Maria Watson-Trudgett – Team Leader, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family and Community Programs

What does your role involve?

I am the first permanent Indigenous person to work with Positive Partnerships.  This is exciting, as it offers me the opportunity to assist students with autism in accomplishing their educational goals, and to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities in the awareness of autism spectrum, while building trusting relationships with Autism Spectrum Australia.

What is important when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples?

Many things; it is too complex to write into a paragraph. However; I understand the importance of being accepted and respect for one’s cultural diversity and identity, and I recognise that different world-views stem from kinships and connections to family and environment.  I value, accept and appreciate the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identities and cultures, and am passionate about Indigenous social justice and equality, with a particular interest in advocating for positive educational outcomes.

What is something people may not know about you?

I have won several awards for painting and exhibited in Parliament House.  I have also donated paintings to raise funds for Indigenous education scholarships and Indigenous eye care in remote communities.

What is your painting style?

Contemporary Aboriginal art.  I use mainly bright, strong colours with distinctive patterns and motifs with representations of both contemporary and traditional origins.  I paint in my own unique way, which reflects my Aboriginal culture and experiences.  I paint in a way that promotes reconciliation and cultural awareness between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people; this brings me great joy and optimism.

My paintings express my connections to country, family, contemporary culture and create a positive awareness of me.