Desirae Kilduff is Victoria’s Koorie Student of the Year – Bendigo Kangan Institute

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Desirae Kilduff is Victoria’s Koorie Student of the Year

Named as Koorie Student of the Year at Victoria’s 2022 Training Awards, Bendigo TAFE student Desirae Kilduff has a passion for supporting First Nations Peoples into training and career pathways.

Employed as an Indigenous Program Manager SA/VIC/TAS with Maxima Group, Ms Kilduff said the award win was an honour.

“It is amazing to be recognised by Victoria state training as Koorie Student of the Year,” said Ms Kilduff.

“I hope to continue to advocate for education and training for community through TAFE; vocational education and training is an alternative and cost-effective pathway that can lead to rewarding and highly remunerated careers.”

The 27-year-old’s interest in supporting First Nations employment outcomes was sparked by a traineeship stint at a bank – spearheaded by the inclusion and diversity team, the organisation had in place a Reconciliation Action Plan and a strong commitment to Indigenous employees. Inspired by this work, Ms Kilduff began exploring ways to forge a career in this direction.

She started by applying for a role with Maxima Group as an Indigenous Employment Consultant facilitating traineeships and apprenticeships. At the same time, she pursued qualifications to bolster her new career direction, including a dual diploma in Human Resource Management and Leadership and Management at Bendigo TAFE.

Now promoted to a managerial role, Ms Kilduff is continuing to develop her potential through further studies, including a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment developed specifically for Indigenous learners at Bendigo TAFE and an Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Management.

Also named Bendigo TAFE’s Aunty Melva Johnson Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year in March, Ms Kilduff said her experience at Bendigo TAFE has strengthened her love for vocational education.

“I didn’t have the best experience in education in high school; I suffered racial discrimination which impacted my attitude towards educational institutions,” Ms Kilduff said.

“That really changed over the last couple of years – the team at Bendigo TAFE’s Indigenous Education Centre IEC reached out to me as soon as I enrolled and let me know who they were. Throughout the year – and it was a tough year with COVID – they made sure I was doing well and offered their resources.

“I owe a lot to my teacher Nicole Bolitho. Whenever I doubted myself, she provided feedback and reassured me that I was on the right track. It felt like she was with me on my journey.”

Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute CEO Sally Curtain congratulated Desirae on her success at the 2022 Victorian Training Awards.

“Desirae stands out for her commitment to vocational education and training – not only in improving her own prospects, but also in helping other First Nations people pursue success,” Ms Curtain.

“Bendigo TAFE is immensely proud of Desirae.” 

Re-published with kind permission of Bendigo TAFE, Victoria