19 year-old Eben Love turned volunteering into a vocation in January when he became the nation’s first Indigenous ArtsReady trainee.
Eben Love at work at the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Cairns.
It took just six months for Charles Wiles, manager of the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Cairns, to convert Eben Love’s position at CoCA into an ArtsReady traineeship. ‘Eben began volunteering here at the Centre seven months ago and straight away we could see what a star he was. He has a genuine interest in the arts and the technology that goes into making a performance and has showed real promise,’ he said.
As of 6 January, Eben progressed from promise to full-time on the premises in paid training combined with accredited, nationally recognised study at the Sejumi Institute. Calling ArtsReady a ‘perfect fit for Eben’, Wiles observed that the practical on-the-job experience that a traineeship provides gives Eben the opportunity ‘to learn new skills across lighting, sound and audio visual as well as administration, arts marketing and social media.’
As for Eben, it was a perfect fit of a different kind: ‘You could say I was bred into this industry, given my parents’ involvement in the arts.’
Since 2012, the number of Indigenous trainees employed by AFL SportsReady has increased by 135% to 225 nationally in 2013. Those numbers are bound to increase through the ArtsReady program, starting with Eben. ‘For Indigenous employment in ArtsReady, when we did the consultations and thought of the young Indigenous people we are dealing with, they regularly see Indigenous people being successful in sport and the arts, and the career interest is really quite significant around that pathway,’ said AFL SportsReady CEO James Montgomery.
‘ArtsReady offers comprehensive support to not only young Indigenous people undertaking a traineeship, but also to our partner organisations. The development of these partnerships is vital to creating positive outcomes for young Indigenous jobseekers and ultimately the success of the program.’
Montgomery explained that SportsReady had invested a lot of time building trust with Indigenous communities. ‘Trust relies on what we deliver, and that is also with the people we partner with. You have to be comfortable that it’s a culturally safe environment that you’re putting people into. You need to know whether there’s an understanding of what’s required and we provide significant wrap-around support.'
'We have full-time Indigenous mentors who work in the transition, understanding the cultural issues and the community issues. They’re all experienced people doing their job to make sure our services are right,’ he said.
ArtsReady comes with all those supports built in to the program as an extension of the SportsReady Indigenous Employment Program (IEP). Director of the Korin Gamadji Institute Belinda Duarte is a strong supporter of the program. ‘From an Aboriginal perspective, it really is about an opportunity to enrich both people’s lives,' she said.
'Often it’s viewed as an opportunity to help out instead of being viewed as an opportunity for it to be a really reciprocal growth experience. When you have young people in a workspace it enriches the dynamic of the organisational culture.’
Of the 2011 IEP graduates, 84% are employed or in further education. ‘There is so much talent and there is so much hope and belief in what we can create as a nation,’ said Duarte. ‘We just need to provide an environment that enriches them, that allows them to thrive and that we are in a space in which the people around them believe in them.’
A space such as the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Cairns. A space where Eben Love has found his place.
For more information on ArtsReady and the Indigenous Employment Program, visit the ArtsReady website.