Aboriginal Art

Applications for the Aboriginal Art Competition have now closed.

As part of our NAIDOC Week celebrations for 2022, Grampians Health has announced a region-wide Aboriginal Art Competition, with a $2,500 prize available for the winning artwork at each of our four campuses: Edenhope, Stawell, Horsham Dimboola, and Ballarat.

Craig Wilding, Chief Operating Officer Community and Aged Care, said the initiative was part of creating a culturally safe and inclusive space.

“We’ve had so much wonderful feedback about the Protector of his mob artwork that features at Ballarat Base Hospital Drummond Street entrance, so we’re really excited to be extending this opportunity across the region to spread the message of welcome and safety across Grampians Health campuses,” Mr Wilding said. “At Grampians Health, we’re committed to providing a safe and culturally sensitive health service for all members of our community, and this artwork competition is another way to show our commitment to our First Nations people across the region.

“We’re asking local First Nations artists to submit artworks that address the theme of ‘Respect for all at Grampians Health’ and reflect their local Country.”

Grampians Health Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Office team leader Emma Leehane said the art competition was an opportunity to bring more local Indigenous culture to Grampians Health sites, and show respect for traditional custodians and community members.

“Our Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officers are here to provide support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing care at Grampians Health, and including local culture and Country in our spaces through artwork helps to break down barriers and creates a space that feels accessible and more welcoming for our community,” Ms Leehane said. “First Nations people have knowledge of, and have been practicing, health and medical treatment for thousands of years, so it’s really important that these artworks pay tribute to that.

“We’re looking for artworks that reflect local Country, Bunjil – our Creator God, land and water elements, bush medicine and our community. The winning artworks will be displayed at their local campus, as a way of welcoming First Nations people onto that site.”

Grampians Health acknowledges the Djab wurrung, Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadwadjaili, Wergaia, Jupagalk and Wadawurrung people, their Elders past and present, who are the traditional custodians of the land on which we work. We celebrate the history, culture and achievements of First Nations peoples as part of NAIDOC Week, and every week.

The Aboriginal Art Competition is open from Monday 4 July through to Friday 12 August 2022. Winners will be announced via Grampians Health’s social media channels on Tuesday 24 August 2022.

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Why Aboriginal Art?

As an oral based culture First Nation people have used the visual language to educate, and to pass on the knowledge, teachings and wisdom of their ancestors, in ritual ceremonies, and to express the past and the close connection to the land, where the spiritual and the sacred is found. Through artwork  (in effect a visual story) sacred spiritual stories are passed on from generation to generation and are an integral part of the spirituality and culture of First Nation people.  Authenticity of visual stories is protected under the Australian Government’s 2002, 2007 and 2019 protocol guide, Protocols for using First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts*, which endorses the rights of indigenous people to their cultural heritage and supports indigenous creative practice.

Grampians Health is working towards providing a culturally safe and appropriate service for First Nation people. The organisation acknowledges the barriers faced by First Nation people in history and the impact it has today. First Nation people have stated that visual representation of culture, in a mainstream organisation, is a step towards making the service feel more culturally safe.  By displaying the art of First Nation people, we have an opportunity to provide the visual link to culture for First Nation people and an opportunity for Non-First Nation patients and visitors to admire the art work and learn the dreaming stories of the Traditional Custodians.

Protector of his mob in situ at the Ballarat Base Hospital Drummond Street entrance

The inclusion of First Nation art throughout Grampians Health is a foundational step towards Reconciliation. It clearly displays our commitment to respecting First Nation people in our community and working towards building better relationships with the community in healthcare.

In 2020, Ballarat Health Services held its first Aboriginal Art Competition with the theme ‘respect for all’. Lowana Clarke’s Protector of his mob was announced as the winner, depicting creator god Bunjil and elements of country, medicine and healing, from stories and legends Lowana grew up hearing from her Wotjobaluk, Ngarrindjeri, Gunditjmara ancestors. The artwork has been used across Ballarat Base Hospital in a variety of ways to create a culturally sensitive and welcoming environment for First Nation people. In Lowana’s artwork, Bunjil greets all people entering the Drummond Street entrance, is seen on lanyards of staff across the health service, and on the specially-designed uniform of our Aboriginal Health Liaison Officers. Since the artwork was installed at the Drummond Street entrance as part of our NAIDOC 2020 celebrations, First Nation people have provided feedback on how much more welcoming and accessible the hospital feels – Bunjil is there, protecting them.