Residents, families, staff, and visitors to Marian Residential Care at North Parramatta will now be welcomed by a breathtaking piece of Aboriginal art, created by prominent local Indigenous artist Aunty Kerrie Kenton.
The beautiful painting entitled ‘Life on Country’ was officially unveiled this week by Southern Cross Care Board member Mike Christensen and CEO Monique Reynolds which hangs pride of place in the reception area.
Consisting of earthy tones and colourful symbolism, its aim is to harness the healing power of art while confirming Southern Cross Care’s commitment to a significant journey of Reconciliation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Residents and staff celebrated the unveiling with some traditional weaving while listening to stories of Aunty Kerrie’s Indigenous heritage.
Aunty Kerrie, an acclaimed multi-disciplinary visual artist, educator, weaver, sculptor, painter and designer, said she hoped the artwork would deliver a sense of inclusiveness while promoting wellness for all residents.
The Watte Wanne knowledge holder of the Dharug and Dainghutti Nations said Marian Street was right in the centre of the painting, simply depicting people sitting around talking, connecting, and healing with each other.
“It’s all about the residents, the workers, the support people and staff and how they connect as part of the landscape and how the energy flows from that,” she said.
“And now that I’ve done a welcoming, it means that my soul recognises everyone at The Marian, they are part of my house and considered family. And as part of my family, Aboriginal people, my ancestors, and my spirit will watch over and protect everybody here.
“When I create pieces of art like this, it means we are all connected and all part of this place.
“I think your Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) shows the level of respect that Southern Cross Care has, not only with First Nations people, and that has been done with the commissioning of this artwork, but also in recognising the history of this land and wanting to move forward together.
“I think that Southern Cross Care can be a leading organisation in this journey for all Australians to walk together in healing and promoting this reconciling with our history, no matter where you're from.”
Southern Cross Care’s Mike Christensen said that just as ageing is everyone’s business, so too is Reconciliation.
He said with guidance from Wakka Wakka woman and Aboriginal leader Brooke Prentis he was proud that Southern Cross Care had embarked on a significant journey of Reconciliation and formalised our commitment with a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
“We are currently in the first stage of the RAP process known as ‘Reflect’,” he said.
“It will take up to 12 months to draft our RAP with a working group, made up of Southern Cross Care staff committed to seeing our RAP make significant change within the organisation.
“We will focus on scoping Reconciliation activities across the core pillars of Relationships, Respect, Opportunities and Governance.
“This journey means so much to our organisation, our staff and our First Nations peoples.”