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Wilson Parking commits to creating more pathways for First Nations artists with sponsorship of The Torch Mural Program

Wilson Parking is proud to have extended its partnership with The Torch – an organisation that inspires and empowers First Nations people to find new pathways beyond the criminal justice system through art. Wilson Parking has worked with The Torch for the last 2 years and was a key sponsor of The Torch’s inaugural mural training program.

Wilson Parking creating more pathways for First Nations artists with The Torch Mural Program

The Torch provides First Nations people in prison, or recently released, with the opportunity to create and display their art. Program participants can explore their identity and culture through art, developing their confidence and self-esteem, and find a different pathway after prison.

Those who enter the program whilst in prison can continue with The Torch after release as “In Community” artists, where they are supported to design and complete commissioned projects such as public murals, to build their skills and earn additional income. The Torch mural program provides a way for indigenous people to connect with their culture and develop skills on mural painting, with an aim to provide future employment opportunities.

Wilson Parking’s partnership with The Torch began in 2020 with the commissioning of artwork to display in its car parks and digital communications during NAIDOC week. The original artwork is permanently displayed in the Wilson Parking offices and works to educate on our shared cultures. The partnership has expanded from there.

David Nethercote, VIC Regional General Manager for Wilson Parking, said “Through our partnership with The Torch we’ve worked with local indigenous artists to create artwork that we can display in our car parks and offices. These artists have also shared their stories with our team, creating a deeper understanding of the cultural importance of storytelling through a visual medium and the positive impact that The Torch program has on the indigenous community”.

Through The Torch mural training program, Wilson Parking is helping to support new and upcoming indigenous artists who have been imprisoned to build a better life.

“By developing the skills to paint what is culturally important, it not only gives the artists a new pathway and a way to earn an income, it also helps to share stories throughout the community. We are proud to have been able to extend our support of The Torch, through the sponsorship of the mural training program,” Nethercote said.

Since its inception, The Torch program has supported over 600 indigenous artists to produce and sell their artwork. The program provides artists with a way to earn an income and is also effective in allowing artists to follow a new pathway. An independent evaluation in 2018/19 showed that the rate of repeat offending among Torch participants was just 11 per cent compared to the wider rate of 53.4 per cent for indigenous prisoners in Victoria and 42.8 per cent for non-indigenous prisoners.

Christopher Austin, a mentor in The Torch’s program and long-term Torch participant, says "The Torch art program provides a new pathway. A lot of people when they get out of jail, they go back to where they came from and that's what put them in jail the first time. If the Torch program didn’t come along, I don’t know where I'd be at to this day.”

Wilson Parking’s commitment to The Torch mural training program also goes beyond financial sponsorship. “We are very proud and excited to commission mural artists from the program to create murals within our Melbourne CBD car parks, which are expected to commence early this year," Nethercote said.