In 2011, Abbey Sergeant won both the WA and Australian Trainee of the Year awards. Abbey started her training pathway at the age of 19 and completed a Certificate III and IV in Community Services with the Shire of Katanning, demonstrating that opportunities in WA’s regional areas can lead to fruitful careers for young residents.
Recently we caught up with Abbey to find out what she’s up to, five years after completing her training and winning the awards.
It’s been 5 years since you won WA and Australian Trainee of the Year in 2011 – where has life taken you since then?
It seems like a life time ago that I won the WA and Australian Trainee of the Year award, so much has changed since then. I have since left the Shire of Katanning and am working for the Shire of Gnowangerup as the Executive Assistant to the CEO. I have been lucky enough to take some time out of work and travel parts of the UK and Europe and I have come to appreciate that life isn’t all about work and that it is here to be enjoyed.
Since completing your traineeship – what have you learnt in your roles within community shires?
Moving shires has given me a different view on how each community works. By moving to a smaller shire I have been able to further develop my knowledge and skills within Local Government. Being in a small shire requires you to be so much more diverse in your skill set and work together in a very small team.
The Shire of Gnowangerup has a very proactive passionate community. They are interested in every aspect of their community and are generally interested in what is going on and how they can help. At times this can be challenging as we have to be very careful when we hold events so as not to clash with local weddings, Saturday sports or other major community events. This is something I didn’t consider as much when working for a bigger shire but now is very much a priority.
How did the WA and Australian Training Awards assist you in taking steps for your future?
The Awards gave me the confidence and courage to step up into the role as Executive Assistant. The Awards taught me that challenging myself is not a bad thing, although scary and daunting at first. This in turn assisted me when making the decision to move shires to further develop my skill set.
What do you love about living and working in a rural area?
Not only has my career taken a positive turn but so has my lifestyle. I now live on a farm in Broomehill with my partner Wayne, approximately 20kms out of Katanning and spend the majority of my spare time helping out where I can. I really enjoy living and working in small country towns. It’s something about the people, their generosity and willingness to give anything a go. Small communities work together to get things done and never expect anything in return.
Why do you think it’s important for people to take up opportunities in their local community?
Living in a regional community can be challenging, as opportunities don’t come around very often. My advice would be to take the opportunity, whether this be a paid job or volunteer role outside of work. Give back to your community what it has given you. By involving yourself in the community you will meet new people and create networks. These relationships and networks within time will assist you in ways you never thought possible.
In my current role I have learnt the importance of communicating. At the end of the day as a shire staff member we are working for the community. By keeping the community up to date, informed and giving them the opportunity to be involved you are empowering them to manage their community and assets. This in turn takes pressure off staff and resources.
Where do you see yourself in another five years’ time?
I will be almost 30 years old, eek! I hope by this age I am a little wiser. I’m not entirely sure where I will be. I have always wanted to work for myself so you never know.
WA Training Awards winners are selected for their drive and determination to achieve great things and make a difference in their industry or community. Our training ambassadors span the entire state, with winners and finalists from the metropolitan and regional areas.
If you’re interested in having a training ambassador speak at your next event, contact the WA Training Awards team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.