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Dot painting mural celebrates reconciliation at Brotherhood of St Laurence

Christinaray Weetra's vibrant dot painting mural celebrates reconciliation through the metaphor of rivers.

Artist Christinaray Weetra (left) and Wurundjeri Elder Georgina Nicholson at the unveiling of a mural celebrating Reconciliation Week.

By Sharon Lee

June 10 2016A mural celebrating a commitment to reconciliation has been unveiled at the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Fitzroy head office to mark Reconciliation Week.

Visual Arts student Christinaray Weetra created the vibrant dot painting mural, unveiled at a ceremony on 31 May by Brotherhood Executive Director Tony Nicholson.

Ms Weetra, 23, said reconciliation is close to her heart, as an Indigenous woman of the Warumunga people. She said she drew on the powerful metaphor of rivers in the work.

“The rivers show how the Brotherhood has carved its own way. The path started off small, all those years ago, and developed into something big — helping people, meeting people, making impressions on people, giving them a chance,” she said.

Wurundjeri Elder Georgina Nicholson presented a Welcome to Country at the launch event, attended by dual Indigenous Olympian Kyle Vander Kuyp, Brotherhood staff and Archbishop Philip Freier, who is Chair of the Brotherhood Board.

The innovative Education First Youth Foyers program in Melbourne has allowed Ms Weetra to pursue her education and career goals, despite a childhood marred by family violence and homelessness. The Brotherhood runs the program in partnership with Launch Housing and two TAFE institutes, with support from the Victorian Government.

“The Education First Youth Foyer in Broadmeadows has given me the chance to study art at RMIT, so I know first-hand the Brotherhood’s work can transform lives,” Ms Weetra said.

The foyers — in Broadmeadows on the Kangan Institute campus and Glen Waverley at the Holmesglen Institute — each house 40 young people in studio apartments with shared communal areas, supervised by trained staff around the clock. Support services include career guidance, employment assistance, mentoring, mental and physical health support and assistance with involvement in volunteer activities.

Almost 90 per cent of those now taking part in the program are doing some combination of work and study. About 80 per cent leave the foyer with a Year 12 certificate or higher, and 90 per cent did voluntary work while they were living there.

Ms Weetra spent three years in the program, living first at Glen Waverley and then at the Broadmeadows foyer. She now lives with two friends in a share house, while continuing her studies.

Sharon Lee is Acting Communications Manager at the Brotherhood of St Laurence.