Iconic Newtown mural artist helps paint a picture of a different kind

19 August 2011 | NSW/119

8,200 Census Collectors are currently sweeping across NSW collecting completed forms as part of the national Census of Population and Housing, which took place on Tuesday 9 August and marked 100 years of Census taking in Australia.

Over the past century the Census has painted a fascinating picture of Australia's development and a mural by Census Collector Juilee Pryor has also become an enduring symbol of Australian pop culture.

Juilee, who lives in Austinmer is responsible for painting Newtown's iconic Martin Luther King mural with friend Andrew Aiken in August 1991, says that the mural’s lasting fame was unexpected.

"It was painted to make a statement at the time. I never expected it to have the impact that it has 20 years later. I'm moved that it touches other people, I'm amazed by that," Juilee says.

This remarkable woman moved from Sydney to Austinmer in 2006 to complete a Masters of Arts at Wollongong University and is working on the 2011 Census to help her new community define their future.

"Unlike some countries we are very privileged that we are able to be counted in the Census. We have such freedom and this is demonstrated by Census information which shapes our future,” Juilee says.

"Everyone has a story, everyone counts. We all dream, we all count and we are all equal.”

This is Juilee’s first time working as a Census Collector and she is responsible for part of Austinmer and Thirroul.

"I'm looking after an area close to where I live so it's been great to contribute to my local community and soak up the surrounds. I've enjoyed the whole experience. I really like being around people and hearing their stories.

"I also have a new understanding and appreciation for who lives in the region and their knowledge of the importance of the Census.

"I was touched by one elderly person who was determined to complete their form themself and contacted me on several occasions to seek clarification. They beamed when they completed the form and the delight I felt for them makes the whole process so worthwhile.

"I’m already considering being involved in the next Census in 2016. It's a rewarding experience and a great reminder about how great we have it in Australia,” Juilee adds.

It's not too late to complete your 2011 Census form. Census Collectors will be out collecting until 28 August and the online eCensus option is also still open.

If you haven’t received a Census form or need an eCensus Number you can request one at www.abs.gov.au/census.