Maxine Merle Colligan, aged 22) from Campbelltown, has been named Western Sydney Woman of the Year after already taking out the title of Western Sydney Woman in Trades category. The Western Sydney Women Award’s major partner is the Australian Government, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman alongside Women NSW who are also a major sponsor.
Colligan is making huge strides as a woman in trades and will be an inspiration to all women thinking about starting a trade.
Colligan is a recently qualified Automotive Refinishing Technician (Spray Painter) and most notably has represented Australia at the Worldskills International Competition in Russia, winning the best of Nation Award in 2019. She is a powerful advocate for women taking up vocational education and training, insisting that it is a feasible and rewarding pathway for those who wish to pursue it.
Colligan’s determination, contribution and skills in her field make her an inspiration to others - displaying attributes which speak to the very mission that Western Sydney Women stands for.
"Western Sydney Women is the first and only organisation to advocate for all women from the Inner West, Greater West, North West and South West of Sydney, with a mission to be the voice and inspiration for all women living and working in the Western Sydney areas," says Amanda Rose, founding director of Western Sydney Women. Amanda Rose goes on to explain that the Western Sydney Women awards is the only awards program representing women at all stages in their life, business & career across the Inner West, Greater West, North West and South West of Sydney. "The awards were created in honour of giving women of the west recognition for their hard work, it is also the only awards program that is free to enter and free to attend to ensure it is accessible to all women."
Colligan has proved, above and beyond doubt, her hard work and dedication to her chosen field. After graduating from a high school in Campbelltown, Colligan enrolled into a prevocational course for spray painting where she gained the skills and knowledge needed to seek an apprenticeship. Her journey into the workforce was initially full of disappointments and setbacks, with Colligan experiencing first-hand the difficulty some women face breaking into what is traditionally considered a man's occupation. Despite the multiple setbacks and after 7 months of work experience, Colligan was finally able to start her apprenticeship with the AMA Group.
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says this year’s Outstanding Western Sydney Women Awards recognises the resilience and agility of community leaders, entrepreneurs and tradies in this challenging time.
“My office is honoured to get behind these awards and the efforts of Western Sydney Women, which aims to help women in the region advance their businesses and career paths and provide a support network,” Carnell says.
“It’s inspiring to see these extraordinary women recognised for their hard work, despite the incredibly difficult year that 2020 has been.
"Congratulations to Western Sydney Woman of the Year Colligan – a leader in her field and impressive advocate for her fellow women in trades.”
Since those early days, Colligan has not just engaged in her trade, but has excelled in it. Here is a list of some of the key successes Colligan has had over the last couple of years:
● Women in Collision Award - Technician category (2019) Sponsored by IAG
● Rising Star Award - Sponsored by Paint and Panel Magazine and PPG. (2019)
● PPG’s State Colour Matching Competition - First Place. (2019)
● PPG’s International Colour Matching Competition - Third Place. (2019)
● WorldSkills International Competition - Best of Nation Award. (2019)
● WorldSkills International Competition - Second place, Sustainability Award. (2019)
● WorldSkills International Competition - Hosted in Kazan, Russia, Third Place. (2019)
● WorldSkills National Competition - Hosted at the ICC and Ultimo TAFE, Second Place. (2018) WorldSkills Global Skills Challenge (qualifying for the Skillaroo’s team to go to Russia) - (2018)
● WorldSkills Regional Competition - Hosted at Campbelltown TAFE, First Place. (2017)
● Future Leaders of the Industry Award - (2017)
Colligan also dedicates her time to supporting the spraypainting industry by appearing as a panel speaker at numerous events as well as mentoring students who are keen to engage in careers offered through VET pathways.
Colligan is leading the way and making way for other young girls and women to consider trades as a career option and that hard work and determination does pay off. She remains an inspiration to women and is testament to what can be achieved if you are able to persist and break through some of the stereotypes women face. Colligan is a woman of many talents and is constantly being recognised for her great work and at only 22, is only at the start of what is hoped to be a long and illustrious career.