AES trainees writing new narratives on Aboriginal success

AUSTRALIA’S largest Aboriginal recruitment and group training agency, the Aboriginal Employment Strategy, has celebrated the achievements of its latest group of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees at the 2017 AES Graduation Ceremony.

The annual ceremony also doubled as a celebration of the AES’s 20th year in operation.

Established in 2003, the AES Trainee Program is one of the organisation’s most impactful initiatives, linking young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with mentoring while providing hands-on paid work experience and training across a range of employment sectors.

More than 50 percent of AES trainees go on to achieve full-time employment with their host employer after their traineeship while many others go on to undertake university study or further training.


Image: Bapco Media

“Our 2017 graduates represent everything the AES stands for, Aboriginal people achieving secure and fulfilling employment, building self-confidence, harnessing the power of cultural identity, and enhancing the well-being of their families and their entire community – these graduates are exceptional role models who are rewriting the narratives in our communities to one of strength, resilience, excellence and innovation,” said AES CEO, Kristy Masella.

Held at Darling Harbour in Sydney, the 2017 graduation ceremony featured a Welcome Dance performed by the Muggera Dancers, an address from television personality Ray Martin, an address from graduating trainee Janaya Lamb, video, and a performance by Indigenous singer/songwriter, Mi-kaisha.

Awards were also handed out during the ceremony to recognise the achievements of several trainees and key participants within the program. A total of 65 graduates in all completed the Trainee program in 2017.

AES currently works with many of the big banks such as Westpac, CBA, NAB, ANZ, Suncorp and St George, as well as many other corporate and community partners such as ScentreGroup (Westfield), Local City Councils, Lendlease, IHG, the New South Wales Government (New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services) and local Aboriginal organisations in delivering traineeships.

Guest speaker, Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer, has been a supporter of the AES Traineeship Program since its inception and was integral in its establishment by being one of the first Executives of a major bank to commit to working with the AES in delivering this high impact program.  Mr Hartzer spoke about the importance of the program in relation to building future leaders.

“We’ve seen through the AES Trainee Program the difference that one person can have in their communities.  Their ability to make significant change, and the power they have as an individual to do great things,” said Mr Hartzer

AES has hosted annual graduation events in Sydney and in regional locations as an important way to showcase the achievements of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and to promote them as role models. In doing so, they engage the local community in celebrating the success of Indigenous communities, and provide a platform for young people to encourage their peers to follow in their footsteps and aspire to careers, not just jobs.
Among the new graduates was Tahlijah Mavromatis, a graduating trainee from Westpac in Darwin who started her school based traineeship in 2015.

“I didn’t really enjoy school so much and I wanted to work instead. So that’s when AES approached me and got me an opportunity with Westpac bank.  It’s given me great experience, I was able to finish year 12, but also gained great experience on the job.

I achieved a Certificate in Finance and have gone on to secure a full time traineeship,” said Ms Mavromatis.

Since its establishment in 1997, the AES has brokered more than 20,000 employment opportunities and 2,500 traineeships and apprenticeships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally. The AES now operates 13 offices nationally.

The AES has over 95 new traineeship opportunities available for 2018.

For more information on the AES and its programs, visit

Media Release: December 15, 2017

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