The sculpture in question included written descriptions which suggested locking young offenders in the pillory device could be considered a viable administration of justice. Both the Committee and the Board felt this suggestion fosters humiliation, shame and dehumanisation of children and young people. While KRA consistently champions artistic freedom of expression through our programming, partnerships and outreach, it is beyond our ethical bounds to showcase a sculpture promoting such disturbing themes.
We take our responsibility to the community seriously, particularly when Indigenous members of the KRA board deemed sighting the sculpture as a ‘re-traumatising’ experience. Exposing the local Indigenous and wider community to traumatic content is not in line with KRA’s stipulated goals of celebrating diversity, nor is it in line with our strategic vision to be a key vehicle for creating community cohesion in the Katherine region. It is also not in line with the convivial spirit of good will that the Junk Arts Festival Committee has worked extremely hard in a volunteer capacity to deliver Katherine for the last seven years running.
As an organisation seriously affected by break and enters, KRA is the first to agree that there needs to be a public conversation regarding crime involving children and young people. Due to the seriousness of this issue, we want these conversations to be inclusive, solutions-based and positive affairs.
For this reason, we do not consider a sculpture award in a community festival funded by the Northern Territory Government as an effective platform for an issue of such vital importance. As supporters of restorative and reinvestment models of justice, KRA will continue to actively work towards such solutions in partnership with service providers and the local community, including the business community, for the benefit of all.