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Juanella McKenzie shines at TAFE NSW Gili Awards

TAFE NSW Campbelltown

Juanella McKenzie shines at TAFE NSW Gili Awards

TAFE NSW Gili Awards winner Juanella McKenzie

TAFE NSW Campbelltown student Juanella McKenzie was recognised for her achievements at the 2019 TAFE NSW Gili Awards in Ultimo 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. 

Juanella McKenzie who was awarded an Achievement Award, said, “I am so privileged and honoured that TAFE NSW have chosen me to receive this award. I’m a mum of three girls aged six, four and three. All I’ve ever wanted is to be someone that they can look up to, and with this award they can do this.

“I originally saw the TAFE NSW Aboriginal Pathways program advertised on Facebook and immediately signed up. It’s one of the best things that I’ve ever done. I’ve studied a Certificate III in Business, a Certificate III in Business Administration and a Certificate IV in Leadership and Management at TAFE NSW which has taught me the skills to start my own business and manage community projects which I am very passionate about.

“My time at TAFE NSW has really changed my life and given me the confidence to approach new things and run my business Woven Dreaming successfully. I really am so grateful.”

TAFE NSW Regional General Manager, Michael Cullen, congratulated the winners for their hard work, dedication and commitment to transforming their lives 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 Juanella whose achievements I am extremely proud to acknowledge.

“Juanella has demonstrated remarkable talent, ambition and determination through her studies at TAFE NSW and commitment to her local community,” said Michael Cullen.

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 Cawley, TAFE NSW Media and Communications Business Partner, mobile 0412 478 415