The Ngaar Wirribiiyan program comprises strong young women from Tamworth secondary schools, many with artistic skill.
The program is a holistic supportive service designed to assist First Nations young women from Years 7 to 12 to navigate life and education whilst staying connected to their culture. This is achieved through weekly mentoring sessions since the start of Term 4, inspiring and sharing with the young women through art.
Participants will showcase their artistic talents in the Ngaar Wirribiiyan (Strong Young Women) Art Exhibition in early December. The exhibition is being overseen by Gomeroi Education and Training (GET).
Ericka's artist statement notes her artwork is titled Guugaar's birth, and encapsulates the symbolic moment of her totem, the goanna, giving birth.
"The vivid portrayal signifies the continuation of cultural obligations, with the goanna passing on knowledge to younger generations," the statement concludes.
GET program coordinator and mentor Kelli Allan said the Ngaar Wirribiiyan exhibition would consist of artworks created by students from all Tamworth secondary schools.
"The young women will tell a story about what strong women mean to them as artists," Ms Allan said.
"The theme is about empowering our young women to be strong women.
"They are already strong young women - but can we make their world better? What can we offer them that they might not be getting, like opportunities to put their art on display for the whole community to see and share their stories.
"It comes from women empowering young women to be strong women," Ms Allan said.
There are 75 young women taking part in the program, and Ms Allan is hoping to have most of them contribute works to the exhibition.
The artworks will be displayed with the story of each individual piece and artist profile.
"During the exhibition, our young women and their invited guests and community will vote on an artwork as the community choice winner, and Gomeroi Education and Training will choose the winning artwork to represent the Ngaar Wirribiiyan program," Ms Allan said.
"The winning artist will then collaborate with a local Gomeroi artist to digitalise their artwork to be used as the program's branding."
The exhibition will be held in the University of New England's Tamworth Centre, 24 Fitzroy Street, running from Monday, December 4 to Friday, December 8.
Ms Allan said a launch would be held on Monday evening from 5 to 6.30pm. The exhibition will then open to the wider community from Tuesday to Thursday, December 5 to 7, between 9am to 4pm, and Friday December 8 from 9am to 2pm.
This is the first time the program has been run, and Ms Allan hopes to see it continue next year.