Local Kalkadoon contemporary Indigenous artist Brooke Sutton was recently commissioned to create a bespoke artwork for the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
The painting called Artii Nganthi, which means Birthing Tree in the Kalkadoon Language, will be used on all collateral for the Our Kids Count campaign.
Over the next few months the campaign will also include the launch of a new Queensland Indigenous birth certificate, which will also feature Brooke's artwork.
“In this painting the birthing tree is in centre of the artwork as it is the main focus of the piece, a place where aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women breath life and give birth,” Brooke said.
“The leaves of the tree represent the generations that have come before us and the roots of the tree is a strong foundation which helps to build and grow a better future for our kids, because we count and our kids count.
“The dots in the background represent the generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been registered at birth, making it easier to complete tasks which are so much harder without a birth certificate.
“These include enrolling in school, applying for a tax file number to obtain a job or applying for a licence or passport, all of which need a birth certificate, which is everybody’s business.”
The artwork was unveiled at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Brisbane recently with Brooke, The Deputy Director-General Jennifer Laing and the Attorney-General launching The Closing the Registration Gap strategy and action plan as part of the Our Kids Count campaign.
The strategy recognises that the rate of birth registration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies is much lower than non-Indigenous births.
90 per cent of non-Indigenous births were registered within the first 60 days of birth and 96 per cent within the first year of the child’s birth.
However, the rate of birth registration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is much lower, with only 62 per cent registered in the first 60 days and 78 per cent within the first year.
Family bond a strong theme in artwork
Brooke said other features of her Birthing Tree artwork showcased the strong bonds of family and the journey through life from birth to adulthood.
“The large aqua circles around the tree and the white dotted lines connecting the painting together are the spirit trails which represents everyone working together and moving forward as well as our connection to one another,” she said.
“The pink dotted circles connected by the pink lines represent the children’s growth from conception to birth, which is where the children’s story starts being born under the sun and moon.
“The brown and pink mountains and the blue and green waves around the outside of the piece represents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s connection to the land, sea and to country.”