Congratulations to our 2021 Premier’s Awards finalists and 2020 I’m Transport Awards winners

It’s been a big week at Transport recognising the incredible work of our people.

We’re proud to announce that we have five teams and individuals that have been recognised from across Transport for their contribution to the public sector in the 2021 Premiers Awards.

We are also proud to announce our winners of the 2020 I’m Transport Awards, our annual awards program which recognises our people who've made an outstanding contribution and gone absolutely above and beyond in the past year.

Find out more about our incredible finalists and winners.

2021 Premiers Awards finalists

Category: A strong economy

Finalist: Transport's Aboriginal Career Development and Mentoring Program

Our Aboriginal workforce brings much valued skills and knowledge not just to Transport but to the NSW community. The Aboriginal Career Development and Mentoring Program (ACDMP) provides aspiring Aboriginal leaders from across Transport with an opportunity to develop their careers through structured mentoring.

A reverse mentoring component builds cultural capability amongst senior leaders when supporting these career development outcomes. The ACDMP has been successful in developing relationships, respect and opportunities for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across Transport.

Category: Well Connected Communities with Quality Local Environments

Finalist: Newtown Station garden

Newtown Garden is located beside Newtown Train Station and revitalises underutilised land owned by Sydney Trains to provide an urban farming precinct to support the local community. This upcycled green space is an innovation which scales an affordable kit-of-parts to grow high-yield, high-turnaround crops to support the local not-for-profit business, Lentil As Anything.

Newtown Garden provides a triple bottom line solution with social, environment and economic benefits for customers, the community and Transport and hopes to expand along the transport network connecting the people of NSW with more sustainable places to live healthier lifestyles.

Finalist: Rapid roll-out of new bike riding infrastructure in response to COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, with physical distancing restrictions on public transport and surging bike sales, Transport delivered new bike riding infrastructure and encouraged more people to ride a bike instead of driving or catching public transport.

This included more than 28km of additional cycleways rolled out, or in delivery, across Sydney and regional NSW; reduced speed limits across ten areas; an advertising behaviour change campaign; creating a Bike Riding TripPlanner giving customers a choice of bike routes by confidence level; funding tech start-ups to tackle barriers for new bike riders; and making the one-stop shop for walking and bike riding customer information.

Category: Putting the customer at the centre

Finalist: Getting Beau to school!

Punchbowl Bus Company approached Transport to see how they could support Year 3 student (Beau) from Bradfordville Public School, Goulburn, to travel to school with his friends and siblings.

Beau has a physical disability that has made it difficult for him to catch his school bus, having to slide on his bottom to get up and down stairs, a degrading situation, before being confined to a wheelchair that the bus didn’t cater for. Helping Beau required some thinking that challenged Transport’s way of working. The Southern Contracts team worked with the school, the bus operator and Beau’s family to think outside the box and put arrangements in place to get Beau to school for 2020!

Category: Anthea Kerr Award

Finalist: Blake Hughes, Director, Service Planning

Blake commenced his career at Transport straight out of high school in 2012, and has transformed from high achieving, technically gifted, planner to well-respected leader. Blake authored Transport’s Medium Term Strategic Fleet Plan and provided valuable contribution to the development of the More Trains More Services program.

In his current role of Director Service Planning, Blake took on the challenge of establishing the new Service Planning directorate, growing the team from scratch whilst delivering exceptional customer outcomes across all public transport modes for the people of regional NSW. Blake has dedicated his career to the people of NSW and is an inspirational public servant and leader.

2020 I’m Transport Awards winners

Five ways of leading: Courageous

Winner: Shaun Rae

When COVID hit last year, Shaun ventured into unchartered waters by leading the operations for Transport Commanders and contractors for the NSW Airport Bussing Hotel Quarantine Operation. 

These responsibilities fall beyond the usual Transport Commander duties but Shaun stepped up to the challenge to manage new health orders, bus contract issues and industrial relation matters to keep NSW safe from COVID. The entire operation has been a success story, transferring over 130,000 travellers by utilising 8,222 buses – and no community transfers have been associated with the operation as a result.  

Five ways of leading: Caring

Winner: Brian Ashby

In 2020, Brian expanded his already successful Blood Challenge to all of Sydney Trains’ Engineering and Maintenance team. Brian has spent over 100 hours of his personal time organising and promoting the challenge, engaging our people, and organising a yearly awards presentation with Lifeblood to celebrate our donors’ achievements. 

He empowers our people to make a positive contribution for the greater good in a safe and supportive environment by equipping them with the information and resources they need to become donors. In total, the team have made 428 donations which has helped save over 1,200 lives. His selfless and caring attitude has created a successful challenge that is enabling Sydney Trains to make a meaningful contribution to the community. 

Five ways of leading: Creative

Winner: Tanya Vincent

Tanya creatively developed the VASP tool which stands for ‘Value Assessment System for Place’ for valuing place outcomes in the conceptual stage of transport projects, which can lead to improved customer experiences and better places for our communities. 

In an area where creativity may not be necessarily known, Tanya showcased creative leadership to create VASP which translates something conceptual to something more tangible and measureable that can be used across Transport in the long term. Her tool has been trialled on various projects already, and with further research and investment to validate financial measures, it has the potential to revolutionise the way we do transport business cases. 

Five ways of leading: Sustainable

Winner: Nadine Youssef

Nadine's sustainable leadership is reflected in her smart choices about electrical safety, enabling employees to safely work to create successful places and connect our customer’s lives. 

Nadine has repeatedly shown this by leading the redesign of Sydney Trains' Electrical Network Safety Rules to improve electrical safety awareness and reduce incidents, and establishing the Electrical Learning Centre to meet workforce requirements. Her efforts in putting sustainability at the forefront is preparing the workforce for the future and creating real step change which will endure in the many years to come. 

Five ways of leading: Empowering

Winner: Stephanie Polihronas 

In the Culture, Engagement and Leadership team, Stephanie is known for her dedication to her people and empowering leadership and mentorship.  

The sheer volume of work and the positive impact her team has been able to deliver is a testament to the way Stephanie empowers her team to make decisions and act. This includes L100 sessions, the annual People Matter Employee Survey, the creation of a Leadership and Culture Community of Practice and the launch of the New Ways of Working Pilot , just to name a few. 

Customer at the centre: Individual award

Winner: Belinda Roberts

Belinda is a strong advocate and a voice for disadvantaged and isolated communities in western NSW. She has spent years nurturing relationships with communities and educating them about existing transport linkages to help them connect. At times Belinda can travel for 10 hours over the course of a day, and can travel 3,000km in a week, stopping at small communities to meet with locals and community groups to understand their issues. 

One of Belinda’s transport initiatives is Wiradjuri Wheels. It’s an inclusive transport solution to connect youth with after-school activities, and then to transport them home.  

Customer at the centre: Team award

Winner: Southern Delivery Team 

Beau, a Year 3 student from Bradfordville Public School in Goulburn who has a physical disability, making it difficult for him to catch his school bus. At the moment there is actually no requirement for school buses to be accessible, so when Beau would travel to and from school, he had to slide on the stairs to reach his wheelchair. 

The Southern Delivery team started working with the school, the bus operator, and with Beau’s family to identify an out-of-the-box solution that could use their current fleet to let Beau travel to school with his friends and siblings. The efforts of the team have made a huge difference to Beau, and his family & friends, and the school, enabling Beau to live as normal a life as possible. 

People at the heart: Individual award

Winner: Kevin Bertao 

Over the past three years, Kevin has led the planning, development and implementation of the new employee portal for Transport. This portal has replaced five outdated agency intranets and over a dozen other employee channels, replacing all of these with one modern, accessible platform. It streamlines how people access news and how they find the information they need to do their jobs. 

Kevin has led the delivery of this complex and critical project to significantly improve the experience of our people in Transport. In the first month, the portal received over 1.1 million views, which is over 500,000 more than the old intranet. 

People at the heart: Team award

Winner: COVID Taskforce Communications Team

With the outbreak of COVID-19, Transport needed to mobilise fast to protect millions of our customers and our people. For our people, this team developed a range of new initiatives including email, interactive livestreams, videos, and the Stay Informed website. 

For our customers, the team introduced a world-leading tool to display real-time occupancy data on public transport. They rolled out green “Sit Here” dots and used marketing campaigns to reinforce messages around mask wearing, washing hands and avoiding peak travel times. 

Winner: Transport Shared Services COVID-19 Response Team

From the onset of the pandemic, TSS played a crucial role in Transport’s COVID-19 response. They brought together cross-functional teams working in new ways and collaborating to maintain seamless customer service delivery, which was focused on keeping Transport’s people safe. 

The team worked tirelessly behind the scenes to source critical supplies and personal protective equipment for our frontline staff, and they responded to employee enquiries and delivered COVID-Safe measures in our workplaces so our people could continue to work safely. 

For the greater good: Individual award

Winner: Vito Zec 

Vito has worked with TAFE NSW to develop learning and assessment materials for a new core unit which focuses on underground utilities locating and surveying. He’s been doing this in his own time, and for free. His efforts have created education and employment opportunities for future generations.

He’s collaborated with equipment suppliers, encouraging them to donate specialised locating equipment so that students can get first-hand experience through the use of modern technology. This of course was above and beyond all his normal duties and project workload pressures. 

For the greater good: Team award

Winner: Newtown Station Garden Team

Newtown Station Garden is an urban farming precinct located right next to Newtown Station. The land had formerly been underutilised and had been costly to maintain. The team collaborated with the local community to deliver a sustainable solution that would upcycle the land and deliver a meaningful outcome. 

The garden supports a local not-for-profit business growing high-yield, high-turnaround crops – fresh produce which can be donated to help feed vulnerable people and keep businesses afloat. This is a creative solution that has social, environmental, and economic benefits for customers, the community and Transport, so congratulations to the Newtown Station Garden Team! 

Winner: Newell Highway Upgrade – Mungle Back Creek to Boggabilla Team

The Newell Highway Upgrade is a joint funded $203 million project over 27km of highway at the northern end of the Newell Highway. The team has provided local workers, trainees and school apprentices with valuable on-the-job skills and experiences that will enhance their future work opportunities. This includes the employment of 51 Aboriginal workers, far exceeding Transport’s Aboriginal Participation in Construction targets for a project like this one. 

The strong relationship the team has built with the community really stood out to the judges. This sort of effort leaves a terrific legacy, and should be a huge benefit to the local community and the freight industry along the second busiest highway in NSW for many years to come. 

Champion of safety and wellbeing

Winner: Karen Crawshaw  

Karen has worked in the Transport COVID-19 Taskforce, implementing the Vehicle Sanitisation Stations for taxis/rideshare at 13 sites across NSW and coordinating the cleaning of buses and mask handouts at major events. Her input and coordination has delivered 1.9 million hours of extra cleaning over the last year, with more than 1,700 extra jobs being created. 

As a result, Transport has become the gold standard in Australia and around the world – having one of the cleanest and most hygienic transport networks we’ve ever seen, protecting our customers and the community. 

Champion of inclusion: Individual award

Winner: Stuart Dearden

Stuart’s effective community engagement as the onsite Project Manager for the Mungle Back Creek to Boggabilla Project has improved inclusion and diversity by delivering Aboriginal employment and training. 

He did this by breaking barriers and forging connections with local Kamilaroi people, engaging with teachers, parents and then students for traineeships and work experience placements, and celebrating together during NAIDOC week in which he cooked the BBQ. 

Champion of inclusion: Team award

Winner: Enabled Network 

As one of the largest disability networks in the NSW Public Sector, the Enabled Network drives disability inclusion through sharing ideas and collaborating with the network through events, activities and communications.  

The team’s work have increased awareness and understanding of employing people with a disability, helping Transport become a safe space for them. It has also contributed to removing unconscious bias through education and sharing experiences and challenges, not only within Transport, but also across other agencies in the NSW Government. 

Outstanding talent of the year

Winner: Elle Findlay  

Elle is a stand-out scholar and an up-and-coming engineer who is using technology and innovation to better service our customers and enhance our people’s safety at Transport. Elle is leading an innovation which utilises drone technology to allow inspections to be done off track – making inspections more efficient and reliable, removing workers from high-risk areas, and using the time they have on track to remove defects that could potentially impact customer journeys. 

She challenges the status quo, presenting innovative ideas to her peers and executive teams, leading project teams, and driving operational improvements – all of this outside of her BAU activities. 

Project team of the year

Winner: Sydney Harbour Bridge Deck Replacement Team

The Sydney Harbour Bridge works were an engineering marvel, a logistical feat, and a PR triumph for Sydney Trains. The works were critical to extending the life of the Sydney Harbour Bridge rail corridor by 120 years, reducing maintenance costs, enhancing ride-quality and service-reliability for customers, and improving quality-of-life for up to 20,000 residents by reducing vibration-related noise.  

With only a four-month timeframe for planning of the works and alternative transport arrangements, this upgrade was completed on time and within budget, with risks well-managed, and strong community engagement. The team’s accelerated planning and highly synchronised delivery showed us at our best, set new benchmarks, and ultimately boosted public confidence in Transport. 

Highly commended: New Gunnedah Bridge Team

The team delivered a very complex project under budget and six months ahead of program which allowed greater connectivity of higher mass load vehicles to deliver agricultural goods and services more efficiently, also reducing cost of freight for the drought stricken agricultural sector. 

They overcame technical challenges due to the radius of the bridge and used innovative practices in pouring concrete on a 10% gradient, extreme super-elevation and varying cross falls. As a result, the bridge has reduced traffic for locals and agricultural freight, improved safety for the local community and pedestrians, increased cyclist connectivity and maintained koala habitat trees. 

Secretary’s I’m Transport award

Winner: Julie-Anne Tooth

Julie-Anne stands out for the way she embodies caring and courageous leadership, and how she stepped up to support her team in the toughest of times, showing immense resilience and compassion. This was particularly evident in the way she went above and beyond, working around the clock following the XPT derailment at Wallan which tragically took the life of our driver, John Kennedy.

This was such a hard time for our NSW TrainLink friends and colleagues in particular to whom John was a mate and a trusted advisor and was overlayed by regional impacts of the bushfire crisis, Covid and significant organisational change.  

Julie-Anne ensured our people felt safe and cared for, provided ongoing support outside work hours to John’s family and continued to lead our working culture to improve ways of working.