Healing in the man cave at the Redfern Centre

By Ginni Seton

For newcomers to Redfern, the Block bordered by Eveleigh St, can feel disorientating with homeless people, graffiti and an air of residents doing it tough. Walk a few steps to the Redfern Community Centre located in the heart of the Block and that feeling of bleakness dissipates. Within this refurbished former factory, many life skill programs are offered to anyone who walks through the door.

On Monday evening, it’s the men who walk through the door seeking hope and healing through the ten-week Gamarada Men’s Program, combining traditional Aboriginal methods and spirituality with Western self-help techniques. Gamarada, meaning “comrades or friends” in the Gadigal language of the Eora Nation aims to transform the lives of men in inner Sydney and for them to assist others.

Founded by Ken Zulumovski, a descendent of the Kabi Kabi nation, Gamarada Indigenous Healing and Life Training delivers programs to indigenous men and youth to heal emotional trauma and teach effective coping strategies. Creating links between legal, health, and community services the Gamarada programs also hopes to reduce prison sentencing and re-offending. In 2010 Gamarada was recognised by NSW Department of Premiere and Cabinet with an Excellence Award for Building Leadership in Indigenous communities.

Ken started the program in 2007 after he saw a need to address the complex and multi layered problems confronting young indigenous men in the community. Now in its ninth year, the program has expanded to include a two-day workshop, anger management sessions and a program to encourage dads, uncles, male carer’s and mentors to value and encourage the education of their children.

Ken Zulumovski (standing upper left row) with participants of the Gamarada Men's Healing Program at Redfern Community Centre.
Ken Zulumovski (standing upper left row) with participants of the Gamarada Men’s Healing Program at Redfern Community Centre. Image: Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources.

Men who have benefitted from these programs include members of the stolen generation and their families, young people who’ve experienced abuse or family violence, men involved in the criminal justice system and men with alcohol and other drug issues;

Ken says the core feature of this program is the reliance on ancient Aboriginal healing practises.

“The options that exist for these men within the medical model are culturally inappropriate most of the time. There’s not a lot of cultural awareness that’s being taught to clinicians about how to deal and help aboriginal people,” says Ken. “The Gamarada Program is about promoting cultural renewal amongst indigenous men who otherwise are dislocated or disconnected from their culture.”

Whilst many group programs are based around talking therapies, Gamarada teaches participants practical skills in anger management, emotional control, relaxation and techniques for building respectful relationships.

Core to the ten-week workshop is the introduction of Aboriginal cultural practice. Perhaps the most significant being Dadirri, the indigenous spiritual concept of deep listening, quiet stillness and awareness. Historically Aboriginal people passed on stories orally and listening carefully was vital to sharing the story accurately to the next generation of story-tellers. Dadirri describes this process of deep, respectful listening and awareness to build community.

The men also learn the healing power of traditional dance with the group encouraged to drop their self consciousness and join together in dance. These different techniques have proven to be deeply effective for indigenous men.

Armed with these new techniques, a greater sense of community and practising ancient indigenous practises, disenfranchised aboriginal men are leaving their isolated man cave and regaining their role as functioning men in the community.

 

 

 

Street art in Redfern: new & old

by Jana Bohlmann

Everywhere you go in Sydney, you will find street art, but Redfern not only has new art in the streets on offer but also murals, which have been there for a very long time. Street art in Redfern has a long history and tells many different stories. It tells the stories of the people who own the land on which Redfern is built today. It also tells the stories of people, who just really love street art and want to make the world a better place by presenting their art in public spaces.

Below is a selection of art which you can find in the streets and alleys of Redfern. You will also find a map with the exact location of the specific mural.

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Street Art in Redfern: Welcome to the Block  (B)

all images photographed by Jana Bohlmann.

Say no to Aboriginal community closures

 

by Jana Bohlmann

Confronting, real and eye-opening describes the work of the award-winning photographer Ingetje Tadros the best. In her latest photography exhibition ‘This is my country – Say no to Aboriginal Community Closures’ at107 Projects in Redfern, she managed to give the viewers an impression of what life looks like  in the Aboriginal community Kennedy Hill in Broome, Western Australia.

Ingetje Tadros is originally from the Netherlands but has been living in Broome for twelve years. During this time she had the chance to find out more about indigenous communities in Australia and how people, who live there are being treated. Five years ago, she started to document life in these indigenous communities in and around Broome in the hope of starting a conversation about social change. 

“I have always been appalled by the way Aboriginal people were treated. It disturbed and disgusted me, so I decided to have a closer look and started mingling with Aboriginal people.” she says. 

Ingetje went to the communities, talked to people and asked if she could spend time with them. After visiting many different communities, she decided to only document one, which was Kennedy Hill. The Kennedy Hill Community was one of the communities facing closure as well as 100 other communities in Western Australia. 

She started taking pictures of the life in Kennedy Hill. Pictures of everyday life to show what it means to live in Kennedy Hill. Her biggest reward from her work was the smiles she got whenever she printed out the images she took and gave them to the people. Many people would call her up and ask her to come over to take some family photos. During her time working in Kennedy Hill, she became very close friends with many people, who live there. They let her into their lives and let her take pictures because they started trusting her and that alone says a lot. 

Ingetje was shocked when she saw what life actually looks like in the Kennedy Hill Community. She couldn’t believe that people in a rich country like Australia have to live in such poverty like they do in Kennedy Hill and numerous other indigenous communities. 

“The community of Kennedy Hill seemed to me like a different planet situated on ‘pristine real estate’ and I was annoyed about the negativity expressed towards Aboriginal people.” she says. 

The decision to document life in the community of Kennedy Hill was based on the closure of the community. To Ingetje, Kennedy Hill acts as a representative of other indigenous communities, which face closure also. 

To her, her photos are evidence of people, who live in poverty and are suffering from a long ongoing systemic social and historical human rights abuse. 

With this work, Ingetje hopes to wake people up and show them that live in Australia is not the same for everyone and that we need to stop believing that the government is doing all it can for the Aboriginal people in this country. 

“As confronting as some of my photographs are here, I hope that they will communicate the plight of people in them and act as a catalyst for debate and an agent for social change no matter how small.“ Ingetje explains. 

Visitors of the exhibition were struck, moved and saddened at the same time by Ingetje’s work. Many of them, who didn’t know what is actually going on in Aboriginal communities, were quite confronted with the photographs, but also grateful for getting a glimpse of life in these communities. 

Let’s hope that these strong photographs will start a conversation about how everyone in Australia can help and change the social injustice of Aboriginal people. 

The stories behind the photographs

Click on the tags in the right hand corner of the images and find out more about the story behind them and what they mean to Ingetje. 


Welcome to loud & radical Redfern

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Duckrabbit Gallery: Jarrod Burgess; image by Jana Bohlmann

Not far away from Redfern’s well known Block, there is a small garage, which transformed into an artist workplace and is called the Duckrabbit Gallery. It is a space run by artists, which also offers room for young emerging artists to exhibit their work and make their way into Sydney’s art world. 

Jarrod Burgess is one of them. Just last Friday, he opened his first solo exhibition ever, called‚ ‘Radical Redfern’. His art is loud, colourful and provoking. It makes people think, smile and happy. Jarrod is a young artist and with only 19 years of age, way ahead of the game. He himself never thought he would already have an exhibition this early on in his career. He is still a student, studying an advanced diploma in illustration at the Enmore Design Centre. 

To call his exhibition‚ ‘Radical Redfern’ was more a coincidence than an intention, he admits. 

“I just really like the word‚ ‘radical’ and I use it a lot as you can tell, and the gallery space is in Redfern and I just combined these two words”.

Himself not being from Redfern, but from Castle Hill, he experiences Redfern as an extremely inspiring place. Especially the mass of street art has impressed him and might inspire him to new art projects as well. But that is not all, what comes to his mind when he thinks of Redfern, he explains. 

“Redfern is just such a diverse place and anyone can fit in here. There wouldn’t be anything like this in my area and I feel like I fit in here. Anyone can fit in here.” 

The art works featured in the Radical Redfern exhibition are crass and have a voice. Each one of them is unique and means something different to everyone. Asking what the message of his art is, Jarrod doesn’t have a clear answer. He just wants to bring happiness to people with his art. He doesn’t think there is a need to have a certain message, just happiness. 

“I came from an angry place in high school and art made me happy.Just sitting down and drawing. People nowadays are too worried and I want to make people happy with my art.”

Even though Jarrod is not originally from Redfern, he finds it a very interesting place, because it is such a mix of different cultures. The topic of the gentrification of the suburb is also compelling to him and he decided to base his new work, an animated book, on the gentrification in Redfern. 

For anyone, who is interested in the young artist and wants to check out his work, come on by to the duckrabbit gallery. The artist will be there every day from 11 – 6pm and will happily chat to you about his works and his inspirations. The exhibition will run until this Thursday, April 14. 

5 minute guide to Redfern crime

By Ginni Seton

The hipster cafes have moved in, young families continue to pay top dollar for terrace houses and the weekend growers market sells expensive organic fruit and veggies. But the crime rate in Redfern still reflects its colourful, blue collar past.

The 5 minute guide to crime in Redfern offers a snapshot of this suburb showing a surprisingly high rate of crime compared to New South Wales.

(Or click below.)

https://magic.piktochart.com/embed/13192622-redfern

Small suburb with a big history

By Ginni Seton

Redfern is geographically a small suburb however it boasts a rich and complex history centred around the indigenous struggle for independence, housing and equality. The ongoing struggle is captured in the culturally significant buildings and areas of Redfern.

The Block

Prominent street art on Eveleigh Street, Redfern.
The prominent mural on Eveleigh Street, Redfern, proudly identifies the area colloquially known as “The Block”.

Historically Redfern attracted an Aboriginal population due to its cheap housing and central location to industry and jobs in South Sydney. During the 1930’s Depression, many extended Aboriginal families continued to move into the area bordered by Caroline, Eveleigh, Vine and Louis Street which colloquially became known as “The Block”.

In the early 1970’s squatters occupied vacant terraces and land on The Block as a political response to overcrowding and homelessness. In response, the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) was formed in 1973 by Aboriginal leaders and six houses on The Block were bought with a grant from the Whitlam Labour Government. More houses were purchased up till 1994.

The AHC is now seeking to build 62 affordable units and townhouses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander families in an effort to revitalise The Block as part of the $70 million Pemulwuy Project.

Empress Hotel (former)

The Empress Hotel (now closed) located on Regent Street
The Empress Hotel (now closed) located on Regent Street was one of the few pubs in the mid 1900’s where Aboriginal people were permitted to drink.

The Empress Hotel, known to locals as the ‘Big E’, was located at 87 Regent Street. From the 1950s through to the 1970s it was one of the few pubs in Sydney where Aboriginal people were permitted to drink. In the 1960’s, many Aboriginal people were moving to Redfern and the Empress Hotel became a meeting place to reunite with family and friends as well as seek out employment opportunities.

The Empress Hotel was also a sight for heavy-handed police action and racial persecution. Aboriginal activists began to record police harassment at the Empress and this formed the basis for the foundations of the Aboriginal Legal Service founded in 1970.

Redfern Park

Redfern Park
As a green oasis in inner Sydney, Redfern Park offers ornamental gardens, a cricket pitch, bowling green, bandstand, children’s playground and indigenous artwork installation.

Redfern Park, bounded by Elizabeth, Redfern, Chalmers and Phillip Streets was designed around a Victorian aesthetic and constructed during the 1880s.

The twelve acres of Redfern Park was the site of a speech given by the former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating on 10 December 1992, to launch the UN International Year of the Indigenous Person. Subsequently referred to as the “Redfern Speech”, it focused on reconciliation and was the first acknowledgement by a Commonwealth Government of the dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Redfern Oval

Redfern Oval
Sitting alongside Redfern Park, Redfern Oval is the original home of the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Redfern Oval was the traditional home of the South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League Club from 1948 to 1987. Rabbitoh supporters often refer to the Oval as “The Holy Land”. Redfern Oval was also commonly used as the  training ground by Sydney teams such as the Redfern All Blacks and La Perouse Panthers for the Koori Knockout, an indigenous rugby league knockout competition started in 1970 and continuing today.

In 1999, it underwent a complete overhaul and was bulldozed in a $19.5 million redevelopment. Today, it features a grandstand with tiered-seating for 2,500 spectators, player facilities and a community meeting room. It remains the main training headquarters of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and can comfortably host crowds of around 5,000 so at least one pre-season game per year has been played at Redfern since the redevelopment.

Redfern Public School (NCIE)

National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIC)
Formerly Redfern Public School, the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence offers a variety of programs for Aboriginal children.

Redfern Public School was established in 1879 and for most students it was known as George Street Public. It educated generations of Aboriginal children living in Redfern during the 1900’s.

In 2006, the buildings and grounds of the former school were acquired by the Indigenous Land Corporation as a new home for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE). Today the NCIE works with young indigenous Australians under the direction of its own Board, to provide life-changing programs in education, sport, recreation and arts.

With a fully-equipped gym, sports field, 25m outdoor heated pool and sports stadium, over 10,000 young indigenous people had participated in programs at NCIE in the first two full years of operation.

Gadigal Information Service

Gadigal Information Service
Gadigal Information Service is a not for profit Aboriginal community organisation offering local services in communication, training and performance.

In the 1990’s, Cathy Craigie, the late Matthew Cook and Tim Bishop saw a need for an Aboriginal owned and operated communication organisation in response to negative stereotypes portrayed by mainstream media. They had been inspired by the impact of Radio Redfern, which had given Aboriginal people a voice during the 1980s with up to 30 hours of weekly broadcasts.

In 1993, they founded the Gadigal Information Service (GIS), operated out of a rented terrace on Cleveland Street and later moved to the former Marrickville Hospital. The GIS established the Young, Black & Deadly workshops now offering accredited media training for Aboriginal youth in performance, songwriting, radio broadcasting and dance.

In 2002, GIS presented the first Yabun festival at Waverly Oval, Bondi before moving to Redfern Park and then Victoria Park to accommodate swelling crowds. The one-day festival of Aboriginal music and ideas is a celebration of the survival of Aboriginal people and culture.

GIS was invited to return to its home community in 2008 when the Indigenous Land Corporation built a new office block on the site of the original National Black Theatre in Cope Street, Redfern. The state-of-the -art recording and broadcasting studios were equipped through government funding. It now broadcasts Koori Radio (93.7FM) to the Sydney metropolitan region.

Wyanga Aboriginal Aged Care & Cultural Program

Wyanga Aboriginal Aged Care & Cultural Program
Wyanga Aboriginal Aged Care ensures the elders in the Aboriginal community have access to home care and opportunity to engage with the community.

In 1996 Wyanga Aboriginal Aged Care was established by Sylvia Scott, a Wiradjuri elder from Cowra, NSW and Mary Silva, a Dunghutti elder from Kempsey, NSW to provide a community aged care service for Aboriginal people in Redfern and inner Sydney.

Commonly shortened to “Wyanga” meaning earth, the Program employs 30 Aboriginal people and provides in-home help with meals, cleaning and maintenance as well as providing transport, organising community gatherings,  outings and health awareness programs.

In 2005, a former hardware shop at 35 Cope Street was converted into a permanent home for Wyanga. The southern wall of the building features the 2 colour mural “Mission Boy Dreams” which is based on an etching by Wiradjuri artist Roy Kennedy. It depicts his memories of the Warangesda Mission in the Riverina where his family is from.

All images supplied by Ginni Seton.

The data of Redfern gentrification

By Ginni Seton

As one of Sydney’s most eclectic suburbs, Redfern has changed over the past decade. With its enviable location near the CBD, uber cool cafe scene and village feel, Redfern has attracted a steady stream of hipsters and young families. The ongoing gentrification of a once wild suburb is reflected in the data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in the 2006 and 2011 Census.

POPULATION & DWELLING

The Census population of Redfern in 2011 was 12,039, living in 6,596 dwellings with an average household size of 1.92.

From 2006 to 2011, Redfern has shown a steady 6% growth in population from 11,350 to 12,039. The largest change in this population increase was seen in couples with young children growing from 285 in 2006 to 366 in 2011.

In 2011, the ratio of males to females in Redfern was consistent with the City of Sydney (an area of 2,672 hectares bordered by the harbour foreshore and extending to Lilyfield/Newtown in the west, Mascot to the south and Kensington/Moore Park in the east) however the percentage of Australian citizens in Redfern was greater compared to the City of Sydney.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 & 2011
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 & 2011

ETHNICITY & ANCESTRY

From 2006 to 2011, Redfern had a small decline in the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander population decreasing from 294 to 282.  This figure further supports the changing landscape of Redfern with fewer of the indigenous population being able to afford steep increases in rents and real estate prices. (Figures from RP Data show that in January 2013 the median price for a home in Redfern was $785,000. By December 2013, the price had risen to $920,000.)

Whilst the indigenous population is in decline the population of people born overseas increased by 468 or 11.9% from 2006 to 2011 and the number of people from a non-English speaking background increased by 181 or 6.5%. With its central location and appealing inner city vibe, Redfern is proving to be a sweet spot for many people to move to.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 & 2011
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 & 2011

SCHOOLING

The greatest change for high school students in Redfern from 2006 to 2011, was a 26% in the number of students staying on to year 12.  This figure is expected to increase and become parity with the City of Sydney as those young children in families who’ve recently moved into Redfern, continue onto high school and complete their schooling.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 and 2011
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 & 2011

QUALIFICATIONS

Analysis of the level of qualification held by the Redfern population in 2006 and 2011 shows an additional 1,465 people completed formal qualifications (bachelor or higher degree; advanced diploma/diploma; or vocational qualifications). As more middle-class people move into Redfern, it is expected this figure will continue to increase.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 and 2011
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 & 2011

WEEKLY HOUSEHOLD INCOME

Consistent with higher education levels, was the increase in weekly household income from 2006 to 2011. The biggest increase was in the highest group showing an increase of 578 people earning $1,094 or more per week. As expected, a decline can be seen in the lowest group ($0 to $266 per week) declining from 1,808 in 2006 to 1,674 in 2011.

Source:Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 & 2011
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 & 2011

As more middle-class people take up residence in the traditionally working-class area of Redfern, the character of this suburb will continue to change. The gentrification of this suburb will continue and be strongly reflected in the upcoming 2016 Australian Census.

 

Clean slate without prejudice

by Jana Bohlmann

Redfern was once known and unfortunately is still known to many people as a suburb with a high rate of crime. Not too long ago, there used to be one hundred robberies per month in Redfern. This number has been drastically reduced with the help of the Clean Slate Without Prejudice Program. The program was started by the superintendent of the Redfern Police Force Luke Feuerstein, who felt the need to act against these high numbers of robberies. He wanted to find a way to make Redfern a safer place and to get the community to work together and show them different ways of dealing with life. Himself being a keen boxer and being aware of what physical exercise can not just do to one’s body, but also to one’s mind, he saw this as a chance to make a change. He started the program with the help from Shane Philipps, who is the CEO and chairman of the Tribal Warrior Association in Redfern. Together they developed a boxing program aimed at youth juveniles, who are at the risk of performing criminal activities. Feuerstein and Philipps see the regular exercise of the people at risk as a solution to keep them from making the wrong decision. The numbers of crime going down in Redfern speak for themselves.

Although the program started out targeting especially indigenous youth, it is generally open to anyone. The program consist of three morning workout sessions per week at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) and includes mostly boxing exercises but also other related fitness activities. Feuerstein and Philips and a few other members of the Tribal Warrior Association act as mentors of the program and approach people to join. They also make sure that the participants get to work or to school after the session finishes and they even drive them there. Their work does not end here, though. They also have managed to get people jobs at prestigious companies like Quantas and Linfox and are constantly looking out for them.
So, it is not just the boxing training they provide, but more like a place where young people can go and get advice and get help if they need it. The program offers early intervention, developmental crime prevention, positive relationships, support networking and also behavioral workshops.

Through the boxing training sessions, the participants learn to work in groups and as a team, they are able to form deeper connections with other participants and they learn how to lead a disciplined life, which will help them succeed in the work force later and also keeps them out of trouble.

The program has had an extremely positive impact on the Aboriginal community and has succeeded in bringing the high rates of crime in Redfern down.

Understanding the numbers of Redfern

by Jana Bohlmann

Most people, who live in Sydney have been to Redfern or have at least heard of it. But how well do you really know this suburb? Do you know how many people live there? And what is the average age of a person living in Redfern is? These things don’t seem to be too important, but they will help to get a bigger picture of Redfern and to better understand the suburb. Take a look at the infographic below and find out more about Redfern. You don’t really know it until you know the numbers.

https://magic.piktochart.com/output/14020526-redfern-in-numbers

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Not a haka in sight for these committed All Blacks

Junior Redfern All Blacks playing at Waterloo Oval. Image - Redfern All Blacks

By Ginni Seton

Late afternoon Wednesday at Waterloo Oval and a rowdy bunch of 7-year-old boys are shaking off the constraints of their classroom and expertly kicking the footy around. A typical Aussie scene with committed volunteer coaches, a group of loyal parents on the sidelines and the excited cries of junior players.

However, it’s the colour of their guernsey that makes this team unique. Proudly wearing black shirt, black shorts and the striking red, black and yellow of the indigenous flag these children play for the mighty Redfern All Blacks (fondly referred to as ‘RABs’ or simply ‘Redfern’), the oldest indigenous rugby league football club in the country.

RABs was officially founded in 1944 by a group of non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people, but some accounts suggest the team goes back to the great depression.  Initially the club was formed to allow indigenous players the right to play football at a time when they were denied entry to the existing all-white teams and clubs.

Redfern All Blacks circa 1940s.
Redfern All Blacks circa 1940s. Photo credit: Redfern All Blacks

Now some 70 years later, the Redfern All Blacks have become a critical social and cultural hub with a unifying community spirit. Boasting a strong A grade, A reserve, women’s team and 9 children’s teams from the serious under 17’s to the not-so-serious under 5’s, the RAB family is a force to be reckoned with.

In the early 1970’s, the Redfern All Blacks took their first steps to national prominence when they and the La Perouse Panthers became the founding South Sydney member clubs forming the inaugural New South Wales Koori Knockout (The Knockout). Whilst there had been low key indigenous football and basketball tournaments in the past, the Knockout set out with two distinct objectives.

Frustratingly, many talented Aboriginal footballers playing in the early days of the RABs and other Koori teams were routinely overlooked by talent scouts. Original committee member Bob Morgan said it was hoped the Knockout would act as a platform for their skills to be finally showcased and noticed.

“Our concept at the time was to have a game where people who had difficulty breaking into the big time would be on show and the talent scouts would come and check them out,” said Bob Morgan.

But the instigation of the Knockout was intended to be far more than sporting competition.

“The Knockout was never simply about football, it was about family, it was about community, it was getting people to come together and enjoy and celebrate things rather than win the competition,” said Bob Morgan

Since 1971 the NSW Annual Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout has now grown to a full three-day carnival with more than sixty teams competing annually over the long weekend in October. With the talented Redfern All Blacks proudly holding the most titles won in 1972, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 1993 and more recently 2015 against Newcastle.

Redfern All Blacks celebrate their victory against the Newcastle All Blacks in the 2015 Knockout.
Redfern All Blacks celebrate their victory against the Newcastle All Blacks in the 2015 Knockout. Image credit: Parkes Champion Post

Supporting the club has allowed local organisations such as Wyanga Aboriginal Community Aged care to promote their good work to a large cross-section of the Aboriginal community.

Giving back to the local community, the club has also been driving key social changes in the local area such as improving police relationships, preparing school leavers for employment, partnering with a NSW Government domestic violence program and promoting cultural pride and reconciliation.

But for now on a late Wednesday afternoon at Waterloo Oval, the junior RABs aren’t thinking about such lofty ideals. They’re enjoying kicking the footy around, secure they have a club supporting them every step of the way.

 

Real Australians are Aboriginal

by Jana Bohlmann

It all started out in 2015 with posters, the artist Peter Drew started putting up all around Australia. In big letters written on these posters is: Real Australians say welcome. Peter Drew travelled around Australia for three months and put up over 1,000 posters. By doing so he wanted to show his support for refugees and asylum seekers and wanted to send a very clear message: Everyone is welcome in Australia.The project was completely crowd funded and most people did respond very positively to it. 

Now that the project has finished, some posters can still be spotted around the major cities in Australia, some have been ripped down, some have disappeared completely and some have been transformed. An unknown artist took Peter Drews project and made it his own. He used the original poster by Drew and simply printed his own message over the letters. The poster now says: Real Australians Are Aboriginal. There is no hint on the transformed posters, who actually put them up. They have been popping up all around the city, but the first one I spotted was in Redfern. 

So who is the artist behind this? Peter Drew said he has seen the posters around the cities but has no idea who created them. Other Sydney street artists were discussing the mystery artist on Instagram and thought it was street artists Minigraf, but he denied this. 

Also, the poster project by Peter Drew received a lot of media attention. His story was reported on by the SMH, the ABC, and numerous other media outlets. Of course, this has much to do, that Peter presented his project publicly in order to do a crowdfunding campaign. He never hid behind his work and used the internet to promote it. 

But why is it, that this new poster project with an equally important message, does not get as much media attention? Is it just because the artist remains anonymous? 

Even if we take a look at Instagram, there are only 14 users who have uploaded images of the ‚Real Australians are Aboriginal‘ posters. In comparison, there are over 400 posts with the hashtag #realaustralianssaywelcome, which is the poster project by Peter Drew. This has mainly to do with the fact, that Peter Drew promoted and still promotes his art very publicly on various social media channels. 

The transformed posters have been spotted all over Sydney and mostly in the suburbs of Redfern, Surry Hills and Darling Hurst and even in Melbourne and Mildura. 

There is absolutely no hint of who the mysterious artist is neither are there any social media posts about it. 

Even though we don’t know who the artist behind this is, the message is loud and very clear. Real Australians are Aboriginal. Whether he or she just wants us to know this or spark a conversation about it and what is going on in Australia, it is a good way to start.