Promoting cultural acceptance just another piece of the puzzle

Promoting culture: Artist Danielle Mate Sullivan (at front) with Campbelltown MP Greg Warren and Briar Road Public School students Tyleah Tompkins, Orlando Wright and Nathan Eberhardt.
Promoting culture: Artist Danielle Mate Sullivan (at front) with Campbelltown MP Greg Warren and Briar Road Public School students Tyleah Tompkins, Orlando Wright and Nathan Eberhardt.

Briar Road Public School students had a colourful time exploring reconciliation and cultural inclusion through art recently.

The school took part in a pilot program run by local Indigenous artist Danielle Mate Sullivan which encourages students to “tell their story” through an artwork on a giant puzzle piece.

The Mates Puzzle Program strives to achieve equality and inclusion among students of all cultural backgrounds.

Ms Sullivan – who is known for her sky-high mural on the Edmondson Park water towers – said the program was an exciting way to promote reconciliation.

“The program is about people sharing their stories and depicting who they are and where they’re from on a puzzle piece,” she said.

“They ultimately join those pieces together in a larger artwork to show we are all connected.

“It is important young people have the opportunity to share their stories and learn about what makes them different, yet the same.”

Briar Road principal Tammy Anderson praised the pilot program.

“It’s been a powerful engagement tool that links culture and identity through story telling,” she said.

“I think all children should have the opportunity to tell their story and learn about other cultures.

“It’s a fabulous resource that should be available throughout all schools.”

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren also took part in the program on Wednesday.

He was very impressed by the Mates Puzzle Program and wrote to state education minister Rob Stokes to express his support for the activity.

Mr Warren wants to see the program introduced in other Campbelltown and Macarthur schools.

“This is a fantastic program that promotes culture, reconciliation and respect while also giving students the chance to express their inner artist,” he said.

“I have spoken to numerous people involved with the program including facilitator Danielle Mate Sullivan and Briar Road principal Tammy Anderson, and everyone has labelled it a huge success.

“The students at Briar Road embraced the program and loved being involved so it would be wonderful if students at other schools throughout Campbelltown and Macarthur also had the opportunity to create their own works.”

Mr Warren also created his own puzzle piece, which he will display in his Queen Street office.

The program was also run at Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. About 100 puzzle pieces have been painted so far.