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Finalists Announced for the 2021 TAFE SA Honour Awards

TAFE SA is proud to introduce the finalists for the inaugural 2021 TAFE SA Honour Awards.

Across nine award categories, our highly accomplished finalists are pursuing excellence in their chosen career paths, driving innovation, and making outstanding contributions to industries and communities across South Australia and beyond.

From health care to renewable technology, education to trades, creative industries to community services, horticulture to hospitality, our finalists are utilising their skills, talent, creativity and drive to produce positive, long-lasting impacts in diverse sectors across metropolitan, regional, and remote locations.

Thank you to all who nominated for the TAFE SA Honour Awards. We received 276 nominations, which far exceeded our expectations, and reinforced the incredible ways TAFE SA alumni are contributing to emerging and established industries and caring for our communities. We appreciated every story of tenacity, success, and achievement. We were inspired by the determination, generosity, passion, and skill of our graduates.

This year, we have 29 finalists who met and exceeded our selection criteria. It was a tough and complex judging process, with many excellent and worthy nominees. We thank you all for your time in submitting the nominations.

We are delighted to announce the finalists for 2021.

Winners will be announced at the TAFE SA Honour Awards event at Government House on Thursday 28 October 2021. 

Future Industries

Alice Sucha

Alice Sucha is a Control Systems Engineer with Wave Swell Energy and has created and implemented a control system for a wave energy converter - a new form of renewable energy that generates electricity from ocean waves. This technology is a world first.

Kate Rawlins

Kate Rawlins has excelled in the Australian and international film industry, working in Art Department on blockbuster feature films such as Mad Max, Thor, Mortal Kombat, Peter Rabbit 2, Hotel Mumbai and Pirates of the Caribbean, amongst many others. Kate has also designed sets and assisted in art direction for popular TV and Netflix mini-series.

Julia Ritorto

Julia Ritorto has built an impressive career in fashion, working for labels such as Pilgrim, George Gross & Harry Who, Finders and Los Angeles based brand Stylestalker. After returning from LA, Julia established Acler, which is sold in more than 30 countries. She has also launched a second label, Significant Other.

Kate Bohunnis

Kate Bohunnis works in metal, mould-making, textiles, print and sound. Her work focuses on identity, gender and queer perspectives, connecting and subverting materials with psychological states and behaviours. Kate was the winner of the 2021 Ramsay Art Prize and has exhibited across Australia.


Pictured: Future Industries finalist Alice Sucha with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia


Pictured: Future Industries finalists Kate Bohunnis and Julia Ritorto with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

Rising Star

Shannon Winima Tapaya

Shannon Winima Tapaya is a Community Patrol Worker and Team Leader in Ernabella on the APY Lands. In this role, Shannon has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to community safety, including the safety and wellbeing of children. Shannon has built positive relationships with children, youth, vulnerable adults and their families.

Kobey Knight

A well-respected member of the horticultural workforce, Kobey Knight works for the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, and has represented South Australia at the Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand conference in 2019. Kobey was the youngest trainee chosen at the Botanic Gardens due to his passion and love for horticulture, and his brilliant work ethic.

Taylor Nobes

Taylor Nobes is an actor, singer, theatre-maker and director who has a passion for creating thought-provoking theatre on the subject of mental health. Her most recent work, “Does It Please You?” enjoyed a sold-out season. Taylor recently launched her own theatre company with another fellow TAFE SA graduate, which aims to create vulnerable theatre to break stereotypes surrounding young women in the industry.


Pictured: Rising Star finalists Taylor Nobes and Kobey Knight with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

Regional Trailblazer

Siobhan Neller

Siobhan Neller is a HydroSX Production Coordinator at BHP’s Olympic Dam mine and has achieved numerous metallurgical industry accolades. Siobhan is also an active mentor for young metallurgists in tertiary, secondary, and graduate roles, and has acted as a lead for the company’s LGBT+ ally network.

Tony Wright

The Executive Officer of the Limestone Coast LGA, Tony has also held senior roles in the Water and Energy Sectors across Australia, including Chief Executive Officer of VicWater and the Project Director of the Goldfields Superpipe. Tony has contributed his expertise to many critical projects and facilitated the development of Australia’s first state gender equity, diversity and inclusion strategy in the water sector.

Belinda Tilley

Belinda Tilley is founder of I-Myself, a personal development program, and the ‘Herself’ Project, which trains community mentors and empowers women affected by domestic violence and disadvantage. As a Pastoral Care Worker, Belinda has implemented Kimochis Social Emotional Development curriculum across local school communities, helping children manage their emotions, and develop resilience.

Kevin Kropinyeri

Kevin Kropinyeri has successfully managed Ngopamuldi native plant nursery and Yunta Wulan native floristry farm, which supply native flowers to both South Australian and interstate markets and employ many Aboriginal people in the Murray Bridge region. Kevin’s current role is South Australian Business Development Manager for Outback Academy Australia, an Aboriginal-led, not-for-profit organisation whose purpose is to drive game-changing approaches to Aboriginal business.


Pictured: Regional Trailblazer finalists Siobhan Neller, Belinda Tilley and Uncle Frank Wanganeen accepting the Regional Trailblazer Award on behalf of Kevin Kropinyeri with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

Community Contribution

Adele Nelson

Adele Nelson is a Community Patrol Team Leader in Pipalyatjara on the APY Lands. In this role, Adele has demonstrated outstanding leadership and the desire to make a difference. Her work has improved community safety for children, youth, and other vulnerable people. Adele uses her experience and training to provide initial response to diffuse potentially dangerous situations.

Courtney Schultz

Courtney Schultz is the founder of ASD Support and Education, which provides a unique social and emotional development program for children with autism. Courtney wrote her program and began saving to start this business whilst she was still studying at TAFE SA. Courtney is loved by her clients who have communicated that she regularly “goes above and beyond.”

Melanie Tate

Melanie Tate is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Puddle Jumpers - a charitable organisation with approximately 700 volunteers. Puddle Jumpers provides services, camps and activity days to children and young people in South Australia, primarily those who don't live with their birth parents. Puddle Jumpers also provides food assistance programs to over 1,200 families weekly, and outreach support to the Coober Pedy community.


Pictured: Community Contribution finalists Courtney Schultz and Melanie Tate with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

Creating Pathways of Excellence

Benjamin Thompson

As Managing Director of an independent small electrical contracting company, BWTE, Benjamin Thompson has led the business from operating out-of-home to employing five staff, two apprentices, and several long-term contract staff. Ben promotes self-development amongst his employees and has established a structured in-house training program to improve knowledge on programming and networks.

Lisa Gall

As clinic owner of Laser Clinics Australia, Lisa Gall has trained staff in South Australia and Western Australia in beauty therapy, customer service, and sales. Lisa is a member of the National Advisory Council for 178 clinics, providing crucial mentoring and advice on products and services. Lisa is well-loved by her peers and is nominated for the W.A and S.A Local Area Marketing Manager of the Year Award through Laser Clinics Australia.

Todd McAlister

As a painter, decorator, and business owner, Todd McAlister has trained diverse apprentices who have achieved study and industry awards. Todd has successfully worked with other organisations, including the Australian Workforce Development Institute, Renewal SA, and the Disabled Australian Apprentice Wage Support Program, to support adult apprentices changing careers, apprentices with learning disability, and apprentices with limited English-speaking skills.


Pictured: Creating Pathways of Excellence finalists Todd McAlister, Lisa Gall and Benjamin Thompson with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

Collaborative Partnerships

Shannon Hall

As Head of School at Le Cordon Blue, Shannon Hall has helped thousands of students pursue excellence in their hospitality careers. Shannon has been integral to the development of a strong partnership between TAFE SA and Le Cordon Bleu, and is launching the Emerging Culinary Leaders program, which will incubate young talent and help secure scholarships for students to pursue their hospitality dreams.

Stewart Wesson

As business owner and chef, Stewart Wesson employs 200 South Australians. His business ventures have revitalised under-utilised and vacant spaces to create beautiful dining venues, while forging alliances across industries. Stewart is the co-owner of Whistle and Flute, Part Time Lover, Port Admiral Hotel, Just Down the Road, and Funtopia.

Bianka Kennedy

Bianka Kennedy is an independent designer and artist working across theatre, film, and visual art. She’s an active contributor to the Australian Production Design Guild and spearheads a range of creative projects through which she employs creatives and artisans, and astutely mentors newly graduated designers.

Joanne Kennedy

Joanne Kennedy’s career spans animal science, law, and education. As Director of Somerton Park Veterinary Clinic, she elevates the standards of animal care services, while developing and leading investigations into the human-animal bond, animal ethics and animal welfare. Joanne is also involved with animal and offender rehabilitation in correctional facilities.


Pictured: Collaborative Partnerships finalists Joanne Kennedy, Bianka Kennedy, Stewart Wesson and Shannon Hall with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

Excellence in Employment

Marlene Burton

Marlene Burton is a strong role model and leader within her community, working as a Team Leader in the Community Patrols in Pipalyatjara on the APY Lands. She is a lifelong learner who started as a TAFE SA student in 1999 and has continued with further study. Through her work, she improves community safety while training and supporting her peers.

Joanna Muegge

Joanna Muegge is a business owner of Denture Elements, and a HPI lecturer at TAFE SA. Through her business acumen, memberships of industry associations, and her continuous professional development, Joanna brings a wealth of knowledge and experience while educating the next generation. Joanna also volunteers in community outreach programs to provide dental services for vulnerable people.

Teagan Wallace

Teagan Wallace commenced work at Five Loaves Bakery ten years ago as a junior, cleaning tables and providing front-of-shop service. She is now Head Baker, supporting the training of school-based apprentices, and managing the bakery section. Teagan has been described by her employer as accomplished, diligent, and integral to the company.


Pictured: Excellence in Employment finalists Teagan Wallace and Joanna Muegge with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

Outstanding International Alumni

Rehan Asghar Khan

Rehan Asghar Khan is a Mental Health Clinician who has worked across acute, emergency, and aged care settings before working in community mental health. After graduating from TAFE SA, Rehan completed a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of South Australia and is now pursuing postgraduate study. Currently living and working in regional South Australia, he has been described as an essential part of the local community.

Troy Trien Tran

Troy Trien Tran is a mobile developer at Honeywell Sine, based in Adelaide. He has developed AI models that contribute to medical research, including ongoing projects related to his Master’s degree. In his spare time, Troy utilises his fluency in Vietnamese, to volunteer as an organ donation advocate.

Wai-Hsun Cheng (Wilson)

Wai-Hsun Cheng (Wilson) is the founder and business owner of WE Dental Lab specialising in Orthodontics. After graduating as a dental assistant, he spent 2 years working in the dental industry, before continuing with further study. In 2019, Wilson opened his own business, through which he has embraced new technologies in the industry and provided work experience opportunities to students.


Pictured: Outstanding International Alumni finalists Troy Trien Tran, Rehan Asghar Khan and Wai-Hsun Cheng (Wilson) with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia

Resilience Award

Destiny Rangi-Punua De-la'mere-Gage

After overcoming adverse circumstances, Destiny Rangi-Punua De-la'mere-Gage secured employment in one of the best hotels in the local region, before achieving the position of Gaming Manager. Destiny is held in high esteem by his colleagues and peers and has been described as an excellent mentor. As a supervisor, Destiny nurtures his staff to achieve their full potential.

Omid Nikooeighamsari

Omid Nikooeighamsari arrived in Australia as a refugee and non-native English speaker at age of 45. He is now an administrator of Online Library, which is aiming to provide online library services to over 10,000 members. He has also translated many Baha’i children’s books into Persian. Omid is now studying for a Bachelor’s degree at university.


Pictured: Resilience finalists Destiny Rangi-Punua De-la'mere-Gage and Omid Nikooeighamsari with Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia


TAFE SA Honour Awards presentation in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands

Finalists Adele Nelson, Marlene Burton, and Shannon Winima Tapaya were presented with their TAFE SA Honour Awards certificates on Wednesday 27 October in a special ceremony in the APY Lands. Adele won the Community Contribution Award, and Shannon was a highly-commended finalist in the Rising Star category. Congratulations to Adele, Marlene, and Shannon!

Pictured (L-R): Shannon Winima Tapaya, Mark Jackman, General Manager of Regional Anangu Services Aboriginal Corporation, Marlene Burton, and Adele Nelson.


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