The traineeship changed my life: Abby Watson’s inspiring story

The traineeship changed my life: Abby Watson’s inspiring story

The traineeship changed my life: Abby Watson’s inspiring story

Tassie local and Proud Aboriginal Woman, Abbygail Watson or Abby for short, is taking on a traineeship and an apprenticeship, all while completing her year 12 studies and working a casual job. 

For Abby, these programs are more than just a job and qualification, they gave her the hope and the motivation she needed to overcome mental health issues and to re-engage in her year 11 and 12 schooling. 

“My school-based apprenticeship and traineeship gave me purpose and direction to keep going. They encouraged me to strive for something bigger,” said Abby, 17. 

“I come from a hardworking family where not a single family member of mine went to college. Some hardly made it through high school. So, I’m giving it my best shot to complete high school and I am really proud of how far I have come,” she added. 

 Abby grew up in Huon Valley in the South of Tasmania. Due to her mental health struggles, Abby was finding it difficult to focus through high school and decided in 2017 to apply for an Australian School Based Apprenticeship through an Aboriginal youth pathways program 

“The program gives young Aboriginal students the tools and skills to prepare them for the workforce with a focus on Agriculture and Aquaculture, which is an area I am really passionate about,” explained Abby.  

Abby commenced her apprenticeship and studied at Huon Valley Training Centre, however, her mental health issues made it hard for her to attend school. She decided it would be best to leave school and work full-time, but her mentor at the time, Brendan Sculthorpeadvised her to stick it out and complete school.

Brandan worked with Abby to source an apprenticeship pathway that allowed her to work and study at the same time. They came across an opportunity with the Indigenous Land Cooperation, to work on a sheep station on Bruny Island while studying a Certificate III in Agriculture 

“I jumped at this opportunity, it was the perfect role for me,” said Abby. 

While completing her apprenticeship, she was also approached in 2018 by AFL SportsReady’s Tracey Parry and Julie Dunlop from the South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (SETAC) to undertake a Cert II in Business with ANZ Kingston. 

“I said yes straight away, I knew that this traineeship would really benefit me, and I was right.” 

 “I look at it this way, when you are given an opportunity, one that will help you, I say take it. Take it and give it all you’ve got even if it is hard, even if there are challenges along the way. You will make it through because there is so much support around you.” 

 Abby works one day a week at ANZ bank and absolutely loves the role. Her host employers at ANZ have praised her incredible focus, commitment and dedication. 

“From the moment I started my traineeship at ANZ I was warmly welcomed by the whole team.” 

“I work within a small team that can be put under stressful timeframes, where I am responsible for serving the customers and making sure all the fast deposit bags have been completed before the end of day. When there are no customers, I utilise my time by collecting and keying in the relevant information for the fast deposit bags. My team can rely on me to make sure there is never a backlog of customers and fast deposit bags.” 

Through the AFL SportsReady traineeship model, Indigenous trainees are assigned a Field Officer and Mentor to guide and support them through the journey.  

“My AFL SportsReady Indigenous Mentor, Ralph White, has been a godsend. He is amazing and has put so much effort and energy into supporting me. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such a strong support group.” 

 Some may say balancing a traineeship, apprenticeship, year 11 and 12 and a casual job may be almost impossible. But not for Abby. This young go-getter is driven to succeed. 

“I feel like I am really making the most of these opportunities. I am working hard so I can follow an agribusiness pathway. And on top of all this I also have a casual job at Mitre 10 Huonville where I have worked for nearly two years. 

“It’s really interesting to work in both the agriculture industry and finance industry and I love the balance. 

“Through my studies and experience I have developed a wide range of skills including practical and theoretical. I draw on these skills every day and in all areas of my work both at the bank and on the farm.” 

 Aside from her work and studies Abby is heavily involved in the Aboriginal Community and is an active Ambassador within the Indigenous community at her school. She is involved in a youth program where she is a role model to other disengaged youth. 

“I want to make a difference within the school and the wider community in terms of creating awareness for Traineeships and Apprenticeships because I really feel like so many other young Aboriginal people can benefit, like the way I have.” 

 “Both my traineeship and apprenticeships helped me to overcome my mental health issues and allowed me to re-engage with school.”  

“For me it was an incredible turning point in my life.  I am very, very proud of myself, what I have achieved, and I am excited for my future. 

To learn more about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs please visit: 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there is always support out there. 

 You can get in touch with Headspace at or you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14. 


Date: 1st July 2019

Image: Abby Watson

Author: Marissa Pagliarello