NAIDOC Week celebrations, which first began in 1975, are held across Australia each year between 7 and 14 July, celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a great opportunity for all Australians to participate in a range of activities and support their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

This year’s theme chosen by the National NAIDOC Committee, is Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud & Proud.

The theme honours the enduring strength and vitality of First Nations culture – with fire a symbol of connection to Country, to each other, and to the rich tapestry of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ traditions.

At Australian Mutual Bank, we recognise the significance of building respectful ongoing relationships with First Nations communities. As part of our NAIDOC week celebrations, we collaborated with Wiradjuri & Yorta Yorta artist Joanne Cassady of Balgarra Designs in an employee engagement event known as ‘artist in residence’, where staff were invited to contribute to a meaningful art piece.

The event took place over two days, giving the team the opportunity to pick up a paint brush or a painting pen and let their creative juices flow, whilst drawing inspiration from Joanne’s stories and guidance to turn out a beautiful artwork. Joanne also discussed Aboriginal patterns and symbols and spent time yarning with the staff, enriching the experience with cultural insights.

We had previously partnered with Joanne for our very first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). In addition to creating the custom artwork for the Australian Mutual Bank’s RAP, Joanne is also a long-standing member of the bank, with a relationship spanning over 30 years.

The staff had a great time, describing the event as insightful, fun and therapeutic. There are definitely a few budding artists among us! The artwork will be proudly displayed at our Surry Hills office.

Joanne shared some kind words on her Instagram account @balgarra_designs_official:

This is why I love what I do.

It’s not all about the artwork, it’s the conversations, the people, the kindness and inspiration from meeting such wonderful people.

I love what @australianmutualbank is doing in community and for community. (This is just a drop in the ocean for what they do!)

I loved working here for two days and collaborating on a beautiful piece that their wonderful staff got to contribute in.

I had a ball and a great start to another fantastic NAIDOC week. I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

A huge thank you to Joanne for sharing her wisdom and talent with us, and we look forward to working with her again in the near future.

To learn more about NAIDOC Week visit

11 July 2024