Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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HomeIssue 13Painting new step in store's growing links with Aboriginal people

Painting new step in store's growing links with Aboriginal people

2642 Coles Janet Golder Kngwarreye & mother Margaret OK

Above: In front of the artwork artist Janet Golder Kngwarreye (at left) with her mother Margaret • Below right: The artwork inside the store.

2642 Coles painting store int OK
Coles in Alice Springs is further developing its links with local Aboriginal people, commissioning a large traditional painting while continuing its Indigenous employment strategies.
Two screen-printed copies of the original artwork, My Country by Janet Golder Kngwarreye, were unveiled in a smoking ceremony led by senior Arrernte woman Rosalie Kumalie Riley yesterday, one displayed inside the store and the other outside, facing the carpark.
Ms Golder, from the Utopia area, says her painting shows “bush medicine leaves, women’s body paint, bush oranges, rock holes”.
The Coles store in The Alice now has the largest number of Indigenous employees of any Coles store in Australia, says the supermarket chain’s NT manager, Daniel Clegg, who described the store’s “team members” as a big family.
He says 40 of the store’s 170 employees are Indigenous, including seven who joined this week.

Below, from left: Coles Indigenous Engagement Advisor Martin Taylor, Kumalie Riley, and the artist, Janet Golder; looking on are members of a group from the local Clontarf Foundation.

2642 Coles painting Riley OK


  1. One hopes that Coles have achieved critical mass now, with enough Aboriginal employees to make them feel they really belong, and to provide mutual support.
    Previous significant efforts at Aboriginal employment by supermarkets appeared to fail, with the recruits falling by the wayside once their initial support was withdrawn.
    The same happened at the hospital where there was an initially successful scheme about 20 years ago. Once the funded support system was withdrawn the workforce was not large enough to be mutually supportive, and they dwindled away with no program in place for ongoing recruitment.
    Ironically, there was a much higher proportion of Aboriginal employees at Alice Springs hospital in the 80s than there is now.
    Meaningful employment is one of the foundations for the health of the individual and their families: It is great to see the supermarket chains taking a leading role here.
    Let us hope this time they follow through with retention strategies, and that other large employers look to fulfil their social responsibilities.


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