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A Gumbaynnggirr artist hopes his painting on display at Coffs Harbour Service NSW Centre will help embed inclusiveness in the community.

Ruben Browne’s dotted painting ‘Gumbaynnggirr Country Reflection’ tells a story of the connection from the Gaagal (ocean/sea) winding along the Coffs Creek estuary waterway connecting the bush walking tracks to and from an old Aboriginal campsite.

The artwork was selected to feature in the Service Centre by Aboriginal Elders part of the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council and Garlambirla Elders Group.

The centrepiece of the painting is an Aboriginal yarning circle where local Aboriginal families and visitors would gather to meet and yarn.

Established following staff and customer feedback, the Service NSW Aboriginal Artwork Initiative aims to strengthen engagement with and acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as make local centres more welcoming and an inclusive environment for all people.

Coffs Harbour is the fourth of ten Service Centres to participate in the initiative and engage with their local Aboriginal community including Elders and community organisations to display a local Aboriginal artist’s work. It follows a successful pilot program at Kempsey and Moree in 2022.

Team members from Service NSW Centres across the State work closely with local Aboriginal community groups and attend community events to increase awareness of government services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Service NSW also offers an Aboriginal Traineeship Program and partners with a group training organisation to provide an employment pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Quotes to be attributed to Service NSW Regional Manager, Jeremy Conlon: "Thank you to Ruben for sharing his impressive artwork and helping educate us about the Gumbaynnggirr people – their rich history, culture and their stories.”

“At our Service Centres, our teams strive to ensure we are accessible and inclusive of all our communities and the Aboriginal Artwork Initiative is one way we want to maintain a sense of belonging and place of welcome for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

“I hope local customers will stop to view, enjoy and reflect on Ruben’s artwork when they visit the Service Centre, ensuring we continue to strengthen our bonds with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”

Quotes to be attributed to Artist, Ruben Browne: “The inspiration for this painting was to highlight past local Aboriginal Gumbaynnggirr people who lived at the old Aboriginal campsite at Fitzroy oval – a meeting place or a yarning circle in our culture.”

“My father taught me art from an early age and influenced my artistic development with his inherent cultural knowledge and artwork which has continued to keep me connected to my culture and heritage.”

“I hope sharing my artwork with Coffs Harbour Service Centre begins to embed workplace and community inclusiveness.”

“I feel it is not only important for this art initiative but all government and non-government services to aim to recognise and consult with local Aboriginal community members to further develop cultural acknowledgement and programs within the area.”