The Corporate Face of Aboriginal Australia
While unemployment is one of the major factors when it comes to closing the gap for Aboriginal people, the Aboriginal Employment Strategy is focusing its efforts on building careers rather than simply getting jobs for Indigenous employees.
Since 1997 the AES has been creating meaningful careers for its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and now with the launch of its Alumni group is hoping to spread the good news about the 15000 people they have helped place into careers.
“The AES Alumni is a really exciting initiative and something we’re very proud of,” said AES CEO Kristy Masella. “We have 15000 Aboriginal people who are part of the AES family so we really want to reconnect with them and hear about their success stories.”
Kristy said that, while there remains a large emphasis on school based traineeships, they are seeing more and more young Aboriginal people becoming leaders in the corporate world. One of these success stories is Sinoma Gilbert, who started out as a trainee in 2004 and with the support of the AES progressed up the corporate ladder to become an ANZ branch manager in Sydney’s CBD.
“We’re essentially moulding the future of Aboriginal people and corporate Australia to how it should be,” said Sinoma. “Go back five or ten years ago and there were no corporate networks for Indigenous people to help discuss these sorts of career opportunities and progression, whereas now we’re starting to move towards that.”
The AES Alumni is hoping that success stories such as Sinoma’s will inspire other young Aboriginal people to believe they can follow in her footsteps.
“An important part of our Alumni is about sharing good news stories,” said Kristy. “Sadly a lot of our communities are filled with negative talk and deficit stories. If we want to make generational change it’s really important we get some positive narratives back in our communities.”
As one of very few Aboriginal female CEO’s, Kristy said she understands the importance of having positive role models.
“As an Aboriginal female CEO it’s fantastic to see that we’ve got young Aboriginal women who are in management positions today. We’ve got to hear more of those stories. I love hearing stories particularly about young Aboriginal women going out there and making their career a success.”
While success in the big cities and the corporate world is impressive, Kristy admits that Aboriginal employment must continue to maintain a strong regional and community based focus.
“The important thing about our Alumni is for people to understand we’re not just in the big capital cities around Australia, but that we’ve also got a really strong presence in our Aboriginal communities and regional areas.”
Chanoah Hazell is an AES Alumni who is building a career in regional Australia, and while she would love to travel the world, thanks to the AES she hasn’t had to relocate to find employment.
“I started with the AES back when I was in year ten at high school with a school based traineeship and I’ve had continuous support for the last seven years,” said Chanoah. “I don’t have far to go in completing my accountancy and at the end of it I can turn around and be paid top dollar and be in the place I want to be in and see the world. You can’t do that if you’re going to work in a dead end job.”
Despite spending years helping people find satisfying work options, Kristy said she never tires of hearing success stories and that it is particularly rewarding when you can find local career options that enable Aboriginal people to stay on country.
“I love the story of Chanoah and how she’s made a career in regional NSW. The AES has lots of connections and it’s not just about opportunities in the big cities. There are lots of committed people in our communities who are willing to give young Aboriginal people a go and Chanoah is an example of that.”
The newly launched AES Alumni is calling for anyone who has been involved with the organisation to join the Alumni and share their stories.
“We really want to hear from everyone who’s had a relationship with the AES – whether you’ve been a host employer, one of our trainees or have gone onto a career through the AES. It’s great to hear success stories but we also need to hear stories around resilience, hard work and perseverance. The road is not always easy but I think it’s important that we tell young people that they can do it with support from the AES, their family and their community.”
The AES, as part of its Alumni strategy, will also be looking at ways it can provide networking opportunities, up skilling, access to mentors and coaching, and inspiring forums for its Alumni members.
For more information visit www.aes.org.au/alumni or contact one of the 10 AES offices around Australia.