Police station painting may help community members feel more welcome
Historically, encounters between police and Indigenous Australians haven’t always been positive. Greg Smith and Nellie Rankine hope to change that.
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Police stations aren’t always the most welcoming places to visit, but Greg Smith and Nellie Rankine hope to change that.
On Friday, the pair unveiled a new painting by Ms Rankine, a Ngarrindjeri artist, in the Murray Bridge station’s foyer.
Titled Ngurunderi Dreaming, it shows Ponde, the great cod of local Indigenous legend, in the act of creating the River Murray.
It will hang in Murray Bridge for a time before being taken around and shown at each of the 15 other police stations in the Murray Mallee local service area.
Senior Constable Smith, a liaison between SA Police and the Ngarrindjeri community, said it had been about a year since he and a crime prevention officer had got talking about how to make the station more welcoming for Indigenous people.
Commissioning an artwork would be one way to do that, they decided.
“We were after a painting with bright colours and a story relevant to people along the river,” Senior Constable Smith said.
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In consultation with the community, and with their support, Ms Rankine was chosen as the artist who would create the work.
Despite its incredible intricacy, the painting took her only three weeks.
Superintendent Cindy Healey hoped it would help everyone who worked at or visited SA Police’s local stations to appreciate the significance of the region to First Nations people.
The painting – like a recent Blue Light boxing program – was also a symbol of the relationships that were ever growing between police and community members, Assistant Commissioner Ian Parrott said.
“Having an understanding of culture is so important to the relationship between the community and police,” he said.
Senior Constable Smith encouraged everyone who lived or worked on Ngarrindjeri country – along the River Murray, from Murray Bridge to the mouth, the Coorong and the eastern Fleurieu coast – to read and reflect on the Ngurunderi story.
More information: www.murrayriver.com.au/the-ngurunderi-dreaming-app.
Clarification: The headline on this story has been updated to reflect the fact that the artwork is a painting, not a mural.