The Ballarat Portrait and Storytelling Exhibition was launched at Federation University yesterday, in celebration of NAIDOC Week. The exhibition encompassed a collection of 52 portraits of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, as well as presentations and a live performance from local musician, Deb Clark.
Jasmine Graham, the event organiser and manager of the Aboriginal Education Centre at Fed Uni, said the event was about celebrating the diverse women of the Indigenous community in Ballarat, in line with this year’s NAIDOC theme of ‘Because of Her, We Can.’
“Many of the women volunteered themselves, and select women were approached to share their stories and life experiences,” said Ms Graham. “We made a short video as well.”
“It’s about acknowledging the Aboriginal women in the community doing good work.”
There was a “swell of support” from the community to get involved, with most of the women in the portraits attending the event, proud families in tow.
One such woman was Rachel Muir.
“It’s a privilege to be recognised, for an Aboriginal woman’s voice to be heard,” said Ms Muir, particularly due to the very personal attachment to NAIDOC’s 2018 theme. “It’s an eye opener to think back to who you are, because of who was in your life.”
Her own grandmother was the one to start up the Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative, and she’s proud to “be following in her footsteps,” through her work with the community.
What stood out to her most, however, was the younger women involved in organising this exhibition. “I’m so proud of the girls…and that they’re the next leaders.”
“Sometimes you talk, but don’t think you get heard… For a younger person to ask you to be involved, these girls must look up to us.” She hopes to continue that, and let this exhibition show all the ways you can be a strong Aboriginal woman in the community, be that as a mother, teacher, football player.
“Hopefully other Aboriginal women can be inspired.”
The event was organised in partnership between the Aboriginal Education Centre and Ballarat Koori Engagement Action Group.
NAIDOC Week officially begins on Sunday July 8, with events beginning earlier in the month in Ballarat.