AFTRS gets $530k grant for First Nations training and career pathways

Funding for First Nations student pathways will support two new programs of work at AFTRS in the coming years.
(L-R) AFTRS Council Chair Rachel Perkins, Minister for the Arts, The Hon Tony Burke, Master of Arts Screen: Business Graduate EJ Garrett. Images supplied.

Arts Minister Tony Burke has announced a $530,000 grant to the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) First Nations training and career pathways.

The grant, which will be given over two years and is supported by the National Cultural Policy, ‘Revive: A Place for Every Story, a Story for Every Place‘, was announced at last Friday’s AFTRS graduation ceremony, which saw 158 students graduate from the 2023 academic year.

The funding will allow AFTRS to support two programs of work. The First Nations Bridging Program will offer participants a combination of training, placement, mentoring opportunities and community support based on the needs, interests and ambition of First Nations students. It will also create pathways for cohorts of emerging First Nations talent from remote and regional areas into the screen, radio and audio industries.

The second program will support a Training Audit of current First Nations employment and training within the screen sector to provide AFTRS, screen agencies and the industry with a clear map of the current needs and gaps, as well as the areas that are well supported. This will be a part of a targeted and coordinated approach to First Nations screen, radio and audio training, across Australia.

Read: Budget 2024-25: gains for the screen industry

The announcement at Graduation came three days after a significant investment in the Arts8 national training organisations was included in the Federal Budget. AFTRS will receive $23.2 million over four years, with funding indexed and ongoing.

‘This restoration of government funding to previous levels is a relief, and such a great outcome for the School and its future students,’ said AFTRS CEO Dr. Nell Greenwood. ‘We are grateful to Minister Burke and the Government. In a time of industry upheaval, challenges and opportunities, it means we can continue to champion and support brilliant Australian talent and our resilient, ever dynamic screen and audio communities.’

‘The role of AFTRS is to train and to inspire,’ Minister Burke said to AFTRS graduating students. ‘You, with the training you now have, are some of the best equipped people in this nation, to make sure Australia knows itself.’

Heartbreak High Creator and Showrunner Hannah Carroll Chapman gave the Alumni Commencement Address. Chapman graduated from AFTRS In 2009 with a Graduate Certificate: 3D Animation, and again in 2012 with a Graduate Certificate: Screenwriting.

‘Our industry is one in a state of perpetual change,’ said Chapman. ‘The companies change, the formats change, the technology and the screens and the politics. But what doesn’t change, and what never will, is our insatiable human appetite to see and hear and feel our stories told. Know that the worldwide hunger and interest in Australian stories is out there.’

‘Try not to look at your fellow cohort as your competition. See them as the people who will be hiring you, the people who will be helping you up the ladder of this industry. In turn, help them up the ladder of this industry. And pay special attention to those that did not start on the same rung as you.’

Read: First Nations Film Festival returns for National Reconciliation Week

Also announced at the Graduation ceremony was the winner of the Women in Cinematography Prize, presented by Sony to AFTRS Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production graduate, Mia Schirmer.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports