Trainees Making Their Way Through COVID

Trainees Making Their Way Through COVID

Trainees Making Their Way Through COVID

Proud Wiradjuri woman, Emily Behrendt is part of the First Peoples Creative Industries Traineeship program – an initiative between ArtsReady and the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria. She is currently completing her Certificate IV in Business with the City of Melbourne as their Marketing and Communications ArtsReady trainee where she had the opportunity to work on Melbourne’s Yirramboi First Nations Festival this year in May.

Due to the current situation, Emily has had to learn to adapt from working from home one minute, to returning to the office to organise a large festival and then returning to working from home again. However, she has done so seamlessly, and her host employer has praised her for her adaptability.

“Transitioning from online to physical and adapting to the change throughout lockdown can be hard for anyone,” said Sherene Stewart, Emily’s supervisor and Producer of Yirramboi Festival, City of Melbourne.

Emily has continuously shown her commitment in the success of the festival by being so willing to adapt to changes of being online one minute and physical the next. The most important point is always keeping the line of communication open,” she added.

Yirramboi festival is a celebration of first nations arts and culture and holds over 150 events to explore. For ArtsReady trainee, Emily, working on an event of this scale was one of the proudest moments of her life despite the challenging circumstances.

“I didn’t find the transition at all challenging from online to physical because I had so much support around me,” said Emily.

I am just so grateful we had that window in between lockdowns to hold a physical event.

The event itself was a success and working on it was a dream come true!

All the artists involved are First Nation people not just from Australia but international as well.

I got to learn about other First Nations cultures and really got to understand my culture on a deeper level. We had Elders that came in and I learnt so much from them! It was such an inspiring experience,” she added.

The festival gives opportunities to upskill and develop First Nations Peoples to ensure they have a voice in all aspects of the industry. Emily’s supervisor, Sherene, shared a few words about the importance of having a Blak voice in their Marketing team.

“We were attracted in employing Emily for that very reason and her eagerness to develop, learn and experience the beautiful things that happen when self-determination and Blak leadership is put to practice,” said Sherene.

Despite the Festival being over and Victoria back in lockdown, the City of Melbourne ensures Emily has plenty of projects to go on with and even found her work at other creative organisations.

“I am still an ArtsReady trainee for the City of Melbourne’s marketing team but now I also support a number of creative organisations associated with the City of Melbourne,” she said

This has allowed Emily to gain more experience and grow her network of industry contacts.

“The traineeship just keeps opening new doors for me and is helping to get my name out there in the arts and creative industries.

I am learning so many new and amazing skills. Skills I never thought I would be capable of. I came on board not knowing a thing about Marketing but here I am working in and understanding the function of Marketing and this I feel is one of my greatest achievements in my traineeship.”

Through the difficult time of lockdowns and social distancing, like many of our trainees, Emily has proven that she is able to make the most out of her traineeship experience from learning new skills, building new networks and importantly adapting in her role where she needs to. In addition, the support from her host employer at the City of Melbourne have been second to none and made this experience for her even more coherent.

“I feel super grateful that I have worked on such an amazing festival with an incredible team! Lockdown has definitely interrupted the flow of things but being in such a supportive environment, I haven’t had any issues with the transitions, and everything has worked out really well in my traineeship. I have embraced every second of this traineeship no matter the circumstances!”


In partnership with the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, ArtsReady is offering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples unique pathway traineeships with popular Victorian-based creative companies, through the new First Peoples Creative Industries Traineeships program. The program is a progressive initiative to allow young people the opportunity to get their career started in Victoria’s creative sector.


DATE: 17th of September 2021

AUTHOR: Dakota McCarthy

IMAGE: Emily