CHILDREN in Mount Gambier residential care homes have welcomed opportunities to express their creativity while learning about Boandik culture through an ac.care initiative.

Aboriginal woman Bonnie Saunders-Waye has created striking artworks symbolically representing the children living in three homes she visited as part of the cultural engagement program.

“I knew most of the children already through my previous work in education and ac.care events, but two special little people I met had a massive impact on my views and perception of the residential care homes and what they offer to our local children,” Bonnie said.

“They showed me kindness, love and their resilience was amazing – I was humbled to sit and learn about and from them.

“We drew together, had a yarn and although from different country to my own and having limited information about their Aboriginal culture, we were able to connect.”

CONNECTING THROUGH ART: Children in Mount Gambier residential care homes worked with Aboriginal artist Bonnie Saunders-Waye to create striking artworks.

She said art allowed her to share cultural pride and personal connection with the young people and she welcome the opportunity to contribute to their learning.

“Two little champions helped form the concepts for this series of paintings and I hope to spend more time with the children to watch them grow, learn about them and myself in the process,” she said.

Children in each home selected colours for the paintings and discussed the symbolism of the art that now brightens their walls.

“They are represented by three beautiful big seed pods, representing their birth, and although their journeys are unique and can be complex, they have led to them all living in these homes,” she said.

“Children in these homes make friends that hopefully form a new family structure or add to the one they have already, represented by the seed pods that stem from the middle big seed pods as they make connections and memories.

“They are able to take these friendships with them as they grow into the final seed pod, which is when they are old enough to leave the home, entering a new journey independent of ac.care and they take with them the memories and what they have learnt to the next chapter of their lives.”

CULTURAL PRIDE: Bonnie Saunders-Waye said her experience in an ac.care cultural engagement program had a “massive impact” on her views and perception of residential care homes. She has previously created artwork celebrating culture at ac.care’s Mount Gambier Family Relationship Centre.

Bonnie said she hoped to engage with other projects with the children and ac.care.

“I find it very humbling because working with children is my passion – I know that as a child I remember certain adults in my life who gave me time, gave me praise and sat and listened to my thoughts and helped shape who I am today,” she said.

“Some of the children who live in these homes have experienced trauma and loss, grief and neglect, but I found they were still so happy and supported and there are not enough words to express my appreciation for the workers and how much they give of themselves to the children – their love and care for each child.”

The project, delivered as part of ac.care Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, also involves Boandik Elders Aunty Michelle Jaquelin-Furr and Uncle Ken Jones spending time with the children and taking them to regional locations to share stories and knowledge of local Aboriginal culture.

ac.care Locations

ac.care is a dynamic organisation servicing the South Australian communities the Limestone Coast, Murraylands, Riverland, Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula.

Our mission is for all country people to have a safe home, enough money to live on and strong, positive relationships.

Please find our service locations here or use our contact form to request a service.

Mount Gambier
Head office and Foster Care

70-72 White Avenue Mount Gambier, SA 5290
PO Box 1842 Mount Gambier SA 5290
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Mount Gambier
Community Centre

22-24 Ferrers Street Mount Gambier, SA 5290
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Mount Gambier
Family Relationship Centre

1 Helen Street (cnr Bay Road) Mount Gambier, SA 5290
Monday
9am to 5pm
Tuesday
10:30am to 5pm
Wednesday
9am to 5pm
Thursday
9am to 5pm
Later by appt
Friday
9am to 5pm

Berri Community Centre
Servicing the Riverland

5 Kealley Street Street Berri, SA 5343
PO Box 1345 Berri, SA 5343
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Murraylands Centre
Servicing the Murraylands, Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula

29 Bridge Street Murray Bridge, SA 5253
PO Box 2090 Murray Bridge, SA 5253
Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm

Millicent
Community Centre

57-59 George Street Millicent, SA 5280
PO Box 378 Millicent, SA 5280
Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm
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