Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award recognises the achievement of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student who displays a strong understanding and knowledge of the vocational education and training system and demonstrates the relevance of lifelong learning for themselves and their community.

Philadelphia Hughes believes that winning the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award in the 2015 Australian Training Awards is the highlight of her life so far.

“To receive such recognition for all the hard work and effort is wonderful, especially when it’s for something I love doing. It also means I can get my story out to the wider community to tell others that they can do this as well.”

Philadelphia had a job but hadn’t finished high school. Wanting to progress her career, she enrolled in a Certificate IV in Frontline Management with Charles Darwin University (CDU). Going back to study was very daunting, but Philadelphia says she was immediately able to start putting to use the skills and confidence she was gaining.

“The communication skills I learned helped me in my volunteer work as Aboriginal Student Ambassador at CDU, as well as in my role as a Lifeline telephone volunteer crisis supporter.”

CDU awarded Philadelphia Most Outstanding Student in her class.

She says that the Australian Training Awards are essential to getting the word out about VET.

“They help show how VET provides so many career pathways. VET gives people the opportunity to start or further their careers from any point, even if they haven’t finished school. Because it’s competency based it gives you what you need to step into a workplace, or you can do it in conjunction with your work.”

“The stories of the amazing people I met at the awards keep inspiring me in my own life.”

Philadelphia is now undertaking a degree through the Northern Territory Public Sector Indigenous Cadetship Support Program, something she credits to her first qualification.

“Without that, I wouldn’t have had the skills or confidence to leave my job and do this.”

Passionate about Indigenous health equality, Philadelphia’s ultimate career goal is to work with children in need within Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory. Her personal motto is ‘Never stay comfortable, keep striving and stay hungry for knowledge’.