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Battle Against Cancer: New Aboriginal art connects culture to care

02 Mar 2022


Family, culture, strength and support are at the heart of a new artwork welcoming Aboriginal people to the Nepean Cancer & Wellness Centre.

Titled ‘Battle Against Cancer’, the art is the creation of 19-year-old local artist, Aiesha Pettit-Young, a proud Wiradjuri and Wongaibon descendant.

The artwork is a particularly personal creation for Ms Pettit-Young, who says, “Cancer has affected my family these past three years. This artwork is for my family and others who are experiencing this too.”

“I hope my art encourages Aboriginal patients to keep fighting and stay strong. To know they’ve got a thousand ancestors walking behind them and they can come in here and feel comfortable culturally,” Ms Pettit-Young says.

Ms Pettit-Young created her artwork in response to an invitation from the Nepean Cancer & Wellness Centre, who sought submissions from local Aboriginal artists to help create a more positive, welcoming and culturally appropriate environment for patients, carers and visitors.

As the winning artwork, elements of Ms Pettit-Young’s piece have also been incorporated into the facility’s wayfinding features that help guide patients to their appointments.

Inclusive initiatives such as this can help make a difference to the experience of Aboriginal people accessing health services, the young artist says.

“I know that a lot of mob struggle accessing services if they don’t feel like they have any support. I hope that as soon as they walk through the doors here, they see my painting and they feel comfortable to be here and get the help they need.”

“It might be a small thing, but the painting and the art on the walls here could mean so much to someone when they walk through. It shows the organisation is an ally and it shows that you respect the traditional owners. Things like this matter,” Ms Pettit-Young says.

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District Director, Community & Integration, Cathy Crowe says, “As a health service, we’ve made significant steps to engage with the local community and include Aboriginal arts and culturally welcoming spaces in our buildings. To have a young artist like Aiesha, who is clearly so talented, represented at the Nepean Cancer & Wellness Centre is very special.”

The Aboriginal artwork installation is proudly supported by Multicultural Access Project’s Steering Committee Members. The Project is funded under the Cancer Institute NSW’s Innovation in Cancer Control Multicultural Grants Program, which was received by the Nepean Cancer Service in partnership with the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s Multicultural Health Services. The Committee recognise the importance of this initiative in creating a welcoming and culturally safe space for all community members.