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Artwork illuminates Melba's vision

Updated: 4 days ago

As Melba approached the release of their second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) earlier this year, CEO Hayley Dean wondered how we could depict Melba’s long journey with, and deep connection to, First Nations peoples?


“I wanted to visually tell the Melba story and our RAP journey as a human rights-based organisation,” she said.


The result is a stunning piece of artwork by Indigenous artist Gerard Black.


Titled Watja Bambi (Light the Fire), Gerard said he wanted to tell the story of Melba embarking upon its journey with understanding, embracing and celebrating a deep connection to First Nations culture, sustainability and inclusive nature.


“The vibrant colours and intricate patterns represent the diversity and uniqueness of each individual within the Melba community,” he said.


“At the centre of the artwork, we see a powerful symbol of Mother Earth, the fire of the beginning of creativity surrounded by people sitting together and a star above each person representing every person has a unique spirit and connection to the dreaming.


“This also symbolises our interconnectedness with the land, water and sky.


“The swirling patterns surrounding the symbol represent the continuous cycle of life and how we can impact the future with our positive energy and actions. It also shows the importance of sustainability in all our actions and choices.


“The water flowing through the meeting place and people is a representation of life, for example the way water easily adapts and flows with its surroundings with a gentle and steady approach, but it also has a great energy and power to create change and even forge its own path, creating new life and endless opportunities.


“The artwork also depicts a diverse group of people, representing the inclusive nature of Melba. Each person is portrayed with respect, dignity and equality, highlighting the core values of the organisation.”


Gerard said the artwork celebrated the individuality and strengths of each person, emphasising the personalised and self-directed approach that Melba takes in supporting individuals to live a fabulous life.


“Through this artwork, I wanted to convey that every person is valued, heard and empowered to make choices that shape their own lives,” he said.


“The artwork serves as a visual representation of the deep connection between First Nations culture, communities and the values that Melba embraces.”


“Reconciliation is crucial because it acknowledges past injustices and fosters healing”, Hayley said. “Reconciliation paves the way for a united and equitable future where all voices, especially those of First Nations communities, are heard and respected. Embracing and respecting First Nations culture enriches all Australians.


“We know from ongoing NDIS data that both First Nations peoples and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities are underrepresented in receiving NDIS services. Our RAP, and our continuing journey, is about addressing this and the gross inequalities.


“We want to provide spaces to work alongside First Nations peoples, for them to be empowered and directing their own futures and supports.”


Hayley said Gerard’s artwork would be used at all of Melba’s RAP activities and feature on its RAP documents.


For more information about Melba’s Reconciliation Action Plan, click here.


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