A dedication to safety and career development has helped TAFE NSW Orange student Lee Oakman claim a prestigious prize at the Hunter Safety Awards in Newcastle.
Lee, who lives and works in Orange for GB Auto Group, was successful in the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Student of the Year category at the awards, which recognises companies and individuals who demonstrate best practice and innovative approaches when it comes to WHS.
“I certainly didn’t enter these awards expecting to win, but any recognition is good recognition. I was thrilled just to be named as a finalist, but to be able to get to the gala dinner and accept the award in front of more than 1000 people was pretty special,” he said.
Lee upstaged a quality field of students to win the award, which was open to all TAFE students who live and/or work in the Hunter region. Lee qualified for the awards because the business he works for, GB Auto Group, has offices in not only Orange and Ulan in the central west, but also in Boggabri, Sydney and Singleton in the Hunter region.
Lee plays an integral part of the GB Auto senior leadership team, his primary role is providing WHS and compliance related support to all GB Auto workers and offices. He is currently studying a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety at TAFE NSW Orange, as well as an Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management.
He estimates he has completed no less than nine separate courses at TAFE, believing they have helped lay an important platform for him to forge a successful career in the automotive electrical and mining maintenance industries.
“I started out with GB Auto 15 years ago – completing a Certificate III in Auto Electrotechnology at Wagga TAFE,” Lee said. “Since then I have completed a number of other courses, most with Orange TAFE, and plan to go on to do a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment once I have completed my Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Management.
“The main purpose of this study is for self-betterment. I feel the TAFE courses are much more realistic, more affordable and much easier to access than university. They allow me to work and train at the same time.”
Upon accepting his award at the Newcastle Exhibition Centre, Lee paid tribute to his wife Rachael and son Benjamin for their continued support, praised his colleagues at GB Auto for giving him the opportunity, mentoring and support required to progress his career and his teachers at Orange TAFE, who continually provide outstanding service and support.