In honour of NAIDOC week, we are celebrating our amazing Graphic Designer Danielle. As well as being incredibly talented at creating Asthma Australia’s visual assets, Danielle is also a proud Australian with a Torres Strait Islander heritage. This is her story.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Danielle, a proud Australian with a Torres Strait Islander heritage. My family originated from Naghir (na-gee) Island. I am a mother to two children aged 1 and 6. I enjoy spending time outdoors in the fresh air and staying active.
As a designer, I am passionate about creating positive change and better outcomes for all Australians – especially our First Nations Australians. I hope to achieve this through collaboration, insights and learning. I design because I believe everyone deserves the right to feel loved, valued and safe.
From 2016 to 2019, I worked as a graphic designer for an Aboriginal man and Torres Strait Islander woman. This experience began to open my eyes to the struggles that Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander people are facing today – inequality, racism, intergenerational trauma, ongoing land right issues and more. I also learnt to be proud of my Torres Strait Islander heritage.
As someone who started in the work force at very young age, education wasn’t a priority in our household growing up. I wasn’t given the opportunity to complete high school. As a young adult working part-time in hospitality and retail, I was committed to changing the status quo. It took 10 years but I completed a Year 10 Certificate through TAFE, pursued Year 11 & 12 as an adult student, completed a Diploma in Visual Arts and obtained a Bachelor’s in Communication Design. Towards the end of my Degree, I realised that I didn’t want to just design ‘pretty things’ but actually make a difference in people’s lives. I began focusing my efforts at uni on social projects that would create a positive impact in Australia – from helping vulnerable women in the Northern Territory to protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and businesses.
Before finishing my Degree, I was incredibly lucky to undertake an internship at Carbon Creative, the social change creative agency with impact, in Brisbane City – founded by proud Birri and Guugu Yimidhirr man Wayne Denning. I was mentored by Co-Creative Director Monique Kneepens. It was here that I was given the remarkable opportunity of seeing social change being delivered on a regular basis. The experience pushed me to dig deeper and think outside the box when it came to creative solutions and outcomes. I am forever grateful to Monique and the Team at Carbon Creative for allowing me the opportunity to come into their space and learn from their experience and wisdom.
Just before I finished my studies at the end of 2019, I was approached by Marketing Manager, Kathy Packenas, from Asthma Australia to join the Marketing team as Graphic Designer – where I have had the pleasure of working ever since. My role is to design and transform the content and resources in a way that effectively reaches the many Australians (1 in 9) living with asthma.
What does NAIDOC mean to you?
I feel it creates a window of opportunity for all Australians to learn, speak up and have honest conversations. Conversations about what’s happened in the past (First Nations people’s stories and journeys), assessing and understanding what’s happening right now and how are we moving forward towards reconciliation?
Why are you proud to be working at Asthma Australia (or why do you enjoy working at Asthma Australia)?
Where to begin? Working at Asthma Australia has been the highlight of my career so far. I have always felt encouraged, supported and safe around my work colleagues. There is always flexibility and understanding for me working as a mum of two children. Everyone at Asthma Australia is passionate about what they do yet they aspire to a work-life balance. They are some of the most genuine, humble and caring people I have ever met. As an organisation, they are not afraid of change, in fact they embrace it with open arms. They challenge the status quo and speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. And now, I am even more proud to be part of the Asthma Australia family as we embark upon a long, yet meaningful journey towards better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living with asthma.
Why is it important for Asthma Australia to celebrate NAIDOC Week?
As part of our journey at Asthma Australia to reconciliation, I believe it is so important to take every opportunity, such as NAIDOC Week, to listen, learn and grow individually and as an organisation. I believe it also reflects our genuine desire to understand more about the issues so we can ultimately help provide holistic solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living with asthma.
The theme for NAIDOC this year is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! What does this mean to you?
Be brave, speak up about the truth. Have honest conversations with those around you even if it’s uncomfortable at times. Enough is enough, as a nation we are better than this.
Who is your Aboriginal / Torres Strait Islander role model and why?
I have always admired Cathy Freeman, who in 1994 was the first Aboriginal sprinter to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. I remember writing about her in primary school and being amazed by her tenacity. I also admire all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that, despite the injustices against them and their ancestors, have moved forward in dignity, strength and kindness.
Where do you aspire Asthma Australia to be in 5 years, from an Aboriginal / Torres Strait Islander perspective / reconciliation perspective?
I would love to see Asthma Australia working more closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and businesses – an organisation mature in its Reconciliation Action Plan. This might look like running more workshops in the communities, learning and gaining insights into the underlying issues and pain points for people (in all areas: rural, remote and metropolitan), employing more Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who are passionate about helping people breathe better and lastly, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture to be intertwined with our identity as an organisation that it is simply a part of our day to day lives and work.