Country

In 2021, Kiara was awarded with a Certificate of Excellence for achieving top results at Cranbourne East Secondary College, as well as being nominated for excellence in all other VCAL strands by her teachers. In 2022, she was nominated again in all subject

areas for excellence and was presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Year 12 valedictory.

Kiara is a kind and hard-working inpidual who is proud of her heritage and is a fantastic role model to other Koorie students at Cranbourne East Secondary College. She was the recipient of a Marrung Scholarship in March 2021, highlighting her commitment to her studies and her drive to succeed in her chosen pathway. Kiara also played an integral part of Culture Club at the school and has been a part of the club since Year 7.

Culture Club is a place where students can take part in a range of cultural activities and discussions. Kiara planned an Indigenous artwork project, assisting in conceptualising the meaning and design of the artwork, while also contributing to many of the thousands of dots on an artwork (now on display at reception in the College). The painting depicts the people and community that is present within Cranbourne East Secondary College today. Kiara participated in the planning and organising of major event series, Cultivating Creative Cultures with Communities. This included two nights of cultural performances from schools in the region. 

For her contribution to the event, Kiara produced a dot painting of 3000 individual dots, representing the connection of cultures across the community. For this, she was rightfully celebrated in the local news.

School Based Apprenticeship/Trainee

Hayley Dupas – Padua College, Taungurung Country

Hayley demonstrated an outstanding attitude toward obtaining and completing her School-based Apprenticeship/Traineeship (SBAT) in 2022. She was proactive and positive in her project of developing a clear understanding of pathways to work in

her industry.

For work experience in 2021, Hayley returned to her primary school. She sought to assist students and teachers in the classroom, as she herself had received support from learning assistants in the past. Hayley knew first-hand the difference such support

can make to a young person’s education.

This experience was crystalised Hayley’s passions, and she returned to secondary school knowing where she wanted to direct her career. In late 2021, she applied for an Education Support SBAT with U-Train in Melbourne on her own initiative, while keeping

her school and teachers well-informed about the process. Hayley was accepted into the program for 2022.

Throughout 2022, Hayley was excellent in managing both her schoolwork and her SBAT commitments. She continued her high performance in the classroom, setting an example for her peers. She managed groups of students to ensure that projects were

delivered on time, as well as negotiated deadlines to facilitate both the work in her SBAT and her class tasks. In all areas of her schooling, she practiced a formidable degree of maturity and professionalism.

By the end of 2022 and due to her exceptional achievements, Hayley was offered additional work as an Education Support Officer beyond her SBAT.

Senior Outstanding Achievement

Ella Heidecker – Mentone Grammar, Bunurong Country

Ella is a highly accomplished student who demonstrated resilience and determination throughout her Senior VCAL program. Ella rose to the challenge of her final year of schooling using the opportunities presented to be involved in everything she could

possibly fit into her schedule.

In addition to her leadership role as Applied Learning Captain, Ella was a Sergeant Major with the school’s cadet unit and has led several groups of younger students on hikes. Dealing with medical emergencies, threats of rain and cadets unprepared for the elements, she found these experiences taught her resilience, perseverance, and empathy.

Ella also led the woodwind section at Mentone Grammar in 2022, improving her technical and creating a positive learning environment in which she was able to inspire and teach others. Ella has been part of two operas and played with the Melbourne Youth Symphonic Orchestra throughout 2022.

Contributing to her community is important to Ella, and she managed to complete her Gold-level Duke of Edinburgh Award over the course of her VCAL program, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to skill development and voluntary service.

Ella was an outstanding role model to all students in Mentone Grammar’s VCAL program. She demonstrated to both VCE and VCAL cohorts how applied learning and traditional academic subjects can be effectively combined to build a strong and relevant skill set.

Ella completed Senior VCAL while working toward her Diploma of Aviation. Ella now plans to complete her aviation qualification and later study conservation and land management at university.

Senior Personal Development Skills

Moussa Tiba – John Fawkner College, Wurundjeri Country

At the start of the 2022 school year, Moussa realised that he needed to work hard to improve his learning. From that point on, he demonstrated extraordinary growth over a short period of time. Moreover, he realised he possessed natural leadership qualities with which he could help his peers and wider community.

Moussa led from the front, stepping up and taking responsibility for his own learning, as well as inspiring and supporting the learning of others. In the case of a group project, Moussa not only completed his own work, but took on additional tasks to ensure the project was delivered on time and at a high level.

Moussa grew his capacity to reflect on feedback and strove to do his best both in the classroom and as a leader and advocate of an applied learning model at school. He presented to all Year 10 students about what the new VCE Vocational Major might look like at John Fawkner College and explained the importance, value and commitment required when applying for this course of study. He responded to questions about studying a dual qualification and the skills required to do this effectively.

During the final class presentation to stakeholders, Moussa happily stepped in at a moment’s notice to cover an unexpected absence. He presented on their behalf in front of the leadership team and his peers without hesitation, impressing school staff greatly. Through hard work and selflessness, Moussa has earned the pride and respect of his school community.

Senior Team Achievement

Ashlea Alabaster, Tevita Fanguna, Hadija Katambwe, Dimitrios Pikos and Chanel Ulutui – Cranbourne East Secondary College, Bunurong Country

Community engagement was the focus of this student team. The VCAL cohort split into groups of four and were tasked with critically analysing a community problem or issue, then researching different methods of addressing them.

Students identified that despite the many different cultures in the region, they felt there was more focus on negative cultural tensions than on the positives of multiculturalism. Ashlea, Tevita, Hadija, Dimitrios and Chanel discovered the 4C’s (Cultivating Creative Cultures with Communities) while they were researching organisations working to champion multiculturalism. The 4C’s showcase had been running for 16 years until lockdown put a hold on events.

The Cranbourne East Secondary College (CESC) VCAL team liaised with 4C’s and became pivotal in relaunching the organisation in 2022. The team organised, promoted and hosted two nights of the 4C’s showcase at Bunjil Place in Narre Warren. Students chose roles that they would like to do as part of the team to develop their teamwork and leadership skills. Examples of some of the roles included social media managers and content producers, designers, researchers, media liaisons and directors. As the directing team, Chanel, Hadija, Tevita, Ashlea and Dimitri were key in coordinating and supporting the 4C’s host team of more than 80 CESC students.

On the evenings of the 5th and the 12th of September, CESC hosted the 4C’s showcase at Bunjil Place. More than 10 schools from the region took part in showcasing their amazing and cultural performances to more than 1600 guests. Some of the outstanding cultural dances featured were from India, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, Afghanistan, and First Nations Australian communities. The directors created passionate speeches about culture, pride and community, which they used to open each night of the event.

Senior Work Related Skills

Jason Henderson– Wantirna College, Wurundjeri Country

Jason excelled in his VCAL studies in 2022, completing Structured Workplace Learning with Powa Productions in Bayswater. Jason also worked at the college on high-level Work Related Skills projects, chiefly managing back of house technology for college productions and major college events. In addition to this, Jason’s advocacy for his peers, with his emphasis on inclusivity, led to the appointment of him as the College Year 12 VCAL Captain in 2022.

Jason has shown growth and development in both his personal and employability skills. He is sought after as a worker in the productions industry, especially when it comes to lighting and audio. His peers and teachers were unsurprised when he gained full-time employment with Powa Productions after completing his VCAL studies.

Over the course of his studies, Jason was afforded opportunities to work on professional productions and events, including the Mundi Mundi Bash at Broken Hill, the Big Red Bash at Birdsville, the Port Fairy Folk Festival, events at Sandstone Point Hotel and

Cockatoo Island – and more. While working at these events, Jason was utilised his abilities, including excellent communication and time management skills, teamwork, and technical knowledge, and expertise in theatre and live entertainment.

Jason’s input has been recognised by the School Community, who presented Jason with an Outstanding Achievement Award for his work on school productions and major events.

Teacher Awards

VCAL Teacher Achievement Award – Integrated Program

Mitch Coombs – Kyabram P-12 College, Yorta Yorta Country

The VCAL program at Kyabram P–12 College is one that takes opportunities to integrate across multiple VCAL strands. This integrated program is presented by multiple staff with complementary skills across all three VCAL levels for Year 10, 11 and 12 students. Throughout the course of the 2022 academic year, this program was delivered to a total of 80 students.

The overarching principle behind the program is to render students employable or employed by the conclusion of their studies. The curriculum is the medium through which this is done. To achieve this, it was necessary to move away from the educational

status quo of stratifying studies, and instead, integrated them. The team found that removing this barrier made teaching material as relevant as possible for the students.

The Kyabram P–12 College innovative model, and the staff who allow it to work, have drawn praise as an exemplar from local schools and multiple schools have sought advice in the development of their own programs. As an integrated program, the staff

demonstrate high-quality practice through facilitating community connection and meaningful projects that allow students to pursue their interests as much as possible.

This integrated approach has allowed for great levels of success, whether this be through successful completion of VCAL certificates, or moving on to further training or employment, including apprenticeships.

VCAL Teacher Award – Program Development

Cherie Osta – Lorne P–12 College, Eastern Maar Country

Cherie was instrumental in organising the partnership between Lorne P–12 College and Surf Coast Shire. Working alongside students, Cherie designed and implemented the structure of the program. This involved the production of the event, Lorne on the Lawn, developed according to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Cherie sought to engage students by incorporating their passions and interests into the program – by intent, the 17 broad ranging Sustainable Development Goals allowed students room to follow a direction important to them. In this way, Cherie gave students the opportunity to have a strong voice and ownership of their specific tasks. Throughout the year, students created inpidualised group programs, organised excursions, commissioned guest speakers, gave education programs to the junior students, and sought mentoring from relevant institutions in the community. Their efforts culminated in Lorne on the Lawn, a celebration where passionate students championed their Sustainable Development Goal in a variety of presentations.

One major motivation for Cherie, when creating the event, was to provide students with a gateway to reconnecting with the public world after lockdown. Cherie encouraged students to liaise with local businesses and organisations, as well as discover mentors in the community. She also highlighted the employability skills students were refining through their hard work.

Overall, Cherie’s work delivered both a dynamic event and strong education tool. It brought the community together, while engaging students with vital aspects of sustainability, providing them with the tools and knowledge to help make the world a better place.

VCAL Teacher Award - Team Teaching

Anthony Fraser, Helen Perez, Jessica Flavell, Alexander Langdon, Daniella Larman-Yalda, Jennifer Pendelbury – Assumption College, Taungurung Country

The teacher team from Assumption College aimed to provide a wide variety of opportunities for students to develop their knowledge and skills. Each member of the team possessed complementary strengths and skills, allowing their response to student needs to be dynamic. Throughout 2022, the team led students in projects across woodwork, cooking, sport and fitness, community projects, arts and crafts, community volunteering and agriculture.

The team made sure their structure, aims and objectives were clear throughout the year, and clearly communicated on what outcomes they were seeking in each activity. Their motto was ‘we will not ask the students to do anything that we are not prepared to do ourselves’. As such, the team is often seen with tools in hand, working alongside students.

The team continuously collaborated and refined their programs, navigating teaching commitments outside the VCAL program. This involved high level agile communications, flexibility, and teamwork to ensure the students were supported and appropriately staffed.

The teaching team were extremely supportive of each other, while consistently putting the students’ needs before their own, often giving up free time to assist in supervision, excursions, and certificate courses. There was jubilant feedback from students, parents and community members regarding the extensive number of programs offered by the College. Students excelled through the year thanks to their teachers’ tireless work and dedication.

VCAL Teacher of the Year

Sawsan Hassan – Cranbourne East Secondary College, Bunurong Country

Sawsan Hassan has been a VCAL teacher for half a decade. In 2022 she was the Vocational and Applied Learning Specialist at Cranbourne East Secondary College (CESC), where she taught VCAL Professional Development Skills and Work-Related

Skills at a senior level and Numeracy at an Intermediate level. Sawsan lead a team of 25 teachers in the senior school, looking after close to 250 students from all levels of VCAL.

A strong advocate of applied learning, Sawsan drove towards building the capacity of the Applied Learning practitioners in her school and elsewhere. She led by example, and her students were always interested, engaged, and high performing. Her student

team were celebrated at the VCAL Achievement Awards, Class of 2021, for their Stop Family Violence project. Her VCAL Class of 2022 is described in this program, for their achievements with the 4C’s showcase.

Sawsan supported and educated her colleagues in understanding the Senior Secondary Certificate Reforms. She saw the opportunity to further improve her programs at CESC, and diligently researched and adopted the reforms as they were announced. Now, the College is a champion of the VCE Vocational Major and Victorian Pathways Certificate, providing professional development for internal staff perhaps, in future, external staff too.

Sawsan was also part of the VCAA Inspiring Projects course, which highlighted her passion for supporting students to develop their skills in engaging and meaningful projects. Sawsan is a proud advocate of the new VCE Vocational Major and Victorian Pathways Certificate – a driven educator focused on continuing to build the capacity of her peers in applied learning.

VCAL Partnerships Award

HW Greenham, CopRice, Industry Training Hub – Shepparton (MEGT), SLTEC Fertilizers, Shire of Campaspe, Tyler Farms, Murray Dairy, Yorta Yorta Country

Kyrbram P–12 College, Yorta Yorta Country

n late 2021, Tongala-based business HW Greenham approached the staff at Kyabram P–12 with an idea – an opportunity for VCAL students to support local small businesses and be exposed to real-world workplaces, thus growing better informed of opportunities after school.

This initial meeting was facilitated by Industry Training Hub – Shepparton (MEGT), who provided instrumental support throughout the consequent project. The initiative quickly grew to include several other local organisations, including CopRice, SLTEC Fertilizers, Tyler Farms and Murray Dairy. The students benefited immensely from their interactions with the organisations, which included site visits, educational talks from management and staff from the businesses, and the opportunity for students to ask questions in a seminar setting. Students learned about current and future entry level skilled career opportunities for young people, training opportunities, and workforce needs in the region. The students also enjoyed hearing from employees, especially their insights about their jobs and job pathways.

The students reassessed their options about what their future may hold and how local employers might help them achieve their goals. This emphasised the importance of getting out and giving it a go’, while supporting each other as a community. The whole day was only possible through excellent teamwork, planning and communication between all the parties involved

Surf Coast Shire, Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar Country

Lorne P–12 College, Eastern Maar Country

The students from Lorne P–12 College had diverse passions and interests. However, their commonality was the desire to bring together the communities around them in celebration, especially after two years of lockdowns. This was how the Lorne on the Lawn event was born.

After looking into how they might go about organising the festival, students investigated the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and decided to champion these values in the development of their event. Working in small groups, students oversaw one Sustainable Development Goal each. They created inpidualised group programs that included organised excursions, guest speakers, education programs, out-of-school action tasks, and community mentoring.

Putting together their new findings and experiences, as well as the idea to bring communities together in celebration, students negotiated an event idea. Their aim was to inspire more youth to take an active role in ‘making tomorrow a

better place’. Through a series of meetings with school leadership and the council, the students finally decided to organise the first Victorian Student Sustainable Development Goals Expo, or Lorne on the Lawn. It was held on the Lorne Foreshore.

Partnership with Damian O’Brien, the youth unit leader at the Surf Coast Shire, was key to the success of the project. The Surf Coast Youth Unit had worked with students in the past. Damian provided invaluable leadership and mentoring to the students. Throughout Lorne on the Lawn, students demonstrated their passion by championing music, sustainable food vans, businesses that have created environmental practices, and other organisations that represent the Sustainable Development Goals. It was a huge success, with a music stage, 30 stalls, and over 700 guests from 18 schools. 

VCAA Chair’s Award

VCAL Quality Assurance Panel Leaders, 2022

Gayle Anderson, Fran Davey, Loretta Goldsmith, Narelle Holliday, Deborah Hubbard, Travis McIntosh, Jan Miletic, Cherie Osta, Andrew Raynolds, Tracey Sefach, Hayley Wilson

The VCAA Chair’s Award recognises outstanding achievement by an individual or an organisation in the delivery and promotion of VCAL in their community or region. This year’s award is presented to the VCAL Quality Assurance Panel Leaders of 2022. The award recognises their outstanding contribution and support towards the delivery and promotion of VCAL and applied learning across Victoria through coordination of the VCAL quality assurance (QA) process, and as champions o VCAL in their schools and communities.

The Quality Assurance Panel Leaders chaired the VCAL QA panels in their regions, providing leadership and ensuring the success of the QA process. They organised all elements of the QA process in their region, including convening panel meetings, supervising and participating in the QA process of VCAL units, providing feedback to providers, distributing and collecting templates, organising venues, and providing advice and support to VCAL coordinators and teachers. They were the conduit between the QA process and the VCAA, liaising regularly, forwarding examples of best practice in their region and reporting on outcomes of each stage of the QA process.