Saturday, 6 September 2014

Indigenous Australians in Cinema 1936-2014 - Reflections

As part of my son's crusade to "subject" me to a course of study on Indigenous Australians in cinema, we've begun by watching the 'First Australians' series.
It has taken us a while to get through it for a number of reasons, not least my dear son's penchant for suggesting we watch an episode just as I was about to head off to bed causing me to nod off part way through!
This is a brilliant series, it shows Australia's treatment of the first people to inhabit this continent throughout history - both good and bad.
I believe that no Australian child should be able to complete their schooling career without having seen it.
Over decades, governments and media outlets have encouraged the wider community to write off Indigenous people as "no hopers". However as 'First Australians' shows, there are countless Indigenous people throughout our history who have fought through the mire of European domination to fight hard for their people and we should look to those leaders as Australian heroes.
That Australian children have learned for decades about Simpson and his Donkey but not about Pemulwuy or Jandamarra is a travesty, although it does seem to be changing - in part due to this series.
I've found it really upsetting, physically upsetting to know that this treatment had been inflicted on anyone - let alone the first people of the country of my birth. It's a shaming experience, however I've been buoyed by the stories of Pateygarang & Lieutenant William Dawes and of the Wurundjeri people & Reverend John Green which show that not all inter-cultural relationships were negative.
'First Australians' has left me with a fuller understanding of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' history and the depth of their culture. I now have a far better idea what their culture and land means to them - take Koiki Mabo for instance. He was dying, cancer riddled his body but he still would not give up the fight for recognition of his traditional law, culture and land but the cultures and lands of Indigenous peoples throughout Australia.
I am very grateful the series was made and look forward to part two of this study - the films.

Rhonda lives in Central Victoria, Australia, generally minding her business and leading a quiet, peaceful life- unless her children have shown up to harass her.


  1. It's amazing, isn't it, how much we didn't learn at school. This is definitely on my list for my son in a few years time.

  2. Too right, Melissa. History didn't end with bark huts and boomerangs, did it?