Meet Brett Lee, ArtsReady’s First People’s Liaison Officer
ArtsReady’s very first First Peoples Liaison Officer, Brett Lee, has come on board the team to mentor and guide our Creative Victoria’s Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander trainees through their traineeship journey. With his passion for his culture and his strong belief that through art people’s voices can be amplified, he is ready to make a real difference in the lives of young people.
What is your Ancestry?
I am a descendant of the Wangaaypawan clan of the Ngiyampaa Nation. We are the Pilaarrkiyalu, Belar People. The Belar Tree is our tree. When the impacts of colonization forced our people into more western economies many of my ancestors ‘worked’ on Keewong station. This lead to the colonial structures using the last name Keewong for the sake of their bureaucratic systems. So the descendants of these people now identify as The Keewong Mob.
What were you doing before ArtsReady?
During the 14 month period before beginning my role at ArtsReady I was part-time stay at home Dad with my daughter Maggie and part-time musician and freelance arts worker. Before this I have worked in various roles: Classroom Teacher, OSHC Coordinator, Associate Producer at Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC), Arts Project Officer at, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), various freelance project work and musician.
What inspired you to get into the Arts?
A few things contributed but firstly it was music, which eventually lead me to Melbourne, then once I was down here I was lucky enough to get a role at FCAC as an Associate Producer there where I learnt so much about the Arts and its potential to expand and empower people. This is where my view of the arts changed from a focus on myself as an Independent and Individual singer-songwriter which was at the time very much introspective, to a view of building my capacity to amplify diverse blak voices and stories and empowering talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Why do you think the Arts & Creative industries is an empowering space for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander young people?
As a young person I considered myself an athlete, unmusical and I was aiming to achieve very different things in my life to what I am now. I still remember the first concert I ever went to. I was blown away. The experience lead to me eventually to taking complete control of my life and I began to pursue the things that I love and the things that give me energy. Now I find myself somewhere I would never of imagined before that experience. The Arts and Creative Industries is a massive dynamic collective of platforms that can potentially empower anyone to completely change their life in a positive way. It gives us the ability to support each other within the industry, nourish and heal our community through amplifying our voices and stories and educate the broader community throughout the whole process.
Tell us a bit about your new role as First Peoples Liaison Officer.
As the First Peoples Liaison Officer my role is to work closely with Creative Victoria’s Trainees and provide support, mentoring and guidance as they navigate their way through the traineeship experience.
What are you looking forward to most in your new role?
I believe that the government can influence what people do, but the Arts can influence what people think and it is fortunate that Aboriginal people are innately storytellers, artists, crafters, poets, musicians, dancers and creative thinkers. We are entering into new era where opportunities for Aboriginal voices to be amplified are becoming more and more and louder and louder and heard by more and more ears attached to open minds. I’m looking forward to contributing to the journey of 19 young people who will go on to bigger and better things and one day potentially influencing the way thousands or even millions of people view the story of Australia’s First Peoples.
It is a really exciting time for ArtsReady. The Creative Victoria First Peoples Creative Industries Traineeship program, which we understand you will be involved in, works with some pretty awesome organisations including; Unified Music Group, Ignition Immersive, Meat Market, Bendigo District Aboriginal Cooperative, Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC), Shepparton’s Kaiela Arts, Luggarrah and that is just to name a few. What are some of the outcomes you are hoping to see come from this program?
That each trainee feels like they have gotten something valuable from their traineeship experience and that they enjoy it. But most of all I’m hoping to see all the trainees having the option of taking up an opportunity once they complete their traineeship.
What are some of the other projects you are currently working on?
I am volunteering on the Ngiyampaa Language Project which is led by proud Ngiyampaa woman Aunty Lesley Woods. She is doing a Linguistics PhD on the topic Plain Language using the Ngiyampaa Grammar published by Cambridge in 1980 written by Tamsin Donaldson. I am part of a group of Ngiyampaa people descended of the Wangaaypuwan clan who are volunteering our time to assist Aunty Lesley in re-writing this whole book in a more consumable text to make it easier for our people to access our own language.
I am also a singer/songwriter/musician with my music project Pirritu.
The Creative Victoria First Peoples Traineeship program is delivered as part of the Victorian Government’s Tharamba Bugheen: Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy 2017-2021 and First Peoples Action Plan for the Creative Industries.
You can learn more about it here.
We have a number of opportunities as part of the program available on our jobs board, they are:
Project & Curatorial Traineeship – Science Gallery Melbourne
Communications & Digital Marketing Assistant – Arena Theatre Company Bendigo
Assistant Producer Traineeship – Hot House Theatre Wodonga