12 November 2020

Whitehaven celebrates NAIDOC week with Indigenous artwork unveiling

Whitehaven Coal kicked off NAIDOC week celebrations with the unveiling of a brilliant piece of Indigenous art by Gomeroi artist Janice Knox at the company’s Newcastle office.

The artwork, titled ‘Generations’, linked to this year’s NAIDOC theme of “Always Was, Always Will Be”, which recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lived on and cared for this continent for more than 65,000 years.

Ms Knox said the theme inspired her to think about her homeland, her people and her family, and this shone through in the artwork.

“The circles represent my parents, my children and my grandchildren, and all of my extended family, my brothers’ and sisters’ families, and my many nieces and nephews.”

“The lines are our connected journey on Gomeroi land. My family has always been Aboriginal and always will be,” said Ms Knox.

Whitehaven Coal Managing Director and CEO Paul Flynn said the artwork serves as a visual reminder of the generations of Indigenous people who have cared for the land for more than 65,000 years, and he encouraged everyone to take a moment to reflect upon Indigenous history and culture and our achievements together.

“At Whitehaven, we acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia. We recognise their crucial role in our nation’s history and its future, particularly where we operate in North West NSW and in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.”

“Developing cultural awareness amongst our workforce is a commitment in our Reconciliation Action Plan, and another initiative to build shared understanding is commissioning art by local Indigenous artists.”

“We are grateful to Janice Knox for sharing her amazing work with us and we look forward to displaying it proudly for years to come.”

Due to COVID-19 precautions, Ms Knox and family members, attended the event via Zoom and were joined by Bob Sutherland, Whitehaven’s Manager Aboriginal Community Relations and Hollie Sampson, Whitehaven’s Aboriginal Community Relations Officer.

“I’d like to thank Whitehaven for giving me this opportunity and thank Bob for his continued support throughout the process of completing my painting,” Ms Knox said.

Sarah Withell, Executive General Manager – Health, Safety and Environment, hosted the event, alongside Dean Lawrence – General Manager Procurement, both representatives of Whitehaven’s Reconciliation Action Plan working group.

Sarah spoke about her own experience growing up on the Hawkesbury River and the importance of family, and encouraged all Whitehaven employees to engage in conversation with their own families about NAIDOC Week and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

“It’s a beautiful piece of art and we feel very fortunate to hang it on the walls at Whitehaven,” she added.

Pictured: Janice Knox and her daughter Angie Knox with the artwork, Generations.

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