A number of year nine and 10 Aboriginal students at Forbes High have been busy creating a street art mural as part of a program to raise awareness for hepatitis C.
The project, Your Mob, My Mob, Our Mob, is run by the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Centre (AHMRC) and aims to raise awareness and increase knowledge of hepatitis C through peer education.
The project is aimed at Aboriginal adolescents aged between 12 and 19, who are taught key messages about hepatitis C in a three day workshop.
Hepatitis C Project Officer at AHMRC, Lisa Panton is in charge of running the project at Forbes High with the help of Kerry Walker, the Aboriginal Project Officer at Hepatitis NSW.
They say the idea of the project is that on the completion of the workshop, the students will become peer educators and help to communicate information about hepatitis C to their peers.
The creation of the street art mural is part of the program and is used to continue the conversation about hepatitis.
The 11 students who participated in the program helped design and create the mural with the help of a professional graffiti artist.
Ms Walker says that involving the students in painting the mural establishes a sense of community.
“When you’ve got something like a mural that they’ve created themselves, it creates a sense of pride and having a mural that’s forever on display will continue the buzz around hepatitis,” she said.
Ms Panton says the mural is a great way to reinforce the information the students have learnt and will continue to raise awareness as a constant physical reminder.
“Everyone at the school was watching the mural go up and after we leave, they’ll still be talking about it, which is the idea,” she said.
“It keeps the conversation going,” Ms Walker adds.
The women say it’s important to talk about hepatitis to help break down the stigma and shame associated with being ill-informed about the virus.
“So we want to open up the communication channel,” Ms Walker said.
The girl who features in the mural is Nadika Vidler-McKeown, one of the Aboriginal students who participated in the workshop.
She is very happy with being chosen as the face of the mural.
“It feels awesome, I’m really proud,” she said.
“I like being able to represent my culture with things like that.”
Nadika says the students all got a lot out of the workshops and learnt some valuable information that will stick with them.
“They were really good, I learnt so much…it makes you think twice about some of the things you do,” she said.
One of the most important things the students learnt was to avoid sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors and syringes and to steer clear of getting backyard tattoos or piercings, as these can easily spread the hepatitis C virus.
This is represented in the wall mural which will be a permanent reminder to students.
At an assembly to officially present the mural to the school, principal of Forbes High, David Harris thanked the women for coming to Forbes High as part of their initiative and thanked everyone involved in the creation of the mural.
“This is fantastic and lifts up this area quite a bit,” he said.
“It’s quite worthwhile and a very big credit to you.”