Young Artists Competition Charity Profile: Gunawirra

Gunawirra is one of the three incredible non-for-profits partnering with Yarn for our Young Artists Competition. We are excited to be partnering with Gunawirra as they make valuable contributions to the lives of young Indigenous children through focussing upon the importance of early childhood development. Many of the programs they run incorporate art therapy and other creative practices. This makes them an ideal partner for our art competition which encourages children to get creative and connect with their culture and country.

Mothers Group, Gunawirra House. Image courtesy of Gunawirra, 2020.

 Gunawirra’s vision is “Prevention through Early Intervention.” This core principle guides all their programs and projects which they run out of Gunawirra House, in Sydney. They aim to help families through breaking the cycle of physical, emotional, alcohol and substance abuse and domestic violence, which often leads to poor mental health. Gunawirra is determined to:

“To empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities to develop to their full potential. Gunawirra’s vision for Australia is respect and value for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history and a high quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is acknowledgement of past wrongs and working together for a better future for all Australians. Gunawirra’s vision is where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are connected and proud of their spiritual core and cultural base.”

Angel watering the Gunawirra House community garden. Image courtesy of Gunawirra, 2020.

 Through their core programs, Gunawirra predominantly works with mothers and young children to foster positive communication, relationships, and connection to culture. Their key programs include their Young Aboriginal Mothers Program (YAMP), Preschool Programs, Journey to Learning and Teacher Support and Training. The Young Aboriginal Mothers Program is an early intervention service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from pregnancy through to their child starting school. Gunawirra supports these mothers and babies to build stronger, safer and healthier relationships. This program includes three elements, Speech Therapy, Women’s Business, and a healthy cooking program “Here Comes the Chef.” The Women’s Business component is particularly important, they help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to connect to cultural practices. This is done through story, art mindfulness, movement, dance, healing circles and meditation.

Face Painting with CEO Graham Toomey. Image courtesy of Gunawirra, 2020.

 Gunawirra’s programs are based on several different theoretical guiding principles. The most prominent ones being Attachment Theory, Psychoanalytic Theory, Social Leadership, The High Scope Method, and the Reggio Emilia

Method. Each of these theories provide a foundation of understanding about issues such as childhood trauma, intergenerational cycles, and communication issues. From these they can build creative ways of improving early childhood development and positive communication within families.

“I feel very honoured to be leading an organisation which strives to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I am passionate about improving quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities and moving Gunawirra forward as a professional organisation, rich in culture. I aim to give our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children the best start they need for a good education, a healthy lifestyle and a connection and  belonging to their heritage and culture.” - Graham Toomey (Gunawirra CEO)

Yarn are proud to partner with Gunawirra to support their incredible community work. They are an organisation that tackles some of the most difficult issues within Indigenous communities by working with young children, mothers, and families. We genuinely appreciate the work that they do and hope the money raised through our Young Artists Competition can assist Gunawirra with their programs.

If you would like to find out more about Gunawirra or to donate, you can find their website here. 

To find out more about our Young Artists Competition and vote for your favourite artworks click here.