Indigenous Apprenticeships Program - Shaneiva

A past apprentice has created artwork to represent the tagline ‘What will your story be?’

Past staff member and apprentice, Shaneiva created a new design for the IAP.

Artist story

Shaneiva is a proud Gamilaroi woman who lives on Biripi land and worked at Services Australia. She completed the program in 2020.

The painting pieces together symbols from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures to represent stories, journeys and beginnings. Each symbol connects to the story of an apprentice in the program.

The final piece and the design

Symbolism in the work: What will your story be?

‘I think there’s a vastness of wisdom from First Nations peoples that we should protect,’ Shaneiva said. ‘There is so much beauty and wisdom behind our culture that doesn’t get embraced the way it should. We have so much knowledge that can be highly valuable for creating change. Change not only for the agency, but for our country as a whole,’ Shaneiva said.


The sun

There are 2 feature elements in the artwork—the sun and the hand symbols. The sun represents new beginnings and great things ahead on the horizon. It also represents new opportunities and embracing the uncertainty of every path you take in life. In the IAP, it represents the start of a new part of an apprentice’s story when they join the program.

The hand

The hand represents belonging. It represents the belonging that apprentices find in being part of the IAP. It also represents the belonging they find in the agency or department they work for.

Importantly, it’s about how true belonging creates a space to embed Indigenous voices throughout the APS, embracing diversity and difference.

Networking symbol

This is the networking or gathering place symbol. In Aboriginal cultures it represents a meeting place, somewhere to gather as one. In this artwork, it represents the apprentices’ journeys from all walks of life and from all around Australia. They come from all different stories to meet in the one program.

The drum and boo shell

This is an image of a Torres Strait Island drum and there are many representations of the boo shell. The drum and shell represent calling people together in Torres Strait Islander cultures.

They represent calling apprentices together from all over to start a new part of their story.

Songlines and weaving symbols—joining elements

Connecting the symbols of networking, gathering places and calling together are songlines and weaving. Songlines represent the importance of storytelling in Aboriginal cultures, how stories tie events together. In Torres Strait Islander cultures, weaving represents the story from life to death and all that’s in between.

Songlines combined with meeting places represent the journey and story of life, from one event through to the next.

Illuminating dots

The illuminating dots combine the traditional with the contemporary. They signify how the IAP illuminates the path to new opportunities for apprentices. The program can open doors, start new career paths and connect apprentices with others from all across the country.

Bush medicine symbols

Lastly, bush medicine technique, uniting the elements, represents healing between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and other Australians. It also symbolises growth. It ties to the central point of the IAP, which is ensuring Indigenous voices are in every space of government. This is one way we can create real change, growth and healing in Australia.

Page last updated: 17 November 2022