We like to believe that every Indigenous student who comes to Bond lights the fire of ambition for someone else. It may be a sibling, a cousin, a school friend or a neighbour who watches them achieve and thinks ‘I can do that’.
For 29-year-old cameraman and emergency responder, Michael Hamilton, it was his younger brother Daniel who sparked the flame.
“I’d been out of school for 10 years working as a cameraman, then in the fire brigade and as an emergency response trainer,” says Michael.
“I always wanted to go to film school. As a kid, I worked on the cameras at the turf club on a Saturday and when I left school, I got a filming job with one of the big production houses in Darwin. I worked there full-time for three years and still do some freelance jobs for them.
“So I’ve got a lot of practical experience and on the job training but I’d never had the opportunity to learn the basics; to get that more rounded perspective of all the different aspects of the film and television industry.”
But then his younger brother Daniel received a scholarship to study International Relations and Law at Bond University.
“I came down from Darwin to visit him and he took me through the film labs and studios. I also had a couple of mates who’d come to Bond and they spoke pretty highly of it – and then my girlfriend enrolled here in her Master of Clinical Psychology.
“I realised it was now or never. If I didn’t take time out now to get a formal qualification, I probably wouldn’t do it at all.”
Now nearing the end of his Bachelor of Film and Television degree, Michael admits that it was challenging to return to full-time study after 10 years away from the books, but he found a solid network of support on campus through the Nyombil Centre.
“When you come to uni, everyone just expects you to know about all the online stuff, submitting assignments and that sort of thing,” he says.
“The Nyombil Centre has been really good in terms of helping me work all that out. There’s always someone here you can ask.”
When he’s not studying or playing for the Bond AFL team, Michael has become a semi-regular fixture in the Centre, working on assignments, firing up the barbeque and participating in various activities such as the annual cultural visit to the Tweed Indigenous community.
“Growing up in the Northern Territory, my parents ran a student hostel for Aboriginal kids in Katherine before we moved to Darwin where, again, there’s a large Indigenous community, so culture has always been part of my life.
“But it’s great to learn more about different Indigenous communities, like the Tweed guys and the other students from all over Australia that I’ve gotten to know through the Nyombil Centre.”
Michael has taken a semester off to work in South Africa on the Channel 10 show ‘I’m a Celebrity … Get me out of here!’ He’ll be working on the Commonwealth Games broadcasting team, and then completes his final semester in September.
“The plan is to go back to Darwin where I know I can get work,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s all about contacts. It’s one of those industries where you make friends with people and friends employ friends. If you’re good at your job, people will want you.”
“Hopefully, my success will inspire another budding filmmaker to follow in my footsteps and enjoy the incredible opportunities that a Bond University Indigenous scholarship offers.”