First Nations artist depicts Disability Royal Commission story


Wiradjuri Elder and artist Paul Constable Calcott has depicted the story of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability in a stunning new artwork.

Titled 'Respectful Listening' the artwork illustrates the journey of seven Commissioners, carrying a message stick across the country, to collect stories from people with disability, their families and communities.

The artwork shows the different ways the Royal Commission will gather people's stories, through private sessions, public hearings and informal yarning circles.

Uncle Paul, who lives with disability, said the colours in the artwork represent the diverse communities across Australia, including the desert, coastal and hinterland regions, as well as the Torres Strait.

'When I was approached to develop an artwork for the Royal Commission, I saw it as a huge honour, and a wonderful opportunity.

'To get to play some small part in this whole process, is huge for me and I hope the artwork encourages all Australians with a story to tell about violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability, to come forward.

'I have depicted the Royal Commission as a safe place for people to tell their story. That's why I used the shields, because the shields protect you from harm, and the Royal Commission is somewhere you will be safe and protected to tell your story,' the artist said.

The Chair of the Royal Commission Ronald Sackville AO QC said the Commissioners are all deeply moved by Uncle Paul's very beautiful depiction of the Royal Commission's task.

'Uncle Paul has captured the essence of the Commission's responsibilities more powerfully than mere words.

'We hope that his wonderful painting will inspire people with disability, particularly First Nations people, to tell us their stories,' said the Chair.

Uncle Paul said the artwork shows First Nations communities that the Royal Commission is culturally safe and that it does want to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.      

The artist has coordinated many local and international exhibitions showcasing art work by First Nations People with disability. Last year, he took the 'Culture is Inclusion' exhibition to the United Nations Palais De Nations in Geneva.

Uncle Paul has worked in the disability sector for nearly four decades and is the National Training and Resource Development Manager with the First Peoples Disability Network – a peak representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

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