The Custodianship program

Culture strengthening culture

Applications are now closed. 

Applications open: 18 September 2019  

Applications close: 4 November 2019 11:59pm (AEDT). 

Unearthing First Nations leadership by developing different ways of knowing, being and doing. Connecting legacy between past and future generations. The Custodianship program is designed by First Nations leaders for First Nations leaders to transform sustainability in culture, practice, community and the arts.

Gathering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts leaders from across Australia, the Custodianship program transforms people. Cultural practitioners, artists and arts workers from across art forms and career levels will explore what custodianship and leadership means in diverse contexts. They will learn from self, from others and with peers. Designed by First Nations people, participants are guided by role models, cultural teachers and an Elder in Residence. 


6–11 February 2020
14–18 May 2020
8-14 March 2021

Online Sessions

30 January 2020
7 May 2020
29 October 2020

On country learning

An opportunity to learn
about Indigenous ways
of leadership

Across artforms, career
levels and language groups.

Engage in a diverse cohort
to learn in a supportive group

For more details about the program, including key dates and requirements, please see our FAQ.

Read our FAQ's 


The Custodianship program is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, arts workers and cultural practitioners from across art forms and Australia. The program will encourage participants who are at various stages of their careers and are ready to reflect on their skills, capabilities and what custodianship and leadership may mean to them.

The program attracts learners who are open to new ideas, able to learn in a group situation and willing to share knowledge and insights with others. Participants who have roots with their custodianship responsibilities and want to learn more about enacting a vision for their communities.

How to submit an application

You can submit your application via our online application system. If you have access requirements, please get in touch so we can assist you.

Your application should include a short introductory video, four questions responding to the selection criteria as well as your CV as support material.

  1. Introduce yourself, tell us where you from? Why you do what you do? And why is it important to your cultural identity? (3-minute video).
  2. Why would you like to join this program and why now?
  3. How have you explored and developed your leadership so far?
  4. How do you engage with diverse ways of learning and connect with others?
  5. How do you see your role as an advocate for the arts?

Selection process

  • Timeliness and relevance of the program to the applicant’s professional and cultural development.
  • An active and reflective approach to leadership development.
  • Ability to engage with diverse ways of learning and connecting with others.
  • Commitment to the advocacy and improving the sustainability and wellbeing of the arts sector.

For more details on the selection process and Australia Council policy, please see our FAQ section

Diversity and access: Leadership program

The Australia Council encourages applications from people who identify as First Nations, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability, and people living in regional and remote areas. 

We actively work with individuals to support access needs – including childcare, cultural practices, financial and/or learning access needs as required. We encourage applicants to contact us via phone or email to discuss further. Learn more about diversity in leadership.

Easy English
We have developed an Easy English Guide for our leadership programs. Easy English combines text and images to convey information simply and directly, supporting people who have difficulty reading and understanding English.
Download the Easy English Guide. 


For questions about the program, including costs, travel requirements, eligibility and our international program, please see our FAQ section.

If you can’t find an answer, please send us an email at or call us toll-free on 1800 226 912.

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