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Newcastle Nursing student wins 2024 Trainee of the Year


When she was younger, 17-year-old Dascha Harrison spent time in hospital receiving treatment during her battle with anorexia nervosa. 

So inspired by the doctor who cared for her, the Maryville local has since been committed to a career in medicine, inspired to help other adolescents facing eating disorders. 

Last week the teenager had her efforts acknowledged in a public way, winning the School Based Trainee of the Year at the 2024 Hunter and Central Coast Regional Training Awards.  

The annual celebration, which took place at the Newcastle Town Hall on Friday 31 May, recognises the outstanding achievements of students, trainees, and apprentices in the vocational education and training sector. 

Finalists are congratulated for being the best in their field.   

Accepting the award for her studies in Certificate III in Health Services Assistance at TAFE NSW Newcastle, Dascha said it was a rewarding feeling to be named the best out of a strong list of nominees.  

“I was so surprised when I won the award, but also felt very proud to be representing healthcare as one of the most important industries in NSW,” she said.   

“I spent two months in hospital during my battle with anorexia nervosa.

“And, the doctor who treated me inspired me to pursue a career in medicine specialising in adolescent health and the treatment of eating disorders.   

“I absolutely love TAFE NSW, especially the practical experience I’m gaining, and I have access to so much support from our wonderful teachers.”  

In addition to her day at TAFE NSW, Dascha completes a day of practical work placement on the Nephrology and Dialysis ward at John Hunter Hospital.  

She is also working towards completing Year 12 later this year at Cooks Hill Campus and has a part-time job at a local supermarket.    

TAFE NSW Nursing School Based Coordinator Angela Simpson acknowledged Dascha’s hard work.   

“Winning an NSW Regional Training Award is an outstanding achievement, and Dascha is a wonderful example of the high-quality graduates TAFE NSW is training to meet the growing demand for skilled nurses and healthcare workers in our region,” she said.   

“School-based trainees, like Dascha, gain valuable real-life experience working in the hospital. They complete their Certificate III in Health Services Assistance qualification in conjunction with the Human Services curriculum for the HSC, which opens a pathway to a Diploma of Nursing or a Bachelor of Nursing at University.

“On completion, trainees can work as Assistants in Nursing while they pursue further study.”

Another TAFE NSW Newcastle Certificate III in Health Services Assistance student, Ella Marceau, was also a finalist in Friday night’s awards.   

NSW Regional Training Award winners now progress to the NSW Training Awards in Sydney on 13 September.  

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