The story behind the artwork
Amy Allerton is a Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung and Gamilaroi artist.
She has used a combination of traditional and interpretive symbolism in a contemporary art style to create, ‘Strong People, Safe Spaces’.
As an Aboriginal woman and mother, I am passionate about First Nations representation, acknowledgement and inclusion.
I take my role in helping to create a safer and stronger future for all Australians very seriously.
I really do feel that every stroke, every dot, every line, every symbol – I feel like I am channeling all of the ancestors and all of the people that have come before me, and it's a very spiritual thing and it's a very emotional process.
Hi, my name is Amy Allerton. I am a Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung and Gamilaroi woman and a contemporary Aboriginal artist.
I was born and raised here on Gamilaroi country in Tamworth, New South Wales, and I love this country. I feel incredibly connected to this country and to the people and to its history.
Aboriginal art is so many things, but I think at its core, it's storytelling. It's visual storytelling and communication without words, but it goes so much deeper than that.
It's our knowledge. It's our journeys, our joy and our pain, our family, our country, from our ancestors past and our people now.
It represents so much of our identity and our culture and our history.
Every Community, I think, has their own challenges, but I think across the board, I have heard a lot of people say that racism has reduced in Australia, but when you go online, it's a bombardment and you just have access to opinions that people often don't express face to face.
It makes our, um, what we're fighting for and the voice that we fight for and the place that we continue to fight for in Australia – it makes it harder.
So when we were developing the story for the eSafety artwork, they really talked about eSafety's mission and what their objectives are and it was to protect people, to help keep people safe.
And so I immediately had just this vision of a shield, of them being a shield of protection for all Australians, no matter where they are, no matter their age or demographic and being that first line of defence, I guess, to make sure that people have safe experiences online.
So I had known who eSafety was before they contacted me, having school-aged children.
eSafety does provide a lot of resources and support to schools, and I thought, what an incredible opportunity and one that I can relate to, you know, having kids who I want to protect with my life.
Being able to support the work that eSafety does was something that I wanted to be a part of.
The important thing about these artworks is they don't just represent First Nations people, they represent all Australians.
Together, we are all, you know, fitting into one of these segments.
We are parents, kids, young people, women, seniors, diverse groups, lgbtq Australians.
We all fit into these categories and whether you're indigenous or non-indigenous, these are our stories.
Mostly, it was an incredibly smooth and enjoyable process.
The stories are so significant, and I think I did feel the weight of that, and I really wanted to represent each one of them in just the most accurate and respectful and beautiful way, and I did get to the end and I felt like I achieved that, so that was wonderful.
Video: Amy explains her artwork design
‘The artwork represents everyone, from our children to our Elders, as they journey through two worlds – the physical and the online world – to find connection, meaning, acceptance and belonging.'
– Amy Allerton
What the artwork means
Seven different groups of people within the community are represented in Amy’s artwork, ‘Strong People, Safe Spaces’. Each one is drawn as a separate design and together they surround the central shield.
Amy explains the story behind each of the designs, starting with the section representing parents.
‘This story represents families of all shapes and sizes across Australia – from blended families to single parent families, LGBTIQ+ families and extended family units.
Parents and caregivers are navigating a digital world while managing the fear and anxiety of not being able to, or not knowing how to, protect their children from the harms of the online world.
eSafety is a shield of protection for parents and families, helping them to guide and teach their children, and have more control over their children’s online experiences.
With resources and support from eSafety and their communities, parents and caregivers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to discern the positive and negative online influences on their children and have important yarns. Parents can feel empowered to help their family make meaningful, safe connections online and develop healthy online habits.’
‘This story represents the experiences and relationship that seniors have with technology – both foreign and challenging, new and exciting – as they try to find meaningful connections and relevance in a digital world.
eSafety is a shield of protection for older Australians, helping to combat the exclusion, isolation and disenagement that can result from fear and a lack of understanding about technology.
With resources and support from eSafety, their communities and families, seniors can grow in the knowledge and skills that enable them to use technology so that they can gain greater independence. This empowers them to make safe online decisions and stay connected with the world around them – with their cultures, families, friends and communities.’
‘This story represents the many diverse expressions of womanhood – grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, friends, leaders, mentors, teachers and innovators. They are navigating an online world that can define them. They are fighting for their voices and the right to own their stories at a time when outside opinions make more noise than ever before.
eSafety is a shield of protection for all women, helping to keep them safe from sexualised, gender-based online abuse and bullying and supporting them to safely express who they are.
Women have the capacity to have online experiences that form meaningful connections and relationships with diverse communities of women across the world. Online they can find belonging, share culture, collaborate, empower one another and lead change in their spheres of influence.’
‘This story shows how influence, reputation and peer pressure can shape a young person’s life. At a time of rapid change and growth, they are discovering who they are to themselves and to the people around them. They are also discovering their place in a societal culture driven by “likes” and followers.
eSafety is a shield of protection for young people, giving them the tools to make good decisions, develop critical reasoning skills and safeguard their digital reputation.
With resources and support from eSafety, their communities and families, young people can create healthy online habits that protect their physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing. This can allow them to have positive social experiences in both the offline and online world.’
‘This story represents a hyperconnected childhood that is lived in two worlds – the real world and the digital world – and a journey of discovery to learn how to live safely in both of these worlds, where interactions, play and learning are vastly different.
eSafety is a shield of protection for kids, helping them to develop early healthy habits and build the knowledge and awareness that will allow them to become life-long responsible online users.
With resources and support from eSafety, their communities, teachers and families, kids can be equipped with the tools to access online platforms safely. We can help them to protect and respect themselves and others, ask for help when something doesn’t feel right and develop investigative and critical thinking, as they process digital information and their online social experiences.’
‘This story represents the diversity of Australians of all ages, races, abilities and genders that come from different educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. They have diverse needs, strengths and unique experiences that should be recognised and celebrated.
eSafety is a shield of protection for diverse groups of Australians, helping to create digital inclusion and accessibility to reduce the digital divide.
With resources and support from eSafety, their communities and families, diverse groups in Australians can grow in their knowledge and skills. This enables them to gain greater independence and make safe, meaningful connections that allow them to be seen, heard, respected, accepted and included.’
‘This story represents the right for LGBTIQ+ Australians to feel safe so they can fearlessly and boldly accept and express who are they.
eSafety is a shield of protection for LGBTIQ+ Australians, helping to keep them safe from online abuse and bullying based on gender identity and sexuality – supporting them to access safe online spaces.
With resources and support from eSafety, their communities and families, LGBTIQ+ Australians are empowered to build genuine, meaningful connections and relationships online. We support them to utilise digital platforms to amplify their voices to create inclusive, respectful and accepting spaces – places where they feel seen, heard and find true belonging.’