What is FIVE Paraburdoo?
FIVE Paraburdoo is a new community arts project that will engage the local community in an effort to build social connection and community resilience in the remote Pilbara town of Paraburdoo, located 1,536 kilometres north of Perth. Paraburdoo was developed in the early 1970s to support Rio Tinto’s iron ore mining operations. As of 2013, the town has a population approximately 1,600 people, including a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workforce of approximately 250.
FIVE Paraburdoo is part of a two-year partnership with DADAA and Rio Tinto that will work in five Western Australian communities: Paraburdoo, Busselton, Geraldton, Derby and Esperance. The collective statewide project is engaging a broad cross-section of local communities, including families, FIFO and residential workers, and members from Aboriginal, farming and young adult communities.
Named after the number of communities, the project, called FIVE, will build awareness around issues of mental health through a community arts and cultural development approach. The project addresses key components of the Mental Health Commission's 2020 strategy for Western Australia. The project is also taking place in Geraldton, Busselton, Esperance and Derby.
Two key initiatives took place in Paraburdoo during 2013 and 2014.
- Well-known public artist Alex Mickle worked with Rio Tinto mine workers and community members to build a large-scale sculpture for the town of Paraburdoo. Much of the work to build the sculpture took place at the Para Men's Shed. In partnership with Rio Tinto, Alex and mine workers experimented with mining techniques – specifically, blast forming – to create steel plates that have been used in the sculpture. The work was unveiled on 18 December 2014 in Paraburdoo.
- Digital artist Craig Walsh worked with the community to capture digital portraits that share stories and experiences about life in Paraburdoo. The project, like all other FIVE projects, focused the notion of 'belonging' and participants were invited to respond in a short filmed portrait to how they respond to work, family, the land or anything else of interest in Paraburdoo.
For both projects, community celebrations were held.