NRMA partner with indigenous artists to connect roads to land

NRMA Insurance has partnered with three local Aboriginal Land Councils and three Aboriginal artists to create artworks to appear on billboards in NSW. The artworks have been created to help increase awareness about the traditional lands of First Nations people from Wonnarua, Wiradjuri and Dharawal countries.

The three artworks were created by First Nations artists who have a connection to each community and will be placed on the Princes Highway in Heathcote, the Newell Highway south of Dubbo and the New England Highway south of Singleton in time for NAIDOC Week.

Aboriginal artist Debra Beale has created a piece of aboriginal art which is now featured in Whittingham along the New England Highway.

Aboriginal artist Debra Beale has created a piece of aboriginal art which is now featured in Whittingham along the New England Highway.

NRMA Insurance Executive Manager for Safer Communities Phil Lockyer said the artworks are designed to create awareness among the many Australians who drive across the country each year.

"Our artworks are designed to create awareness and help drivers connect with the land as they pass through, and contribute to a proud and shared national identify for all Australians.

"We hope to work with local communities, Land Councils and First Nations artists from around New South Wales to create similar signs. We'd welcome other organisations and communities to join us in honouring 50,000 plus years of the First Nations history and heritage in New South Wales," Mr Lockyer said.

Debra Beale, a Wonnarua woman who is also part of the Palawa and Yorta Yorta Nations, created the artwork featured in the road sign acknowledging Wonnarua Country.

"My artwork is about family and community and reflects my connection to the Wonnarua country through family on my father's side. My inspiration comes from my deep connection to country and Aboriginal cultural practices, and the symbolism in my artwork represents the Australian First Nations people, our animals and the landscape. This road sign will document my journey for my grandchildren and children to come."

The artworks have been welcomed by First Nations communities in Wonnarua, Dharawal and Wiradjuri.

Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation CEO Laurie Perry said: "The signs will highlight the First Nations countries in a way that has not been done before."

Dharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Robyn Straub said: "The billboards are beautiful and powerful."

NRMA Insurance is a proud supporter of First Nations communities and the Reconciliation movement in Australia. In February 2019, NRMA Insurance's parent company IAG launched an Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), its third RAP.

The RAP outlines commitments such as providing employment and internship opportunities to First Nations people, as well as supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.

In June this year, IAG joined 13 major organisations during National Reconciliation Week in support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for the establishment of a First Nations voice in the constitution.

Wonnarua artist Debra Beale.

Wonnarua artist Debra Beale.