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Record Number of Indigenous Graduates in 2019

(L-R) Head of AFTRS Indigenous Kyas Sherriff with graduates Grant Maling, Marissa McDowell, Angela Bates, Rebekah Hatfield, Shontell Ketchell and Maggie Whitehouse

Three years on from the establishment of AFTRS Indigenous, the School has graduated twelve Indigenous students, a record number for the same year.

Six Indigenous students have graduated from AFTRS’ full-time degree courses. Alex Hancock and Timothy Miller have graduated from the Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production; Angela Bates and Marissa McDowell from the Master of Arts Screen: Business and Leadership; and Jerome Comisari and Grant Maling from the Graduate Diploma in Radio.

Six Indigenous students also have graduated from discipline-specific degree courses: Shontell Leah Ketchell graduated in Screenwriting; Micha Barlett in Directing; Joel Rasmussen in Cinematography; Maggie Whitehouse and Rebekah Hatfield in Documentary; and Irma Woods in Script Editing and Development.

AFTRS has a long and proud history of supporting Indigenous storytellers. These new graduates join an impressive list of Indigenous screen and broadcast alumni including Ivan Sen, Rachel Perkins, Erica Glynn, Dena Curtis, Warwick Thornton, Tony Thorne, Murray Lui, Steven McGregor, Beck Cole, Adrian Russel Wills, Catriona McKenzie and Darlene Johnston.

AFTRS Indigenous was established in 2016. The unit’s purpose is to find, develop and support talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study across the School and to create pathways for these students to enter the Australian screen and broadcast industry in every creative role so it better reflects the diversity of Australian society.

“AFTRS is dedicated to finding and supporting the next generation of content creators and we are extremely proud to have twelve Indigenous graduates this year across a range of courses and disciplines,” says AFTRS’ Head of Indigenous Kyas Sherriff. “These students graduate with the skills and knowledge to confidently enter the screen and broadcast industries or move to a more senior role. We congratulate this year’s graduates for their achievements and look forward to seeing their impact on this country’s national voice and the world stage in years to come,” Ms Sherriff continues.

Several of this year’s Indigenous graduates have already been given opportunities in the industry. Since studying the Master of Arts Screen: Business and Leadership, Angela Bates has become Development & Investment Manager of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department; immediately following the Graduate Diploma in Radio Grant Maling received a six-week paid internship at Southern Cross Austereo, and following her documentary studies Maggie Whitehouse was a recipient of AIDC 2019 Leading Lights funding.

“Creating new pathways into the School so Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can study at AFTRS and take their stories to the world is extremely important to us,” says AFTRS Chief Executive Neil Peplow. “The School is built on first nation land, and I hope that Australian culture can be built on first nation foundations too.”


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Tracey Mair, TM Publicity
Ph: 02 8333 9066 or 0419 221 493