Guwaaldana Giidhi explores the personal life-experiences and stories of Aboriginal elders from Goondiwindi, Boggabilla and Toomelah.
The Aboriginal communities of Boggabilla and Toomelah (NSW), along with Goondiwindi (QLD), have been subjected to significant levels of disadvantage for many years. This has included high levels of unemployment, low levels of education attainment and literacy and numeracy, increased juvenile and adult crime rates as well as sexual and personal assault cases, chronic personal health and unsanitary living conditions, particularly in Toomelah. These issues were first brought to light in the 1988 Toomelah Report by Justice Einfeld, for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, which highlighted poor living conditions.
In addition to this disadvantage is the fragmentation between Aboriginal family groups which has made the task of rebuilding the communities increasingly difficult. Discussions with representatives from all Aboriginal family groups along with key Aboriginal elders, Glynis McGrady (Toomelah) and Lonnie Duncan (Boggabilla), have pinpointed cultural heritage and identity as critical issues, particularly for the future generations of Aboriginals growing up in the region.
The concern within these communities is that generations of young Aboriginal people are growing up without any idea of who they are, where they come from, what their culture is or any positive role models. This lack of cultural identity and leadership is contributing to Aboriginal youths pursuing negative pathways of destruction.
The feeling within the communities is that if the cultural heritage currently held with Aboriginal elders can be recorded and then used to education Aboriginal youths on their culture it will provide a means of restoring cultural pride and a genuine feeling of belonging. In-turn it is anticipated that this will have a positive flow-on effect for these Aboriginal youths as they start to embrace their identity.
Comments from within the Aboriginal families have suggested that if the Aboriginal elders can come together it would be a significant turning point for all community relationships. While this project is not attempting to resolve the broader issues that exist within the communities, it can have a positive impact on the resilience of family members, particularly Aboriginal elders and youths.
Seven storytellers from across Australia were given 72 hours to produce, research, direct, shoot, edit and premiere a film for a local non-profit with the mentorship of the Stillmotion team. Our filmmaking collective partnered up with Melbourne based One Girl and were challenged to craft a film for their annual ‘Do It In A Dress’ campaign.
My role in this production was varied. I helped brainstorm, research and plan the film, light the interview, shot BRoll and record foley.