TO some it might seem like a collection of small paintings but for Elle Campbell, a mural created by nearly 200 Indigenous students at Alberton Oval on Wednesday represented opportunity.
An opportunity she did not have but one she has created for others.
Ms Campbell’s artwork “Kangaroos on the Coast” was featured on Port Adelaide’s AFL and SANFL Indigenous guernseys in 2021 and the talented Aboriginal artist asked that all profits from the sale of those guernseys was invested back into Port Adelaide’s Aboriginal education programs.
Thanks to her generosity, Port Adelaide was able to partner with the South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy to deliver the inaugural Power SAASTA Connect Carnival.
Ms Campbell was a proud onlooker at Alberton on Wednesday, watching the students playing football, learning about their culture and being engaged in their schooling.
“All the money that was raised from the guernsey (sales) I wanted to go back into Aboriginal youth so today is happening because of all the Power fans buying the guernsey.
“All the year 8 and 9 kids are able to come here and play football, they’re able to paint and do all the things they’re doing here today.
“I didn’t really get opportunities like this when I was in high school.
“There was no real support for Aboriginal kids, there was no real support at all so to be able to see Aboriginal kids get the schooling needs and support they need to be able to get through was a big win for me and seeing Aboriginal kids stay in school.”
Wednesday’s carnival involved students from 14 schools including from the Riverland, Mount Gambier and Whyalla, along with various schools across metropolitan Adelaide.
Students who achieved their behavioural, attendance and academic goals in the school-based portion of the program were invited to take part.
Ms Campbell, who helped build Indigenous art into the curriculum as a program consultant, facilitated a mural activation on the day where students combined artworks they had created individually at school after researching their own cultural background.
“The groups of kids have all been painting something that reminds them of where they’re from or their home,” she explained.
“The story telling is the main thing. For Aboriginal people to be able to put their stories onto paper is the way that the stories are being told. Being able to express yourself when you’re maybe not able to tell your story with words, you can put it on paper.
“You keep it, you get to see it all the time, you can pass it down to family, so some of those stories that do get passed down you can keep passing them down so they don’t get lost.”
Having her design used on Port Adelaide’s guernsey is “still really surreal”, as was seeing the design on the signage around the carnival.
“It’s really heart-warming to see it everywhere and all the love it’s got. Seeing it on the big banner up here and seeing it on TV,” Ms Campbell said.
“People recognising me when they come into my work, all those sorts of things. It’s all crazy but it’s all for a good cause.”
Power SAASTA Connect is about assisting students to build their connection with their culture through learning activities such as art, language, health, history and leadership.
The program is aimed at supporting year 8 and 9 students with their transition to the club’s industry-leading Santos Aboriginal Power Cup program, delivered to students in years 10 to 12.