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TAFE NSW Newcastle students blaze trail for nursing at WorldSkills National Championships

TAFE NSW Newcastle

TAFE NSW Newcastle students blaze trail for nursing at WorldSkills National Championships

Two TAFE NSW Newcastle Nursing students will compete to represent Australia in the nation’s largest vocational skills competition.

Neave O’Reilly and Katerina McNally are among nine students from TAFE NSW Newcastle and Maitland campuses who will compete in the WorldSkills Australia 2023 National Championships this month.

WorldSkills hosts regional, national, and international competitions which celebrate excellence and showcase vocational educational and training. Winners from the National Championships are in the running to be selected for the Australian Skillaroos team to compete against more than 75 countries. The international championships have run every two years since 1950. 

More than 500 vocational students will compete in Melbourne over three days with their eye on the gold medal and a chance to represent Australia on the world stage in France next year.

As part of the competition, Neave and Katerina will be tested on critical healthcare worker skills demonstrating self-management, communication, problem solving, innovation, creativity, and empathy.

Neave said she was proud to be representing nursing on the National WorldSkills stage.

“This is the first year Nursing will be in the competition, and we expect it to be demanding and to really challenge our clinical skills,” she said.

“Nurses are the ones who are there 24/7. We’re face-to-face with families, holding our patients’ hands, communicating with doctors and specialists, all while managing the fast-paced clinical work.

“The WorldSkills competition is very similar to the clinical environment, so I think all the practical experience we’ve gained at TAFE NSW gives us a real advantage.” 

TAFE NSW Teacher Allied Health and Nursing, Lynelle Jenkinson, said Neave and Katerina were well placed going into the National Championships. 

“At TAFE NSW, we are focused on getting students job-ready, and they start their practical training in real-world clinical settings early in the course. This can be confronting for some students, so building these skills early builds confident and competent nurses and healthcare workers who can hit the ground running in a workplace,” she said.

In the lead-up to the competition, Katerina said she feels quietly confident after months of mentorship by TAFE NSW teachers Lynelle and Anne MacLeod.

“Our TAFE NSW teachers have been so supportive and my confidence as a nurse has grown so much – I’m ready to take on the competition.

“To prepare for this competition we've been training with our teachers and other team members in hands-on skills like showering, dressing, and feeding in a clinical setting. TAFE NSW takes WorldSkills seriously – we've been in training camps and practice sessions so that the minute the clock starts ticking we're ready to show that we're the best of the best,” Neave said.

TAFE NSW Executive Director Education and Skills North, Jason Darney, said “our incredibly talented Hunter region students have earned the right to compete to represent Australia after upstaging some of the best local talent at the regional WorldSkills competitions, held in 2022.”

“The TAFE NSW finalists are representing some of the most in-demand industries from health to hairdressing, and everything in between. I'm proud to say Northern NSW is home to these industries' future leaders.

“The ultimate goal for Neave and Katerina is to earn a place on the Skillaroos team and represent Australia at the WorldSkills Competition in France next year.

“WorldSkills competitions provide TAFE NSW learners with amazing, and potentially life-changing learning opportunities in an exciting, interactive, and engaging environment. 

“Participants learn important life-long skills that will not only help them succeed individually but will help deliver a highly skilled workforce,” Mr Darney said.

The WorldSkills Australia 2023 National Championships will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 17 to 19 August. 

Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7921 3756.