Telstra acknowledges traditional owners across Australia

Media Release, 26 June 2013

In recognition of its commitment to reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Telstra has rolled out a commissioned piece of Indigenous artwork across its 365 national retail stores and 88 business centres.

The Telstra Reconciliation Action artwork by renowned Indigenous artist, Riki Salam, is now a feature on the front door of all Telstra stores alongside Telstra’s Acknowledgement Statement which reads: “Telstra acknowledges the Traditional Owners of this land, their ancestors and elders – and is committed to
reconciliation among all Australians”.

The artwork connects the three pillars of Telstra’s Reconciliation Action Plan – Our Customers, Our Communities, Our People – and calls for connection, celebration and action. Telstra’s Indigenous Directorate General Manager, Lauren Ganley, said that: “Telstra has a long and proud commitment to supporting and recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

“Our Reconciliation Action Plan focuses on providing access to communications, employment opportunities, and support for education, arts and culture to help secure a brighter future for Indigenous Australians.

“The acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land where our stores are located is a small but genuine show of respect that we’re very proud of. It’s reflective of the business’ values and is another way of connecting with our community. This is part of who we are.

“At Telstra, we believe that reconciliation is everybody’s business and united we can achieve real change,” Ms Ganley added.

Telstra also supports ‘Recognise’, the national conversation about updating our constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture for the benefit of all Australians.

Mr Salam, creative director at indigenous agency Gilimbaa, said the move was a milestone for Australian business.

“Placing the piece in such a prominent location in all stores is a great example of corporate Australia embracing indigenous culture and promoting inclusion in a high profile, visible way,” Mr Salam said.

“I’m proud that I was able to translate Telstra’s vision into an artwork that calls for action and recognises the traditional owners.”

About Gilimbaa

Gilimbaa is an Indigenous-owned and operated creative agency. It is an accredited supplier under Supply Nation (formerly AIMSC), of which Telstra is a member. It also works with other companies including CBA, Qantas, NRL, NAB, BP, Lend Lease and Woolworths.

About Artist Riki Salam, Creative Director of Gilimbaa

Born and raised in Cairns, Riki’s father is a Torres Strait man from Moa Island who was relocated to Mossman at the beginning of World War II. His mother is a Ngai Tahu (Maori) woman from Kai Poi, near Christchurch in New Zealand.

After studying Visual Art and Design in Brisbane, Riki honed his craft at renowned Indigenous art studio Balarinji under the guidance of artists and owners John and Ros Moriarty.

During his career, Riki has worked on many high-profile projects including QANTAS’s Yananyi Dreaming, and worked with Indigenous Artists Co-operative Larrakia Nation (based in Darwin), conducting artists workshops and creative brainstorming sessions.

Riki created his artwork for Telstra from a dream he had that was all about communities connecting.

About the artwork

The Telstra Reconciliation Action Plan artwork represents connection.

Each circle on the perimeter represents different Country, connected by the three pillars of Telstra’s Reconciliation Action Plan: Our Customers, Our Communities, Our People. These pillars merge at the centre point of the artwork, the place of ceremony.

Three coolamon lie side by side. These are wooden vessels carrying artefacts of the celebration: seeds and yams, ochre and paint, or even a new born baby. These three pieces represent the core values of the Reconciliation Action Plan – Opportunities, Relationships and Respect.

At the centre of the piece, a man hurls a bull roarer, a traditional device used to hail people far and wide to join the celebration. Telstra’s Reconciliation Action Plan is like that bull roarer; it calls for connection, it calls for celebration, and it calls for action.