National Achievement Award

The National Achievement Award is presented in recognition of an individual's outstanding leadership and contribution to the Australian VET sector for up to 25 years. This may be a new innovation, new knowledge, or ways to improve professional practice deemed to be above and beyond the everyday with a long lasting positive influence and impact in the sector.

Denise Stevens has had a distinguished career in the Victorian vocational education and training (VET) sector and has delivered significant reform, resulting in improved outcomes for learners both in Victoria and overseas.

Following the establishment of Hospitality and Tourism at Eastern TAFE and to meet growth and local need, Denise established the Centre for Food and Wine Tourism at the then Swinburne University’s Lilydale Campus. Denise’s vision for tourism in Victoria, and to meet regional demands, led her to develop the Graduate Certificate in Business (Food and Wine Tourism Marketing) and a dual Diploma/Degree program in Tourism.

Denise went on to hold a senior management role at Holmesglen Institute, where she was responsible for implementing some of the first degree programs within a TAFE, developing an engagement model which supported alternative pathways for learners, and supporting teaching operations in China.

After 12 months working in the Middle East as an educational advisor, Denise went to William Angliss Institute where she was Director of Teaching and Learning, overseeing teaching operations across cookery, tourism and hospitality and the implementation of their first degree programs.

As Chief Executive Officer from 2009–2015, Denise transformed the VET Development Centre (VDC) into a nationally recognised leader in VET workforce development. This required significant reform and resulted in the expansion of the VDC’s services to non-public providers