TAFE Western region general manager Kate Baxter says her Australia Day honour is recognition of work happening in regional areas.
“I was quite shocked when I was nominated,” she said.
“I am quite excited to receive the award because it is recognition, not just what I have done, but what others have done over a number of years and it’s great the people in rural areas get noticed for what they have done.”
Ms Baxter, an Orange resident, has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia [AM].
Her career started with the working with the health department in Grenfell and Bathurst before moving into management with TAFE.
Now she runs a TAFE region that covers 40,000 students at 37 colleges from Lithgow to Broken Hill and is well aware of the needs of country areas.
“In small communities it can be very difficult to offer the full range of training opportunities and people, whether they are apprentices or whether there other people doing vocational study, have to go to the bigger centres.
“We have specialist facilities in Orange or Tamworth or Dubbo.
“Orange is quite critical because being a bigger centre it has a lot more teaching staff and a lot of those teaching staff have been very committed to going out into the smaller communities to deliver those programs.”
She said the future for regional training was brighter.
“Certainly, in terms of what TAFE NSW is currently rolling out in terms of the use of technology, whether it be through digital learning programs or through connected learning centres, which is facilities in communities, that sort of investment will really make a difference.”
Ms Baxter said there was work to be done but she did have a strong team around her.
“I'm very committed to making sure that people who live in rural area have the same access to educational opportunities,” she said.