62. Hannah Gandy

16 Feb


When I meet 18 year old Hannah Gandy, I am immediately greeted by her friendly and confident nature. As I soon discover, she also happens to be a very remarkable person.
Despite the challenges of her past, Hannah has achieved many incredible things.

“Coming from a single-parent, low socio-economic status family of three children, my mum had to work full time to make ends meet. As a result of difficult circumstances, at 13 years old I was enrolled in Year 8 at The Pavilion School,” says Hannah.

“This year, I am the first student from The Pavilion School to complete my Victorian Certificate of Education, receive an ATAR score and attend university.”

Hannah attended The Pavilion School, a Victorian State Secondary School for students who have struggled at or been excluded by other schools.

Not only was Hannah the first student from The Pavilion to successfully complete VCE, but she also completed the challenging La Trobe VCE Plus. This means that as part of her VCE, Hannah did two law subjects at La Trobe University – an impressive feat for any secondary school student.

Now, Hannah is off to La Trobe University to study a double degree in Law and Arts.

Hannah says she completed VCE at the Distance Education Centre Victoria.

“I did VCE subjects through Distance Education this year but I was still enrolled at The Pavilion School,” she says.

“I really liked doing Distance Ed. It allowed me to do so many things and still be able to prioritise my schoolwork, but not have to do it in a set period of time. I was able to go to work during the day and then come home at night and do my VCE work.”

The Pavilion School supported Hannah throughout her VCE experience and, according to Hannah, were “really good”.

“They really helped me a lot. They would supervise all my SACs [school-assessed coursework] for me. If I wanted any support, they would give it to me,” says Hannah.

Support would come in many forms, including “a teacher picking me up and driving me to exams – stuff like that”.

I ask Hannah whether she found this daunting, but she breezes over the difficult aspects of VCE as a hurdle she clearly was able to take into stride.

“There were a few challenges throughout the year, where I just had no time. But I just kept studying.”

“I did English, Legal Studies, Australian Politics, Health and Human Development and then I did my two law subjects through ‘VCE Plus’. They were my Year 12 subjects. I have maintained an average of ‘A’ in most subjects … [and] enjoyed every subject I have taken,” she says.

At The Pavilion, Hannah has set new standards in more than one way.

“This year I have had the incredible privilege of acting as my school’s first ever School Captain.”

Last year, Hannah decided to provide additional support to other students at The Pavilion by organising and running a peer support program.

“This included offering assistance to students undertaking all types of education including VCE, VCAL, and VET subjects,” she says.

“I help other students, assisting them to learn and talking to them about doing Distance Ed or whatever they want to do. I help students who are taking VCE subjects but are enrolled in VCAL at The Pavilion School.

“I encourage them to do their best as I see them becoming more engaged in their education… and I have formed strong relationships with these students. I have seen many of these students show significant signs of improvement, in both schoolwork and their outlook on life.

“My most cherished and important function is to act as a role model and mentor to current and future students.

“These students no longer feel like The Pavilion is the end of their journey but the one open door to endless opportunities.”

Hannah says this is similar to how she felt, thanks to the support of The Pavilion.

“I’d always like to give back to the community, with youth who have been in hard places… I really feel for them. I want other kids to see me and know that they can do that too. It doesn’t really matter where they’ve come from or that they’ve come from The Pavilion. They can have every opportunity,” says Hannah.

“The school has also seen a major increase in students enrolling in Distance Education subjects.”

Hannah received the excellent news that she had been accepted into La Trobe to study a Bachelor of Law/Arts. She says, “I’ll be doing law and I want to major in politics.”

Although law was initially not on Hannah’s mind, she decided to try the subject at school. Now, Hannah already has some real-world experience under her belt in this field.

“When I was at The Pavilion School, I wasn’t really interested in [law], but then one of my teachers said to me, you should take legal studies!

“I wasn’t sure of what subjects I wanted to take, so I took it. She [the teacher] would keep saying to me, you’re going to be a lawyer one day!

“I thought, no I’m not. That’s not what I want. Then, as soon as I began taking Legal Studies in Year 11, I absolutely loved it,” says Hannah.

“I took Australian Politics in Year 12 and became more interested in public service and was working at the Fair Work Commission. It wasn’t so much that I was interested in being a lawyer but was interested in studying law and in public service and politics.”

Hannah says that one of her teacher’s had a sister who worked at the Fair Work Commission who helped Hannah to secure a position there for work experience. Hannah was then asked to stay on at Fair Work as a clerk, working one day a week while at school and full-time during holidays. This is when Hannah’s interest in law became stronger.

“When they asked if I would keep working there, it was then that I started becoming more interested in pursuing it [law].

“This has been invaluable to my studies and assuring [me] what I want to do in my life.”

By studying two university subjects ahead of time through the VCE Plus program, Hannah feels that her transition to full-time study at La Trobe University will be “quite smooth”.

“I sort of know what it will be like. And because I did distance education, it [studying at uni] was quite similar to how I was studying anyway.”

When I ask Hannah about her experience doing two university subjects, she exudes modesty but it is impossible not to be impressed with the results she achieved.

In the two La Trobe law subjects that were part of VCE Plus, Hannah exceeded the expectations for most high school students attempting a university subject.

“I received high distinctions for [my] two university subjects … I also received the highest mark out of everyone for law in the program.”

Hannah offers some tips for other young people who are unsure of the path they want to follow.

“Take as many opportunities as you can and try to get as much experience as you can in the area, before you decide you do or don’t want to do it. I’d just say take every opportunity you can.”

Like any typical secondary school student, Hannah is relieved to be able to say “I finished exams on the 9th of November”.

Now with exams done, Hannah is focused on work and her other passions, including music.

“I play music casually at home with my brother. We play a few instruments, the guitar and keyboard. We have a music room set up and so I’m over there a lot just playing music. But other than that, I’m not doing much, just hanging out!”

Next on the agenda for Hannah is to “study next year at La Trobe, continue working and see what happens!”

With an extraordinary track record like Hannah’s, we are sure to be seeing amazing things from her, whatever she chooses to do.

Words: Annabelle Pendlebury

Photos: Jason Rohmursanto




61. Ahmed Hassan

11 Jan

DSC_0262.jpg“Whatever you do in life, you’ve got to give back to your community.”

Those are the words of Ahmed Hassan, 20, one of the founders of Youth Activating Youth (YAY), an organisation that helps disadvantaged multicultural young people navigate their way through life.

Ahmed says the organisation works to improve the employment, health, education, and sporting outcomes of this minority group, as these are the four areas they struggle with most, as well as encouraging them to engage with their community.

“We help these young people get through these barriers, through a lot of hours spent mentoring and offering guidance,” he says.

Ahmed says the organisation operates all throughout Melbourne, and he works with them one-on-one, and in large groups.

“We have big workshops, where we discuss topics like identity, and overall health. These workshops help the young people discuss the issues with their peers, and is a good opportunity to get advice from the facilitators,” he says.

“We also work with them one-on-one, trying to identify any issues they might be having, to do with life, employment, or education, for example, and help work out ways these can be improved.”

Ahmed’s parents migrated from Africa to Australia back in 1994, just two years before he was born.

He studied at Reservoir High School, and said he’s been incredibly lucky, receiving numerous opportunities, which is part of the reason he’s so passionate about giving back.

“I know what it means to not have opportunities, and I know what it’s like to receive opportunities, so I’ve seen both sides,” he says.

“I saw that there were a lot of disadvantaged young people getting neglected, and I just wanted to help them.”

Ahmed says since its inception in January last year, YAY has worked with over 2,000 young people from different cultural backgrounds, aged between 14-24 years.

He says their popularity has been gained through word of mouth and social media.

“We’re quite active on social media, with over 700 followers on our Facebook page, and over 1,500 members in our private Facebook group.”

He says while a lot of young people are happy to talk, it can be a bit harder for others to open up.

“We go to a lot of sporting days, and sometimes we just have to go up to young people and just ask if they’re ok,” he says.

“We’re a youth led initiative, so generally young people are pretty happy to open up to us.”

YAY helped organise a youth summit earlier this year, where hundreds of young people, experts, and youth engagement officers were in attendance to discuss issues facing young multicultural people.

“Many issues came out of the summit, a lot of young people were leaving school, for example,” Ahmed says.

“We also discussed that a lack of opportunities was the reason a lot of young people were going out and committing crimes.”

Ahmed says one of his biggest accomplishments to date was being nominated by The Herald Sun for the Pride of Australia award this year.

“I was honoured to be nominated, but I want to give it back to the youth, they’re who I’m doing this for,” he says.

“There are also a lot of other people who work behind the scenes.”

In addition to his volunteer work, Ahmed is in his second year of a software engineering course at RMIT University.

“I know it’s completely different to what I do day to day, but I’m really interested in IT, and I thought I’d pursue it because it seems the future is going that way,” he says.

“I would love to own my own business one day.”

Regardless of what he pursues, he’s adamant that he’ll always have a passion to help young people.

“YAY is very close to my heart, I’m not planning on letting it go,” he says.

“You can always combine two things at once, it’s just about having the right balance in life, you don’t want to overwork yourself.”

His message to young people who may feel overwhelmed by the future?

“Work as hard as possible,” he says.

“Opportunities don’t just come to anyone, you have to work hard for them.”

He says if young people need support, it shouldn’t be too far away.

“Help is never too far away, you’ve just got to ask for it.”

 Words: Joely Mitchell

Photo: Jason Rohmursanto

60. Richo Euston

12 Dec


“We grow up to be the people we wish we were around when we were young”, a favourite quote of Richard `Richo’ Euston, a youth worker at Banyule Council.

In his time working with Banyule, 34 year-old Richo has developed some great programmes such as the Rainbow Space Program along with helping out in the young male Somalian community, and even upgrades and maintenance for recreational spots such as skate parks around the area.

After initially wanting to work in Outdoor Education, Richo began his career in youth work in 2003. Richo realised throughout his youth the lack of support that many young people experience in the country town he grew up in. He also saw a heavily dominated “hyper-masculine football culture” that existed in his town, leaving it difficult for anybody who identified as gay, lesbian, trans or bi to openly discuss their sexuality or trust anybody to confide in. When I asked him what the Rainbow Space program is all about, he described it as “a safe place”, a program dedicated to people aged 14-25 where they can discuss their feelings and any difficulties they experience, social or mental.

Richo told me about the gap of funding in this area, and considers “the role of the ally” such as himself, very important to help fight homophobia in the community. He states that his main aim is to make sure that people who identify themselves as homosexual can see their sexuality as a “non-issue” and live happy equal lives.

Richo and his co-workers operate from their office at the Banyule Council, and also head out to schools across the area to facilitate informative and fun drama classes tackling the issues of homophobia within the school-yard, as well as pushing the appropriate use of social media. Their main way of helping individuals is by linking them in with referrals which are appropriate for the issue and making sure young people don’t “fall through the gaps”.

Two main themes Richo focuses on are “mindfulness” and “gratitude” with young people to improve their level of happiness. He stated that we all have a responsibility for young people and the way that they act, and that one of the most important things amongst young people is the resilience towards social media.

“A lot of parents will ensure their kids are taken off social media if they’re experiencing bullying or negative things. When in fact, that just makes the issue worse.”

Richo has a tactical approach to young people and social media sites such as Facebook. He believes that rather than telling young people not to use it, we should be advising them how to use it safely and appropriately due to its many benefits. The Rainbow Space program benefits from Facebook as it is used as a platform for young people to get in touch with himself and other co-workers in a way that they feel comfortable.

When I asked the charismatic Richo for any career highlights he told me there has never been “one or two big things because there’s always different teams to work with and I am constantly gaining new skills. Those are the highlights. A couple hours of work for me can change a young person’s life”.

He told me that none of these programs are exclusive. It’s not only Somali young men that can participate in the training programs and it’s not only lesbian, gay, bi or trans people who can reach out to Rainbow Space on Facebook.

One could say Richo’s success comes from the fact that he in so inclusive and can make anybody feel comfortable. One of the things he noted that I will remember throughout is “Developing resilience can guard against issues”. Sitting there in awe of all of his work and dedication, he reminded me “We don’t fix young people, we support young people”.

One of his most valuable strategies is to present youth with options and ask questions to be able to come to their own solution, whether this be through personal counselling sessions or a whole group drama class at a school.

Richo regards the holistic approach they use by collaborating across departments to be the grounds of their success within youth work. I asked him what he thinks makes a good youth worker, he replied by telling me “A lot of people go into youth or social work because they have their own issues that they believe they can use to help other people. This doesn’t work, you have to resolve your own issues to be able to help others.” After a long day of work, Richo enjoys meditating and cooking to take his mind of things. He encourages young people to find a hobby that helps them take their minds off things as a type of remedy for the issues they may have.

Richo and his colleagues work with all kinds of adolescent and youth. Mental and social issues can effect anybody regardless of their socio-economic status, where they live or their sexuality. Richo works to reduce the negative stigmas around stereotypes relevant to young people, and helps various groups find their voice within the community.

Not only is Richo Euston a great bloke, but also a role model for young people, and people of all ages. He shows that issues don’t have to be your own to help resolve them, and that the most important thing we can do is educate and support young people to ensure they have the opportunities to grow up and achieve the most they can in life regardless of their financial situation, sexuality or gender.

Words: Jaslyn McCarthy

Photo: Sean Porter

59. Lily Kingbawl

1 Dec


Content note: this article discusses sexual assault and violence and may be confronting for some readers.


When I first met Lily, she greeted me with a warm smile and shook my hand. She was mature and kind, and her positivity was contagious. I’d never have anticipated the journey she’d taken to be where she is today.

Lily Kingbawl is from a small town in Burma called Chin Hakha. She’d grown up there with her five sisters, brother and parents.

“Chin Hakha is one of the poorest places in Burma. It was really difficult to live there because of the corrupt government. We lived under a dictator, and we weren’t able to access basic things like food,” Lily tells me.

Her mother ran a farm at their house, and every day after school, Lily and her siblings would come home to help out. Their house didn’t have gas or electricity, so they relied on natural resources, like clay to build their kitchen, and wood to make fires.

“At night when we went to study, we didn’t have any lights, so we used pine tree, which are a red and orange colour, and were able to start fire really quickly. They were really hard to find in the forest, so we had to buy them from other people. We couldn’t afford candles either, they were really expensive.”

The 16-year-old said that the Burmese Army would often visit their home and intimidate her family.

“My house was quite big because we had a big family, so the Army would frequently come to our house and eat all of our food and kill our animals. There was also the threat of rape. I was really young so I didn’t realise how dangerous things were, but for my parents and older siblings, it was very scary,” she says.

In late 2007, someone from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offered to help Lily’s family move to Australia. Her father, brother and two of her sisters would meet them in Malaysia, and her mother would stay in Burma until she was able to join them. The journey took just under two years, and was, according to Lily, one of the hardest experiences of her life.

“We had to go through Malaysia, and there are only two ways to get there, by plane or by car. We didn’t have enough money to go by plane, so we went illegally by boat and car. Even when travelling through Burma, we had to hide. They took us by car, and the car ride was extremely squishy. There were about 10 cars filled with people hiding in the boots,” she says.

After this trip, Lily’s family, and the other refugees who were travelling with them, were dropped off out the front of a Buddhist temple. They were told that their next lift would arrive in thirty minutes. Lily says that three hours later, no one had arrived.

“We had to go and hide in the temple, because if anyone saw us, they would contact the police and we’d be arrested. We stayed there for three days, with no food and no blankets, until someone finally came to pick us up.”

They were picked up by a truck, and were all squished into the back of it like animals.

“Even though I had absolutely no energy left, and just wanted to sit down, I couldn’t. We all had to stand up because there were so many people. I couldn’t even lift up my arms. Everyone was crying and yelling, and punching walls. There was no air to breath; I thought I was going to die. When we got out, everyone just threw themselves out of the truck and onto the ground, and started vomiting everywhere,” she says.

After this traumatic experience, the group had to spend more time waiting to be picked up again.

“They said they’d be back in an hour, but they never came back, so we had to stay there and sleep in the forest in the rain. I was so freaking cold. In the morning they came back with food, which was rice and water. It was like pig food, but we were so hungry we didn’t care.”

They were then taken to another place, and split into two groups. During this process, Lily was separated from her sisters.

“I was so frightened; I thought they’d left me. I was worried that we’d be sent to different countries. I was crying all day and people were comforting me, and luckily I was eventually able to be moved to the other group,” she says.

Lily and her sisters were reunited with their dad and uncles in Malaysia, and lived in a house with the other refugees. Lily says she thought they’d be safe once they arrived in the country. Unfortunately they weren’t.

One of Lily’s friends from the group was raped and murdered right before her and her family were going to move to America. “They chopped up her body, and just left her in the bush. Her parents went crazy when they found out, everyone was incredibly frightened.”

Not only this, but Lily and her sisters had a close encounter with being kidnapped themselves.

“I took my sisters to a local park and this guy came out of his car and offered us candy. This was right after my friend had passed away, so I was more aware, and when he came closer to us I told my sisters to run. As soon as we started running, he got in his car and began driving towards us. Thankfully a car came from the opposite direction and blocked him, so we were able to get away.”

After this experience, Lily was understandably frightened to leave the house.

Lily’s mother arrived in Malaysia after six months, and a year later, the whole family got on a plane to Australia.

“It took my breath away when we arrived in Australia. It was like I could finally breathe,” she says.

The family moved to her uncle’s house in West Heidelberg and became part of  the Olympic Village community.

“Everyone was so welcoming. The only English I knew was ‘hello’ and ‘my name is Lily’, but everyone understood me. There were so many multicultural people there too, so that helped me fit in.”

She met people from the Banyule Youth Services team and says watching them help young people opened her heart. They helped her achieve a lifelong dream – to play soccer.

“I just love soccer, but in Burma, girls don’t play it. My parents didn’t like the idea of me playing it, so I had to watch all of the boys play it from the sidelines. When I came to Australia, it was like a dream come true. I was able to take part in interschool sport, and I started playing it in my backyard and at school. When I met Liz from the Youth Services team, she helped me find a club to play with,” she says.

Lily has since attended Multicultural Day and the Banyule Youth Summit, where she was able to discuss issues she’s passionate about.

“When I heard all of the young people’s opinions at the Summit, I was amazed. The topics we discussed were relevant; I discussed domestic violence and mental health. Violence was very common in my country, but I didn’t expect it to be an issue in Australia. When you think about mental health, the first thing that comes to mind is depression and anxiety, but there are lots of things that affect mental health, like TV and our peers.”

Lily never knew what she wanted to be when she was older, but she’s now been inspired to be a social worker. She says she’d also love to continue playing soccer, and maybe even one day play at the World Cup.

“I really do love sport. If I’m not active, I get restless and just can’t stand still.”

Words: Joely Mitchell

Photo: Jason Rohmursanto

If this article raises any issues, give Headspace (1800 650 890 or eheadspace.org.au) or Lifeline (13 11 14) a confidential call. You’re not alone.

58. Alex Sibbison

16 Nov

alex a

Nowadays, it’s rare to hear success stories of people who’ve made it into creative industries. However, Alex Sibbison’s approach to obtaining competitive work could be exactly why you’re reading his story today.

“You should perceive what others perceive as their competition as your friends,” the 26-year-old says.

“They’re doing the same thing, and you’ve got skills that can help each other, particularly when you’re freelancing. It’s really about trying to provide as much value to as many people as you can, and you’ll find that it’s a really supportive environment.”

Alex started his own video production company about four years ago, called Masterworks Media Productions. Since then, Alex has created content for countless people and businesses, and has even begun hiring others to help him.

But he admits that he comes from humble beginnings.

“When I was younger, I always loved creating films and movies. In high school, I created a really exciting movie in film class, and I was like ‘hey, I’m actually pretty good at this’,” he says.

Alex studied film and television at NMIT for two years, and begun volunteering at Jets Studios, which is a local creative arts studio for young people.

“I said to someone at Jets that I wanted to start my own video production business, and he told me that I should collaborate with the Banyule Council and make videos for them.”

He then got a gig with Channel Nine, which he says only came about because he put himself out there.

“The television industry is interesting because it is very close-knit and it’s definitely about who you know to get your foot in the door,” Alex says.

“One of my friends owns a large furniture business and he told me that Channel Nine was coming down to film a TV ad, and offered for me to come down and help out. So I volunteered myself for the day, and passed on my name, and later on I was asked to help out with filming at the Whittlesea Relief Concert.”

While he enjoyed working for Channel Nine, it made him realise that he wanted to create products for people and businesses.

As well as collaborating with local businesses, Alex has worked very closely with the Banyule Council, creating countless videos for them.

“A lot of the videos [I do for the Council] are promotional videos for festivals or events, or videos they use to apply for funding. It’s just really enjoyable because these sorts of videos are so positive, and I like being able to work with people on the ground,” he says.

At the last two Banyule Youth Summits, Alex has been able to film content from the morning, and have a video put together and ready to show the audience by the afternoon.

This, he says, is not a normal timeline for him.

“Filming usually takes half a day or a full day, and then you’d edit for about three quarters of a day, and then you might do some revision. It’s usually about a three-day process.”

One of Alex’s favourite videos he’s created was for the Kids Arty Farty Festival in 2015.

“It was really well thought out. We thought we’d have a young person go through and experience the festival, and with all of the high impact shots of people smiling and having fun, it made you feel like you’d experienced the festival in the one minute the video went for,” he says.

Alex says that as your network grows, you start getting more and more job offers. While he’s clearly got a natural talent for film-making, he’s had to teach himself how to run a business.

“At the start, I didn’t know how to run a business, I just loved film-making. And then after a few years I realised I had to learn the business elements, and how to contact people,” he says.

When I asked Alex how he learnt these skills, his face lit up.

“Through working with really supportive people at the Council and at Jets.”

In 2015, Alex won the Northern Business Young Achiever Award. He says this was an incredible achievement.

“[The award] is about recognising the kind of impact you’ve left on the people you’ve worked with. It was fantastic to be recognised. I do my work because I love film-making, but to be recognised by other people, it was just great,” he says.

He’s also spoken at a local government conference, discussing the benefit of using film to convey messages.

“I did a lot of practice and rehearsal [for the event], and even though there wasn’t a lot of people there, it was a good opportunity to get myself feeling comfortable talking about my own experiences and journey.”

He says his success to date have allowed him to build confidence in not only his film-making abilities, but also in himself.

“It takes time to build confidence in your skill set and how to run a business successfully, and I’m still learning. It’s just a big journey and you always have to grow in order to provide good value,” he says.

Alex’s other passion is documentary making. He filmed a documentary in Japan called Champion to Challenger. It followed his friend, who was travelling the world to compete in karate championships.

“Documentary film-making from all over the world is still my ultimate goal. In the next few years, I hope to be somewhere, maybe back in Japan, filming another documentary,” he says.

Alex’s advice for anyone wanting to follow a similar path?

“For film-makers, you can support yourself by starting to provide your skills to other people. You’ll be surprised how many people would really value video content for their business,” he says.

“For business people, I’d say, just give it a go. There will be a lot of challenges, but there will also be a lot of opportunities to grow.”

Words: Joely Mitchell

Picture: Sean Porter

57. Peter Owen

13 Oct


There is one word that keeps springing to mind when I meet the calm, confident twenty-five year old man that is Peter and listen to his story about his transition into his career: determination. Peter is currently working at Dolphin Products, in the role of Design Drafter, doing Industrial Design and his passion for his job is infectious.

A country boy from Kyabram, Peter says that in school he never knew exactly what he wanted to do.

“Nobody knows exactly what they want to do. You’re in Year 10 when you have to pick your subjects! … I grew up in the country. We don’t have the same facilities or the same jobs available. In year 10, you’re not even looking at becoming a designer because there are so few designer opportunities around …”

Peter says he still knew that what he wanted to do “was in the design area. So I just did every subject related to design – Art, Studio Arts, Multimedia, Graphics. It gives you a chance to use your mind, but be hands-on.”

Then, Peter chose his Industrial Design course at Swinburne “based on whatever covered a little bit of everything that I’d done … I knew from that [degree], if I wanted to change, I could and it would give me an insight into what else is out there.

“I moved [out of home] straight after school at 18. I stayed on campus at Hawthorn. Going from the country to the city is a big change straight away. It’s difficult when you lose your close support, your family … It also gives you the chance to grow up quicker, to be independent, to learn how to look after yourself. You know your Mum’s not going to feed you!”

Peter’s independent thinking shone through most clearly in his efforts to gain his role at Dolphin Products, a role that certainly didn’t fall into his lap. His perseverance is an inspiring story of hope for other young people trying to break into the working world, an increasingly tricky business.

“It’s challenging in every field… I remember thinking, just because I study industrial design, doesn’t mean that I can’t do similar things and work my way into industrial design… sometimes going off topic can help you get back to the topic.

“Of course, face to face interaction is always important – it builds your communication skills,” Peter says.

“Every time you have an interview, there is always something to learn. If one type of area isn’t working, try somewhere else.”

After going through about six job application processes with big corporations where it was necessary to sit exams, Peter says he learned what they were looking for.

“I started looking at my resumé and [thinking], since finishing uni I’m starting to get a gap where there’s not a lot happening.

“So, I went back and did three short courses in 3D CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) programs. I noticed, when applying for jobs, that the software I was working on at uni wasn’t necessarily what they were looking for. I thought, I could add this extra skill while in the process of still looking [for jobs].”

Peter suggests that “further education is the easiest way [to build your resumé] but obviously getting relevant experience is good. Get something relevant on there.”

His advice to job-seekers is not to be discouraged by setbacks.

“The hardest part is not necessarily doing the work, but getting a foot in the door. Every young person has that challenge. After I graduated it was a year and a half before I got my job here at Dolphin Products, which is my first industrial design position.

“A year and a half is a long time! I was constantly applying for jobs, and obviously after so long you realise it’s not working and you need to do something different.”

Peter then adopted an interesting approach by thinking outside the box, to present himself in a way that would ensure he stood out from the pack.

“I thought, ok, I’m a design student. How do I advertise to everybody that … I’ve got skills, rather than just saying it on paper?

“So, I produced my own business cards, I produced my own website with all my projects on it. Instead of just bringing in a generic resumé, I went for a more artistic one which had graphs, icons and a lot more images, rather than words. More colour, something that would be different to somebody else’s,” Peter describes.

“Then, after [about] a year in I decided sending emails wasn’t good enough.

“So that’s when I started walking around, going to places … and that’s how I managed to get a job here.

“I saw a sign out the front that said innovation and 3D printing and I thought, I think that’s what I want to do!

“It’s amazing… once you get in somewhere, it gives you the chance to then help out other younger people in the same position as you. You can say, it worked for me, why don’t you try doing this for you?”

Now that he has secured the role, Peter says he loves the work he does.

“My job is to come up with new product ideas for Waterdale, a new commercial brand sold under Dolphin Products.

“I’m here to spark an idea, to think about things differently, to innovate new designs and to give them something new to sell as their brand.

“I am the only product designer here at the current time which gives me a lot of open range … I get to do research, sketching, model-making, 3D printing and testing and from that stage I move away from industrial design to graphic design… It’s a very diverse position, I’m not just doing the one thing all the time, it’s always something different,” Peter says.

As he proudly describes the work and the products he designs, it is evident that Peter is in his element.

“The environment is nice in a way that someone is not constantly… watching every little thing that I do. It gives me freedom to explore and I don’t feel constant pressure. This then supports me to be self-motivated and gives me the freedom of always doing something different. I’m not just stuck on the computer, I get to build, print and test prototypes, and get to be involved in the manufacturing process… from start to finish.

“It’s a big learning curve … I have made mistakes. I had the chance to work on some tool design, just to get my brain thinking about how the parts are actually made, rather than thinking in open space and then six months into the project realising we can’t make it,” says Peter.

“Through that … I’ve made mistakes that the toolmakers have then had to fix. So it’s a good wake up call… about how important designing something correctly is, in speeding up the timeline of a project.”

Peter’s hard work in his role at Dolphin Products is evidently paying off with his achievement of runner-up for the 2016 Young Business Achiever Award from the Banyule City Council and Northern Business Achiever Awards.

The managing director of Dolphin Products credited Peter with the creation of “a fantastic range of new, innovative products for our home and office line.” He commended Peter’s “artistic flare and talent for product design,” as well as his ability to take on challenges.

Being a designer appears to be an inherent part of Peter’s identity as he unconsciously finds himself problem-solving in daily life.

“As a designer, there is always things ticking over in your mind – you go shopping and you see things and you go, why is that like that? … I’ll see a product with a problem and I know how to fix it.

“I think one of my skills is being able to predict … how someone is going to use something. I notice problems that other people don’t notice … in design, where I can fix problems, it’s perfect.”

Peter is still aiming high and his determination will undoubtedly see him accomplish exciting new things in the future.

“I think any product designer wants to see a product they’ve designed on the shelf, with customers actually happy with that product! I want to achieve something that others think is amazing or special, it’s about chasing the dream of your idea being what people want.”

Peter is very grateful for all the advice, support and time provided by his “family, friends, colleague, lectures, class mates and [his] wife”, as he says they have helped him to achieve all that he has and will achieve.

“I believe it is important to thank people who help you get to where you are, and to strive to return the favour”.

Words: Annabelle Pendlebury

Photo: Sean Porter

56. Kristy Bryans

21 Jul

Kristy 1

Ever since she was young, Kristy Bryans knew she wanted to be an artist. Now 20-years-old, she’s beginning to fulfill that dream.

However, she hasn’t got to where she is today without self doubt.

“Since I was little, I always said that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I kind of lost sight of that a little bit when I went to high school, I thought ‘oh maybe I should do psychology, I’d be good at that’,” she said.

Kristy said her school was not overly encouraging of folio subjects.

“They said ‘you’re going to stress yourself out, you have to get good marks, do Maths and other subjects like that’,” she said.

“It got to the point where it started sounding reasonable to do something reasonable.”

But with an artistic family behind her, and a constant drive to create pieces of art, Kristy eventually realised she had to follow her dreams.

“When I got to year 11, I was like ‘nah stuff Maths, stuff Science, I’m going to do folio subjects’. In year 12, I did a piece that got a lot of social media attention, and from that I thought ‘yeah I think I still want to be an artist’,” she said.

This piece of art may be recognisable to some Banyule residents; it was used to advertise the 2015 YouthFest.

“I posted a picture of it to Facebook and it started to get a lot of likes from people I didn’t even know, and then Banyule contacted me asking if they could use it, and Nillumbik asked to put it in an exhibition, it was in the paper to advertise my school, it was in newsletters, and suddenly it was just all over the place,” Kristy said.

“It was the first real piece of art that I was proud of. It made me think that this was something I could actually do and get recognised for.”

Kristy describes her art as abstract, experimental and modern; she likes to use lots of different colours and shapes.

“Art is so progressive, and ever-changing, so I’m still trying to work out my style. I’m still trying to discover myself and my art,” she said.

“When I was first exploring my style I had insomnia, so it was my sleeping problems and my dreams that would inspire my art. Now I really like looking up resin art, which is art made out of liquid glass. I also like looking into other artists’ stories, and what inspires them. Everyday I’m on my Instagram checking out lots of different artists.”

Kristy says she’s a perfectionist with her art. Some pieces take over 30 hours to put together.

“My biggest one took me 50-70 hours, I spent a whole week not moving, just sleeping, eating and drawing,” she said.

“I don’t think I’m ever 100 per cent happy with my art. There are always things that I could change, but it reaches a point where I just have to accept that it’s done.”

While admitting it might sound clichéd, Kristy says that practice really does make perfect.

“It is natural ability too, but every time I make something new, I think that my art is getting better and better from doing more and more different pieces,” she said.

Kristy is currently studying communication and design at RMIT University. She says that the course is quite broad; there are illustrators, typographers, photographers, graphic designers, web designers, and more.

“Through my work at Banyule, I realised that there’s so much opportunity for work, even just in the community. I’m just an illustrator, and I’m getting work as an artist, and there are so many more talented people that could be getting work too,” she said.

This inspired Kristy to create an artists collaborative group called Ink Design Solutions.

“I put out a call in my course for people interested in being a part of a group to source work,” she said.

Kristy now works as the middleman for the six people involved in Ink Design Solutions. Not only does she source work for them, she also teaches them how to quote, how to invoice, and how to look for work themselves.

“We called up people we knew [to find work], so the Council and local businesses, and I put the word out on social media.”

Since its inception, Ink Design Solutions has created countless logos for local businesses, helped companies design their websites, and helped at local events doing face painting and henna.

“We’re getting work in every field.”

Kristy says that getting experience in the industry is incredibly important, particularly given there’s a massive surplus of artists in the world right now.

“It is a really hard industry to break into. Helping these people out is so important to me because I know there are so many passionate people out there that may have to turn to other careers because they can’t find work in their field,” she said.

“If our youth is being productive, then imagine what our world will look like in the years to come.”

As well as running Ink Design Solutions and going to university, Kristy works two jobs and runs various workshops at local libraries. She says she sometimes struggles to find the time to work on her art recreationally.

“I did start something yesterday, I only had half an hour before work, but I sat down and thought ‘I’ve got to draw something otherwise it’s never going to happen’,” she said.

“I’d love to be creating more, so this year I’m going to focus on setting aside a free day where I do nothing but art.”

With so much artistic potential, and a passionate drive to help others, what does the future hold for Kristy Bryans?

“I would love to be a freelance artist/designer/illustrator. Working freelance and earning good money to do it would be awesome,” she said.

“My great –grandmother was a successful artist, and when she became successful, she opened up her own arts community to help other artists. I’m now living in the house she used to live in, and in the house has the art studio she used to work in, and I think that’s really inspired my long-term goals.”

Words: Joely Mitchell

Picture: Sean Porter