community

Suicide Up Close

Today we have been forwarded a link to an article in the Sydney Criminal Lawyers website which speaks of the atrocities continuing with respect to suicides across Aboriginal communities in Australia.


“…Sharon Hume’s son took his own life last year. The 33-year-old man had dealt with ongoing trauma since he suffered a gunshot wound at the age of 19. He was experiencing long-term unemployment at the time of his death, and his family were struggling financially.

“It has been an option because people are not getting the help they need. People are looking for help and struggling to get it,” Ms Hume said. “There’s not enough services and people are too scared to talk about their problems.”

Ms Hume added that she was lucky as Mr Georgatos stepped in to help her family following the loss of her son. His organisation supported her with counselling, food vouchers, as well as assistance in organising the funeral.

And as for the government, Ms Hume said it needs to recognise that suicide deaths are on the rise amongst First Nations communities. “It has to start putting more funding into these areas and help those people who are working in those areas to provide more services,” she concluded.

The photo features Sharon Hume on the left with Gerry Georgatos by her side. Ms Hume’s sisters, Barbara, Jillian and Rosemary, are also featured, along with independent filmmaker Alex Hayes in the background. - Source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers


On Australia Shores: Survivor Stories

CONTRIBUTIONS

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


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.

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.

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