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IWC expansion delivers cultural education first for region

IN A first for the region, a massive 80m-long pictorial display of the region’s Aboriginal history is being delivered as part of the IWC Health & Wellbeing Complex Stage 2 expansion.

IWC General Manager Wayne Mulvany said the development of the 11 pictorial screens, each up to 7m long by 3m high, took place through a series of consultations with Traditional Owners / Elders of the Taribelang Bunda.

“The work has been undertaken with Traditional Owner / Elders Uncle Raymond (Willy) Broome, Uncle Wayne Mothe, Uncle David Broome, Uncle Jason Brown, Aunty Cheri Yingaa Yavu-Kama-Harathunian and the Taribelang Cultural Aboriginal Corporation’s (TCAC) Byron Broome and Nicole Tiger,” he said.

Uncle Willy Broome said: “What is being done with the storytelling by IWC is deeply appreciated. It is wonderful to have this – everyone else has suppressed us and held us down. This will change the community completely.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack will be flying into Bundaberg for the official opening of Stage 2 on October 18.

Mr Mulvany said the $19.8 million expansion, co-funded by $7.4 million from the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund, had presented the opportunity to deliver the significant piece of cultural education.

“As part of the building approval for Stage 2 by Bundaberg Regional Council, covers or screens for the building’s windows were required due to the location of the site,” said Mr Mulvany.

“We could easily have put up generic Indigenous art imagery, but with our strong connections with the Traditional Owners of this region we identified an opportunity to deliver something of real value to our communities. This is how the ‘story board’ concept of the screens took shape. This is definitely a first for the region, and could be a first for Australia.”

IWC is Aboriginal community-controlled, and works to deliver Reconciliation in Action every day. It already houses the region’s largest permanent free display of Indigenous artefacts.

The Elders identified the key locations and incidents captured in the pictorial screens, with a double screen being dedicated to Paddy’s Island.

“Initially, the Elders came up with 20 or more potential pictorial topics, but those had to be narrowed down to fit with the scope of the Stage 2 streetscape,” Mr Mulvany said. “From there, we commissioned a local artist to develop the artworks that captured the oral histories passed down to the Traditional Owners through their Ancestors. High-tech processes were then used to create the laser-cut aluminium panels designed to stand up to all weathers.

“So while this is not a complete First Nation history of Bundaberg, it is representative of what the Traditional Owners / Elders need to share. It forms a substantial contribution to the cultural education that government has identified is so badly needed in our region.”

Mr Mulvany said: “IWC appreciates the BBRF for supporting a significant initiative that adds important layers of value to a piece of community infrastructure. We assessed how the pictorial screens would sit within the scope of the build, and remain within the parameters of the budgetary requirements. This has been a great achievement for our community.

“This is the biggest piece of cultural education infrastructure in Bundaberg, and once Stage 2 opens it will be supported by displays of the original artworks, and the stories attached to them as written by the Taribelang Bunda Elders of our region.”