Ronan Sharkey and Dora Weekley
More than six out of ten who call Australia home have had little or no contact with Aboriginal people. The chasm and disconnect between the First Australians and the rest of the nation is vast.
First Contact is a 3 x 52 minute documentary series that will shine a light on this deep divide by taking a group of six non-Indigenous people, from different walks of life and with strong and varied opinions, and immersing them into Aboriginal Australia for the first time.
Episode One: 8.30pm Tuesday 18 November 2014
Episode Two: 8.30pm Wednesday 19 November 2014
Episode Three: 8.30pm Thursday 20 November 2014
31-year-old Alice lives on the Gold Coast and is studying nutritional medicine. Good food, health and wellbeing are key principles that Alice tries to live by. It means she is mindful of the type of food she eats and where it is sourced. Alice is also a dedicated yoga fan and attends a class everyday if she can. It’s one way she fulfills her aim of always looking for how to improve. Alice grew up in Canberra and had very little interaction with Aboriginal people there. She spent most of her 20’s travelling the world and moving from place to place. Alice has lived in various places in Australia but is excited to come on this journey to see Aboriginal Australia, a side of the country that she feels she has yet to experience.
Bo-dene is 25 years old and lives in outer Melbourne. For the past five years, she’s worked on the checkout at a supermarket. Bo-dene won many academic awards at school and she is an aspiring actress with a great passion for drama and the arts.
The biggest challenge in her life was when she found herself homeless with her mum and brother a few years ago. Bo- dene has had little contact with Aboriginal people. But is very keen to find out more and learn about the lives of Indigenous Australians.
33-year-old Jasmine is a mother of four young children from suburban Brisbane. She has her hands full looking after the kids as her husband spends a lot of time away from home with work. Jasmine’s biggest passion is her family, but she says if she does have a vice it’s spending too much time on social media. Jasmine recently completed a diploma in tourism studies and has always wanted to work in the industry. One of her biggest regrets is not completing high school, and Jasmine says part of her motivation for volunteering to take part in this documentary was to set an example to her kids that people can always learn and improve themselves. Other than a few of her children’s school friends, Jasmine has had next to no contact with Aboriginal people in her life. But she says it’s possible that her husband may have distant Aboriginal heritage.
Marcus is 23 years old and has spent his life close to the water on Sydney’s northern beaches. He currently lives with his long-term girlfriend at her parents’ place in the same area. Marcus loves to surf in his spare time. He works as a photographer part time, usually covering music festivals and shooting portraits. He is also studying music at university. Music is one of his biggest passions in life, along with having what he describes as a ‘fascination with people’. Marcus has had very little to do with Aboriginal people growing up and he’s keen to find out more about the world outside his current environment.
Sandy is a 41-year-old mother of five from Newcastle in NSW, who works as a mortgage broker. Sandy lives a busy life, what with shuttling her three youngest children between school and day-care, making work calls (hands free) in the car, and making sure she finds enough time in her schedule to visit the hairdresser, the nail salon, and the solarium at least once a week. Sandy has a complex family history, including a mixed heritage that she only found out about in her late teens. She has had very little contact with Aboriginal people. But is very keen on having an adventure, if a little apprehensive about leaving some of her creature comforts at home.
Trent is a 28-year-old law enforcement officer and single dad from western Sydney. Trent says he always wanted to work in law enforcement and after briefly starting a university degree in teaching, he decided he would be happier pursuing his dream, and so switched to his current career. Trent says the proudest moment in his life was the birth of his child, closely followed by becoming a law enforcement officer. Trent has had some regular interactions with Aboriginal people, but only when he worked on front line law enforcement. He acknowledges these interactions have informed his opinions of Aboriginal people. Trent’s main reason for coming on this trip is to find out more about Aboriginal people and to become a better law enforcement officer.
CEO Tribal Warrior & Local Australian of the Year 2013
“We have to create our own destiny and develop our own tools to do it.”
Advocate for Aboriginal rights, Shane Phillips is a respected member of the Redfern Aboriginal community and is regarded as their voice on a range of youth issues, juvenile justice and Aboriginal deaths in custody. He was named 2013 Local Hero in the 2013 Australia Day awards
An Indigenous entrepreneur, Shane is the fulltime CEO of the Tribal Warrior Association. TWA is a non-profit organisation directed by Aboriginal people and elders that offers training for employment and helps at the grassroots level with emergency relief for struggling families. He also operates a mentoring program to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to achieve their full potential. The concept is uncomplicated: it’s about forming good habits, guiding by example, including everyone and acknowledging achievements.
Shane is also credited with improving the relationship between his community and the police. His biggest personal achievement is with the Clean Slate Without Prejudice Program that has been running since 2009. The program is based around a morning boxing program run three days a week at the Eora Gym in Redfern. The program is run in collaboration with the police, and since its inception the number of crimes committed by local youth has declined by 80 per cent. Born and raised in Redfern, Shane is an outstanding community leader, respected by Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people alike for his integrity, hard work and determination to get things done.
Senior Educator, Education Centre Against Violence & Chair Link-Up NSW
“From our family side all the top people have died off so it is up to us now. I’m a non-drinker, non-smoker, I don’t gamble, everything I do is for betterment of my family and my community. I know who I am as an Aboriginal man and I’ve got a lot to offer.”
Victor Morgan lives with his wife and three daughters in South West Sydney. They live in a four-bedroom brick home with three cars, a menagerie of pets, and a swimming pool. Also living with the family is Victor’s nephew Adam Morgan, 29, originally from Cabramatta; and his daughter Kimberley’s Aboriginal partner Henry Edwards, 22, originally from Redfern.
Victor has never had a handout and has worked hard for everything he has. Both his parents were of the Stolen Generations who overcame hardship to instill pride in their children; they are a part of Sydney’s Indigenous
population that grew up with the multicultural experience in Western Sydney.
Victor has worked in many indigenous organisations including the Tribal Warrior Association. He is currently chair of Link-Up NSW, an Aboriginal Corporation founded around 1980, designed to assist all Aboriginal people who have been fostered, adopted or raised in institutions to find their way home.
Victor is also currently working on a program called Strong Aboriginal Men. He says it’s “helping men to come to terms with trauma grief and loss”. He believes Aboriginal men need to take a place alongside Aboriginal women to get a voice in the community.
Victor Morgan’s own father (also Victor) was taken from his family when he was five years old. He was sent to Bomaderry and then to Kinchella Boys Home. Until his death he was the oldest surviving Kinchella boy. Victor was in Parliament House the day Kevin Rudd gave the apology – appearing for his dad who had Alzheimer’s. It was his father’s birthday.
Traditional Owner, Teacher & Tourist Business Operator
Nyinyikay, East Arnhem Land, NT
“We’re sharing our culture the spirit of the land.
Every human hair has that spiritual element.
We use it but at some point humankind have lost that,
Technology is good and well but you lose spiritual element to your lives”
Marcus Lacey lives on the homeland community of Nyinyikay with his wife, five children (some at boarding school) and extended family. The homeland is four hours drive or 20 minutes flight from Nhulunbuy.
Marcus is a passionate advocate of the homeland system. Until recently he and his immediate family lived on Elcho Island. But at the start of 2014 he resigned from his twelve-year teaching job at the Shepherdson College and took his family to Nyiniyikay where his mother, grandmother and extended family already lived. Marcus now teaches at a nearby homeland school.
Twice runner-up in the NT Young Achiever Awards, and youngest person to be elected to the Galiwinku Community Council, Marcus is a widely respected young leader of Yolngu Customary and Ngärra Law and is a trained mediator through the four-year Mawul Rom program.
Marcus ran his own youth football program at Galiwin'ku for six years. He describes the Marurrumbu Football Club as "using football to motivate young people into creating awareness about health, strong men, strong families, strong futures; where they will build self-confidence and leadership. We talk about these things as being important in life - footy is the vehicle." Marcus wants to bring the program to Nyinyikay but, as yet, there is no suitable infrastructure on the Homeland.
He is recognised and respected in the community as a talented teacher, singer, songwriter, performer and choreographer who has involved members of both the Yolngu and non-Yolngu community in his creative projects.
Together with his extended family, Marcus works with Lirrwi Tourism to provide immersive cultural experiences for non-Indigenous guests.
Elcho Island Arts
Elcho Island, East Arnhem Land, NT
Margaret Gudumurrkuwuy is a talented and experienced artist from Galiwin'ku, the main community on Elcho Island. Her traditional homeland is Gundalmirri. She is married to Sandy Pascoe and together they have three children and three grandchildren.
Margaret is known for her painting and carving skills and her past works include hollow logs, sculptures and paintings on bark and canvas, as well as more recently woven fibre works and jewellery.
During the week, Margaret is employed as an art centre assistant at Elcho Island Arts where her roles include assisting with translation, documenting traditional culture and knowledge, natural materials collection and artist liaison.
In 2009 Margaret commenced reduction wood cut printmaking with printmakers from Basil Hall Editions. Her work included in the Elcho Elements exhibition depicts the salt water currents found in the waterways surrounding Elcho Island.
In 2010 Margaret participated in the Yuta Badayala project and exhibition. Yuta Badayala (New Light) is the product of a joint project between Sydney based design company, Koskela, and Yolngu women fibre artists working with Elcho Island Arts in North East Arnhem Land. The aim of the project was to give Yolngu women the opportunity to transfer their traditional weaving techniques into new forms so that long-held cultural practices and art making skills could be seen ’in a new light’. The project also aims to develop new markets for Indigenous fibre art.
2011 ‘Living Art from Ancient Land’, Shalini Ganendra Fine Art, Malaysia 2010 ‘Yuta Badayala’, Object Gallery Sydney. In collaboration with Koskela Design. Sydney
2009 ‘Elcho Elements’, Nomad Gallery, Darwin
2009 ‘Dhapirrk Djarma Fantastic Work’, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
Alice Springs, NT
Tangentyere Council’s Night Patrol operates in the Alice Springs region, and is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The main roles of the Tangentyere Night Patrol are to ensure that children and youth are off the streets and safe so they are prepared for school the following day, and that Aboriginal People in town camps and Alice Springs are safe, protected and diverted to appropriate services.
Their mission is to ensure that:
- Children and youth on the streets are offered a lift home or to a safe place so they can be prepared for school the next day.
- Identifying and assisting children, adults and vulnerable groups who are at risk in Alice Springs and providing an opportunity for transport to a safe place or a referral to an appropriate service.
- Ensuring that Aboriginal people are diverted away from criminal justice responses and into community based support options.
- Liaising and integrating service delivery with other government and non government providers to ensure community access to necessary social, economic and health services, as well as to engage in effective information sharing to promote seamless service delivery.
- To employ language and cultural skills to inform service delivery and advise service providers about cultural responsiveness and acceptability.
The Night Patrol team is a group of skilled individuals, often multiple language speakers, who are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Alice Springs residents. They operate in a complex and often volatile environment with great skill and care and are trained in de-escalating dangerous situations. They offer a non-coercive alternative to criminal justice responses and have the respect of the community.
Safe & Sober Support Service Program
Central Australia Aboriginal Congress
Alice Springs, NT
“Our job is to help people, to either cut down or give up alcohol.”
Debra Maidment is a respected Arrernte woman and has been a senior female Aboriginal health worker in the Alice Springs area for four years. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Education, and is currently completing her Masters Degree. She specialises in community development and research.
Debra is a Senior Aboriginal AOD Worker for Central Australian Aboriginal Congress’ Safe and Sober Support Service, helping Aboriginal people who are looking for treatment and support with alcohol and other drug addictions. The program aims to facilitate improved wellbeing for Aboriginal people experiencing the effects of harmful alcohol use. Referrals come from other services in town including the Congress Clinic, Alice Springs Hospital and Corrections. Clients or families can also refer themselves.
The services provided include Women’s bush trips (every Wednesday), Men’s bush trips (every other Thursday). The bush trips are used as therapy, and a way to focus and facilitate reconnecting to country and identity, and retaining culture.
Yipirinya School HIPPY Coordinator
Alice Springs, NT
“I’ve worked in town, on stations, mainly with kids, ran the gap youth centre for a while, so been around, but always looking after kids.”
Geraldine Stewart works at Yipirinya School, specialising as a coordinator for both the FAST and HIPPY Programs. (See below).
Geraldine is the eldest of seven children. She began work at the age of 16 at St Mary’s Hostel in Alice Springs where her mother worked. St Mary’s was set up by the Anglican church to accommodate children of mixed descent living on cattle stations and in communities so that they could attend school in town and return home during school holidays. Some children were a part of the stolen generation.
All her life she has looked after children - working in child and family support centres, welfare centres, homes for children or looking after extended family. Despite struggling with depression at certain points in her life she retains a positive outlook and feels as though she was put on this earth to care for children. Geraldine is currently caring for several grandchildren after the unexpected death of her daughter-in-law.
Yipirinya School is an independent, non-government school, offering bilingual and bicultural education. Located in Alice Springs it caters for Indigenous students living in town camps and outstations who are some of the most disadvantaged students in Australia. Not only does it teach literacy and numeracy following a government framework, it also teaches four indigenous languages and culture.
The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) is a home-based parenting and early childhood enrichment program targeting families with young children. The program runs for two years beginning in the year before school, and continues during their first year of formal schooling. This approach aims to develop the foundations for learning during a child’s crucial early years. The program contributes to social inclusion, promotes successful school participation, and further supports parents to employment and local level community leadership.
Co-founder Linkidge Cross Communication Training Company
“What we want to do is build a bridge between two worlds, we want people to understand one another.”
Born in Port Hedland Sharyn is one of nine children. She is a Pilbara Aboriginal woman with connections to Banjima and Nyangumarta language groups. She speaks Yinjibarndi fluently and is based in Karratha. She has four sons who have Yijibarndi blood ties also. The two eldest currently work in the mining industry. She has four grandchildren.
During her career Sharyn has also previously worked at Roebourne prison as part of the Indigenous Family Violence Program catering to violent offenders, and worked in a variety of community development, counseling and governmental roles.
As a Director of Linkidge, a consulting business Sharyn has co-founded with her brother Brett, she presently works extensively as a facilitator of Keogh Bay Training’s Working with Indigenous Employees program.
Linkdige focuses on cross cultural communications and relationship building. The aims are to assist Aboriginal people to succeed in the world of work while balancing personal demands and community expectations. In addition Linkage offers communication training for Non-Indigenous mining managers concentrating on how to work effectively with Aboriginal people. They have now trained well over 600 mine managers/leaders at mine sites across the Pilbara in Cross-Communication Training.
CEO Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre
Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley, WA
Ms. June Oscar AO is a Bunuba Woman from Fitzroy Crossing in the Central Kimberley region Western Australia.
Recently Ms. Oscar was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia. The Award is a fitting national recognition of her significant personal contribution and long -term commitment to improving the lives of the people in the Fitzroy Valley.
She has a Bachelor of Business from Notre Dame University and is presently the CEO of Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre. She is an Ambassador for Children and Young People in Western Australia and co founded the Marulu Strategy focusing on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and a Chief Investigator in the Lililwan Project, a research project into the Prevalence of FASD in the Fitzroy Valley.
Ms. Oscar is a strong advocate and activist for the recognition, rights, preservation and promotion of Indigenous Australian languages. A former Chair of the Kimberley Languages Resource Centre, and co Chair of the Kimberley Interpreting Service. June is the inaugural chair of the Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation, Native Title Prescribed Body Corporate and serves on the Governing Committee for the Fitzroy Valley Futures Forum and is a Local Government Councilor on the Shire of Derby West Kimberley.
Deputy CEO Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre
Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley, WA
Emily Carter is a Gooniyandi Kija woman from the central Kimberley region. Emily awoke to the importance of Indigenous political self-determination and governance, while working at the Department of Community Welfare for 17 years in the far north Kimberley. During her time with the Department Emily became acutely aware of both the challenges of Aboriginal people engaging in the complexities of the bureaucratic system and of the power for Aboriginal people to influence decision makers and policy when they took on positions of regional authority. At the time, local Aboriginal leaders inspired her to understand her own history while advocating for the rights of her people. Coming from a Stolen Generations background, Emily sought to understand the grief associated with the loss of cultural heritage and the removal from ancestral homelands, which many people continually contend with across the Kimberley.
Emily moved to Fitzroy Crossing in the late 1990s to reconnect with her heritage and introduce her children to their grandmother. She began managing the sobering up centre and then moved to Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services as a drug and alcohol officer. It was during her time there that she became Chairperson of Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, and invited June Oscar to come on as Chief Executive Officer to restructure the organisation and consolidate its units and programs around its core objective of keeping women safe and advocating for their needs and future aspirations.
In 2007, their remote community of Fitzroy Crossing experienced 50 funerals and 13 suicides in 13 months. At MWRC’s bi-annual bush meeting, the women of the region called for a restriction on alcohol. Emily took on the position as Chairperson of MWRC, and alongside June, they spearheaded a movement, using the power of the Liquor Licensing Act to restrict the sale of full strength take away alcohol in Fitzroy Crossing. Emily continues to work at MWRC as Deputy CEO engendering collective leadership and action in women across the region to set a precedent for community led development and social reconstruction.
School Teacher & Foster Carer for F.A.S.D children
Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley, WA
“I guess for us it was just wanting people to know and understand what a FASD child looks like, and also knowing and understanding FASD because it is a new area for all of us to understand.”
Marmingee Hand, a Walmajarri woman, is an inspirational Community Elder in the Fitzroy Crossing community. Together with her partner, Geoff Davis, she has fostered three children all diagnosed with FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) - two of which are her grandchildren; the third is her sister’s son. Currently, in Australia, FASD is not recognised as an official disability.
Marmingee is the Chair of the Fitzroy Futures Education and Training Committee, and Chair of Garnduwa the regional Indigenous Sporting Recreation organization for the Kimberley. She speaks three languages, has two tertiary degrees, and has been a schoolteacher and TAFE trainer for over 20 years.
She is a strong advocate for women, and a role model for all young Kimberley Indigenous Women though her involvement in Garnduwa’s girls leadership programs, athletics and basketball development programs as well as coordinating the Fitzroy Girls Academy for Role Models WA.
Marmingee herself was a champion athlete. She excelled at basketball and netball before moving into a successful coaching career at a local and regional level.
Her support for the football in the Kimberley has been just as extensive. She was the chairperson and board member of the CKFL for many years, and was also on the Kimberley Football Association Executive.
Geoff Davis runs the local footy league as well as coordinating a number of regional sport and recreational events. Sport and recreation and particularly football play a major part of life in the Fitzroy Valley with six local teams compete on the town’s oval every Saturday during the season. Geoff also organizes various life skills programs which sees footy being used to help prevent suicide, self harm and to reduce violence in communities.
57th Annual TV Week Logie Awards, 2015 - Most Outstanding Factual Program
SBS Classroom Resources for Teachers
Take the discussion from the screen into the classroom with curriculum linked lesson ideas here
If your school has a Screenrights licence you can download the series from Enhance TV here