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.

Broome visual arts lecturer, Jacky Cheng delivers vocational education and training (VET) courses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture arts, visual arts, contemporary craft and arts administration.

Her career pathway to this position began when she visited Broome on a holiday while taking a break from her life as an architect and university lecturer in Sydney.

"While on holiday, I fell in love with the creative spirit present in Broome, the beautiful township and the diverse and interesting people. So I made the move. I knew it was a place I could unleash my creativity. I never knew then such a rewarding career path would follow," Jacky said.

That rewarding career path saw Jacky win the VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year at the 2013 Australian Training Awards.

"It is an honour to be amongst the best of the best and being recognised as the best of your area as a trainer," Jacky said.

In addition to course delivery at the Kimberley Training Institute located in Broome, Jacky also delivers VET courses in the remote Bidyadanga community, at the Broome Regional Prison and other sites across the east and west Kimberley region.

She teaches a diverse range of learners from teenagers to elderly people, with varied life experiences and cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Working with a diverse group of students in remote situations, led Jacky to develop innovative and adaptive training styles which range from learning the language of her learners, engaging Aboriginal students through storytelling, to establishing online learning methods for those who cannot attend classes.

"In the community we don’t often have a classroom to go to. Sometimes sitting under a tree is the next best thing, or going fishing and storytelling. Throwing a line in the water and students start engaging and saying ‘oh this is what my grandmother used to do’ and that evokes the passion and memories of what life is all about for them and then it results in a piece of artwork.

"Students are the best teachers! As teachers, we should open our hearts and learn from them – it is so rewarding," Jacky said.