OiOiOi Mateship Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation, famous for its eye-catching boots painted by talented Indigenous artists and worn by players (no matter their ethnicity) from multiple sporting codes on national television in an effort to spread mateship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Sunny Pai’aua founded the organisation to act on a gut feeling that ‘something wasn’t right’.

It is no secret that in Australia the disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are multifaceted and far-reaching. That’s why OiOiOi’s aim is to conjure mateship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through a shared sense of experience, respect, mutual understanding and support. Already, the shoes that Sunny and her organisation have in circulation are on their way to reaching more than 100 million views on national television. Sport has always been and will always be a great medium for community building. OiOiOi’s philosophy is simple, effective and relatable to both sporting fans and non-sporting fans.

OiOiOi have a non-negotiable rule that their artists are given automatic copyright and are paid for their work. Not only does this give paid employment to the Indigenous artists, but it is a booster for their resume to have been engaged by a credible organisation such as the St George Queensland Reds and high profile athletes, and connects to other opportunities, such as university scholarships, rugby development programs, and artistic commissioning.

Tackling the barriers to friendship is Sunny and OiOiOi’s mission, and her hard work has been rewarded by seeing players and artists at the forefront of the sporting world in Australia. With the ongoing support and friendship between the St George Queensland Reds and OiOiOi, Sunny says OiOiOi is walking the walk together to tackle the social divide, one step at a time.

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