Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Bunitj woman and Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI) program alumna, Nakia Cadd has designed the Melbourne Vixens’ first ever Indigenous playing dress as part of Suncorp Super Netball’s inaugural Indigenous Round.

The dress, using the Vixens’ clash dress colour of teal, includes three elements designed by Cadd in consultation with the Vixens athletes to reflect the values of the playing squad as well as stories told by Cadd’s ancestors.

Cadd was approached by Netball Victoria to design the Vixens’ inaugural Indigenous dress as a program alumna of the Richmond Football Club’s KGI.

The KGI has partnered with Netball Victoria on the Lagunta Sisters Program since 2015, delivering a netball program to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school girls to develop talent and industry pathways while strengthening connection to culture, and career and education opportunities.

“The process started after an opportunity I was given through the KGI, where I was approached by Netball Victoria and Melbourne Vixens to design the dress,” Cadd said.

“I spoke to my nans and mum about possible themes and ideas, cultural appropriation and symbols; and that’s where we came to agree that ‘strong women’ was a theme that represented the Melbourne Vixens.

“I think it’s a great privilege to be able to design the first ever Melbourne Vixens Indigenous dress. We still need to come a long way in terms of acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country, but I think it’s a step in the right direction in acknowledging and presenting our culture and doing that in such a respectful way.

“Also, for me just being a role model for my son so he can look back at the dress and say, ‘my mum did that’ and have a sense of pride.”

KGI Program Manager, Thara Brown said she was so proud of Cadd for creating such a meaningful design for the Vixens’ dress.

“It’s wonderful to see Nakia translate her own cultural identity and understanding into a meaningful design that also represents the Melbourne Vixens and their own team values,” Brown said.

“We’re really proud of Nakia’s achievement, and the opportunity for the KGI to play a leadership role in supporting Netball Victoria and the Melbourne Vixens to start embedding and celebrating Indigenous culture and history into their own organisation, and sharing our stories with their supporters.”

The design includes four bunches of the native flora golden wattle to represent the four Vixens’ team values.

The 10 footprints along the side panel are unique to signify each player wearing the dress this weekend and the different pattern with each footprint is unique to represent the different roles of each player and walking and playing on sacred land. Regardless of what court they play on, its sacred land that holds many stories.

The Minglip star will replace the current PKNC (Phoenix and Kestrels Netball Club) initials and represents the story of the seven sisters coming together, adapted differently across aboriginal nations. The story aligns with the Vixens’ value of ‘stronger together’ and symbolises the pact on and off the court and the history of the two teams, Phoenix and Kestrels coming together as one.

The Melbourne Vixens were presented with their dresses by Nakia at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Wednesday night. They will wear the dresses in their Round 10 game against Queensland Firebirds on the Gold Coast.