Acknowledgement of Country
Acknowledgement of Country
The Tenants’ Union of New South Wales recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the First Peoples of Australia. Our office is on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.
In keeping with the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, the TU acknowledges that the land in the State of New South Wales is of spiritual, social, cultural and economic importance to Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the land. It is fitting to acknowledge the importance which all land in NSW has for the Aboriginal people and the need of the Aboriginal people for the land. The TU acknowledges that as a result of past government decisions, the amount of land set aside for Aboriginal people has been progressively reduced without compensation.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are also over-represented in NSW renter households. The TU acknowledges the present and historical disadvantage faced by Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander People and the role of government policies, past and present and racism throughout Australia in creating this disadvantage and the impact of this disadvantage on tenancy and housing issues.
The TU acknowledges that a lack of support for non-tenancy issues such as mental health issues, financial hardship, substance dependence, family violence and disabilities can often lead to an escalation of tenancy issues and result in tenants receiving termination notices and/or suffering other negative outcomes such as accruing large rent arrears.
Artwork by Aboriginal Artist Pauline Coxon
Aboriginal Artist Pauline Coxon created this brilliant painting about tenancy issues. Pauline used to be a Tenant Advocate. The Tenants’ Union of NSW commissioned her to paint anything that inspired her about tenancy. We're so happy with the painting and the powerful messages it contains! Thanks Pauline. If you would like to learn more about Pauline, please visit her website: paulinecoxon.com. Pauline explains the painting below.
About the artwork
By Pauline Syron Coxon – the artist
This painting has been inspired by the logo of the Tenants’ Union of NSW but with a Koori design and symbolism. The four squares are Community, Key to Success, Lending a Hand and Making Tracks to Your Tenancy, Coming Home. I used Australian Aboriginal generic symbols such as the camp ground for community, the rainbow serpent and the bush foods. The tools I used are all commonly used by Aboriginal communities. The tracks and the animals I choose are also found throughout NSW. I did not wish to use symbols, foods or tracks that were particularly from my country Worimi and Biripi Country, as I really wanted to connect to all Aboriginal communities. I felt that it was culturally appropriate to use universal symbols such as the Rainbow Serpent and the Southern Cross as they are easy recognisable symbols that all Australians connect with including the Aboriginal community. I wanted the painting to visually tell a story and that all cultures would be able to interpret. I also wanted the painting to be visually appealing and interesting, so it drew the viewer into the message. I present the final painting with great excitement!
The painting begins with Community (lower left). This image has as its centre a camp site, with different family structures and individuals represented. Looking at the people there are adults with children, single adults with children and adults without children. The community is looking for home and they are in need of a tenancy. The camp site in the centre represents their tenancy but they all are unable to reach it at the moment. The community has to reach out for support.
Key to Success
This image (lower right) is one of the directions that the community may go to obtain their tenancy. The Rainbow Serpent is an Aboriginal dreamtime story icon that represents creation. The rainbow serpent is within the key to a successful tenancy with the support of abundance and resources. The bush tucker represents this abundance, with purple Bush Plums, red Lilly Pilly’s and orange Yams. A healthy community has a healthy tenancy that can be sustained.
Lending a Hand
This image (upper left) represents another direction that the community may wish to go. By giving advice and advocacy, the Network of Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services is able to lend a hand. The tools surrounding the helping hand are from the bottom and going in a clockwise direction: Hunting Spear, Woomera, Shield, Boomerang, Stone Axe, Digging Stick, Fishing Spear, Dilly Bag, Colomon, Grinding Stone and Bowl, Non-Return Boomerang, Nulla Nulla, and Clap Sticks. By utilising the tools, the community will find the keys to their tenancy in the palm of their hand. The community only has to reach out to access the tools.
Making Tracks to Your Tenancy, Coming Home
This image (upper right) is the final destination for the community to arrive, and that is coming home. The tracks surrounding the house are all on their journey to the entry of their tenancy. Starting on the left hand side and going in a clockwise direction you will notice the tracks of a Lizard, Koala, Kangaroo, Man, Emu, Dingo, Platypus and Echidna. All are equal and represent the totems of our ancestors and the diversity of our community today. The Southern Cross is a symbol of our great southern land and traditionally was used to navigate the land. A tenant stands illuminated with light in the door way, they have made tracks to their tenancy and are coming home.