Sr Judith marvels at the power of art to bridge divides

Algon from Palm Island

Good Samaritan Sister and accomplished artist and art teacher Judith Souter took an unexpected trip to Palm Island recently, an experience which showed her yet again the power of art to reach across barriers and speak to people’s hearts.

- The Good Oil

Sister Judith, whose background in ministry is in education, teaching art and running an art studio in Camden, said that in her semi-retirement she was not expecting to find herself on Palm Island. However, a chance comment to one of her friends, Sister Lal Smith SGS, who ministers full-time on the island with Sister Robyn Brady SGS, led her there.

'Lal’s a mate of mine and she tells me about all that she’s doing up there and I said to her once, off the cuff, "I’d love to go up and help you with it",’ Judith told The Good Oil. “But I had an accident and injured my back some years ago and I’m a bit of a wreck, so the idea of going up there was really a bit of a laugh. It didn’t seem like a real possibility.”

However, when Lal came to Sydney for a Good Samaritan Council meeting, she raised with the leadership team the idea of Judith taking a trip to Palm Island. 'And before you know it, I was going!'

Palm Island lies off Townsville and is endowed with rich natural beauty. It is an Aboriginal community which faces many social challenges, most of which can be attributed to its history as a place where the Queensland Government sent Aboriginal people who had been convicted of various, often minor, crimes. This resulted in Aborigines from many different tribal, cultural and language groups all attempting to live together on the island. There is very little employment on the island, leading to problems including drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness and other social challenges.

FULL STORY The power of art to reach across barriers