The Suncorp Super Netball’s First Nations Round takes place over rounds 12 and 13, this season to coincide with National Reconciliation Week which occurs from May 27th to June 3rd each year.
The Inner Sanctum takes a closer look at the Suncorp Super Netball official ball artwork as well as the artwork on each team’s dress. Each dress features a unique design to signify the rich history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples around Australia.
This year’s round focuses on raising awareness, celebrating and understanding the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to netball and the nation.
This year the round has been renamed to First Nations Round from Indigenous Round to respectfully encompass and acknowledge the diversity of First Nations cultures, people and identities of Australia.
The round is split over two weeks so all eight Suncorp Super Netball clubs can showcase their engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in front of their home crowds.
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This year’s match balls will feature custom artwork created by Yorta-Yorta/Wurundjeri woman Simone Thomson. The artwork, titled Winyar Yuringa (Women of the Sun), will also be included on the umpires’ uniforms.
In memory of my late Aunty Hyllus Maris, fierce warrior winyar (woman) of the Yorta-Yorta and Wurundjeri peoples, activist, founder of Worawa Aboriginal College, the author of Women of the Sun and the deliverer of its spiritual dreaming story.
She believed strongly in equality and in educating Aboriginal children, nourishing raw sporting talent with a determination and guardianship likened to that of queens.
As with the sun, Netball Australia spans across the country canvassing eucalypt forests and red ochre sands, saltwater mangroves and deep violet ranges.
Netball Australia’s commitment to reach remote Aboriginal communities to provide access and opportunities to excel in the game radiates like the sun’s rays touching the furthest corners; the netball community is far spread and inclusive of all females.
Women all around the country are represented in the tiered ‘n’ shapes. This is the foundation of team spirit and the unbreakable bond shared between sisterhood aspiring to success.
This year the dress will be the same as last season, which was designed and worn last season by local Indigenous artist Shane Mankitya Cook in collaboration with students from Netball SA’s Aboriginal Netball Academy (ANA) through the South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy (SAASTA).
Over a series of workshops, the students created artwork that explored what netball meant to them and the role it plays in the community, which ultimately inspired Mr Cook’s final design.
As a tribute to the Adelaide Thunderbirds’ connection to its grassroots, the dress includes pink to represent the Thunderbirds and red to represent Netball SA.
The tree design that is featured in many of the student’s artwork is symbolic of life. The tree’s roots pay respect to grassroots netball and the ANA, while the trunk represents the Netball SA pathways leading up to elite netball which is symbolised by the leaves.
It also features the handprint of Mahleaha Buckskin – the first person to be raised speaking the Kaurna language from birth in over 100 years – and the words “Wikaparntu Paitya” which translated from Kaurna language means “Netball is Deadly”.
The artwork on the Collingwood dress is the same as the AFLW and AFL sides. This was designed by Tyson Austin and Troi Ilsley and tells the story of the club entering a new chapter.
The falling feathers are symbolic of a magpie shedding its old feathers to be replaced by new ones, representing the season of change at the club.
With the appointment of a new president and head coach, Collingwood is growing new feathers and entering a new era – shedding its past to make way for the next generation to thrive.
As well as the Magpies ‘shedding its feathers’, the back of the dress features a Coolamon providing a safe place for magpie eggs to hatch and be nurtured – symbolising the group of players wanting to make their mark and take the club forward.
It is also symbolic of the club’s involvement and support from the Aboriginal community as it embarks on a new chapter and increased its commitment to the community.
The GIANTS dress has been designed once again by Gamilaroi woman, Krystal Dallinger.
Dallinger, who was first welcomed into the club through a relationship with former GIANT Sam Poolman, has designed every First Nations dress for the GIANTS since the introduction of the dedicated round back in 2018.
Delivering yet another powerful and inspiring design, the 2022 artwork can resonate with everyone as it is based on the impact that COVID-19 has had on communities.
The importance of family and friends is a value that resonates with both Dallinger and the GIANTS and is represented via the detailed circle in the centre of the artwork.
The inclusion of the gum tree branches across the dress represents the sentiment of feeling welcomed – a feeling Dallinger speaks of when describing her journey and the relationships she’s made.
The Melbourne Vixens’ 2022 First Nations dress has been designed by Bri Pengarte Apma Hayes, a proud Arrernte woman and young emerging artist. Bri’s family is from Arrernte country in Alice Springs, and their culture is reflected in her style of art.
Each dot tells a story and has significance as it can all represent the journey of a person. The dots form a circle with many layers, representing the unity of everyone coming together – the Vixens players, coaches, staff, and community.
The U symbol represents people and how individuals may walk a similar journey or go through similar things in life and show resilience.
The blue lines and cross-hatching represent one’s journey, the flow of life and our constant process of learning.
The design incorporates symbols, dots, and lines to tell a story and to represent togetherness, fearlessness, and resilience.
The NSW Swifts dress has been designed by Tarsha Hawley, a former QBE Swifts Academy athlete and current Netball NSW Premier League player. Hawley returned to design the Indigenous artwork in 2022 after building a connection with the team in 2021.
Hawley is a proud Wongaibon woman who originally hails from Nyngan in regional NSW.
The Coolamons have been used in the centre of the design as they were vital carrying vessels used by First Nations Women to gather food and water, use as protection from the rain, used to hold babies and put them to sleep. They are a symbol to reflect how we understand and take ownership of the roles we play.
The circles that surround the Coolamons symbolise women and how they maintain life and functionality in a village. The red dots and blue wavy line around the gum leaves represent smoking ceremonies that our people perform to heal and cleanse, ward off bad spirits from people and the land, and welcome you to the country.
Hawley used bright colours to represent the bright future within Netball Australia and to symbolise present and emerging Swifts, and hopefully have more Indigenous athletes in the league.
Artist and designer Rachael Sarra again was tasked with designing the Firebirds’ First Nations dress, a role she’s been responsible for since the inception of the First Nations Round in 2018.
The contemporary artist from Goreng Goreng Country said netball was more than seven players on the court at one time.
The symbol in the middle of the design represents the commitment to providing a culturally safe and supportive environment for all. It is linked to the cultural symbolism of a meeting place which means that when we gather together, we are doing it in a way that is safe and supportive for everyone.
On the back of the dress is the symbol which symbolises the seven players on the court. This has been carried over from the previous artwork which not only represents the seven Firebirds players but the young aspiring Firebirds too.
This shows the team sharing connecting energy and the fact that when they are united together, the team is more powerful. This also represents the responsibility that each player has to their teammates and their community.
Sunshine Coast Lightning
The Sunshine Coast Lightning team will be wearing a design by Kabi Kabi woman, Aunty Hope O’Chin.
Dr O’Chin, or Aunty Hope, is an educator and artist who explained the significance of her design that features the ripples of the Sunshine Coast’s waterways, spear trees, a dragonfly and clusters that represent family grouping.
Aunty Hope has challenged the Lightning players to look after the environment as she explained how Indigenous children are assigned an animal name at birth as a totemic responsibility for us to be champions and warriors of the environment.
The clusters in the design show the family groupings that each person is connected to. The ripples show the waterways around the Sunshine Coast with the animals shown as totems within the design to demonstrate the responsibility to the environment.
West Coast Fever
The West Coast Fever dress was designed and created by Noongar artists Peter Farmer and Kylie Graham.
It features Aboriginal women’s symbols to represent each member of the playing squad alongside a series of significant waterholes in Whadjuk Country.
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