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Dubbo local Ashleigh Knight and TAFE NSW Dubbo teacher, Elsie Gordon were recognised for their achievements at the 2019 TAFE NSW Gili Awards in Sydney last night.

Attended by The Hon. Dr Geoffrey Lee, Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, the 2019 TAFE NSW Gili (pronounced kill-ee) Awards celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal students, as well as the accomplishments of TAFE NSW employees and innovative programs that have empowered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout 2018.

Ms Knight was awarded the main accolade for the night, the prestigious Gili Award, for her work with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) over the past eight years as the Business Development Operations Manager. The Gili Award is presented to a person in the industry who has worked closely with TAFE NSW to achieve positive outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“I have always surrounded myself with the inspired, the passionate and the motivated. I am a local Aboriginal woman and my passion has always been people. Working at the AES has given me a springboard to connect with people to create opportunity,” Ms Knight said.

“Supporting my community through mentoring, training and specialist support and linking our Aboriginal people to training programs at TAFE NSW including programs like iASPIRE and iCONNECT has been a real game changer.

“I’m extremely proud and honoured to receive this award. Not only will it inspire me to continue to connect with the community, but it has encouraged me to step outside the box continuing to think of new and innovative ways to re-engage our people with TAFE NSW, making long term career opportunities a reality for our people.

“I’d like to thank the AES and my family for their ongoing support and for always encouraging me to work hard and be the change we want to see.”

Ms Gordon was awarded the Bruce Kendall Award for recognition of her work over the past ten years at TAFE NSW delivering the only Certificate IV in Social Housing available in NSW and her commitment to the Aboriginal community within Western and North Western NSW.

“I’m deeply honoured to receive this award. I’m a proud Murruwarri women and grew up on Ngemba country at Brewarrina,” Ms Gordon said.

“I have had a long-term commitment to education as it makes a real difference to an individual and communities.”

TAFE NSW Regional General Manager, Kate Baxter, congratulated the winners for their hard work, dedication and commitment to transforming their lives and the lives of others through vocational education and training outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“Last night’s celebration marked the 29th year that the TAFE NSW Gili Awards have recognised the power of vocational education and training, and the life changing pathways to employment or further study for Aboriginal people.

“Gili is an Eora word meaning ‘to shine’ and is fitting for students whose achievements I am extremely proud to acknowledge.

“Ashleigh and Elsie have both demonstrated remarkable talent, ambition and determination at TAFE NSW and commitment to the local community.” said Ms Baxter.

The 15 awards were presented in 12 categories at the event. The full list of award winners are:

Award Category


TAFE NSW study and home location

The Gili Award

Ashleigh Knight


Encouragement Award

Chenoa Endacott


Encouragement Award

Kalem McLean


Achievement Award

Stephanie Morris

TAFE Digital / Surfside

Achievement Award

Juanella McKenzie

TAFE NSW Campbelltown

Achievement Award

Jeffery Amatto

TAFE NSW Campbelltown

Award for Academic Excellence

Norma Binge

TAFE Digital/ Buderim QLD

Apprentice of the Year Award

Steven Green

TAFE NSW Grafton

TVET Award (Schools)

Kirsten Fitzpatrick

TAFE NSW Bathurst

Non-Aboriginal Staff Award

Bridget Thomas

TAFE NSW Bathurst

Aboriginal Staff Award

Natalie Wilcock & Rebecca Murphy

TAFE Digital

Bruce Kendall Award

Elsie Gordon


Industry Partnership Award

NECA emPOWER Aboriginal Apprentice Readiness Program


Youth Engagement Award

NECA emPOWER Aboriginal Apprentice Readiness Program


Community Engagement Award

Wiradjuri Language





Media contact: Emma Curtis, TAFE NSW Media Officer, (02) 6338 2509, mobile 0427 901 515