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Connection, journey and community: the design of the 2022 AFLW Indigenous Guernsey

A little under twelve months ago, a group of Indigenous Australian young people set out to tell their story.

A little under twelve months ago, a group of Indigenous Australian young people set out to tell their story. A story of connection to elders, their journey growing up in the west of Melbourne and Victoria, and the bond they shared as participants in the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation’s Nallei Jerring program.  

This story was interpreted and then visualized by Rubii Red, a proud Lama Lama woman from Cape York in Queensland. The medium in which this story was told? The 2022 Western Bulldogs AFLW Indigenous Guernsey.  

The design process began in a session at VU Whitten Oval where the program participants told their story to Rubii through conversation and drawing. Rubii then went away and designed the artwork, which was then submitted to Cotton On for production, with the end result revealed in Guernsey form to Rubii and the participants this week.  

The opportunity to be involved in the Guernsey design process and to share their story was very special for the program participants.  

“To us all, it means a lot. Especially to my family, as my special Nan she used to work on the grounds and she used to have to hide her culture and her identity,” said Charlene, who completed the Nallei Jerring program in 2019, 2020 and 2021.  

The struggles that are experienced when growing up as a First Nations person in Australia is something Rubii could relate to, and showcased in the design.  

“Trying to find yourself in this world as a young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person is very difficult. You have spaces that aren’t necessarily safe spaces for you, so you’re trying to navigate through those spaces to make sure you’re secure in who you are and that you’re safe as well.” 

03:22 Mins
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2022 AFLW Indigenous Guernsey

A collaborative effort between the kids of the Nallei Jerring Koori Leadership Project, First Nations artist Rubii Red and the Western Bulldogs.

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“So I really resonated with the kids, and that was one of the things that I really wanted to share in the work and in the design.” 

The Nallei Jerring program aims to support First Nations young people, by providing opportunities through the Western Bulldogs as a way of encouraging leadership within the local Aboriginal community. 

The Western Bulldogs Football Club is used as a vehicle to inspire, educate and encourage the young people to become future leaders. The young people are provided with an exciting range of life, cultural and sport experiences to learn and develop from, the guernsey design process being one of them.  

The Guernsey will be worn this Sunday February 27th, when the Western Bulldogs take on Collingwood at Victoria Park. Match worn guernseys from the game to be auctioned off. 

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Western Bulldogs acknowledge that we reside on traditional lands of the Kulin Nation. We offer our respect to the Elders of these traditional lands, and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples past, present and emerging.