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TAFE NSW graduate wins North Coast Aboriginal Student of the Year ​​​​​​​

TAFE NSW Kingscliff

TAFE NSW Kingscliff graduate Sunny Downes has been named Aboriginal Student of the Year at the 2021 North Coast NSW Training Services Awards at Coffs Harbour.  

The award is the icing on the cake for the 29-year-old after completing his Certificate III in Baking and apprenticeship at Suffolk Bakery last month.    

He is one of four TAFE NSW graduates throughout the North Coast region who have been announced winners in the NSW Training Awards, which celebrate the excellence of apprentices, trainees, and students in the vocational education and training sector.   

Mr Downes says he was extremely grateful for the award and believes it’s an opportunity to share his experiences at TAFE NSW with other students about the benefits of further study and training.  

“What I loved about studying at TAFE NSW was the hands-on training and the ability to learn a range of skills from teachers with so much industry experience,” said Mr Downes.  

“My studies gave me the skills I needed to succeed in my apprenticeship, and now I’m qualified; I plan to complete a Certificate IV in Business so I can open my own bakery one day.”  

TAFE NSW Head Teacher Commercial Cookery Jamie Ryan said the strong showing by TAFE NSW finalists for the six award categories was testament to their commitment to excellence in their chosen field. 

“Sunny’s passion for baking, commitment to his studies, and willingness to jump in and support his classmates makes him a worthy recipient of this award,” Mr Ryan said. 

“He is a wonderful ambassador for TAFE NSW, and vocational skills and training and the opportunity to share his story will inspire others to start their career journeys.”   

The 2021 Aboriginal Student of the Year encouraged other young people to pursue their dreams. 

‘Working towards a trade means you’ll have a qualification for the rest of your life and opens new options to study and better yourself for the future,” Mr Downes said.  

Winners of the North Coast NSW Training Awards are now in the running for the national 2021 Australian Training Awards, which will be held in Sydney later this year. 

Explore hundreds of courses and pursue your passion with life-changing training at TAFE NSW. For more information visit or phone 131 601. 

Media contact: Kelly Lawler, Communications Specialist. Phone: 0408 481 864. Email: