Stockland Townsville celebrates Eldership with new photography exhibition.

4 min
06 July 2023

During NAIDOC Week (Sunday 2 July – Sunday 9 July 2023), Stockland Townsville will be hosting a photography exhibition ‘For Our Elders’, which celebrates four Elders in a series of black and white portraits by photographer Rob Hookey.

The photography exhibition is a collaboration between Stockland Townsville and local Indigenous company Big Eye Theatre, a self-funded organisation currently working with 120 First Nations artists across dance, poetry, storytelling, visual arts, and short plays.

Stockland Townsville Retail Manager, Kate Herrod said the photography exhibition is a great opportunity for people to come together and learn about the rich history, culture, and stories of the Elders and community.

“We listen to our communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to ensure diverse and inclusive representation when designing activations and events,” said Ms Herrod.

“The exhibition, photographed at Kissing Point in Townsville, showcases the stories of Elders who have played, and continue to play, instrumental roles and hold a prominent place in our communities and families. They are nurturers, protectors, knowledge holders, trailblazers, and teachers.

“We encourage anyone visiting the centre during NAIDOC Week, to join us for clapstick painting, dot art jewellery making, dance workshops, and weaving workshops,” added Ms Herrod.

Artist Rob Hookey said it was eye opening and humbling to hear the Elders’ stories and experiences about the struggles they went through.

“Participating in this project, connecting with Elders from the town I grew up in, and meeting new relatives that knew my grandparents, who have since passed, was special. My grandparents have stayed at the forefront of my mind and are the reason I strive to have excellence in my personal and professional lives,” said Mr Hookey.

“I left this experience feeling empowered, confident, and grateful for my grandparents and all other Elders. They have collectively made many sacrifices which have allowed me to be who I am today.”

The exhibition will be displayed at Stockland Townsville until 16 July 2023.

About Rob Hookey

  • Rob is a Waanyi Ngadjon man from Bindal, Wulgurukaba Country who currently lives on Gadigal Land.
  • Since beginning photography in 2016, Rob has worked with fashion labels such as David Jones and The Iconic.
  • He has worked with industry leading modelling agencies across Sydney, New York, London, Paris, and L.A.

About the Elders               

Alfred Smallwood

  • Alfred is a proud man of the Bindal/Barria clans of the Birrigubba Nation.
  • He has been working with men and boys in the correctional services system for many years, helping them deal with their issues as well as heal from them.

Dorothy Savage

  • Dorothy is a proud Bindal/Birria woman of the Birrigubba Nation.
  • In her professional career, she worked in Early Childhood and was a lecturer at the James Cook University.
  • She is passionate about her community and is currently a volunteer of the Townsville NAIDOC Committee and the Elders for Change group. Dorothy advocates for human rights, social justice, and the importance of education and support.

Helen Akee

  • Helen is a Sovereign Descendant of the Meriam Tribal-Nation of Murray Island, Torres Strait Island.
  • She is passionate about employment and economic and community development, health and wellbeing, families, human rights, and native title. Her other interests include the development of Our Sovereign First Nation Peoples and the democratic ethics on Truth and Justice that impact Sovereign nationhood.
  • She is a former tri-sector public servant with political interest for the betterment of First Nations people and their communities.

James Saltner

  • James is a descendant of the Wulli Wulli Djakunda Janugrie Janugrie tribes of Central Queensland around the Rockhampton area.
  • He was a founding member of the Townsville Walkabout Sport and Rec Corporation in 1989, which helps young men to develop a future in football.

About Stockland’s Reconciliation Action Plan

  • At Stockland we believe that we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to create the right balance of social, environmental and economic conditions for our communities, customers and investors now and in the future. As such, we have a responsibility to ensure we embrace the varied and rich cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.
  • Our Stockland Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2020 – 2022 (RAP) aims to make a valuable contribution to our communities and our country by helping shape thriving communities that value, respect and celebrate Australia’s First Peoples.
  • Stockland is currently partnering with Reconciliation Australia to develop its Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which will be released later this year.
  • Our focus on initiatives and programs in the areas of wellbeing, education and community connection will allow us to create a deeper understanding and better embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ heritage and their role as the original custodians of Australia.

About National NAIDOC Week

  • National NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia in the first week of July each year (Sunday to Sunday), to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about  First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth.
  • NAIDOC - National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee.