Bibi and Natalia Phillips-Petersen, from Kingaroy, model the new South Burnett Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation face masks which are being sold as a fundraiser for the not-for-profit organisation

September 17, 2020

Just a few months ago the idea that making colourful face masks could be a great fundraising idea would have seemed ludicrous.

But with the arrival of a global pandemic – and health officials in Queensland urging people to wear masks if they find themselves in a situation where they can’t socially distance – it suddenly feels like a very good idea, indeed.

A deadly idea, in fact, to counter a deadly disease …

The South Burnett Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation – the group behind last year’s successful Kingaroy NAIDOC celebrations – had planned to run a Festival of Cultures in the region in April.

Planning was well under way when COVID-19 forced its cancellation.

Looking round for another activity, and a way to raise funds, SBATSIC hit upon the idea of face masks.

Blackbutt artist Val McGrath completed the Indigenous designs which were then photographed by Alan Neilsen – a SBATSIC honorary member – and screenprinted by Kingaroy-based business Zeebz.

Alan said the printed cloth was then handed over to Kingaroy QCWA and the Blackbutt-Yarraman QCWA members for mask-making.

The masks are made from three panels: the inner layer is cotton, then there is a stiffener and the outer layer is the printed polyester design.

Alan said they come in two types: with loops that go over the head or behind the ears.

He said both the QCWA groups and SBATSIC were using the project as a way to raise funds for their activities.

“And the best thing is, it’s entirely local,” Alan said.

SBATSIC plans to sell the masks through its Facebook page and the popular “Buy From The Bush” community group.

Alan said the masks would be sold for $15.50 each, which would include free postage anywhere in Australia.

For the moment, anyone interested in ordering a mask should message Val McGrath via the SBATSIC Facebook page

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