11 September 2023

Cape York talent shines at Queensland Training Awards

| Matt Nicholls
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Napranum and Kowanyama woman Shaniqua Burke (left) was named the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year, while Western Cape College’s Kyezaya Namai-Sabatino was named the School Based Apprentice of the Year at the Queensland Training Awards.

TWO high-achieving Cape York residents have been recognised with wins at the Queensland Training Awards.

Napranum student Kyezaya Namai-Sabatino was named the School Based Apprentice of the Year, while fellow Western Cape College graduate Shaniqua Burke was named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year.

Another woman with Cape connections, Cairns’ Jessica Addo, was named Vocational Student of the Year.

The awards were presented at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and winners will now vie for national honours at a ceremony in Tasmania later this year.

Kyezaya, who is vice captain at Western Cape College, said he stayed at home after he landed his school-based traineeship with Rio Tinto and training provider MRAEL.

“I was going to go to boarding school but once I got this I decided to stay,” he told Cape York Weekly from Brisbane.

“I’m still in disbelief. I’m very proud and all the messages that have come through … it’s a nice feeling.”

The 18-year-old said he got a taste for working in mining after a week of work experience in Grade 10.

“That week at the Andoom workshop made me go for the traineeship and I’m so glad I got it,” he said.

Every Tuesday, his alarm goes off at 4.30am and he drives himself to the Andoom mine site and completes a day as a trainee diesel fitter.

“A lot of it is servicing and maintenance on big trucks, but sometimes there are bigger jobs like engine rebuilds,” he said.

“I’ve earned the trust of the guys out there so I am able to get in and work on those jobs.”

Kyezaya Namai-Sabatino has loved his time as a trainee diesel fitter at Rio Tinto.

Kyezaya praised his parents, father Dick and mum Ramona, for their support.

“Having dad there with me at the awards was really special. Mum stayed home to look after my younger siblings,” he said.

A full-time apprenticeship is now in the works after graduation, although Kyezaya hopes to complete a dual apprenticeship that includes auto electrics.


SHANIQUA Burke says she has found her calling as a trainee health worker at Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

The 21-year-old, who grew up in Kowanyama as well as Napranum, said she had been with Apunipima for 18 months and was loving the role.

“I feel a sense of belonging and I’m able to help people,” she said.

“It’s a great work environment and I’m enjoying learning new things and getting my qualifications.”

Shaniqua was flanked by her proud grandparents, Kowanyama mayor Robbie Sands and his partner Donna, at the awards ceremony.

“They pretty much raised me,” she said, acknowledging their sacrifices along the way.

Shaniqua said one of the highlights of the night was meeting Her Excellency, the Governor of Queensland, Jeanette Young.

“She was very impressed with the kind of work we do at Apunipima, which is helping prevent chronic diseases in our community,” she said.

Both Shaniqua and Kyezaya said they were looking forward to representing Queensland at the national awards in Hobart on November 17.

“I think I might have to get some warmer clothes,” Shaniqua said with a smile.

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