Inmate finds new lease on life through art for council

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Indigenous art will brighten the walls of a Blacktown City Council childcare centre and teach the children about Aboriginal culture after an inmate donated his artwork at a handover ceremony at Parklea Correctional Centre.

Roger, who is unable to participate in physical work due to his illness, has spent recent months painting the dreamtime stories he learned as a child from his artist grandfather and father. He has now passed these stories and painting skills on to his children and grandchildren to help preserve his culture.

The Dunghutti man grew up around the ocean and the rivers on the NSW Mid North Coast and his father was a Yuin man from the NSW South Coast.

His favourite paintings are about the ocean and the animals that live in it. Roger creates about two small paintings a week, and larger ones take a couple of months. He gets the ideas from his dreams.

“I dream about the outside, and if I dream it tonight, that’s what I put in my next painting,” Roger said.

He said painting had helped with his physical and mental health.

“Painting takes me out of this place and it makes me happy. I can sit and paint and forget about where I am.”

The inmate wanted to donate his work to the childcare centre as he said children liked the vivid colours in Aboriginal painting and he wanted to give something back to the community.

Parklea Correctional Centre Governor Paul Baker said the inmates’ art was some of the most impressive works he had seen and it was important he was able to create his art.

“Our mission at Parklea Correctional Centre is to run a safe, decent and secure prison that reduces reoffending and takes care of staff,” Mr Baker said.

“It’s our duty here to support men of every background, and it’s important we have initiatives that connect Aboriginal inmates to their country.

“Creative programs are an integral part of our education and reducing reoffending strategies here at Parklea and can help improve inmates’ mental health and wellbeing.

“Art allows people to express who they are and adds value to them as a person.”

Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM said the council was honoured to receive the intricate and personal pieces created by such a talented Aboriginal artist.

“Art has the ability to transform and inspire, and it is wonderful to see this man using his skill to give back to the community,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“These vibrant paintings will be proudly displayed at council-owned facilities, including our Kids’ Early Learning Centres, in the hope that they will bring joy to those who see them and teach the wider community about the power and importance of Aboriginal art, culture, and storytelling.”

MTC-Broadspectrum has managed Parklea on behalf of Corrective Services NSW since 2019.

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