On Australia Shores: Survivor Stories

ABOUT

For the last three months Magali and I have been travelling closely with and listening to the stories from families who have been adversely affected by the Agriculture Protection Board (APB), an Australian Government program which operated throughout Australia.

Eugene Mcmahon, Executive Producer and Cultural Adviser has been with the Ngikalikarra Media team to document stories from those families in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in that period. The focus of the project is in listening to these stories, producing documentaries based on those accounts and taking these to the United Nations, Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner (OCHCR) - https://www.ohchr.org/EN/pages/home.aspx

OCHCR

In Eugene’s words;

“…On behalf of the People,

We demand answers.

Questions have already been asked for thirty years from all the Families that have been impacted by the the use of 2,4,5-T and other toxic chemicals as part of the Australian Governments endorsed weed eradication programs in Australia.

The ‘On Australian Shores: Survivor Stories’ Project has provided Families who have lost loved ones with an opportunity to relate their stories on camera, despite their heartache. Their statements and our research, have highlighted the lack of duty of care of the Australian Government and the misleading information the victims were provided with during their time of employment.

Despite successive inquiries, reports and extensive press coverage these Families still have no answers to the questions that have been exhaustively posed to all government authorities, such as the whereabouts and return of human remains still housed in medical warehouses.

Recommendations made in those reports have been ignored and continued inaction from all levels of government still prevails in 2018.

Those Families demand answers, recognition and compensation. The Australian Government needs to own this issue and be accountable for this genocide.”


SURVIVOR STORIES

Each story tragically provides an account of how the government endorsed program wilfully according to some, set about sending teams of young predominantly Aboriginal men into remote locations to spray the deadly dioxin 2,4,5-T - 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid and mixed with 2,4-D and/or diesel;

“…2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (also known as 2,4,5-T), a synthetic auxin, is a chlorophenoxy acetic acid herbicide used to defoliate broad-leafed plants. It was developed in the late 1940s and was widely used in the agricultural industry until being phased out, starting in the late 1970s due to toxicity concerns. Agent Orange, a defoliant used by the British in the Malayan Emergency and the U.S. in the Vietnam War, was equal parts 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid). 2,4,5-T itself is toxic with a NOAEL of 3 mg/kg/day and a LOAEL of 10 mg/kg/day.

LISTEN TO THE PROJECT OVERVIEW

You can listen to the podcast by Dylan Storer below or access it online also at https://omny.fm/shows/the-edge/documentary-sharing-stories-of-agent-orange-sprayi


LEARN MORE

This project is being privately funded by project supporters Amanda and Peter McCasker as well as Colin McCumstie, Sons Cain and Dale McCumstie have all provided financial and communications support to produce the West Kimberley region episode playlist at https://goo.gl/AYmAJ1

Read more about the project here - http://www.ngikalikarra.org/projects/on-australian-shores


Slap In The Face

On the 9th July 2018 at the request of a Yawuru Descendant man, Nicholas Marley I travelled to Johnny Chi Lane which is a shopping precinct tourist mall in the centre of Broome, Western Australia. In that lane there is a large diorama of scale interpretive model depicting the historical overview of the Broome community.


Nicholas Marley stated that he found the depiction of Aboriginal people in neck chains being led at gun point as being offensive and not true to the full picture of the role of Aboriginal people in the community as domestic servants, as labourers and in many other roles as well as those unfortunate to be led like dogs around in neck chains. Nicholas states in the short film that he wishes for the display to be either pulled down or substantial alterations made to the display.

Nicholas is petitioning the Broome Shire Council to force the proprietor of the arcade to make these substantial variations especially considering it is high tourist season and that it is also NAIDOC Week 2018 'Because of Her We Can'. Both Magali and I believe Nicholas has a valid point and that his story to be listened to and shared too. 


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Testimonials recived by SMS message - Friday 13th July 2018

Balla


Magali and I often come back from these trips on country after meeting a mountain of magic souls and then lucky us we get to meet a million more online. A very few, the most special of them all leave us a private message or two that inspire us to keep at it.

This work that we have mostly conducted to date with our own funds, own energy and sometimes our own tears is a lot of the time thankless as thats not what we set out to be doing. Our mission is to bring those voices forward that are often suppressed or unheard for any number of reasons. It is our future goal to do the same but perhaps employing a cast of thousands and making sure those too are inspired themselves to travel as we have.

To protect country.

My balla, my Brother, Michael Coleman is one of those men I'd like to get to know more. Nothing matters more than good connections. Real connections with real people.

Girr Ngin Ngan


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Facebook Messenger - Group message - Mary Ozies - Friday 13th July 2018



The main privilege we had as residents of Broome, Western Australia was listening to, recognising and honouring the Djugun community of whom they are part of the greater Goolarabooloo, sunset, sundown country. We also have witnessed some of the worst forms of lateral violence and intergeneration trauma entrenched in the contemporary psyche of a litmus tourist centre for the Kimberley Regions of Western Australia.



As our Ngikalikarra website will attest, we spent a big part of our time listening to the stories of Elders and aspiring leaders as they fought against mining, corruption and rampant development in this otherwise pristine and sacred landscape, country. To do so we expended much of our own time, our own resources and in doing so we gained so much knowledge and insight into how precious this environment is.

We are grateful, never complacent and know this part of the world will always be our home to protect.

 

Stokers Siding Screening

SCREENING OF 'PROTECTING COUNTRY' FILM
STOKERS SIDING, NSW


Friday 26th January 2018
 


DETAILS

Venue: Stokers Siding Community Hall - click here for details
Date: Friday 26th January 2018
Time: 6:00pm start
More Details: Call Alexander on +62 427 996 984


Australia Day is for many Australian's a day off work, attach the Aussie flag to the car aerial, stock up with at least a carton or two of cans and head off to listen to a day of Harvey Norman commercials in a park and watch fireworks, drape the flag over a drunk tattoed torso, scream "aussie aussie oi oi oi" on the way back to the car and brag on about "we are fourth generation" and " my grandfather cleared this land to make way for a better life and a better wife".

Photo: James Butler

Well frankly, all of those sentiments do not wash with us and the day means little more than a day of dubious importance other than a time to mourn the countless Aboriginal communities decimated by occupation over 230 years ago as James Butler puts forward in one of his latest photos.

This needs to be acknowledged as many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities state as a time of sorrow and more importantly resistance to a continuing genocide across this "fair" nation. There is no unity, no harmony, no tolerance, no peace when the Australian government continues to shut down communities, permit illegal occupation and possession of country, remove children from families and incarcerate young Aboriginal people...a continued genocide and apartheid of the worst description and it continues today!!!

Photo: Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Jackie McDonald, Bunjalung.

So as a Family this Friday 26th January 2018 we are returning to Stokers Siding community in northern NSW who so generously supported the sponsorship of the 'Protecting Country' film in 2017 and we are going to screen the final edit of the 'Protecting Country' film with a Welcome to Country by Aunty Jackie McDonald, Bunjalung Aboriginal Elder and Traditional Custodian.

You can read more about Jackie here - Serving Our Country Project, ANU.

The screening details are at the top of this post and we hope that this event is well attended as this is a connection between the Bunjalung people and the Adnyamanthana people through our project Community Liaison, Bruce Hammond.

Read more about the 'Protecting Country' film project that we are delivering here - http://www.ngikalikarra.org/projects/protecting-country-film

We hope to see you there and if you are reading this from Facebook or other social media can you please ring around and tell people that this is happening and re-share the post across all your contacts please.


Yugambeh Country

Over the years both Magali and I have had differing experiences that have put us in contact with the many mobs who have protected country up here on the Gold Coast.

Magali has connections with the Bundjalung people especially through the Tweed Valley and through her old hometown for a decade at Stokers Siding, close to Murwillumbah NSW Australia. I had my own years of attending the old Lismore CAE and many years of travel up and down the Pacific highway with children spread across three states. We are up here visiting Aunty Jackie and Aunty Joyce and thats the best bit of it all here up this way as far as people go.

So it is that we are feeling very privileged to be on Yugambeh country, spending the day in forests where the Yugambeh, Ngarangwal, Nganduwal, Mibin/Miban, Danggan Balun(Five Rivers) clans would come together, long before it was logged and marginally saved by one old fella...the whole tragic story but one last remnant standing tall and strong amongst other towering cliffs nearby.

Surfers Paradise is the worst example of rampant consumerism gone wrong and the countless traditional sites that have been decimated to make way for these ugly times and ugly humans that inhabit piles of concrete boxes. It is a complete nightmare along this coastline and incredibly frightening to see the impact and pressure that a last remnant forest is under as tourists throw their coke cans into the bush, tramp through sensitive rainforest and kill off the waterways with their ridiculous canal houses.

In summary it is a place of extreme and paradoxical contrasts, absolutely amazing country in some pockets and decimated under tons of crap right next door. The cancer of estate houses and the mall after mall of shopping mayhem makes me sick. Thankfully the country will heal itself long after this scourge has left this planet.

Voices of Goolarabooloo


Today, Magali and I returned to the Goolarabooloo Millibinyarri Aboriginal community which is located only 12 kilometres north of Broome central,  fresh from recent rains in Mankala season - http://www.goolarabooloo.org.au/six_seasons.html

 Photo: Alexander Hayes - Phillip Roe giving feedback on the trailer

Photo: Alexander Hayes - Phillip Roe giving feedback on the trailer

We sat with Phillip Roe, Grandson of the late Paddy Roe (Lulu) and discussed the final points Phillip wanted included in the 'Voices Of Goolarabooloo' documentary trailer we are releasing today. The trailer features Jeannie Warbie, Senior Nyikina Traditional Owner and also Phillip Roe, Goolarabooloo Law Boss and Traditional Custodian as well as Frans Hoogland, environmentalist, community spokesperson and mediator.

 Photo: Alexander Hayes - (l) Jeannie Warbie & (R) Phillip Roe

Photo: Alexander Hayes - (l) Jeannie Warbie & (R) Phillip Roe

A renewed fight to protect country, maintain law and culture in the face of rampant economic development which threatens and destroys the natural environment forms the central theme to this documentary to be released in late 2018 by Ngikalikarra Media. The trailer contains the key messages that the Goolarabooloo community have lived out through colonisation, forced removal of children, massacres and incarceration of Aboriginal Goolarabooloo people over 223 years. 

 Photo: Alexander Hayes - (L) Phillip Roe, (C) Jeannie Warbie, (R) Magali McDuffie at Walmadan (James Price Point)

Photo: Alexander Hayes - (L) Phillip Roe, (C) Jeannie Warbie, (R) Magali McDuffie at Walmadan (James Price Point)

Both Phillip Row and Frans Hoogland speak of the failure of native title, the greed and corruption within land councils and the blatant disregard by a few individuals as they step outside of Law to the detriment of themselves and their immediate Families. With mineral sands, natural gas, fracking and other non-conventional mining international consortia pressuring the Aboriginal communities into non-veto positions, the federal and state governments using the instrument of native title are causing massive divides between traditionally harmonious people according to Roe.

 Photo: Alexander Hayes - Quondong Point, Western Australia

Photo: Alexander Hayes - Quondong Point, Western Australia

Frans Hoogland provides the fullest account of Liyan and the Bugarregarre, the core to Aboriginality and Law, culture as the main thread in this trailer, with Jeannie Warbie and Phillip Roe providing context and the contemporaneous challenges they face.


Resources & Links

 

Broome Regional Prison


Magali and I have completed one of our toughest film making assignments to date at Broome Regional Prison.

We were contracted to produce an induction video for those who have been sentenced.

After months of deliberation, repeat meetings with Men's Outreach Services in Broome, Western Australia and many, many hours of discussion with our community contacts the decision to produce a media based resource to replace a text-based resource was made based upon;

  1. Our ethical belief that anything that can be done to help predominantly Aboriginal prisoners in this facility is absolutely critical;
  2. Producing a high quality resource that advantages prisoners (who would otherwise be disadvantaged by low literacy) is also of fundamental importance;
  3. The video created reflected as closely as possible the reality of life in prison

We are not permitted to describe the video nor will it ever be released publicly but we are hopeful it will have a positive impact in its present and historical context.

Lurujarri Heritage Trail

Photo: Alexander Hayes - Magali taking footage at Walmadan

Magali and I have camped overnight (last night) at Walmadan getting more footage of country, birds, plants and the sunsets and sunrises to complete the first instalment of what will be a large documentary supporting the Goolarabooloo Law Bosses and their continued fight to retain and maintain their country.

 Photo: goolarabooloo.org.au

Photo: goolarabooloo.org.au

We camped just over the hill from where the main corroboree ground is where for five long years the Goolarabooloo people fought off large consortia hell bent on installing the worlds largest natural gas refinery plant.

Photo: Corroboree site at Walmadan (James Price Point) - Alexander Hayes

"...The spirit beings of Bugarregarre (the Dreamtime) created all life as we know it. They enabled spirits to take form and gave us the law. This way everything could function in harmony. This law encoded in the Song Cycle has been passed down unbroken since creation. It is our record of history. It is the Law-keepers, Law-people, and custodian's job to keep passing Bugarigaara ceremonies and stories from one generation to the next." Quote:  goolarabooloo.org.au

Photo: Alexander Hayes - Rockpool at Walmadan

Each and every time we travel on country, listen to the many stories and meanings for the importance of country in everyone's lives we are reminded of the incredible foresight Paddy Roe had for everyone who come in contact with this place.

"...In 1987, Paddy Roe initiated the Lurujarri Heritage Trail as a trigger to encourage the members of the Goolarabooloo community to be walking the Country again, as had always been done; to conserve; renew and stay connected with their heritage and traditional skills and to keep the same alive for generations to come. He also sought to wake up non-Aboriginal people to a relationship with the land; to foster trust; friendship and empathy between the indigenous community and the wider Australian and International communities." Quote:  goolarabooloo.org.au

Tomorrow we take the rough cut of the film featuring Traditional Custodians and Elders, Jeannie Wabi and Phillip Roe as well as the insight we gained from listening to Frans Hoogland who also lives with the Goolarabooloo community. We sat in Mangala with the rain pouring down and thank our lucky stars that we get to be here and connect with all these important people, partial to their story, bringing their voice that would otherwise be silenced out into the world.

 Photo: Alexander Hayes - Vines at Walmadan, Western Australia.

Photo: Alexander Hayes - Vines at Walmadan, Western Australia.

Walmadan

 Photo: Alexander Hayes - (L) Jeannie Wabi and (R) Phillip Roe at Walmadan

Photo: Alexander Hayes - (L) Jeannie Wabi and (R) Phillip Roe at Walmadan

We get one chance, just one opportunity to protect and retain the most precious of ecosystems, especially those tied with cultural significance.

Walmadan ( James Price Point) in the Kimberley Region, Western Australia is one of those significant areas for traditional custodians of this country. In the Bugarregarre this area this place was fiercely protected and to this day it will remain protected by Law through traditional custodians.

We have been on country over the last 24 hours listening to how recent events are again threatening to turn this fragile ecosystem into a mineral sands mine, a gas refinery hub, a commercial venture sold out to the highest bidder from foreign countries who have no respect at all for the environment. 

 Photo: Alexander Hayes - (L) Phillip Roe, (C) Jeannie Wabi, (R) Magali McDuffie - Walmadan camp

Photo: Alexander Hayes - (L) Phillip Roe, (C) Jeannie Wabi, (R) Magali McDuffie - Walmadan camp

The great sadness and the centre of the anger that is building momentum is focussed on one entity in the Kimberley, on one specific group of people and specifically one specific man who is breaking Law. Our role as filmmakers is to bring voice to those who are currently suppressed, marginalised from those decision making processes and who are subject to repeat attacks from mainstream media and these foreign entities through the genocidal instruments that include native title.

"...native title is shit....a failure." states Phillip Roe.

In a short period of time that interview we shot yesterday on film with Phillip Roe and Jeannie Wabi will be released to the entire world as they share in their collective dismay at the extreme divisions that native title is having on their families, their culture, their communities.

The interview provides a historical account of the fight to save Walmadan country and the continued acts of dispossession that other Aboriginal communities are perpetrating on their own kin using native title as a means to divide, conquer and extinguish the rightful custodians of country. Our role as filmmakers, photographers, researchers is to listen with both ears, observe with both eyes wide, awake.

One Law

Photo: Ronnie Roy by Alexander Hayes

Today we met with Ronnie Roe here in Broome, Western Australia who we listened to speaking of his family, his birthplace, his knowledge of country, Law and all those under that Law.

On his lap he showed us the insidious workings of native title and spoke of the many ways in which Aboriginal Australian communities are living suppressed and in breach of the International Conventions of Genocide, that the actions and behaviours of a few individuals who currently hold positions of office are contributing to the division of whole Aboriginal nations in breach of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We sat and listened to Ronnie's personal story of his struggle to support and uphold the Law of his country and the custodianship of protecting country as passed on from Paddy Roe, the Law of the Goolarabooloo, a body of cultural knowledge  known as Bugarregarra, the Dreaming.

 Paddy Roe

Paddy Roe

Gularabulu

 

As stated by Ronnie and reiterated by Michael Anderson Ghillar on October 10, 2017 native title is nothing more than;

"..A crime against our humanity is the way the Native Title process has been manipulated to further dispossess First Nations. Parliamentary legislation and 'Native Title specialist lawyers' are in lockstep with the colonial power to rob Aboriginal people of their inherent rights and responsibilities to uphold the oldest continuing living culture on the planet. Here on this island continent, now known as Australia, those wielding colonial power continue to promote Native Title in positive terms, well aided by the mainstream media, but the reality is a treacherous story of theft by trickery. " 

The sadness Ronnie embodies speaks of the fight and war he is having against those who claim his country is that of other mob, other peoples of who have forced the Goolarabooloo to cede their claims, seeking to extinguish their peoples under current and continuing Westminster Law in all its horrific and continuing manifestations.

In effect, we looked into the eyes and listened with our ears to a soldier who will defend his people and all those who protect country under Law.

Listening To Country



Today we met with a number of Djugun traditional custodians north of Broome, Western Australia.

It is apparent that recent developments in this part of the world mirror the genocidal actions of others experiencing similar in places as far afield as Mexico and Argentina. The key term here is apparent - genocide.

 Photo: Alexander Hayes

Photo: Alexander Hayes

What welcome to country you might ask? What means being welcome on country when the overlords of one family exclude, pillage and assume the ownership of country that has since time immemorial been and always will be the country of another mob?

So it is we must #listentocountry

Whether we choose to do this by simply acknowledging the traditional and RIGHTFUL custodians of country is a start. Each and everyone of us must stand up and speak out against the greed of those being paid $750 an hour to broker mining deals with the Koreans and the Chinese.

We must listen to and respect that fracking has no place in a country that is fragile and bereft of water that is currently plowed into keep resorts green and sick of spleen. 

We didnt travel far today but we made it our mission to be with those who matter most.

 Photo: Alexander Hayes - on our way to meet with the Roe Family.

Photo: Alexander Hayes - on our way to meet with the Roe Family.

And so it is that we declare our investment in the 'Listening To Country' initiative complete with reciprocal exchanges of cultural knowledge, education and related events. A union between like minded, conscious and mostly awake people willing to make a difference where possible in listening to and disseminating the story of others.

 Photo: (L) Rafael Baro and (R) Alexander Hayes

Photo: (L) Rafael Baro and (R) Alexander Hayes

The plan is to use every possible means to bring people together in cultural activities across the Kimberley Region of Western Australia to engage with traditional Aboriginal Elders and Custodians linked with the same in countries Mexico and Argentina (to begin with).

Photo: Alexander Hayes - (L) Rafael Baro and (R) Magali McDuffie

Film Editing for Protecting Country

As those close to us would know we travelled from Canberra and now live in Broome, Western Australia, as far as one could go but still live on the same continent.

During that time we have have worked on our PhDs (yes, we are both completing PhD's at the very same time) and spent countless hours packing, unpacking, sorting and discarding.

Completing the final rough cut edit on the 'Protecting Country' film has been a struggle only as far as having the time to complete it. Last night after much fanfare we managed to get the final piece of the jigsaw complete - adding the seminal words of Clifford Coulthard, Adnyamathanha Elder and Traditional Custodian of the Iga Warta Community deep in the Flinders Range on the way to Arkaroola.

 Clifford Coulthard sharing his story.

Clifford Coulthard sharing his story.


 Magali working on the film edit using Adobe Premier

Magali working on the film edit using Adobe Premier

I am always constantly amazed at the editing experience that Magali brings to these films, not just the technical know-how but the manner in which she understands how to weave and build a film from raw footage. My job it seems is to produce the film and make sure it hits the ground and gets out to communities and the world as far and wide as possible. So, we are editing and we are looking forward to a May 2018 premier of 'Protecting Country' in Adelaide bringing all those that appeared in the film to the city for one big yarn ;)

*Please re-share this post far and wide *

The Art of State Accommodation: Surveillance as Incarceration

Magali and I often find ourselves in the unenviable position of witnessing brutal racism, marginalisation or in this case woeful and premeditated control of Aboriginal communities by Government funded initiatives with buyin from a royalty rich few. The point of this article is to bring to the attention for those who are unaware of a situation occurring presently in Broome, Western Australia and to connect those who have a vested interest in this situation with those who can do something useful about it.

Today I so happened to be driving up Pembroke Road in Broome, Western Australia when I came across a hub of activity. Tradie utes were everywhere hastily assembling some hideous surveillance cameras on the margins of a sprawling complex of tin housing and concrete pads. The surveillance cameras themselves with their sharp, spear like anti-climb form are perhaps one of the most negatively provocative symbols I've seen (similar to prisons, detention centres and war concentration camps) on any contemporaneous architecture to date.

What occurred to me is that despite the glowing rhetoric of the website (that the five metre didactic panel pointed to) is that I'm pretty certain the whole schema of surveillance, it's chilling effect and the unintended consequences of this supposed civic design has not been thoroughly thought through. So, I put that first thought out to a few of the mob here in Broome and also on Facebook and got some pretty angry responses from those who consider the complex to be a certain disaster.

 "....WTF? This looks like they're setting up prison camps for homeless mob in Broome not short stay accommodations. There is such a shortage of housing and some just can't afford the rents being asked. Another way Indigenous Australians are disrespected and controlled in our own land!" - Dale [surname suppressed]

So, it occurs to me that a short paper that asks the hard questions about where the surveillance data flows, why it is deemed necessary and who controls the space and so on is required. Like, which architect seriously thought this was a good idea for a short stay Aboriginal housing complex?

I put it to a few people that I'll write a short paper for public comment and I've received some positive encouragement to do so from an Aboriginal woman who is willing to support my creation of the paper.

 
encouraging
 

These ill considered ventures would turn Foucault in his grave. Anyway, I'm writing a short paper up and I'll post the link to the manuscript here then the completed paper will be made available here for download.

Andyamanthana

Life has always been for me a series of incredible experiences (ever since I was a little boy) which seem possible only when I manifest that greatness before me. As Nyikina Traditional Custodian and Elder, Paddy Roe attests, we dream our life before us, we walk in our dreaming so it makes sense that when we switch to a position of empathy and fairness that we must be growing along with that change.

No longer are our dreams simply inconvenient defrags of an overfull brain hard-drive. They are part of who we are and are full of sense, not no sense. Our days are spent in that dreaming too and we walk in that dreaming, not apart from it.

Like any other human my insatiable curiosity and love of affection and connection has seen me run foul of those who seek out a way to exploit situations for financial and political gain, a power hunger when so little good is happening in their own lives.

 (L) Anne Poelina, (M) Lucy Marshall and (R) Jeannie Wabi

(L) Anne Poelina, (M) Lucy Marshall and (R) Jeannie Wabi

Fortunately my Kooya, my Nyikina Mothers have taught me that anger is little more than an emotion that is largely a waste of energy and Mutti Mutti Elder Tom Winch has taught me that to consider others as children until they reveal themselves as adults means we have to somehow grow others even if they do wrong against us.

As has Aunty Kathy Brown, Andyamanthana Elder from Quorn, South Australia who I had the privilege of speaking at length with on the telephone. Kathy and I befriended each other by SMS and then Facebook regarding the screenings of the 'Protecting Country' film as I travelled up from Adelaide into Kathy's country and towns where she has lived and her ancestors have owned since the beginning of time itself.

Please take the time to visit and read the content of the Andyamanthana Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adnyamathanha

During our conversation Kathy asked me whether under Andyamanthana moitiey if I had been named as past on by Mothers. I indicated that I had travelled through country and met Law men and others who had referred to Kathy as their Aunty.

So, it is an incredible honour and with respect I am informed that Aunty Kathy Brown informed me that under moitiey she can now call me Brother, that these things are not done any more. Kathy also stated that her Grandfather is the last Andyamanthana King of the Andymanathana tribe, Sam Coulthard. 

I am known by the Andyamanthana people as Udnyu which means 'non-Aboriginal'.

angel

 

This ability to bring people into a kin relationship with the Andyamathana people is by the Mothers of the Andyamantahana peoples. Kathy spoke of her own Father who was non-Aboriginal yet he encouraged his Children to learn their Aboriginal culture.

 Aunty Kathy Brown, Andyamanthana Elder

Aunty Kathy Brown, Andyamanthana Elder

So it is that Aunty Kathy Brown is my Yukka - my big Sister.

Sam Coulthard, the last Andyamanthana King is Kathy's Mothers Father. Margaret Brown, Kathy's Mother is now my Ngumi.

In that kin relationship I am also now Noonga, Older Brother to Dean Brown and Kathy's baby Sister, Julienne.

In our conversation we spoke of Witchelina Station where Kathy's brothers and Son's have worked - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witchelina - "....Witchelina Station is a pastoral lease that has operated as a sheep station and cattle station but is now a nature reserve in South Australia."

What is apparent to me is that there is a greatness that comes with connection, with listening to country.

Country first.

In Nyikina, country is known as Buru.

I am yet to learn my Andyamanthana language and word for country :)

Broome

Situated on the Western Australian Broome is a coastal, pearling and tourist town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, 2,240 km (1,390 mi) north of Perth. 

Country of the Yawuru and Djugun people who closely alongside the Nyikina people this amazing place is my home and the final point in the destination of our 'Protecting Country' journey which has taken us across 6,791 kilometres of Australia. We travelled safely despite wandering cattle, wild horses, kangaroos and wallabies at night.

The purpose of our trip was to deliver the 'Protecting Country' film on country, to return back to the sources of the story and to get feedback from everyone regarding the layout of the film, the authentic voice of the story and to ensure that those who appear in the film have adequate time to respond to the content that we selected to put the film together with.

We wish to thank many, many people who contributed to the financial backing of the journey and to the countless people along the way who gave us access to their homes, put us up at their expense, helped us in times of need and most importantly acknowledge and understood our need to return the film in the way that we did.

 Screening of the 'Protecting Country' film at Coconut Wells, Broome, WA on the 18th August 2017

Screening of the 'Protecting Country' film at Coconut Wells, Broome, WA on the 18th August 2017

    James Yami Lester

    In 2016 Magali McDuffie and I set off on a journey across Australia from Canberra, across the Hay Plains and into Adelaide, South Australia to meet with Bruce Hammond, Aboriginal Tanganekeld Man, [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanganekald_people ] Son of the late Ruby Hammond [  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_Hammond ]

    The year prior I had met Bruce in Canberra, Australia and he had inspired me with his Mother's story and indeed his own personal story as he fought for Country, the act of speaking for his homelands and that of the Aboriginal country of which Australia is made up of. As we arrived in Adelaide Bruce made it know that his Ancestors had travelled with us, right into the biggest storm that Adelaide had experienced in decades.

    With the power out across the state Magali and I drove a 4WD vehicle up to Port Augusta, then onto Quorn, Hawker, Yapalla Community, Copley and over the hills into the Nepabunna Community and back into Iga Warta, Flinders Ranges - http://www.igawarta.com/exper.html

    We listened and recorded the views of those people we were connected to via Bruce and he assured us that each and every person we interviewed were in some way connected to the story emerging regarding the largest planned nuclear fuel dump in Australia. We returned via Port Augusta after recording 12 interviews and many hours of scenic footage. That was the beginning of a long journey forward with this story on our minds and with much editing work to complete.

    For Magali and I, after many years in this industry and with many years working with Aboriginal communities across Australia one thing is clear - make sure the story we listen to is authentically, responsively, culturally appropriate, that it is clearly demonstrating the ethics of the individuals included and most importantly that the while process is open for change from those it seeks to represent.

    As is the emancipatory journey, the Nura (country) to filmmaking process we promised to return and screen with each community now has the results of what we thought the key emergent story is from this important discussion. Over the next year the film weighed deeply on our minds as battled many different personal challenges and the expense that it had taken us to achieve this journey - $12,000 AUD of our own personal funds in total.

    So in early July 2017 we finished the editing of the first rough cut of the film and with a 32 min recording we set out from Canberra, ACT Australia after screening the first of many screenings with community, both public and private of the 'Protecting Country' film. To return this film to country meant we had to travel back across many thousands of kilometres and so with all due respect and planning we set about visiting other communities to bring them into the awareness of the important message in the film.

    We made the decision also to bring along on the journey a young person who would benefit from the experience, culturally, professionaly, personally and this person is Liam Wille, a fantastic photographer - https://500px.com/liam_wille

    We setup a sponsorship prospectus and set about asking the public, friends and our families to support us on this journey as we have expended every last cent of our own funding. In total we sought $2000 to take us as far as Alice Springs, Northern Territory of Australia which is the heartland for this story and the plans to dump this waste in South Australia. With the help of many sponsors that you can see listed here - http://www.ngikalikarra.org/protecting-country - we managed to make it all the way back to Iga Warta, screening the film in Canberra, Condobolin, Hay, Balranald, Mildura, Adelaide, Port Augusta, Hawker and Iga Warta communities.

    Along the way we cut a short trailer and released it for feedback.



    Whilst we were in Iga Warta we heard news that Yami Lester, late Father of Karina Lester had past away.

    Yami Lester is and always will be a key figure, a leader and respected anti-nuclear campaigner, a Yankunytjatjara man, an Indigenous person of northern South Australia. Lester, who survived nuclear testing in outback Australia, best known as an anti-nuclear and indigenous rights advocate - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yami_Lester

    This post serves to inform everyone that as a mark of respect, to honour cultural sorry business and to respect the rights of Yami's Family and Relatives that we will no longer screen the first cut of the Protecting Country film as we travel up from Port Augusta and onto Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, Katherine, Derby and Broome.

    We raised close to $2000 AUD which paid for our accomodation, food, fuel and other items we needed to travel from Canberra through to Alice Springs. From that location we will use our own limited personal funding to return this important story along the songlines and story lines of central Australia.

    We wish to thank all of our sponsors who have made this trip possible to return this film to country to be screened with hundreds and close to thousands of people who may never have had the experience to contribute to the feedback, considerations, advice and eventual final cut of this important film.

    Our journey across Australia and up to Broome via Katherine will continue but we will not be screening the film rough cut as we have returned it to the main community members it includes. Our journey now is to travel across country, to connect with Yami Lester's story personally ourselves and to respect the rights of those who have afforded us the right to be on country and to understand how important it is to protect this country.

    We are planning to premier this film, Protecting Country in Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide Australia in late 2017, early 2018 when we have permission to do so, complete and in the final form that it will also be seen worldwide after the premiers in Australia. This important film is destined to screen in Germany, France and England and will be made available also via NITV, ITV and other appropriate channels.

    The following photos are but a few of many that Liam has taken whilst on the journey through to Iga Warta from Canberra, ACT Australia.

     

    When this film has reached final cut we will send everyone details of screenings and locations for you to attend and support.

    Many many thanks!

    Judbarra

    A unique and outstanding highlight of our trip across country was definitely passing through the Judbarra National Park in the Northern Territory and snaking our way down the way valleys alongside Victoria Creek.

    You can read about this area here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judbarra_/_Gregory_National_Park

    "...The park includes traditional lands of several Indigenous Australian groups, including Ngarinyman, Karrangpurru, Malngin, Wardaman, Ngaliwurru, Nungali, Bilinara, Gurindji and Jaminjung, and spans the boundary between two major Australian language families, Pama Nyungan and Non-Pama-Nyungan (Northern)."

    It is a vast valley that keeps going through amazing country all the way through to Timber Creek. As we passed through some of the steepest sections of the pass we decided to go for a short walk up a mountain side and from that vantage we could see around through and back to the main pass start many kilometres away. The significance of the walk was the impact we felt when we discovered a stone flinting quarry under a cave side probably tens of thousands of years in occupation.

    We left it intact, we spoke out that we came in peace and with respect and we did as least we could to disturb anything in that vicinity.

    The palm trees grow alongside the cliff edge and the vista is nothing short of spectacular. It was a privilege to be able to have a short swim in the Victoria River and then to be able to appreciate the sheer beauty of the area with tourists in their RV vans zooming past "making good time" as they careen from one caravan park bar to another.

    The previous days conversations still fresh in my mind, the Northern Territory truly is a territory and not a state, a place of Law and a place where all Australian's need to connect with, not simply visit.

    The following photos were taken by Liam on that day in the Judbarra. You can view more of Liam's photos at https://500px.com/liam_wille

    Karlwekarlwe

    eagle

    Another sacred Aboriginal meeting place and yet another example of the catastrophe that western civilisation has inflicted on another otherwise spectacular work of nature, belief, tradition and Law desecrated.

    I often find myself grinning at my own silly prose but in some circumstances such as today I find myself oscillating in abject cynicism as what we witnessed today could well be a horror show, perhaps a dystopic science fiction movie and at best a modern day drama with all the hallmarks of a war crime.

    I understand that we are a nation, a humanity of children raising children and so on by as an old Jewish man said to me last night our role as teachers is full of suffering as we recoil in horror at what others do to our environment and to each other. We have to try and bring people along and help them understand things, not get angry.

    Home to the Kaytetye, Warumungu, Anmatyerr and the Alyawarr people of this area, Karlu Karlu these scared stones are in many areas desecrated with graffiti, the carparks filled with over-filled Winnebago’s, Maui motor homes and 4WD after 4WD laden with Crispy Creme donuts and tomato sauce. Generators blaring, air mattress inflators whining, diesel motors dragging every know contraption from home, in a motor home, to another place to sit in dribbling shit to each other over campfires they burn their plastic trash in.

    There is nothing that resembles “devils marbles” to me in this area nor was it the same for me when I visited “gins leap”. Why the fuck does western lack-of-civilisation name to shame every natural beauty on this country? Another question….

    How is it that the National Parks service of Australia could establish, allow and support roads literally within metres of these rocks, install a pit toilet on the only stream of water here (besides the fresh water pockets when it rains on the rocks) and install didactic panels for every god damned thing there is to look at?

    The paradox is that one culture describes another with written panels literally on top of what is a sacred space and tells people to respect that traditional culture and yet by doing is desecrating that space in the first place.

    On a better note I was greeted with a rabble of Aboriginal kids running around the base of the rocks and their carer, Ben Mack from Alice Springs in tow. 

    I learned he also has a firm NO to fracking of any sort on any country of Australia, quick to observe that he doesn’t speak for this country here but is unified also with the idea that a uranium dump of any level anywhere on Australia is an absolute NO NO. As was his colleague, Cheona Lehnert from ITEC and Safe Pathways NT, bringing these kids back on country, away from certain incarceration, marginalisation and yet with incredibly positive prospects due to the amazing work of these programs.

    The camper vans continued to pile in and with Barrow Creek Bar firmly in the rear view mirror I reckon we are going to get to Tenant Creek, fuel up and avoid these tourist shit tips. What a god damned tragedy and how disappointed I am to continually come across this genocide each part of the way here where these westerner and international detritus congregate.

    I did not climb the rocks and the photos I did take are about preserving the sheer beauty, speaking of the importance of protecting country. I called out my name as I entered this area and that I was coming in peace and with respect for that country as I entered into it. 

    It’s about acknowledging those who own this country and the fact they are always present on it, not the five tonne GMC running an eight inch exhaust and Spinifex caravan complete stuffed full with “I’ve been everywhere” stickers all over it.

    So we drove on and away up towards Mataranka and Katherine.

    Camped roadside and ate spaghetti carbonara, two parts over cooked. Liam chased down an eagle and it curiously engaged with him with interest. This young man is an exceptional photographer and his images below are testament of his seeing eye and his developing ear.

    You can see more of his photography at https://500px.com/liam_wille

    Uluru

    uluru

    He didn't see me as he whizzed past on his Segway vehicle.

    Nor did he see the Butcher birds or the flock of pink under-wing Cockatoos, nor the electric green Rozella's. His ears not tuned to anything nor did he hear the flocks of finches flitting from tree to tree, nor smell the amazing blossoms off the local wax Myrtle trees, nor see the bearded dragon lizard run from grass clump to another.

    The fact is this non-seeing, non-thinking being intent on ticking off another tour guide things-to-do-while-in-Uuru checklist failed to even know that Uluru is NOT Ayers Rock, that this sacred place is Law for the Pitjantjatjara Anangu people of this area. This country on which they visit is not owned by KonTiki tours nor is the rock a virtual reality and the National Park that they pay to visit through is a construct in its own western making.

    Even the Wikipedia entry [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uluru ] causes me revulsion with it's anthropological crap of 'myths' and 'legends', rather than beliefs and traditions. 

    "...On 26 October 1985, the Australian government returned ownership of Uluru to the local Pitjantjatjara Aborigines, with one of the conditions being that the Aṉangu would lease it back to the National Parks and Wildlife agency for 99 years and that it would be jointly managed. An agreement originally made between the community and Prime Minister Bob Hawke that the climb to the top by tourists would be stopped was later broken."

    Who care what politician said what? These people of the land, this country are being screwed over by this rampant destruction. If the people of an area say NOT to climb over a specific form then that should be respected.

    How sad it is that we as an Australian nation disrespect this Law, that the National Parks continue to endorse fat lycra clad imbeciles climbing over this magnificent form. With only warnings about climbing the rock the right thing to do would be to outright ban climbing, segways, bus tours and even have a mass ceremonial burning of the resort supermarket, gift shops, three story accomodation block.

    Respect.

    The following photos were taken by Liam Wille today near Uluru. You can see more of his exceptional photography at https://500px.com/liam_wille