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CFA connects youth, art and Indigenous culture
Jamie Atkins, Captain of Broadford Fire Brigade saw an opportunity to engage CFA, local Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth through Aboriginal art.
Using the doors of the station, the Koori Dreaming Art project was brought to life in October 2016. The artists were 30 students of Broadford Secondary College.
Jamie wanted members of his brigade and the community to be proud of their young people and CFA, and learn more about Tungerung Indigenous people.
“Completing the painting gave the students a real sense of achievement, but also acceptance by the community of who they are through all the positive comments they received. It reinforced there’s no need to hide their cultural identity.”
Jamie said it was also an educational experience for his brigade.
“It’s also been great for the brigade members, as it’s opened their eyes to Koori culture, and the strong connection it has to land and fire.”
Using his contacts, Jamie got material donated by the community, and was privileged to have nationally-renowned Indigenous artist Mick Harding run a series of workshops for the students. Many of Mick’s designs are on show in Melbourne Museum and Art Gallery and it’s been very exciting for the students to be able to learn from him.
Broadford Koori Engagement Support Officer Tracey Phillips said she “hasn’t seen the students so engaged and excited about something in a long time. They are so involved in every aspect of the project”.
It was important to design something that was relevant to the local area. The artwork features Bunjil (the eagle-creator). The hills were included because the Tungerung are the first mountain people, the water is Sunday Creek in flood and the tree includes a scar which is symbolic because it was the first step in making a canoe.
“A lot of people think Aboriginal art is only dot painting,” said Mick.
“It’s is the most widely-recognised but it’s symbolic of the central and western deserts around Arnhem Land. In Victoria and other parts of Australia, it’s different there isn’t one form of Aboriginal art.”