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First Nations Arts Projects

Access Arts partners with local organisations to deliver arts projects for First Nations Queenslanders living south of the Tropic of Capricorn. These are made possible with funding from Australian Government’s Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 

Person standing with woven skirt

Community Coming Together

Led by Ghungalou artist Roxanne Oakley, the Community Coming Together project connected the Woorabinda Police and Community Youth Club (PCYC) with local community members for a series of art events throughout August – December 2020.


Members painted material banners, the Women’s Group attended weekly weaving workshops and every class of Woorabinda Primary School enjoyed arts workshops. Their creations were proudly paraded during NAIDOC Week 2020.


The successful partnership between Access Arts, Central Queensland Regional Arts Services Network, the PCYC and Woorabinda Primary School, left an extraordinary legacy – with Roxane accepting a newly created Artist in Residence position (permanent part-time) at Woorabinda Primary School, and later being presented with the Woorabinda Deadly Award for 2020 Best Community Artist.

I really enjoyed myself and I’m very proud of myself, how far I have come with my art. I love supporting my community and working with the young people in art – something I have wanted to do for a long time.” Roxanne Oakley


The first encounters between Lt (later Captain) James Cook and his crew of the Bark ‘Endeavour’ with the local Gooreng Gooreng people, pre-dates the naming of the East Coast shore point now known as Seventeen Seventy.


The partnership between Access Arts, Gidarjil Development Corporation and other players at the 1770 Cultural Connections Festival gave life to the stories of Aboriginal peoples history in the area, their encounter with the Cook voyage, and the survival of Byellee, Gooreng Gooreng, Gurang and Taribelang Bunda peoples and cultures through to the present.

Person standing in a pink polo with a boomerang
People sitting outside weaving

Deadly Weaver Workshops in Woorabinda

Deadly Weaver, proud Wiradjuri woman living on Ngaro country, Felicity Chapman, first came to the attention of Access Arts in 2019 when she was awarded Highly Commended in the 2019 Access Arts Achievement Awards. We were very pleased to partner with Felicity and Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council in September 2020 to deliver a weaving and eco dyeing program to 60 people at Woorabinda Outstation.


The program, initiated by Woorabinda Arts Centre Manager, Kuku Yalanji/Koa and Miriam artist Nickeema Williams, saw participants weave necklaces, bracelets and baskets using natural grasses and dyes, feathers and beads; and with the support of weaver Leanne Odd learnt how to process natural fibres so that they can be used for weaving.


“I loved seeing the children getting involved and being creative…They really enjoyed it” workshop participant Jacinda Harrison, Central Queensland Indigenous Development Ltd

Minjerribah Dance Lab

Minjerribah Dance Lab was produced by BlakDance in partnership with Access Arts, Creative Arts Alliance, City of the Gold Coast and Queensland Yoolaburrabee Aboriginal Corporation.


A three-day cultural exchange program held 9 – 11 November on Quandamooka Country, saw nine emerging First Nations dancers from the South East Queensland region come together to learn new techniques as they connected to kinship and Country. Co-facilitators, Quandamooka woman Nix Gross and Bundjalung, Yugambeh, Wiradjuri and Ni Vanuatu man Thomas ES Kelly, challenged participants’ understanding of their own works and showcased their practice to industry professionals.


The closing community sharing day explored contemporary and cultural dance and circus, opening up new connections and future collaborations.

Four people dancing inside
Fried flowers and leaves with two baby dolls laying on it


In a partnership between Access Arts and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Birthing and Early Childhood Services in Salisbury, Rite of Passage celebrated the growth of a family unit from conception to passing. Between February and June 2021, the workshops for the extended families, including Nans and partners, explored designs on pregnant women’s belly casts that represented the journey of carrying babies, the journey of life, and the ups and downs during pregnancy.


Families made seed-bead necklaces and bracelets in ATSI colours and bowls from papier-mâché decorated with their story, while yarning with the IUIH team. Unfortunately due to lockdown, only one of the planned two-day celebrations could take place, however 89 community Elders, aunts, mums, dads, JarJums and babies came along on 25 June 2021 and celebrated.

“It was deadly to share my pregnancy journey through the art pieces Mum and I made together.”