Shoalhaven Trainee to Represent NSW in National Training Awards

Published on 20 November 2020

Cassandra O'Connell receives the School-Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Award

Shoalhaven City Council trainee Cassandra O’Carroll is one of eight finalists in the School Based Apprentice Trainee of the Year category of tonight’s Australian Training Awards. 

Cassie has topped the state twice this month, winning School-Based Apprentice/Trainee (SBAT) of the Year at two prestigious award events. 

Last Friday, Cassie won the SBAT of the Year in the Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT Group Training Awards. A week earlier, Cassie took out the same category in the NSW Training Awards.  

Cassie has been hosted by Shoalhaven City Council’s Environmental Services Section for on-the-job training since June 2019, while completing a Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management School-Based Traineeship with HVTC and Kiama Community College. 

Cassie’s latest accolades bring her award tally this year up to six. In June Cassie won SBAT at the Illawarra and South East NSW Training Awards; and vocational education and training (VET) Student of the Year, as well as the Overall VET Student of the Year for the 2020 Shoalhaven Schools Excellence in VET Awards. She was also named SBAT of the Year in the 2020 HVTC Excellence Awards, announced earlier this year. 

Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley said Cassie is an outstanding trainee who is focussed, organised and not afraid to ask questions and shows a level of maturity well beyond her years. Cassie’s approach exemplifies the standard of employees that Shoalhaven Council strives to produce. 

“Cassie’s passion for protecting the environment, capacity to learn quickly and sense of humour have made her a welcome and very helpful addition to the Environmental Services Section. 

“Shoalhaven City Council is proud of everything Cassie has achieved during her traineeship. Cassie’s supervisors say she is incredibly deserving of each accolade,” she said. 

“Cassie now has the potential to be recognised at a national level, which is a remarkable achievement and she should be very proud of herself. We wish her the very best in tonight’s Australian Training Awards,” said Clr Findley. 

Cassie recommends a school-based traineeship in local government as a great way to gain hands-on experience in an area of interest and to gain insight into how Councils work.  

“It has been very rewarding and learning the technology has been invaluable. I’ve gained skills that will translate into future settings, it is surprising the range of environmental services Councils are involved in.  

“Although I’ve spent a lot of time with the threatened species team I’ve rotated between biosecurity, environmental health, natural resources (including bushcare) and flood plains as well as sewage management facilities. 

“I am a pretty ambitious person and have a lot of projects in the pipeline. One of them is building a small insect farm as the global insect population has declined by 90% over the last 50 years. It will be a small one but hopefully great for birds, the fires earlier this year wiped out the understorey and food supply for many bird species.” 

In 2021 Cassie will be studying at the University of Wollongong after receiving early entry into the Bachelor of Conservation Biology (Honours) (Dean's Scholar). 

“It’s been pretty surreal to win the awards but nice to be recognised and I’m happy to have gotten this far. Any award now is an added bonus,” said 18-year-old, Cassie.  

To view the awards register via the Australian Training Awards 2020 website 

Image: Shoalhaven City Council trainee, Cassandra O'Carroll receives the School-Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Award from Executive Officer, Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT, Jason Sultana.