A pathway to health – Celebrating National Reconciliation Week with the launch of new First Nations artwork

Diabetes Australia has partnered with emerging First Nations artist Keisha Leon on the development of new artwork to tell the story of diabetes and its significant impact on First Nations people.

The new artwork was released today as part of Diabetes Australia’s National Reconciliation Week activities.

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said the artwork, by Waanyi-Kalkadoon artist Keisha Leon, will help the organisation to raise awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and engage First Nations communities in a culturally appropriate way.

“It is estimated that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in First Nations people is up to four times higher than other Australians and they are much more likely to experience the debilitating impacts of diabetes complications like blindness, limb amputation, heart disease and kidney failure,” Professor Johnson said.

“In every First Nations community, diabetes is doing tremendous damage. We must do more to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes, prevent the serious complications, and make communities healthier places to live. We need to do all three – harder and faster.

“If we are going to have any success in doing this, we need to work in partnership with First Nations peoples and communities – and provide support and education that is culturally appropriate, accessible and meaningful. We are very proud to have worked with Keisha and have artwork that we can now use to communicate and connect in a more powerful way.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Manager Chris Lee, a proud Larrakia man, said the art drew on the long tradition of storytelling in First Nations communities.

“Keisha’s artwork considers the impact of diabetes on communities and the barriers preventing people 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,” Mr Lee said.

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

Keisha Leon, a proud Waanyi–Kalkadoon woman and graphic designer, knows the struggle many Indigenous communities face firsthand.

“I do come from a large family that unfortunately suffers from a lot of the health problems that have a bigger impact on Aboriginal people – including diabetes. I do value the work Diabetes Australia is doing to close that gap and break down the myths and fears around diabetes,” Keisha said.

“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.”

View the artwork and find out more here.