Thelma Austin - Blak Queens creator
I am a Proud Gunditjmara woman living and working on Wurundjeri country. I was raised between Collingwood, Fitzroy, Preston, and Reservoir with many trips to Framlingham to see my mob on the Mission.
My Dad, Jock Austin was a Gunditjmara man and my Mum, Patricia Austin was a non-Aboriginal woman but grew up with the mob from around 10 years old.
I have a big beautiful, blended family with the most kind, loving and strong Yorta Yorta Man Wally, with five children between us, Kiewa, Dylan, Kennisha, Wally Jnr and Latikah, 2 mine, 3 Wallys but they are all ours and we love them unconditionally.
I have a beautiful Mother and Father-in-law who are both Yorta Yorta Elders, they have taken my little family in, and I’ll be forever grateful to them. We are all one big mob, and they are our life.
My first artistic teachings were at the Nindeebiya workshop with Aunty Jan Chassell’s and Uncle Jackie Charles, under the Fitzroy Stars Gym at 99 George Street, Fitzroy. I have had a love of art and craft ever since.
I learnt wood burning, screen printing, leather works and more at Nindeebiya as a kid, it was my therapeutic outlet and safe space as I had a lot of family violence at home. I have also done Koori women’s workshops and created things by learning from other Koori women. I recently completed the Koori Heritage Trust, Blak Design program learning jewellery making with precious metals.
As a child of only 8 years old I made a decision while hearing my mother's screams way too often. I said to myself that my kids and I were never going to have this in our lives, and I was going to help women and children in the future so that they didn’t have to experience the violence and abuse that my Mum did. I am now 46 and have been working since I was 14 years old in different areas, but the one constant passion for me is the safety of our Women and Children.
While completing the Blak Design program and making the Blak Queen crowns it all came to me, this is what I am meant to be doing, helping my sisters through my art and story. So here I am, the creator of “Blak Queens” and the “Blak Queens Movement”
My ancestors have guided me to this exact place and time, it's time for change, it's time for US to change the narrative in our communities.
Check out the Blak Queens Movement page for more information.
Blak Queens Creator