Tuesday 18 October 2016

AFTRS Update (4) - Indigenous Training

So on we go to the next AFTRS question about training of Indigenous film-makers. Way back in January 2016 one of the earlier posts about AFTRS had this to say  Another significant marker of the differences between the old and new AFTRS can be found in the approach to Indigenous training. On the AFTRS website under “AFTRS Indigenous Award Course Alumni” there are 56* graduates in film and television listed, yet only seven have graduated since 2005. The remaining 49 are all from the old School and specifically from the period 1993 to 2005. They include the Indigenous directors who have made feature films - Ivan Sen, Rachel Perkins, Warwick Thornton, Beck Cole and Catriona McKenzie, a total of 10 feature films between them. No Indigenous feature film directors have graduated from AFTRS since 2001.

*Although listed as an Alumnus there is no record of Wayne Blair, director of The Sapphires, 2012, graduating from AFTRS. Blair was the recipient of the AV Myer Indigenous Fellowship in 2006. Darren Dale, currently Deputy Chair of the AFTRS Council and recipient of an Honorary Degree is also excluded.

The Senate Estimates question was thus: AFTRS has not graduated an Indigenous student who has directed a feature film since 2001. In what ways has the School changed its approach to supporting indigenous students through to graduation?

Editor’s note: AFTRS answer is as follows except where I’ve taken the opportunity to put in some comments, further questions that of course will never get answers and any other random thoughts.
Since 2001, AFTRS has graduated 36 Indigenous students from its Award course programs (figures based on students who identified as Aboriginal or as a Torres Strait Islander on enrolment). While one graduate has directed a feature-length documentary, a number of others have directed television drama.
Editor’s note. Being deeply suspicious about AFTRS and its attempts to cover its performance I’d be interested to know exactly what the qualifications obtained were. If its on the public record I’d love to know where.
Between 2001 and 2008, AFTRS supported an Indigenous Program Initiative that ran tailored training projects, administered support programs that provided fee support to Indigenous Australians attending industry short courses, and also merit-based Indigenous scholarships for students attending Award courses.
Editor’s note: Once again I’d be interested to know how many in each category. It appears, though it’s unstated, that this program was abandoned some time after Sandra Levy took over as CEO
From 2009 - 2015, AFTRS implemented an Indigenous Program, as part of the School’s Open Program. The Indigenous Program focussed on the provision of short courses to Indigenous participants; 982 Indigenous participants engaged in 87 courses. In addition, 413 Indigenous participants who completed an Open Program course received a course fee subsidy through the Indigenous Program.
Editor’s note. That is indeed a lot of people. It would be interesting to know what they are all doing now.
In January 2016, AFTRS established the Indigenous Unit and appointed an Indigenous industry professional as its Head. The Unit has a focus on the attraction and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into Award courses, including the three-year Bachelor of Arts (Screen). Accessibility and support is offered to students through financial scholarships and mentoring partnerships, specifically aimed to assist their progress through to AFTRS graduation.
The Unit will also provide professional development to mid-level Indigenous practitioners. ‘Talent Labs’ will focus on the further development of high level craft skills through intensive workshops. The ‘Industry Pathways Program’ will link students through networks into the screen and broadcast industry. Forging strong relationships both with the Indigenous community and the broader screen sector is vital to ensuring successful employment and creative outcomes for the next wave of Indigenous graduates.

Editor’s note: Which sounds a lot like what was being done before the fiddling began in and around 2008.

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