Australian Idol winner's career began with a CQUniversity business course

09 May 2023

Australian Idol 2023 winner Royston Sagigi-Baira, professionally known as Royston Noell, is about to start a stellar career in music, but he says the lessons he learned while studying business through CQUniversity will always be there to call upon.

Royston, 24, who belongs to the Thanakwith and Wagadagam peoples, was announced as the winner in March, securing $100,000 and a recording contract with Sony Music Entertainment Australia, but he was humble about his achievement.

Royston’s career is already off to a rocketing start. His new single will debut soon and he’s about to travel to the US to record his first EP. He’s also scheduled to perform at a Townsville Cowboys game this weekend and a Brisbane Broncos game the following week.

“I honestly feel so blessed to have won Australian Idol. It feels very validating. Growing up, I used to get bullied for singing because I was the only one in my whole school in Far North Queensland, out of 60 kids, who could sing,” he said.

“My whole thing coming on the show was about representation for kids and young people back home. I wanted to show them that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can do big things.

“Being able to win just shows the kids that it’s possible and that’s something that I’m very passionate about. I’m honestly so grateful. It just feels crazy - I can’t believe I’m living my dreams.”

Royston grew up in Mapoon, near Weipa where his mother is from. His father is from Badu Island in the Torres Strait.

Although singing was always a big part of his growing up, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns saw him look for employment and thankfully he secured a traineeship with the Cape York Land Council during that time.

“During the lockdown the music scene was non-existent. I wasn’t really doing anything because everything was shut,” he said.

“Since (finishing high school) in 2016, it was always about music, so it was really cool to be able to go and do a business administration traineeship, because it was something I was very interested in, but never got the opportunity to do.

“I got to learn a lot of cool skills and see how an organisation works and the different roles involved. I also got to play a small part in fighting for land rights in the Cape York.”

Royston undertook a Certificate III in Business through CQU as part of his traineeship, learning on-the-job and online.

“There were a few times we did zoom calls with the CQU trainers, which was really helpful,” he said.

“At the beginning of the traineeship we were with another RTO and then we changed to CQU and I feel like CQU really took the time to go into more depth with the units and make sure that the students really understood what they were doing.

“CQU were really supportive and wanted to make sure that we were getting the most out of the training so we could be ready to go into the workforce, which was nice.”

Royston said he felt the CQU training would help him in his new musical career.

“My emails are flooded every day with requests from my management, my accounting team, or the Sony team, so I think the training will really help with being able to navigate all that and organise myself. There’s a lot I’ve taken away from the traineeship which I’m really grateful for.”

Royston Noell’s single ‘Invincible’ is available now on all platforms.