Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:33): Back in 2009, I initiated the Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards to recognise and reward excellence and achievement in local trades in the Casey electorate. On Tuesday, 16 September, I was pleased to host the fifth annual award presentation. This is all possible because of the dedicated committee of local business owners, including Phil Munday of Phil Munday's Panel Works, who is the chair of the judging panel; Sue O'Brien from Chateau Yering; Nick Fraraccio of Stevens Glass; and Clive Larkman from Larkman Nurseries.
Following a nomination process, 12 finalists were determined by the judging panel. As in previous years, they had a very difficult decision to make because of the quality of the applications. But I was pleased to be able to announce on the night that the winner of the 2014 Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards was 17-year-old Mikayla Paulet, a first-year hairdressing apprentice at Natural Chique Hair & Make-up in Mount Evelyn. She is doing a fantastic job. She was supported by the owner of the business, Kristy McKenzie, and by many of her family, friends and work colleagues.
The runner-up award was shared by two people. The judging panel could not split the quality. One of the runners-up was 17-year-old Cameron Bisschop, a second-year apprentice at an automotive mechanics business in Silvan. The other was 26-year-old Natacha De Barba, a third-year apprentice chef at TarraWarra Estate in the heart of the Yarra Valley. The panel also awarded 19-year-old Joshua Mayall, a third-year apprentice electrician with CPM Electricals in Yarra Glen, with an encouragement award. Joshua was also a finalist in last year's awards.
I pass on my congratulations to all of the finalists, to the award winners and to the panel, who again gave generously of their time to choose some young locals who are excelling in their chosen field and deserve the recognition and the encouragement that these awards provide on an annual basis.
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