Local Kaurna man, Frank Wanganeen (left), welcomes Goompi to Kaurna country
“Australia’s recent history has had a profound impact on our Indigenous Australians and I believe respect and understanding is what will help us connect that bridge to reconciliation,” said Saab Australia managing director, Dean Rosenfield.
Saab Australia’s cultural diversity committee spearheaded the initiative with Indigenous Australian input to develop a meaningful vision for reconciliation.
“One of our employees suggested we commission an Aboriginal artist to paint a story of the company’s history in Australia,” said committee representative Karen Hughes.
Aboriginal artist Goompi Ugerabah applied traditional painting techniques to two Swedish traditional carved (Dala) horses and a canvas, depicting the coming together of Swedish and Australian culture on traditional land.*
“Today with our local Kaurna [Indigenous] people represented by Frank Wanganeen, I welcome Goompi to our Adelaide headquarters to celebrate this story which he’s so beautifully depicted,” said Dean Rosenfield.
The canvas painting will be hung in Saab Australia’s Canberra office; a horse displayed in Adelaide headquarters; and its sibling is destined for Alvik, Stockholm.
“It’s essential that as a global company, we respect and embrace the diverse cultures we work alongside and I look forward to welcoming Goompi’s art to Saab’s global headquarters,” said Saab Group CEO,Hakan Bushke.
The Saab Australia reconciliation action plan outlines a number of practical actions to encourage relationships and opportunities for Indigenous Australians and is due for release later in the year.
“As a first step in the process, Saab Australia joined the Indigenous Defence Consortium to support Indigenous-owned businesses and we’ve already engaged with some business members” said Dean Rosenfield.
To coincide with the release of the reconciliation action plan, Saab Australia’s Diversity Committee will schedule cultural awareness sessions for staff over the next few months.
*THE VISUAL STORY
The Dala Horse is an authentic symbol of Sweden conceptualised in Dalahast, Sweden during the 17th Century. A canvas, and two horses carved in Sweden have been painted by local Aboriginal artist Goompi Ugerabah. The paintings visually convey the story of Saab Australia. The four images at the centre are representative of the four Saab employees that crossed oceans from Sweden travelling to Australia in the late 1980’s, arriving in tribal lands, ‘A land rich in ochres and water’. The contribution of the four pioneers were key to the growth of what is now, Saab Australia. The ‘U’ shapes from the centre to the outside of the design symbolise the hundreds of Australian employees.
Saab Australia Managing Director, Dean Rosenfield accepts commissioned artwork from Goompi
PHOTOGRAPHY: Ben Grant