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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 7880

Mr MURPHY (9:45 AM) —This morning I speak about the outstanding achievement of three students from my electorate of Lowe who have been awarded the Australian Vocational Student Prize. I extend my congratulations to Nathan Sullivan from St Patrick’s College, Strathfield, Stephanie Madonis from Santa Sabina College, Strathfield, and Stella Hackett from OTEN, Strathfield, who were among only 113 students statewide to receive the award. Each student has demonstrated great skill and dedication in their respective vocational course. Madam Deputy Speaker, the Australian Vocational Student Prize, as you know, was introduced to recognise high-achieving year 12 students who undertook vocational education and training while completing their higher school certificate. All prize winners receive $2,000 and a certificate for their fine efforts.

Two weeks ago, at my electorate office in Burwood, I had the pleasure of meeting Nathan Sullivan. Nathan demonstrated high-level skills and qualities that will serve him well as he pursues his career as an electrician. Madam Deputy Speaker, I am sure, like me, you are aware of the immense value of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen and the chronic shortages we are currently experiencing in our country. As you know, the Rudd government will provide $2.5 billion in federal funding over 10 years to develop state-of-the-art trade training centres in secondary schools across Australia. The centres will encourage students like Nathan to undertake vocational training in areas of skills shortages and emerging industries.

As I previously mentioned in this place, I am extremely pleased that Lowe will open its very own trade training centre in Burwood. Local secondary schools will now have increased access to high-quality skills training facilities, made possible by $11 million in grants for inner west schools under the Trade Training Centres in Schools Program. In addition to the trade training centres, the Rudd government has also introduced several measures to support apprentices and their employers, including the apprentice wage top-up, apprenticeship training vouchers, Commonwealth trade learning scholarships, the Tools for Your Trade initiative and the Mid-Career Apprentices scheme. All of these incentives work to improve the skills shortage crisis and simultaneously offer meaningful careers to thousands of Australians.

The particular achievements of Nathan, Stephanie and Stella are a testament to their excellent education and to their families. I am delighted that vocational courses offered in my electorate of Lowe are supporting young Australians such as Nathan, Stephanie and Stella to develop valuable skills for their future. Recognising and honouring the outstanding achievements of local students remind us all that there are great rewards for hard work. I commend the minister and the government for recognising and encouraging students like Nathan, Stephanie and Stella in their chosen careers. I know that their success will inspire many others and I wish all of them the very best for the future. Well done, Nathan, Stephanie and Stella.