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.

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

Markeeta Douglas’ interest in audiometry started at a young age, having suffered from ear infections for the majority of her childhood. Fast forward a few years, Markeeta’s interest was re-ignited when her four-year-old son was to undergo surgery for a serious middle ear infection.

Markeeta took the next steps to enrol at TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute to complete a Certificate IV in Audiometry. The 30-year-old studied by distance education through WSI’s Open Training and Education Network (OTEN) and believes her training has opened up many opportunities for her to boost the health of local Aboriginal people.

Markeeta is now employed as an audiometrist at the Awabakal Cooperative in Newcastle, an organisation that is leading the way in Aboriginal ear health in New South Wales and beyond.

Her outstanding efforts in her studies saw her win the coveted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year at the 2013 Australian Training Awards.

"It is amazing to be able to represent not only vocational education and training and the health industry, but also my community, family and Aboriginal culture.

"Finalist week leading up to the Australian Training Awards was one of the best weeks in my life.

To bond with my category finalists, meeting the young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – the best in their state – is such a privilege and a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"My experiences with vocational education and training have helped me grow so much as a person. I am now much more confident within myself and I have a real passion for sharing my knowledge with others," Markeeta said.

Markeeta uses her experience to promote vocational education and training as a pathway to learning and career progression, and the importance of education and health in the Aboriginal community.