First Nations Storytelling

Diabetes Australia acknowledges First Nations peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this country. We recognise their connection to land, waters and culture. We pay the upmost respect to them, their cultures and to their Elders past, present and future.

We recognise that Australia is made up of hundreds of different First Nations peoples, each with their own culture, language and belief systems. Their relationship with country remains of utmost importance as it is the foundation for culture, family and kinships, song lines and languages.

The Artwork

As part of National Reconciliation Week, Diabetes Australia has partnered with Waanyi–Kalkadoon artist Keisha Leon to tell the story of diabetes and its significant impact of First Nations peoples.

First Nations peoples are up to four times more likely than other Australians to develop diabetes and are many times more likely to experience complications.

The visual story has been specifically designed to help build greater awareness and understanding of diabetes and work toward creating healthier communities.

The symbolism behind the design considers the impact of diabetes on communities and the barriers that prevent people and communities from accessing health care. The artwork depicts the positive journey of increased awareness, connection and support First Nation’s people can take towards a healthier future.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement manager Chris Lee explains: “Storytelling is an important part of the way First Nations people share their history and knowledge. We wanted a design that really spoke to people in a language they recognised.

“Diabetes is doing tremendous damage to First Nations people. We all know people who have it, who’ve developed complications from it and, most tragically, people who’ve died from it.

“I hope the artwork will take First Nations people on a journey. By yarning about health, we can grow our connections and work towards healthier communities for future generations.”

The Symbolism

The blue line running through the artwork symbolises the health pathway. It represents the different parts of a health journey and the positive pathway it takes to a healthier living

Key Messages

The Artist

Keisha Leon is an Aboriginal Graphic Designer and Artist. Keisha is a proud Waanyi–Kalkadoon (Mount Isa, Queensland) and Chinese woman. Keisha creates a visual story that is driven by culture and the modern world, connecting people, and helping create the narrative for the future.

“I do come from a large family that unfortunately suffers from a lot of the health problems that are greater (statistically) to Aboriginal people – including diabetes. I do value the work Diabetes Australia are doing to close that gap and break down the myths and fears around diabetes. I hope the work we do today means that future generations will be able to make empowered decisions over their health, without the negative stigma and barriers that are around today.

“This piece of art helps to break down the myths and fears we have of diabetes. It is making help more available, in particular to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people where there is still a growing health gap compared to non-Indigenous people. Hopefully the artwork can build greater awareness and create positive connections to Diabetes Australia.”

Keisha Leon talks to 4MW radio about her artwork and her inspiration

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