Joann Russo is the first ever Aboriginal woman to be appointed as Manager for the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre, located in Cardwell.
In her role Joann empowers the Traditional Owner groups of the region to prosper in their creative endeavours, encourages the transfer of knowledge, and educates others about the value that comes from Indigenous communities. She works with Elders and members from the Djiru, Jirrbal, Warrgamay, Girramay, Nywaigi, Gulnay, Gugu Badhan, Bandjin & Warungnu Tribal groups.
Joann says, “The Elders and members of Girringun have been my biggest supporters, they are the ones who gave me the opportunity to step up into my current role. I am forever grateful for their support and know I can confidently continue to honour their vision with them”.
Joann Russo is a Kuku Mini/Mitakoodi woman who was born and raised on Nywaigi/Warrgamay Country. Her great grandparents were part of the forced removal and as a result, lost their connection to country and its peoples after being placed on Palm Island. She is a mother of two young girls and a strong advocate for Indigenous women’s and people’s rights.
Joann has been employed at the Girringun Aboriginal Art centre for 4 years, where she began as an Arts worker. She moved on to managing the ethically licenced products and other projects for Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, including the first Girringun Youth Camp, an annual event held on Country to empower future leaders. Joann is an alumni of the National Galley of Australia’s Arts Leadership program, having participated in 2018. The program helped her to understand her leadership role within the community.
Joann says, “My appointment is an opportunity for all of the community to be heard and be represented on their terms. I am excited to see what the future holds for the art centre considering it’s the first time an Aboriginal person has taken the helm. I hope that I can inspire and be an example for other Mob to step up and become leaders within their own communities and art centres.”