Tambo artists’ work to grace health service First Nations Health Equity strategy

Coming Together on the banks of the Tambo Dam – from left – Health Equity Senior Planning Officer Tia Whyman, Aunty Ann Russell, Health Equity Principal Planning Officer Harry Pitt and Deann Frousheger.

As a part of a call for expressions of interest, Tambo artists and proud Bidjara women Ann Russell and Deann Frousheger have produced a unique artwork, Coming Together.

The query came from the Central West Hospital and Health Service as a part of its First Nations Health Equity Strategy.

Central West Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Dan Carter said the health service was in the process of finalising said strategy.

“We expect to launch the strategy later in the year, and we were keen to have a unique piece of First Nations art commissioned to illustrate the strategy document throughout,’’ he said.

“We wanted the artwork to tell a story that linked the delivery of health services with First Nations culture.

“We called for Expressions of Interest and Aunty Ann and her daughter Deann have done us very proud indeed with their contribution which we have selected.’’

The mother and daughter team worked together on the traditional piece.

“Our artwork shows the fine line connection that runs between the local communities linked by the river system and the medical professionals that visit our district of the Central West,’’ Aunty Ann said.

“The meeting places connected together in the artwork represent the towns in the Central West district—all linked with the river system.

“The handprints represent the local services that are in our communities.

“The footprints represent the visiting health professionals that come to our communities.

“The animal prints are emu, kangaroo and echidna tracks, while the border represents the continued communication between all of our communities.’’

Aunty Ann said she and Deann worked mostly in acrylics and pens to create artworks that told the story of their connection to the land.

“Working together enables our art to create tangible memories while sharing knowledge and respect for our culture,’’ she said.

“There is a voice in our works. It sings to the spirit of who we are as women.

“It connects us.’’

Aunty Ann said she and Deann had helped run multiple art workshops for the Central West Aboriginal Co-operative in their community, with the resulting works contributed to the opening of the art gallery in Barcaldine.

“We also worked with the Tambo community and with fellow Indigenous artists Aunty Joyce Crombie and Aunty Jean Barr-Crombie as well as Red Ridge Interior Queensland to create pieces of the story of the river in flood,’’ she said.

“Most of our paintings are done for pleasure and most of the time we gift our painting to family or friends.’’

Mr Carter said Central West Health was dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the region.

“We are strongly committed to improving our services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents and to delivering them in culturally appropriate ways,’’ he said.

“But achieving this requires much more than the provision of clinical services, it requires us to have an understanding and respect of cultural differences and needs, and a commitment to applying this understanding across all areas of the health service.

“As part of this process, Central West Health has been developing a strategic plan to deliver health services in a way that is fair and equitable, as well as culturally appropriate.

“This is what we will be delivering later in the year and Ann and Deann’s work Coming Together will be a fitting contribution to the final document.

“We truly appreciate their creative effort.’’