ACT News

I hope it's reuniting Australia: Canberra's Ineka Voigt on the response to Google doodle

Canberra teenager Ineka Voigt wants to see a "message of reconciliation" continue to spread after an enormous response from the public to her Australia Day Google drawing.

Ms Voigt, 16, won a competition last year to have her picture of a reunited Indigenous mother and child featured on the search engine's homepage on January 26.

Ineka Voigt with her drawing on the Google homepage.
Ineka Voigt with her drawing on the Google homepage. Photo: Rohan Thomson

At the time she said the date, alternatively known as Invasion Day or Survival Day, meant her image took on extra significance.

"It's important for us to recognise our achievements [on Australia Day], but also look at the atrocities. I believe that the stolen generation is one of the greatest atrocities in Australia's history," she said.

Ineka Voigt's winning design in the Doodle 4 Google competition.
Ineka Voigt's winning design in the Doodle 4 Google competition. Photo: Ineka Voigt

Today is of great significance to every man, women and child in this beautiful country of ours. I am so privileged for...

Posted by Ineka Voigt Artivism on Monday, January 25, 2016

Ms Voigt said responses to the drawing had been overwhelmingly positive.


"It's absolutely wonderful for me as an artist, but as a message of reconciliation it has gone global," Ms Voigt said, having fielded calls from Hong Kong, the UK and Canada.

She said the feedback she had received made her "realise this is what I want to do with my life, I want to start conversations".

As an "artivist" – one who explores activism through art – the teenager was floored to hear one Australian media organisation describe the doodle as the most "overtly political statement in world Google history".

Google was widely praised online for selecting the image, which was a significant departure from the company's previous Australia Day doodles. It was a nod to those for whom January 26 symbolised the British invasion and its devastating effects on Indigenous people and culture.

On the matter of changing the date of Australia Day, Ms Voigt said she was undecided, but she hoped to see continuing change in the discussion and culture around the national holiday.

While the young woman's friends joke she could be the first female president of an Australian republic, Ms Voigt said her approach is "not political, it's humanitarian".

"I think I have a clear view of what's right and what's wrong, and that's why it confuses me that the government refuses to legalise gay marriage and change the constitution [to recognise Indigenous people]."

Competition judges included Indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft and ARTEXPRESS curator Leeanne Carr, who said Ms Voigt's work "deserved pride of place on the Google homepage".

"It's a powerful and beautiful image that is not only a brilliant artwork, but helps bring attention to the critical issue of reconciliation in Australia. We're proud to have it on our homepage today."