Adelaide’s 2022 Indigenous guernsey designer Pat Caruso has never struggled to tell a story.
The experienced marketer and business owner has built a career based on storytelling, a tradition passed down through his mother and his connection to culture.
“In First Nations culture, story and song lines are how communication is handed down from generation to generation and it has been part of my bloodline for thousands of years,” Caruso said.
“If you look across Australia, there are elements of the Dreaming which appear from Queensland all the way to WA across 350-odd languages as the stories cross language barriers.
“Telling stories and the significance of these traditions still has a place in today’s world.
“My mum is a lecturer who tells stories about her life and culture, so growing up she was always passing on the foundation of our culture daily without even realizing and I now take it into my life and work every day.
“Everybody has a story to tell and I now get to tell them through my art.”
Caruso, an Eastern Arrernte man, realised the significance that his personal and professional experience would have for businesses, particularly those owned by Indigenous people, when he left his role at a highly regarded advertising agency to start his company, We Print Design Deliver.
“At different stages in my life, when I was around certain people, I couldn’t be Aboriginal and had to be aware of when to say certain things and when not to so the conversation doesn’t become awkward,” Caruso said.
“Walking between two worlds makes you specially qualified in the field of communication and is significant in today’s professional world, where businesses are looking for messages which are cross-cultural and can speak to everybody.”
Caruso brought this expertise to the design of the Crows 2022 Indigenous guernsey, which highlights the coming together of the men’s and women’s teams on their reconciliation journey as well as acknowledging the impact that the many members of the Crows family have left on the Club since 1991.
“The male and female hands which make up the wings of the Crows are equal parts of the bird, which shows the equality and recognition of both teams.
“When you have equality and recognition, other things follow.
“This guernsey has allowed me to engage with my peers in the community and represent them, so I really want to do them and my family justice.”
Family is at the core of Caruso’s story, including his children Antonio, 8, and Aubrey, 3, who will run onto the field with the Adelaide players ahead of the Crows’ Sir Doug Nicholls Round match on Saturday, proudly wearing the guernsey their father designed.
“For them, that connection to culture is just a normal part of their lives, and they don’t realise how significant it is and how much we as their parents are mindful about making it part of our day-to-day life,” Caruso said.
“At school and at home, their culture is celebrated, and it is something we want them to feel really proud of.
“Growing up, I had a totally different experience, but my struggle and understanding doesn’t compare to Mum, who was taken away from her family and culture as part of the Stolen Generation.
“Mum’s work to reconnect has made things easier for me to engage, and now I am making it easier for my children.
“They now get to start their own story.”
Adelaide will wear its 2022 Indigenous guernsey in Sir Doug Nicholls Round when it takes on St Kilda on Saturday, May 21 at Adelaide Oval.