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Our Region, Our People: Meet Sabu

Published 11 December 2023

First Nations man reconnects with culture through his artwork

Cape York artist Sabu Wailu has reconnected with his culture through his art, which he is now selling after entering the NPA Art Exhibition earlier this year.

A Cape York First Nations man has reconnected with his culture while showcasing his artistic flair.

Sabu Wailu, from the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA), has always loved art as it provides an opportunity to connect and express his narrative and culture.

Through the Commonwealth Psychosocial Support Program, which is delivered by NPA Family and Community Services (NPAFACS), Sabu was able to attend and submit his artworks in the NPA Art Exhibition this year, which focused on natural materials.

He has since gone on to sell his art.

“I really enjoyed the exhibition and am appreciative of the support I received from both my family and friends,” Sabu said.

“I take pride when it comes to my art and am proud of my completed works.”

Motivated by the support he received for the art exhibition, and from NPAFACS support staff throughout the Commonwealth Psychosocial Support Program, Sabu is excited about the opportunity of being able to sell more of his artwork.

NPAFACS CEO Tailisa Yusia said seeing Sabu’s natural talents, focus, and motivation emerge when engaged in his art was awe-inspiring.

“It makes you very appreciative of being in a position to support such a creative and talented individual to extend their potential,” she said.

The Commonwealth Psychosocial Support Program, funded by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN), seeks to support First Nations adults across the five NPA communities of Seisia, New Mapoon, Bamaga, Umagico, and Injinoo.

The program offers recovery coaching and practical support in a diverse range of areas such as social and family connections, day-to-day living skills, confidence and resilience, physical health, and finding and maintaining a home. Support is tailored to each individual.

Sabu said he appreciated the support of the NPAFACS workers since joining the program in March 2023.

In that time, he has utilised the program to engage in culturally significant activities, such as fishing, which facilitates connection to sea and country. The program has also supported him with day-to-day challenges, such as finances.

Ms Yusia said building trust and rapport with local people had increased with the employment of three First Nations support workers.

“Shame and stigma are a major barrier to help-seeking behaviour, but a recent increase in referrals through a combination of promotional events and outreach has been working,” Ms Yusia said.

“As referrals have expanded, we have had increased capacity to include culturally relevant group activities to develop positive social connections.”

Last updated: 12 December 2023