'Our Land, Our Life', 'Invasion '88', and 'Condoman says: Don’t Be Shame Be Game, Protect Yourself' are just some of the slogans from a collection of posters in the Australian Museum archives which are valued for providing a rich social history of early Indigenous theatre, music and political activism in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s.

'Condoman says: Don’t Be Shame Be Game. Protect Yourself'.
The Condoman campaign was launched in 1987 to communicate the safe sex message to young Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders at the height of the national AIDs education and awareness program. The slogan remained popular with audiences which is why, 20 years later, the campaign was relaunched in 2009 with a refresh of the design to reflect the colours of the Torres Strait Islands and Aboriginal flags. Redback Graphix. Royal Easter Show Edition, 1991. Image AMS589/33 Image: Redback Graphix.
© Commonwealth Department of Community Services and Health, Aboriginal Health Workers of Australia, Queensland.

The posters were originally collected privately by Museum Aboriginal Education Officer Sheryl Connors, and not only capture the ephemeral nature of poster art and their messages to the community, but the emergence of contemporary aboriginal co-operatives in art and music.

Key figures at this time include Gracelyn Smallwood who began her career promoting Indigenous health in Townsville. Smallwood’s work in raising awareness of HIV-Aids among Indigenous people included the creation of the characters Condoman and Lubelicious to promote safe sex, for which she won an Order of Australia medal in 1992. Gracelyn Smallwood was named Person of the Year at the 2014 Naidoc awards.

Bronwyn Bancroft, a textile designer, artist and arts administrator helped set up one of Australia’s oldest Indigenous-run arts organisations, the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative. Bancroft also served on the board of the National Gallery of Australia.

CAAMA Music (Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association) promoted the recordings and performances of artists through posters. CAAMA is a record label which has produced 90% of its recordings in Indigenous languages throughout the last 30 years.

Additional information

The Guardian newspaper, Michael Safi, Naidoc awards: Linda Burney and Gracelyn Smallwood among those honoured