Hu 06.10.19

This year was the 26th anniversary of the Hunter Region Business Excellence Awards, which are one of the longest running ceremonies in the Hunter region.

The awards continue to demonstrate the resilience, confidence and professionalism in the Hunter region’s local economy. The awards are the initiative run by the Hunter Region Business Hub.

Seventy finalists from over 100 businesses across the Hunter Valley competed for the four major awards and fourteen category awards at Cessnock Leagues Club on Friday, 20 September.

The Hub’s manager Kerry Hallett said that the awards are a big celebration of the amazing talent in the Hunter Region.

“We know there are many good businesses in our region through those that enter the awards, however, we also know that is only fraction of the organisations pursing excellence in the region. We can see why the Hunter is a great place to live and work,” she said.

For the second year an entrant from the Professional Services category was not only winner of their category, but also overall winner of the Business of the Year.

Palfreyman Chartered Accountants located in Cessnock, who provide a wide range of accountancy and financial planning services took out the major award of the evening.

Other major awards went to Young Entrepreneur, Jessica Rodgers of Explore and Soar. Explore and Soar is an occupational therapy organisation that works with people to reach their highest potential, but particularly children and young adults.

Hunter Regional Business Woman of the Year was awarded to Sarah-Jane Dunford of Riskology, a boutique safety consultancy.

Sarah-Jane is also involved in the community including founder Hunter Safety Awards, founding chair Hunter Branch of the Safety Institute of Australia, founding chair of the National Safety Awards for the Safety Institute of Australia, founder NSW Regional Safety Conference and Expo and the list goes on.

Business Leader of the Year went to Peter Kirkwood of Kirkwoods Institute of Karate. Not only does Peter support his family through his business but he has numerous awards from ISKA.

He is also passionate about standing up for the underdog and works with domestic violence victims, bullying victims and those with mental and physical disabilities, through various programs, giving much of his time at no cost to help gain (or regain) confidence.

The Hub’s manager Kerry Hallett said each year she is amazed by the quality of businesses that enter the awards, with so many new entrants received each year.

Kerry said the Hunter region are lucky to have so many fantastic businesses on our doorstep.

“All of the finalists were exceptional businesses in their overall operations, service, products, presentation and customer service,” Kerry said.

“On the night, it was great to see everyone – businesses owners, staff, supporters and sponsors – mingling, connecting and supporting each other.”

The Hunter Region Business Excellence Awards are thrilled to be announce they will be back again in 2020 to celebrate their 27th award ceremony.

IMAGE | Palfreyman Chartered Accountants awarded Business of the Year in 2019




Two Hunter based electrical apprentices have been recognised at HVTC’s annual Excellence Awards, which were held in Newcastle on Friday, 3rd May 2019.

Daniel Beavan, who is currently employed as an electrical fitter at Origin Energy’s Eraring Power Station, was named HVTC’s Apprentice of the Year. The Award, which was sponsored by Howden Australia, was selected from finalists across HVTC’s nine regional branches located throughout New South Wales.

“I was over the moon to have been named HVTC’s Apprentice of the Year. It’s a huge honour to receive this Award,” Daniel said.

Meanwhile Phoebe Giadresco, a first-year electrical apprentice hosted to Liebherr-Australia, received the inaugural Milton Morris Encouragement Award.

Sponsored by Glencore, this Award was created in honour of HVTC’s founding Chairman, the Honourable Milton Morris AO, who passed away in February of this year.

“It is such an honour to be the first recipient of the Milton Morris Encouragement Award,” Phoebe said.

“It means a great deal to me to be acknowledged by HVTC and my trainers for my efforts and commitment to completing the Electrical Accelerated program with HVTC. This program provided the skills and knowledge for me to be confident and successful in obtaining an apprenticeship as a female in a non-traditional trade.”

Despite being at different ends of their apprenticeship journeys, Daniel and Phoebe were both pursuing other career paths before making the switch to the electrical trade.

Already a qualified fitter machinist, Daniel decided he wanted a dual trade under his belt, so he commenced an electrical apprenticeship with HVTC in 2016.

Initially hosted by Donaldson Coal, Daniel was rotated to Origin when the mine went into care and maintenance. Since completing his apprenticeship in December, Daniel has gained a full-time role with Origin and is grateful for the opportunities and support he received as an HVTC apprentice.

Phoebe commenced the NEWSTEP program in the hopes of pursuing Nutrition, but soon realised that university wasn’t for her. Following in her father’s footsteps, Phoebe decided she wanted to become an electrician and enrolled in the electrical Accelerated Program with HVTC to boost her chances of securing an apprenticeship.

During the course, she successfully applied for an electrical apprenticeship with Liebherr-Australia.

HVTC CEO, Sharon Smith congratulated Daniel and Phoebe on their awards, which showcase the calibre of the organisation’s workforce.

“Every year at the HVTC Excellence Awards, we celebrate the achievements of our apprentices, trainees, students and the many host employers we partner with to deliver skills training and employment opportunities across NSW,” Smith said.

“The achievements of apprentices like Daniel and Phoebe are proof that VET pathways lead to successful careers.

“Daniel took the initiative to undertake another four years of training after already completing one apprenticeship, making a lot of sacrifices for the betterment of his skills and long-term career aspirations.

“Throughout his apprenticeship, Daniel was consistently praised for his leadership and communication skills, passion for learning and his work ethic and it is unsurprising he was offered a permanent role with Origin.

“Similarly, Phoebe took it upon herself to complete an electrical pre-apprenticeship course to gain introductory electrical trade knowledge and skills.

“Phoebe now attends the Work Readiness program at HVTC 4 days per week and is on site at Libeherr-Australia each Friday. Her tenacity and commitment to improving her career opportunities epitomises the characteristics Milton Morris would have been delighted to support and she is a deserving winner of this award.

“I wish Daniel all the best in his career and look forward to supporting Phoebe through her remaining years as an HVTC apprentice. They both have a bright future ahead of them.”





Australia Day NCC Awards

Following journalist and ovarian cancer research advocate Jill Emberson’s recognition as Newcastle Citizen of the Year 2019, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes has named the City’s other Australia Day award recipients at this morning’s Citizenship ceremony.

Emberson, who was earlier announced as Citizen of the Year for her contribution to journalism and advocacy in the fight against ovarian cancer, gave a heartfelt acceptance speech at today’s ceremony that addressed her love for Newcastle and desire to see better outcomes for women living with the disease.

Also honoured at today’s ceremony was Junior John Hunter Hospital doctor Bhavi Ravindran who was named 2019 Young Citizen of the Year.

The 24-year-old University of Newcastle graduate was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the medical profession at such a young age.

Dr Bhavi holds numerous positions on medical boards including the Australian Medical Council and Medical Students Accreditation Committee, which is responsible for the accreditation of the 24 medical schools across Australia and New Zealand.

The group also raises funds for local and international charity organisations through the delivery of all-age music and art events in Newcastle.

“Through advocacy and educating youth on ways they can interact in their community, The Y Project is encouraging and inspiring young people to become proactive and strive to create a future enthused with empathy, equity and justice,” the Lord Mayor said.

“After forming at high school in 2017, the group has helped engineer some positive momentum for social change among young people at various live music and arts events, and, in doing so, raised thousands of dollars for charity.”

Also at today’s ceremony, which marked 70 years since the Australian Government first introduced Citizenship into Commonwealth law, more than a 160 new Australians from 46 different countries received their Citizenship.

Just seven men were sworn in as new legal citizens in 1949, swearing their allegiance to Australia from Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Spain and Yugoslavia.

Today, Australia is one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world, having welcomed more than five million new Australian citizens to our shores.




Hunter Water turns 125 years old today, and the utility has its sights set on the future.

It will launch an annual innovation award, in partnership with the University of Newcastle, to encourage students and Hunter Water employees to come up with new ideas that could change management of water and wastewater as the region’s population continues to grow.

“Hunter Water has a proud history worth celebrating, however, our focus is very much on the future,” managing director Jim Bentley said.

“In 2017 and beyond, our role is more than making sure there are pipes in the ground for the extra 240,000 people expected to make the Hunter home over the next 30 years.

“Our role is to enable a growing, liveable, and environmentally sustainable Hunter region, where our communities have access to high quality and affordable services.”

Mr Bentley said Hunter Water had made many “bold and innovative decisions” during its 125-year history.

The Hunter District Water Supply and Sewerage Board took control of the region’s water in 1892.

It came after declining water quality in Newcastle in the second half of the 19th Century lead to a death rate that was triple the norm.

By 1893 there were 3421 water connections and 220km in water mains supplying 17,105 people across the region – though Newcastle’s first sewerage system wasn’t introduced until 1907.

Today, that network has grown to cater for more than half a million people across the Hunter, with 242,277 water connections, almost 10,000km in water mains and sewer mains, and 230,618 sewer connections.

Through the decades, the organisation has been responsible for the construction of major pieces of infrastructure such as Chichester Dam, Grahamstown Dam.

It oversaw upgrades to the Burwood Beach Wastewater Treatment works in 1989, which led to Newcastle’s beaches being consistently rated among the state’s cleanest. It was also the first to water utility in Australia to charge people based on usage, which was unheard of when it was introduced in 1982 but is now standard practice across the nation.

“Reliable access to safe drinking water is something we all take for granted, however without it the Hunter could not have been able to grow to the thriving region it is today,” Mr Bentley said.



Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon is urging Novocastrians to nominate a volunteer for the 2017 Newcastle Volunteer Service Awards.

The annual awards were an initiative of Ms Claydon when she came to office in 2014 and provide an important opportunity to stop and reflect on the immense and invaluable work of volunteers in our community.

“As the Federal Member for Newcastle, I have the pleasure of attending community events and meeting many of our fantastic, dedicated and hard-working volunteers,” Ms Claydon said at the Parliament House launch of the 2017 awards during National Volunteer Week.

“With this in mind I established the Newcastle Volunteer Service Awards. These awards provide an opportunity to thank volunteers for their valuable contribution.”

Thousands of Novocastrians  give their time every week, or in some cases every day, to prepare and serve meals to those in need, coach and manage sporting teams and clubs, prepare rosters and accounts, cook sausages at fundraising BBQs, or provide care for those who can’t care for themselves.

 Patricia (Pat) Price and Peter Trist were recipients of awards in 2016.

Pat has given almost her entire adult life to making the lives of disadvantaged kids better.

She has fostered 110 children and she sees all of those children as her own. Even when they have left her care, many still come back to visit and Pat is always there for them.

Peter is a respected actor and theatre director in Newcastle  who every month prepares a program called ‘Book Chat’. This event involves readings, recitals, stories and general entertainment built around the Newcastle Regional Library’s collection of literature.

This program provides an hour of free entertainment to a diverse section of our community and has become an institution to a core group of regulars.

Pat ant Peter exemplify the selfless community service the awards seek to recognise.

Today, almost 6 million Australians – including some 17,000 Novocastrians –  volunteer each year to help make a difference by freely giving up their weekends, evenings, mornings and days to do something for someone else for no financial reward.

Volunteers Australia, the peak body for volunteering in Australia, estimates that close to a third of Australians engage in volunteering activities which contributes $200 billion to the social and economic wealth of the country.

To put that figure in perspective, that’s about the same as what the entire agriculture and tourism industries put in to the Australian economy each year – combined.

In terms of statistics, 41 per cent of all Australian adults undertake volunteer work each year.

Most volunteers are aged 35-44 – although the youngest and oldest Australians contribute most.

Almost half of all part-time workers do volunteer work.

Ms Claydon urged Novocastrians to support volunteers in their community by putting in a nomination for the 2017 Newcastle Volunteer Awards.

“Novocastrians have a great record of volunteering their time and effort to help out in our community,” Ms Claydon said.

“If you know someone who deserves recognition for their volunteer service, please  nominate them.

“It’s an easy process which will take less than 15 minutes of your time. just download the nomination form from”



IF the dreary staircases in train stations and public places in Newcastle and the Hunter were brightly painted and even made music when you trod on them, would people use them more?

Year Six Lambton Public School pupil Annabelle Mahoney thinks so, and she also reckons if her idea was put into practice, the region’s troubling obesity rate would be lowered.

Judges in the Hunter Innovation Festival like her way of thinking and have named the diminutive 11-year-old the winner of the Smart Ideas competition.

Annabelle has won $1000 to prototype her idea plus business advisory sessions at The Business Centre and attendance at business development workshops.

“Annabelle had a simple idea that is relatively easy to implement and has so many benefits … And to top it off, she gave a remarkable and confident pitch; all the judges were impressed with her style,” said festival organiser Christina Gerakiteys.

For her part, Annabelle admits she was more than a little nervous when she stepped into the limelight at Watt Street Commercial to pitch her idea to festival judges.

“I didn’t think I’d win because there were adults and the guy before me had a really good idea,” she says in reference to finalist Christopher Glover, who pitched his idea to transform the former BHP site into an enormous carpark with linking ferries to Queens Wharf.

The two other finalists were Annabelle’s classmate, Alex Gallagher, whose idea was to install a solar panel roof at Lambton Pool to allow it to open year-round, and Isabelle Jones, who mooted a social media management platform.

Annabelle admits she got her idea at the eleventh hour after she saw a photo of a child eating a burger a Newcastle Herald report /story/4518448/obese-toddlers-and-a-system-under-pressure/ on obesity in babies and children in the Hunter.

“I did research and it says each step you take burns .025 calories so then I just needed a way to make people choose stairs,” she said.

Annabelle thinks that decorating stairs – either by simply painting them, putting motivational signs on them, funky lighting and even attaching electronics to allow them to make musical sounds – would make people opt for the stairs.

“If there are piano stairs it’s exciting to step up and see what sounds it makes,” she said.

Alex, who trains in a swim squad at  Lambton Pool, said his idea to heat the pool year-round was inspired by his cousin, a talented diver.

“She trains at New Lambton but in winter she has to go to Sydney because she can’t train anywhere in Newcastle,” he said.



TAFE NSW’s brightest students and the contribution of its alumni were recognised at the 2017 TAFE NSW Hunter and Central Coast Student Excellence Awards last week. The Awards are supported by 20 industry and business partners.

The International Student Award was awarded to Shimmer Mhindu, Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled-Division 2 nursing), Rutherford, Hunter Valley sponsored by The University of Newcastle.

Tatiana Mozhar was awarded the Science Award, Diploma of Laboratory Technology, Beresfield, Hunter Valley, sponsored by Hunter TAFE Foundation.

The Plant and Heavy Vehicle Award, sponsored by Komatsu went to Benjamin Watt, Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology, Rutherford, NSW.

2017 Alumni Awards Winners:

Contribution to Business Award – Troy Rhoades-Brown, Head Chef and Owner of Muse Restaurant and Muse Kitchen;

Contribution to Community Award – Luciane Sperling, author of ‘Touched by Love, Turning Crisis into a Blessing’ and Founder of My Inner Light;

Emerging Talent Award – Thomas Goodwin, Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) student at The University of Newcastle.

“Our award winners are the future industry leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and small business owners of tomorrow,” Ms McGregor, Regional General Manager North, said.



HUNTER businesswoman Kirsten Molloy has led a trio of women working in regional mines to win industry recognition.

Ms Molloy, the chief executive officer of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator, took out the Exceptional Woman in Mining award at the recent Industry and Suppliers Awards dinner at NSW Parliament.

Chloe Piggford, the environment and community manager at Glencore Integra underground mine near Singleton, was named the Exceptional Young Woman in NSW Mining.

Jemma Callaghan, a mobile equipment operator/trainer assessor at Rio Tinto Coal & Allied’s Mt Thorley Warkworth Mine, was named Outstanding NSW Tradeswoman/Operator/Technician.


safety helmets

A COUPLE of Upper Hunter companies are eyeing off the 2017 Hunter Safety Awards.

A panel of industry experts and sponsor representatives recently chose the finalists, with the winners – across 11 categories – being announced at a gala event on Friday, March 17, at the Newcastle Exhibition & Conference Centre (NEX).

Launched in 2016, the Hunter Safety Awards were developed to highlight and acknowledge companies and individuals within the region who are demonstrating best-practice and innovative approaches when it comes to workplace health and safety (WHS).

Awards founder Sarah-Jane Dunford said it was a rigorous process, with a number of close decisions.

“Just like last year, we were very impressed with the range of WHS initiatives being undertaken by organisations and individuals across the region,” she said.

“The finalists represent a wide range of industries and sectors and the calibre of entries was impressive.

“It was an honour to be able to read about and research how companies are developing world-first products or creating a culture of change for their organisation or inspiring others to embrace WHS.”

The Hunter Safety Awards are supported by a range of local, national and international sponsors.

“Our major partner, Blackwoods, has returned for the second year of the awards, and without them we wouldn’t be able to recognise and reward our finalists and eventual winners,” Ms Dunford continued.

“We are also supported by 10 awards sponsors including University of Newcastle, Laing O’Rourke, Greencap, WesTrac, Lifestyle Cleaning Services, 3M, KONE, Hunter TAFE, uvex, John Holland Rail.

“We are expecting a large crowd for the event, not only to support the finalists and celebrate the winners, but also to network with other WHS professionals, as there is no specific networking event in the Hunter.”

Tickets are available for the event by visiting

The 2017 Hunter Safety Award finalists are listed (alphabetically) below:

Organisations –

Airspeed Aviation

Anglican Care

Asset Training

Body & Mind 2000

Compass Housing


DADM Enterprises

Hunter Engineering and Fabrication

Hunter TAFE


Laing O’Rourke


Mahtech Industries

Mainstream Industries

Newcastle Men’s Shed

Newcastle Rescue and Consultancy


Port Stephens Council

Programmed Skilled

Service Stream



Training Wheels

Valley Electrical & Air


Individuals –

James Brown

John Hamson

Kim Skeffington

Lauren Meldrum

Leah Pringle

Lee Oakman

Lindsay Holt

Steven Whitehead



A school student from Newcastle, New South Wales, has been awarded a scholarship to study and perform the works of Shakespeare alongside some of Australia’s leading actors.

Joel Okumu, a 17-year-old student at Newcastle’s St Francis Xavier’s College, was one of three students from around Australia awarded the scholarship by the Bell Shakespeare theatre company.

The company said the scholarship aimed to give aspiring actors from regional Australia an opportunity to learn from leading Shakespearean actors in order to help them develop their careers.

From Uganda to Newcastle

Joel arrived in Australia from his native Uganda in 2004.

He said his passion for acting and Shakespeare was born from a love of the English language.

“I’m a weird kid, so I can be weird and I can act in a way where nobody will say it’s rude to ‘do this’ or ‘do that’,” he said of his love of acting.

“I get to express myself [and] I’ve always been a big fan of English and how English is written and spoken.”

Learning from leading actors

As one of the scholarship winners, Joel will travel to Sydney for a week in January 2017, where he will take part in a masterclass, backstage tour, and watch rehearsals at the theatre company.

He will also be mentored by Bell Shakespeare’s founding artistic director John Bell.

“[I'm hoping to take away] new skills, crazy new skills,” Joel said.

“If I can learn how to do some crazy acting ability skill that Bell can teach me, I’ll love it. It will be awesome.”

Joel said he hoped to one-day act in major productions, but was aware of the competitive nature of the theatre industry.

“I’m hoping it can take me to a lot of places — maybe a scene, maybe a show, maybe a movie … It’ll take a lot of hard work to get to that,” he said.

“It is very competitive but also, when there’s a lot of competition, there’s a lot of bad people.

“All you have to do is get yourself in a certain area where there’s a lot of bad people … [and] you can actually outshine the bad people.”

Joel said he was resigned to having to leave Newcastle for acting opportunities in the future.

“Newcastle is still a developing city, so I’ll probably have to move around Australia, or maybe even go overseas to another country,” he said.

“[We need to] promote acting more. Anyone can open up a school in acting, and the competition in Newcastle is not that much.

“You can do a lot with acting — even a lot of academies are opening up, and that’s the only way to promote acting.

“I know a lot of kids want to become actors, singers… They’ll be inspired.

“You appreciate the fact that they came from this city, and that’s how you do it.”



KEOLIS Downer has been awarded a 10-year contract to operate Newcastle’s public transport system, including the new light rail.

The tender also includes Newcastle buses, ferries and interchanges.

The decision was announced in Newcastle on Monday morning by Premier Mike Baird and Transport Minister Andrew Constance, after Mr Constance addressed a gathering of Newcastle buses drivers at the Hamilton bus depot.



NEWCASTLE businessman Michael Slater has won the NSW Business Chamber’s Business Leader of the Year award at a ceremony in Sydney on Friday night.

Mr Slater, the chairman of Newcastle Permanent and Regional Development Australia’s Hunter chapter, was recognised for his long-standing service to the business community.

The businessman scooped the same award at the Hunter Business Chamber awards in August.

“He was recognised for his leadership and his long-standing support to the Hunter business community,” Hunter Business Chamber director Alan Taggart said.



The University of Newcastle has been awarded more than $5.6 million in National Health and Medical Research Council funding.

The funding includes support for a senior research fellowship, practitioner fellowship and five early career fellowships, the highest number of early career fellowships the university has ever received in a single round.

A five-year Research Fellowship has been awarded to world-leading fertility researcher, Associate Professor Mark Baker, whose vision is to understand and overcome male infertility, which affects one in 15 men.

In a worldwide first, Dr Baker will use protein biomarkers to try to unlock the causes of male infertility, by studying the structure and function of sperm proteomes – the sets of proteins expressed by genomes. Currently, diagnosing issues with male fertility is complex, with only around 30 per cent of cases being detected.

Professor Luke Wolfenden has been awarded a Practitioner Fellowship to help address impediments to the translation of chronic disease prevention research. Working in partnership with researchers and end-user organisations such as schools and community groups, Professor Wolfenden intends to explore ways to encourage the adoption of health programs, creating true impact in our region and globally.

Early Career Fellowships have been awarded to:

Dr Emma Beckett, a molecular nutritionist, aims to explore the complex interactions that exist between the way we taste food, genetic variance in taste receptors and the bacteria that live in our guts. She aims to determine how these interactions may promote or suppress disease processes, such as oncogenic (causing development of cancerous tumours) processes in the gastrointestinal tract.

Dr Chantal Donovan will work with Professor Phil Hansbro to target lung diseases such as emphysema, severe asthma and pulmonary fibrosis, which are major burdens on the Australian community and economy. The team will assess the potential of a new target (IL-33), and therapy (anti-IL-33) in suppressing remodelling in experimental models and human tissues which may lead to a new treatment to reverse and/or prevent lung diseases.

Dr Andrew Gardner Traumatic brain injury is increasingly recognised as a risk factor for dementia. Dr Gardner aims to systematically evaluate the association between a single, and repetitive mild TBI and neurodegenerative disease in retired collision sports athletes by using advanced research methods to rigorously study the issue.

Mr Hopin Lee aims to translate evidence into practice to produce more efficient health services. The clinical focus of this research is in obesity, smoking and musculoskeletal pain – some of Australia’s key health priority areas.

Dr Jessie Sutherland is working to understand the crucial role of early ovary development in determining a woman’s future fertility. Her research program will introduce a number of cutting-edge techniques, such as single cell isolation from ovarian tissue sections with the aid of laser capture microscopy, and 3D histology of the ovary, to help better understand female reproductive biology.

In addition, a consortium of Australian Investigators including Professor Darryl Knight, Head of School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy at the University of Newcastle and Investigator with the Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs at the Hunter Medical Research Institute, has been awarded $2.5 million by the NHMRC to support a Centre for Research Excellence on pulmonary fibrosis.



SOME of the region’s most dedicated volunteers were thrown into the spotlight on Tuesday as the winners of the Hunter NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards were announced at Wallsend Diggers.

Claire Mudford, of Wallsend, was named the overall winner. She took out the 2016 Hunter Volunteer of the Year Award, as well as the Student Volunteer of the Year Award, for her work with Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

For the past year, Ms Mudford – a full time speech pathology student – has spent about 10 hours a week helping people with cerebral palsy through the alliance’s hydrotherapy and “Eye Gaze” programs.

Ms Mudford said she was shocked, but very honoured, to receive the awards.

“The people that I work with make volunteering so much fun and so easy to do,” Ms Mudford said.

“I look forward to it every week.

“It has been a really rewarding and worthwhile experience.”

The annual awards are run by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the work of volunteers in every region across NSW. This year there had been more than 7500 nominations across the state.

Gemma Rygate, chief executive of The Centre for Volunteering, said Ms Mudford’s efforts were very much appreciated by the people she worked with each week.

“She uses her training and skills as a speech pathologist to enhance the work she is doing with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, and it is having a real impact and making a big difference,” Ms Rygate said.

Other winners included Adult Volunteer of the Year Artemez Belenus, who was nominated for her work with the Samaritans Foundation, and Senior Volunteer of The Year, Lucy Bates, who also volunteers for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

The University of Newcastle’s Robogals took out the Volunteer Team of the Year award.

Ms Rygate said the Hunter had proven to be a strong region for volunteering.

“The Hunter had nominees in every category, and that’s not the case in all regions,” she said.

“There is a lot of young people volunteering, and right across all age groups too, in the Hunter.”

Ms Rygate said the awards were important because they recognised the “fantastic work” of both individuals and teams across NSW.

“But they also serve the purpose of highlighting the unbelievable organisations that we have that are doing great things,” she said.

“The awards highlight the work of grass roots organisations, volunteer-run organisations, right through to the larger and more well known organisations. It puts them in the spotlight.

“Volunteers really do deserve to be acknowledged. None of our communities would operate as well as they do without volunteers.”

There are 20 regional Volunteer of the Year Award ceremonies being held across the state.

All regional winners will be in the running for the overall NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards, which will be announced at an event in Sydney on Friday, December 2, in the lead up to International Volunteer Day.



NovaCare is a Broadmeadow-based, not for profit community aged care service and it’s just beaten some large competitors to win the Organisation award in the NSW/ACT Aged and Community Services Awards. How so?

I think NovaCare stood out because while other organisations provide support services for people living at home, we go further to create experiences that help people truly live their way. Our playful team spirit and innovative approach is born out of the FiSH philosophy that we implemented in 2014. Based on extraordinary staff and customer engagement at the now world-famous Seattle Fish Markets, FiSH and its four key values of Play, Make Their Day, Choose Your Attitude and Be There creates common culture, strengthens relationships and fulfils goals.

How did NovaCare begin?

In 1992 a group of locals saw there was a need to support older people living in their Newcastle community. They pooled their expertise, secured funding and NovaCare began as a day social centre when Milpara was opened in Merewether.

At that time, did it fill a niche?

Twenty five years ago there was limited support older people living at home. Milpara provided meaningful social opportunities while giving carers a break.

What core services does NovaCare provide to support seniors?

Our core services enable independent living and include transport, social support, domestic assistance, personal care, home maintenance, clinical care, technologies that assist people at home, therapy and exercise, medication assistance and food services.

We offer choice and flexibility on how care and support is provided in your home in the community and in our private respite cottage at Hamilton.

Where is NovaCare experiencing most demand?

Unfortunately, there is a long waiting list for people needing nursing home style care at home but we can’t always help as federal funding is rationed. Thankfully though, after February 2017, with control and choice of providers in the hands of consumers, we can offer these higher level services outside Newcastle in areas such as Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie. Meanwhile, we try to be innovative and support people and families while they wait.

What innovation have you introduced?

In a first for a community organisation, we have partnered with the highly innovative Arts Health Institute to deliver their Sing Out Loud Together experience, which brings Year 6 students from local schools together with our community elders to share stories, music and fun as they sing together weekly, guided by a maestro. Music & Memory is another Arts Health Institute program that NovaCare is again, Australia’s first community-based organisation to implement.

The FiSH philosophy’s four key values [see first question] is nurturing NovaCare’s cohesive culture and meaningful relationships with clients.

Our contribution to research undertaken at the University of Newcastle, the Council of the Aged and Community West is helping design the wellness and enablement services of tomorrow.

What are the biggest pressures on your business?

The demand for our services is greater than our funding allows us to provide, so sometimes we can’t help and I struggle with that. We are a for-purpose organisation with an incredible professional team but they do not always get the remuneration they deserve. We strive to retain staff by focusing on having a great culture and investing in their education.

The demand for our services is greater than our funding allows us to provide, so sometimes we can’t help and I struggle with that.
- Joseph McCarthy

How has the NDIS affected your service?

NDIS caters to people under 65 and 90% of our clients are over 65. Our NDIS clients have overwhelmingly chosen to stay with us, so the impact is not significant.

Where did you begin your career?

I began as a trainee accountant at Cutcher and Neale while completing my Commerce Degree at Newcastle University, then worked at public and commercial firms before deciding that I wanted to contribute my skills for community support organisations. I joined Catholic Care of the Aged as Business Manager then became CEO for 6 years until the aged care services was sold and I moved to NovaCare.

Would resources would you love to boost?

NovaCare has an overnight respite cottage in Hamilton that provides day and overnight accommodation to our guests and flexible support for carers. The comfortable and familiar home environment works wonderfully for people living with dementia and additional cottages in Port Stephens and Maitland would be so helpful to carers.

Best thing of your job?

I love working for an organisation that makes a difference daily in my community. Our board encourages us to be inventive and to be a state and national leader. NovaCare is very selective in recruiting staff with the right values and qualifications so my workmates are amazing. The added perk is that I get to meet some lovely ageing Novocastrians and their families.


Kyle Kruger is the NSW and ACT Apprentice of the Year after being awarded the honour at the 2015 NSW & ACT Group Training Association (GTA) Awards in Sydney on Friday night.

Mr Kruger was employed as an Engineering Mechanical apprentice before competency based completing his apprenticeship in order to take up a full time role with his host employer South32, formerly known as BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal.

The 24 year old from Russell Vale was enrolled in Mechanical Engineering at University before deferring his degree and applying for an apprenticeship through HVTC. He has now completed his Certificate III Engineering Mechanical and also studied for an Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering at Wollongong TAFE.

The award tops off a very successful year for Mr Kruger. He was a finalist in the NSW Training Awards and he was also named Overall Apprentice of the Year at the 2015 HVTC Excellence Awards in April.

Mr Kruger has been described as a highly dedicated individual and was rewarded for his exceptional standards and commitment to his apprenticeship, beating nine other finalists.

“I am really lucky to have found such a great vocation where I have felt supported all the way and have really enjoyed every aspect of my training and work, “Mr Kruger said.

HVTC had six finalists and took out two major awards at the state event. 18 year old hospitality trainee Harry Mitchell (HVTC North Coast) hosted by Nambucca Valley Care won the state School-based Trainee of the Year award and Bluescope was also a finalist in the Large Host Employer of the Year category.

HVTC CEO Sharon Smith attended the event and congratulated Kyle and the other finalists on their achievements.

“Kyle is incredibly focussed, both personally and professionally, and is a fantastic ambassador for both the VET sector and his industry,” Ms Smith said.

“This result is an absolute credit to our talented trainees and apprentices and to our dedicated and experienced staff.”

“Most importantly, these awards also reflect the significant role our business and industry partners play in making sure our young people secure quality employment outcomes,” Ms Smith said.

HVTC was Australia’s first group training company and has provided employment and training opportunities to more than 20,000 people for the past 34 years.


women in industry

Nominations for the 2016 Women In Industry Awards are now open.  Entries close on Tuesday 31 May 2016 which is fast approaching so get your nominations in now!  The categories are…

Business Development Manager of the Year

Women In Industry are looking for nominations from exceptional female business development managers working in any Australian industrial sector.

Mentor of the Year

This award recognises talented managers within organisations who have actively and successfully shaped the careers of others within the mining, engineering, manufacturing and process control and construction industries. Any team leader is eligible for this award.

Social Leader of the Year

Community work and social leadership is one of the distinguishing and admirable features of our industry. This award calls for nominations from women who have completed significant initiatives that have delivered a positive contribution to the community, or provided a positive social benefit over the past 12 months.

Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award is open to all females who are in their first five years of working within their industry. Judges will be looking for personal achievement and a meaningful contribution to the industry in a manner that sets them apart.

Industry Advocacy Award

This award recognises women who have worked tirelessly to improve the image of their industry in the eyes of the public. The judges will be looking for involvement in specific programs or initiatives aimed at
promoting their industry. Furthermore, the panel will also look at nominees who liaise closely with industry organisations to create better outcomes for those working in the sector on a policy level.

Marketing/Communications Award

Our industries are home to some of the biggest corporations in the country and thus some of the most
creative marketing departments. This award calls for nominations for women who have spearheaded a
marketing campaign for a company, organisation, or association.

Excellence in Manufacturing

This award is open to all females working within the manufacturing industry. Judges will be
looking for personal achievement and a meaningful contribution to the industry in a manner that
sets them apart.

Excellence in Engineering

This award is open to all females working within the engineering industry. Judges will be
looking for personal achievement and a meaningful contribution to the industry in a manner that
sets them apart.

Excellence in Mining

This award is open to all females working within the mining industry. Judges will be looking for
personal achievement and a meaningful contribution to the industry in a manner that sets them

Excellence in Commercial Road Transport

This award is open to all females working within the commercial road transport industry. Judges will be
looking for personal achievement and a meaningful contribution to the industry in a manner that sets
them apart.

Why should you enter?

  • Nominating for the Women in Industry Awards is an excellent way of recognising the efforts and achievements of women working in the industries to celebrate their success.
  • All finalists will receive two complimentary tickets (valued at $150 each) to the prestigious
    Awards presentation gala dinner to be held on Thursday 14th July 2016 in Melbourne
  • Finalists and winners will receive publicity in Prime Creative Media’s publications, and/or on the magazine websites, as well as through other media channels.
  • Finalists and winners will be also be able to use the Women in Industry awards logo in a wide range of promotional activities including advertising, trade show graphics, product literature, on your website, etc.
  • You’ll be joining a prestigious group of leading women of the industry, working to achieve best practice and excel in an ever competitive global market.
  • Major vendors and government bodies are behind the Women in Industry Awards as sponsors.

Who is eligible?

  • The Awards are open to all women who have a significant industry presence in Australia and meet the criteria set by the relevant Award.
  • The nominee must work in Australia to be nominated.
  • Nominations may be submitted by anyone representing a industrial company in Australia; however that person must be in a position to properly evaluate the submission.

Who can nominate a project?

    Nominations may be submitted by anyone representing a group or company in Australia who is in a position to evaluate the entry. Each company may submit a maximum of three nominations.

Frequently Asked Questions

    • Is there an entry fee?
      There is no entry fee for submitting nominations for the Women In Industry Awards.
    • What is the deadline?
      Entry deadline for the 2016 Women In Industry Awards is Tuesday 31 May 2016. However, if you require an extension, please contact the Awards Co-ordinator at to discuss the options.
    • When will I know if I am a finalist?
      Finalists will be announced in the June 2016 edition of Australian Mining, Manufacturers’ Monthly, PACE, Prime Mover, Trailer and Diesel magazines, and on the corresponding websites. Our staff will contact you to coordinate your attendance at the ceremony, where the winners will be revealed.
    • Where do I send my nomination?
      Completed nomination forms and supporting documents and images can be emailed to  (max attachment size is 7MB).
      Alternatively, a hard copy may be sent in by mail or courier to the following address:Women in Industry Awards
      Attn: Cole Latimer
      Level 13, Tower 1
      475 Victoria Avenue
      Chatswood NSW 2067

For entry forms and further information, please go to