Balarinji is a Sydney-based, Aboriginal-owned strategy and design agency founded on authentic engagement with Aboriginal people, culture, art, stories and identity. Our ethos is to deepen the understanding of Aboriginal Australia for major projects nationally.
Our work for public and private sectors spans public art and curatorial, urban regeneration and infrastructure, RAP design and branding identity We deliver cultural design principles, Aboriginal stakeholder management and integrated art and design to major infrastructure developments.
Balarinji has developed a world-leading, best practice approach to engaging and collaborating with local Aboriginal custodians and creative practitioners for site-specific stories, cultural design principles and public art.
We deliver a vision and methodology for authentic storytelling that moves beyond compliance and mitigation, to enriched interpretation and a unique legacy of place. Balarinji’s management team, designers, project managers and business development professionals work to deeply embed Aboriginal sensibility within Australia’s national identity.
The Balarinji story began in the late 1930s when co-founder John Moriarty was born to a Yanyuwa mother and Irish father in Borroloola in the remote Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory.
Because his skin was paler than his mother’s, John was taken from her at the age of four as part of the now-infamous assimilationist policies of the Stolen Generations. It was a government strategy to eradicate Aboriginality.
After 10 years, at the age of 15, John would find his mother again briefly in Alice Springs, only to be immediately separated once more due to them both being Wards of the State. It was not until another 15 years later that John would have the wherewithal to return to the Gulf, to be reunited with family, culture and country.
Balarinji was founded in 1983 in Adelaide by its current Chair, Yanyuwa man John Moriarty, and current Managing Director, Ros Moriarty. In 1997, the company moved its operations to Sydney.
As dual inductees to the Design Institute of Australia’s Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Australian Graphic Design Association Hall of Fame in 2020, Balarinji’s founders are recognised for their unparalleled contribution to building bridges of best practice participation between Aboriginal communities, business and the broader community.
The National Museum of Australia, Canberra, holds the company’s design archive, its original works on paper and The John Moriarty Collection. Balarinji is also represented in the collections of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, and the Centre for Contemporary Graphic Design, Fukuoka, Japan.
Our affiliated not-for-profit, Moriarty Foundation, enables Aboriginal families and communities to unlock the potential of their children. By embracing the Aboriginal worldview, Moriarty Foundation's locally-led programs radically shift intergenerational disadvantage.
Founded in 2011, its two interrelated programs are:
A skills mastery program for 6 to16 year olds that uses sport to develop talent and positive change, improve school attendance and achieve resilient, healthier outcomes in Indigenous communities.
An early years program integrating health, wellbeing and education to give under five year olds the best start in life and improve the global readiness of Aboriginal children entering school.