Local Aboriginal art finds a ‘Home’ at Dubbo Service Centre
A young and proud Wiradjuri woman from Wellington whose artwork is now displayed in Dubbo Service NSW Service Centre hopes to inspire other young Aboriginal people to paint and delve into the stories of their culture.
To celebrate NAIDOC Week, 20-year-old artist Shakyla Toomey’s painting ‘Home’ has been unveiled near the entry of the centre as part of Service NSW’s Aboriginal Artwork Initiative aimed at strengthening engagement with and acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
‘Home’ reflects how land and water is connected and how those elements have been essential for the continuity of the Wiradjuri people. Locals and other customers can enjoy and appreciate the artwork when completing government transactions at the Service Centre.
Service NSW’s Aboriginal Artwork Initiative was established after listening to staff and customer feedback to enhance relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to make local centres more welcoming.
Dubbo is the first of 10 Service Centres engaging with local Aboriginal communities to display Aboriginal artwork and follows a successful pilot at Moree and Kempsey Service Centres in 2022 where staff engaged with Elders and Aboriginal community organisations to select an Aboriginal artist’s work to display in the Service Centre.
Service NSW also offers an Aboriginal Traineeship Program and partners with a group training organisation to provide an employment pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Today an Aboriginal trainee is working at Wellington Service Centre with the program offering onthe-job training, development and study with the opportunity to work towards a Certificate III in Customer Engagement.
Most graduates move into ongoing customer service roles with two Aboriginal trainees recently receiving ongoing roles at Dubbo Service Centre with the centre’s four Aboriginal team members working closely with the local Aboriginal Land Council and other community organisations to increase awareness of government services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
NAIDOC Week is from 2 to 9 July 2023 and is a celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The theme for NAIDOC Week 2023 is ‘For Our Elders’.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Jihad Dib:
“I recently visited Dubbo and attended the Service Centre where I had the chance to chat with many locals and it is great to see this community coming together to celebrate Australia’s long history.”
“Being able to share stories, especially through artwork, is a great way to engage and educate local communities whilst also bringing people together to share a sense of place.”
“Our Service Centres are a place where people from all walks of life come together to complete transactions so it is important they are reflective and inclusive of the communities they serve.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty, David Harris:
“As we celebrate NAIDOC week it is great to see this beautiful artwork unveiled in the Dubbo Service Centre.”
“I want to thank Shakyla Toomey for her passion and dedication to share Aboriginal culture and stories with her local community.”
“As people come to visit the centre it will surely start conversations which can lead to stronger bonds between community members.”
Quotes attributable to Artist, Shakyla Toomey:
“I feel very proud that something I have created is now displayed in the Service Centre. The artwork represents my Country and my family and I now have a space to be able to share that with other people.”
“The blue represents the water and the red tones represent the earth that surround us. The goanna represents the Wiradjuri totem and the fish represents the food which helped our culture to survive.”
“The artwork is bright and vivid and I hope it grabs people’s eyes, making them stop, appreciate it and want to learn more about the Wiradjuri people.”
“I also hope my painting ignites inspiration within other Indigenous artists particularly young ones to explore their own stories and share them.”