Over the next couple of weeks we will be profiling the winners of the Griffith Business School Outstanding Alumni Awards. Stay tuned for the rest in our Meet the Winners series.

Delvene Cockatoo-Collins considers herself a late starter when it comes to the world of business. “I was always mindful of my responsibilities to family,” the renowned First Peoples artist says.

Now announced as Griffith Business School’s 2018 Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus Award winner, Delvene says her time studying in GBS helped her get to where she is today, a renowned independent artist with her own successful studio. “I felt the area of work that I was drawn to working in – Aboriginal tourism and arts – was very much embedded in the degree I applied for at Griffith. I knew my needs would be met and that I would gain the skills and knowledge needed to build a small business of my own some day.”

Speaking of her award win, Delvene says having her work acknowledged is incredibly important to her. “Acknowledgement in its many different forms is always important – whether it’s companies or people engaging you to do work for them, people buying your work or just words of encouragement, indicates a level of trust and of a belief in you. I feel this award does this and more.”

Delvene is a proud Nunukul, Ngugi and Goenpul woman from the Quandamooka region of South East Queensland. Her family are from Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island and Moorgumpin) and Moreton Island — Quandamooka Country. One of her biggest commitments in her life and work is ensuring to preserve and tell the story of her culture and country. She had an amazing opportunity to do this when she was given the prestigious task of designing the medals for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Her dedication to her family and cultural history manifests itself in all her artistic work, which pays homage to the stories handed down to her and the spirituality of the land itself. Moreover, she uses her artistic medium to advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Ever since she graduated from her Bachelor of Arts (Leisure Management) and Bachelor of Tourism degree at Griffith University, Delvene has always tried to ensure her work always include an opportunity for creativity. “I worked in a number of Aboriginal Cultural outlets, also positions in health where I programmed youth cultural activities. Even in those other positions, I’ve had the opportunity to weave ‘making artwork’ into the job,” she says.

Early on she entered the Memento Awards in 2002 and had the chance to sell her works through Queensland Aboriginal Creations and a few other Brisbane outlets. More recently she’s been working independently to set up her studio and own business, Cockatoo Collins Studios. “I’ve had the opportunity to put my work in places that I know are well curated, including several annual events including the Homeground Festival at the Sydney Opera House and the Museum of Brisbane,” she says.

During that time, Delvene has worked very hard to ensure both her work life and home life thrive. “I’ve balanced this with raising children, returning to Minjerribah and settling into island life over the past eight years,” she explains. “I love the career I’ve established through my small business, that my work and life balance is seamless. Living on Minjerribah and making art and talking about this place becomes one and the same.”

When speaking about her time at Griffith University, Delvene is quick to point out that it has played a large part in shaping her career direction. “My Griffith story always comes back to me in some form. Whether I’m thinking about what I learnt during that time, the networks I formed, and and those long lasting effects — of how this learning emerges through my work and life now.

“The Griffith Business School is one part of my story of which I am proud and why I continue to recommend this as a place of learning and growth,” Delvene says. “It was pivotal in my development as I transitioned from school life to being independent and confident in my work and life —of being prepared for both”