Shepparton's Aboriginal Street Art Project continues

Click through to see the completed mural

Shepparton's Aboriginal Street Art Project continues

The second stage of Greater Shepparton City Council’s Aboriginal Street Art Project has commenced with two separate mural projects painted by two artists.

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The first mural of stage two will be featured on the wall of Goulburn Valley Water- south of the mural depicting William Cooper and Pastor Sir Douglas Nichols. This mural will be painted by Adnate - the same artist that painted stage one. The mural features Aunty Margaret Tucker (MBE) and Nora “Nanny” Charles - two significant past local elders.

Yorta Yorta woman, Aunty Margaret Tucker (MBE) was one of Australia’s first female Aboriginal rights activists and was highly active from the early 1930’s within the Australian Aborigines League (which she was involved in establishing) as well as holding many positions in different representative bodies and Government advisory groups throughout her life. Aunty Margaret, also known as Aunty Marge, spent much of her childhood at the Cummeragunja and Moonacullah Missions however was later taken away against her mother’s wishes and it wouldn’t be until years later that Aunty Marge would reunite with her family. Aunty Marge worked alongside various Yorta Yorta representatives include William Cooper, Sir Douglas Nicholls, Bill and Eric Onus and also her younger sister Geraldine Briggs to advocate for the rights of Aboriginal people. Aunty Marge Tucker is currently on the Aboriginal Honour Roll and is admired by the local Aboriginal community for her continued efforts in supporting and advocating for her people. Aunty Marge spent her last years in a nursing home in Shepparton and died in 1996.

Yorta Yorta woman, Nanny Nora Charles was one of the earliest and best known local Aboriginal midwives. She was renowned throughout the region for travelling up and down the Murray to camps and missions to assist in the delivery of babies at a time when Aboriginal women were not permitted access to hospitals or medical professionals. Nanny Nora Charles participated in the Cummeragunja walk off and lived on ‘The Flats’ on the Goulburn River located between Mooroopna and Shepparton where she continued to deliver babies as a midwife. Nanny Nora would later become a resident within the town of Shepparton where she continued to support the local Aboriginal community. She died at the age of 89.

Selwyn Burns, Grandson of Aunty Marge Tucker said that he was very proud of his grandmother and what she had contributed to the local community and throughout Australia. “Aunty Marge was an amazing woman and her courage and determination has made her recognised as one of Australia’s most influential Aboriginal females. Aunty Marge stood up for the rights of Aboriginal people and the family are very proud of her passion and eagerness to support her people,” said Mr Burns. 

Aunty Lorna currently 94 years of age and daughter of Nanny Nora Charles said the following about her mother, “She was a selfless soul who would always go out of her way to help everyone. She never wanted or looked for thanks. Mum felt proud and thankful that she was able to help so many mothers welcome their children into the world. This was a time when Aboriginal people weren’t allowed in hospitals, so Mum had a very important job to keep all the children and mothers safe and well, rain hail or shine”.

“Mum delivered heaps of babies in Cummeragunja, Barmah, Moama, Echuca, Shepparton, wherever. She was a well-respected and trusted Aboriginal woman, that’s why everyone wanted her to deliver their babies. I would go with her sometimes and help, I remember I was around 12 or 13 I think, and it was the middle of the night when we had to go across the river to Barmah. There was no bridge back then, so we had to hop in the canoe and paddle across in pitch darkness and walk into town,” said Aunty Lorna.

Acting CEO of Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Damian Morgan Bulled said, “Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation is excited about Stage 2 of this project commencing. All Yorta Yorta family groups acknowledge the achievements these two outstanding people and we all remain extremely appreciative and proud of work they have done. This is an opportunity to educate locals in regards to their incredible contributions to not only our people, but indigenous people all over Australia.”

Acting CEO of Rumbalara Cooperative Justin Mohamed said, “Nanny Nora Charles and Aunty Marge Tucker were outstanding individuals who the local Aboriginal community are all very proud of. We look forward to seeing this next mural beside legends Sir Doug Nicholls and Uncle William Cooper.”

The Aboriginal Street Art Project has been named by locals as ‘Dana Djirrungana Dunguludja Yenbena-l’ which means ‘Proud, Strong, Aboriginal People’ in Yorta Yorta language. This project is aimed at celebrating the local Aboriginal history and culture within the region and also aims to connect the future new SAM with the Shepparton CBD.

Director Sustainable Development Geraldine Christou said that the street art was an interesting way to brighten the Shepparton CBD while also focussing on celebrating and acknowledging the local Aboriginal history and culture. “This project allows us to educate locals in relation to the significant role that the Aboriginal people have played within the local area,” said Ms Christou. 

Peter Quinn, Managing Director at Goulburn Valley Water said that GV Water was very pleased to partner with the local Aboriginal community and Council to make the second stage of the Aboriginal Street Art Project possible. "It is great to publicly celebrate two outstanding women in Aunty Marge Tucker and Nanny Nora Charles for their contribution to the Aboriginal community and broader Australian society. We trust Matt (Adnate) will do another magnificent job on these portraits.

This mural was painted between the 23 and 27 February 2018 and is a partnership between Council, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Rumbalara Cooperative.

The second mural of stage two will acknowledge the contribution of local Aboriginal people in military service for the nation. Aboriginal people have a proud history of fighting in armed conflicts for Australia however initially were forbidden from joining the Army for conflicts such as World War I. It was only when the situation in Europe became more desperate and extra manpower was required that Aboriginal people were permitted to enlist. Despite sharing a common bond and equality on the battlefield, Aboriginal servicemen and servicewomen that survived the conflicts were subjected to injustice and inequality when returning to Australia.

This mural which pays tribute to local Aboriginal people who represented Australia in war is a partnership between Greater Shepparton City Council, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Rumbalara Cooperative and Shepparton RSL. The mural will be painted during the first week of April 2018 and more information in relation to this mural will be made available closer to its commencement.

Council will commence preparation for Stage 3 of the Aboriginal Street Art Project. Council is very excited about the next stage of this project and will also look to engage locals who are able to paint Aboriginal art murals. Council with the support of both Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Rumbalara Cooperative aims to tell local Aboriginal stories through the murals which will educate the community in relation to the local Aboriginal history and culture within the region.

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