The art story behind the $180 million class action win led by Mervyn Street

A recent class action over stolen wages has brought past injustices to light. The paintings of the case’s Lead Applicant, Gooniyandi artist Mervyn Street, reveal even more about this history.
Aboriginal artist Mervyn Street, pictured in 2023, standing on a balcony of an old art shed. He wears a blue shirt and a cowboy hat.

Speaking on the phone from Mangkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing (WA), 73-year-old Gooniyandi artist Mervyn Street describes his leading role in a class action against the Western Australian State Government over historic stolen wages to Aboriginal people in modest terms.

‘I can’t believe it myself,’ he tells ArtsHub. ‘For this case, I heard about a lot of things that happened on those stations. I learned a lot from all those blackfellas who worked [as stockmen] there.’

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ArtsHub's Arts Feature Writer Jo Pickup is based in Perth. An arts writer and manager, she has worked as a journalist and broadcaster for media such as the ABC, RTRFM and The West Australian newspaper, contributing media content and commentary on art, culture and design. She has also worked for arts organisations such as Fremantle Arts Centre, STRUT dance, and the Aboriginal Arts Centre Hub of WA, as well as being a sessional arts lecturer at The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).