From Left: Kirryn Scicluna, Employment & Career Partner, My Gateway; Rhonda Sampson, Artist, RS Creative Solutions; Dianne Dayhew, CEO National Apprentice Employment Network; James Hunt, 1st Year Engineering Apprentice; Shelley Bullock, CEO, My Gateway.

In mid-2020 when the National Apprentice Employment Network (NAEN) was seeking Indigenous artwork designs for its website and corporate brochures, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) referred them to the brilliant Aboriginal graphic designer, Rhonda Sampson.

Rhonda is a proud Kamilaroi woman and has designed artwork for the Mental Health Commission of NSW, One Door Mental Health, Souths Cares, Youth Off the Streets and Inner West Council, to name a few. In June, Rhonda was announced the Regional Winner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award for Southern and South Western Sydney at the prestigious NSW Training Awards.

NAEN commissioned Rhonda to take a fresh look at its designs to reflect the diversity of its apprenticeship, traineeship and employment activities across Australia. Rhonda’s artwork, ‘Growing Futures’, has been a stunning success and has had a profound impact on NAEN staff and member organisations.

“It just took my breath away from the first time I saw it,” said NAEN CEO Dianne Dayhew.

“Rhonda seemed to have an instinctive feel from the outset about the type of organisation we are, the many young people we work with, and the way we want to engage with the community.

“It’s more than just a change of design – it’s had an uplifting effect on all of us”.

The design symbolically depicts NAEN as the central element, with branches extending to the apprentice employment networks in each of the states and territories.

“The footpath represents the journey of job seekers and apprentices and trainees,’ Rhonda said.

‘Along that journey, everything intertwines from the individuals themselves, the job seekers, their host businesses and their communities.’

The footprints in the artwork represent the Indigenous apprentices and trainees leaving their communities to embark on their employment journey.

One of those individuals is first-year engineering apprentice James Hunt who is undertaking a Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade with host employer, GDH Fabrication. He has been placed and supported in the apprenticeship by Campbelltown based Group Training Organisation (GTO), My Gateway which is funded by NAEN along with other GTOs to provide these life-changing programs.

NAEN employs some 25,000 apprentices and trainees across Australia and places them with host businesses. It will incorporate Rhonda’s designs into its materials and hopes to work with Rhonda in the future to help reflect its extensive work with Indigenous communities.

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