Swinburne student, Katie Bugden, celebrates her winning artwork in a competition supporting this year’s NAIDOC Week theme of ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’.
For Ms Bugden, who is currently in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and majors in Science and English, NAIDOC Week is about “coming to understand that Australia’s First Nations people aren’t going anywhere.”
“This is our land that we’ve always had and will always be connected to,” says Ms Bugden.
Swinburne is committed to ensuring Indigenous heritage, knowledge and cultures are recognised by our community and embedded into our work.
To celebrate NAIDOC Week this year, Swinburne Student Life held a competition in which Indigenous students submitted their artwork to be printed on a T-Shirt and beanie for Razor's merchandise store.
Four finalists were chosen for the competition: Emily Gittins, Isabeau Colls, Rudi Taylor Bragge and Katie Bugden. From this selection, Swinburne Student Life held a public vote - with Ms Bugden receiving the most votes.
Ms Bugden's artwork employs contemporary colour palettes whilst bringing forward traditional symbols.
Ms Bugden said she felt her sense of storytelling was strengthened through her artwork and participation in the competition.
“The recognition from other people seeing the story I was trying to tell made me feel like I could express my story and show exactly who I am,” says Ms Bugden.
“My artwork is about not forgetting our ancestors and honouring them in a contemporary way. It’s about being the voice of the future and carrying forward culture and tradition.”
The Indigenous Student Services Team at the Moondani Toombadool Centre (MTC) encouraged Ms Bugden’s vision with her artwork and have been a contact of great support in partnership with Swinburne.
“The MTC Team have always helped me out wherever they can; from writing scholarship recommendations to understanding the student workload stress, they have encouraged me more than anyone ever has, especially as an Indigenous supporter,” she says.
NAIDOC Week celebrations are typically held across Australia in the first two weeks of July. In response to the COVID-19 situation, this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations will be held from 8-15 November instead.
While official celebrations have been postponed, Swinburne and the MTC arranged a variety of activities to celebrate Indigenous culture and reflect on the significance of the week.
In 2020, Swinburne created a package of online events and activities to encourage students and staff to celebrate NAIDOC Week together remotely, including online speaking events with Indigenous leaders, workshops, and yoga sessions.
Swinburne Student Life is currently in the process of manufacturing merchandise with Ms Bugden’s artwork.
The MTC team also supports Indigenous students with their study plans and experience at Swinburne. To get in contact with an Indigenous Student Advisor, please call +61 3 9214 8481.