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.
State or territory training award winners of this category are automatically finalists for the Australian Training Awards and will compete at the national level.
A couple of years ago Indi Clarke, a proud Aboriginal man from the Muthi Muthi and Lardil people, would not have recognised the man he has become today.
"I had lost my way and really wasn’t doing much with my life. I had a job in retail but that wasn’t what I wanted my future to be. I wanted to be working for my community. But to do that I needed some training and some skills so I’d be in a position to help people," said Indi.
Proof of the success Indi has had in doing just that can be seen in the ‘amazing’ 18 months he’s had, representing his community through his participation in leadership and political events, and receiving a string of awards, most recently the 2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award at the Australian Training Awards.
"I still have to pinch myself that this is happening to me," laughed Indi.
"I was lucky enough to discover what the VET sector had to offer and that is what saved me. My teachers cared about finding the best way for me to learn—I wasn’t just given a book and sent on my way— they walked the journey with me. I am very grateful I was smart enough to leap at the chance to make the most of the opportunities I was given through my studies."
Indi is very appreciative of the Australian Training Awards and the opportunity the award ceremony presented to meet other highly deserving nominees.
"The awards help to break down the stigma that VET is secondary to university and are instrumental in closing the gap between the two. The award ceremony was a great showcase for what could be achieved through VET and I felt really humbled to meet the other nominees, all of whom had put in a lot of hard work and achieved so much. I came away inspired, empowered and reinvigorated."