VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year

The VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year Award recognises innovation and excellence by a vocational education and training (VET) teacher/trainer providing nationally recognised training to students at a registered training organisation (RTO), or in partnership with an RTO.

State or territory training award winners of this category are automatically finalists for the Australian Training Awards and will compete at the national level.

When Donna Colombini started out as a 16-year-old hairdressing apprentice she never dreamt that her chosen career would take her all around the world or land her at the pinnacle of her profession. But that is the reality for Donna, who was named the VET Teacher/ Trainer of the Year in the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

Donna’s recognition is a richly deserved reward for giving 150 per cent of herself to her students and her industry.

Her experience spans over 36 years as a hairdresser, including 16 years as a TAFE teacher and five years as Head Teacher of Hair and Beauty at Sutherland TAFE College, Gymea.

Under her watch enrolments at Gymea have tripled in a number of courses, against a decreasing trend in apprentice numbers.

"The programs I have developed and delivered are first and foremost student focused for industry outcomes," said Donna.

"I want to ensure I’m aware of every opportunity to build my team and my own skills that will in turn bring benefit to our students.

The industry feedback we have received is extremely positive, confirming that we continue to excel in the training we are providing to their apprentices."

Donna sets herself the highest standards and continually strives to improve her teaching through innovative training delivery methods.

These include utilising high profile industry guest artists to showcase new styles to students; organising photo shoots and competitions; and leading a study tour to Italy, providing students with global exposure and a ‘life-changing’ experience.

"What the Australian Training Awards ceremony brought home to me is how inspiring and empowering are the stories of others who have gone through the VET system and have had such great success.

My experience and that of countless others shows that ordinary people can have incredible outcomes. It is really important to have that recognition and to showcase how VET is providing real skills for real jobs and futureproofing the skills base of our country."