The NSW Swifts are proud to unveil the Club’s 2023 First Nations Dress which has been designed by Wongaibon woman Tarsha Hawley.
A former QBE Swifts Academy athlete and current Netball NSW Premier League player with the Sutherland Stingrays, 2023 marks the third year that Hawley has designed NSW’s Indigenous uniform.
Incorporating innovate circular bibs, which have been a feature of her designs since first being commissioned back in 2021, Hawley says this year’s artwork is “a representation of growth, development and the importance of remembering where you came from and where you started.”
This season Suncorp Super Netball’s First Nations Rounds are being held across Rounds 11 and 12.
The Swifts will don the dress for the first time in Sunday’s clash with the Vixens in Melbourne, while they will also wear it in the massive Round 12 Derby against the Giants at Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday 4 June.
As part of the First Nations Rounds, the Swifts players and coaching staff have also taken part in a cultural education session provided by contemporary Aboriginal Artist & Yuin woman Rheanna Lotter, who runs NGANDABAA Aboriginal Art.
Last year Lotter was commissioned to design First Nations gifts on behalf of the Swifts and she will do the same in 2023 for the Club’s clashes with the Vixens and Giants.
Swifts Executive General Manager Kath Tetley thanked both Hawley and Lotter for their continued contributions to the Club.
“It has been a real pleasure to welcome Tarsha back this year and her design is simply stunning,” she said.
“Tarsha is a netballer at heart and loves the game, which has helped build a real connection to her story and that of our team.
“As well as hearing directly from Tarsha, the team was also very keen to do some cultural education to get a deeper understanding and appreciation of First Nations culture.
“Rheanna’s workshop provided some much-needed insight into how far we still have to travel on the path to Reconciliation, but there was also a lot of joy as the players worked with her to create some beautiful artwork to illustrate their own personal journeys.
“When we celebrate First Nations it is vital that we engage in meaningful dialogue because education and the sharing of information is how we move forward together.”
The Story of our 2023 First Nations Dress
By Tarsha Hawley
I am very grateful, extremely proud and honoured to have the opportunity to design the NSW Swifts’ Indigenous Dress for the third year in a row, and to be able to embrace our culture and to teach others. Being a proud Indigenous woman from the Wongaibon mob my design is a representation of growth, development and the importance of remembering where you came from and where you started.
Depicted to the left of the painting is a crow. The crow is my totem and for me it’s about remembering where I come from, and remembering who helped me along the way. It might not mean much to others but to us and our mob it means a lot; the crow is gift from me to the Swifts Family and I hope when all of my mob from back home see our totem on the dress it gives them the motivation and mindset that anything is possible when you have opportunities, determination, grit and hard work.
The crow also symbolises how important it is to grow our game in rural communities, how important it is to have Indigenous people coming through the pathways, and in academies leading to more Indigenous people within the Suncorp Super Netball league. Me, being from Nyngan - a small rural town in NSW - I know the opportunities are few and far between and that it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of support around you to achieve great things. But sometimes all it takes is that one opportunity to excel.
It’s important we pay respect to the land the Swifts play, train and meet on: the Traditional Lands of the Wann Clann (Wangal People). Sydney Olympic Park features as a large meeting place and is represented by lots of circles and dots which the Swifts gather around. The outer circle, around the Swifts, is a representation of past athletes who have paved the way for current and future players. It’s that connection to ‘Inspired by History, Driven by Legacy’ which the Swifts pride themselves on.
The Parramatta River is where the lands of the Wann Clann stretched along, being a significant resource for them and surrounding tribes. Those surrounding tribes are in between the flowing river, which is a representation of how important water and waterways are to Aboriginal people: water connects people and communities to land and to each other. The variation of lines along the left side of the river bank in my painting is a representation of trade routes: a series of pathways that our ancestors travelled along which may have been essential for spiritual and cultural practices, food production, ceremony and other important meetings.
Without the people who have helped along the way we wouldn’t be where we are today, not only in our sporting careers but also in life. Everyone has their own story to tell but it’s the importance of remembering where you started and where you are now. Which leads me to the meaning behind the tree. The tree is a representation of growth as each individual in the Swifts started out their journey differently. The tree blossoms and each player blossoms in their own unique way - not only as an athlete but also as an individual. Just like a tree, it all starts from a seed but to grow you need help and guidance. For me it’s my family, coaches and teammates who have helped and supported me to be the person I am today.
Where you come from is who you are, but you choose every day the person you want to be.
Media Release by NSW Swifts - 24 May 2023