Well the film was excellent and from chatting to a bearded hip Peter Postlewaite his heart is definitely in it. He stumbled across the struggle of aboriginal Australia relatively recently while staging a one man play in Perth. Before going on stage one night, Postlewaite was approached by Scouser, Bill Johnson, who had been in the seminary in Liverpool with him way back when. Bill had since moved to Australia, married and adopted 3 children. The aboriginal lad adopted, Louis St John, was murdered in his late teens by 3 English racists recently arrived in Australia. When the cops asked why they chose the victim, the response was “Because he was black!”
Postlewaite takes this response personally as an Englishman, seeing it as an attitude that runs directly from the early pastoralists encounter of aborigines. He hooks up with a product of the Stolen Generation policy former street drinker now musician Archie Roach and former priest now Aboriginal activist Pat Dodson and takes us on a moving journey.
The film looks at Western Australian aboriginal deaths/killings in custody that the coroner continually writes off as “misadventure” and then an exploration of the stolen generation removal policy of aboriginal children to be integrated into white society. We travel to the victim’s original family and outback community. The film then broadens out to analyse recent Australian government policy ignited by the racist One Nation/Pauline Hanson populism and adopted and finetuned by the 11 year conservative Howard government rolling back the Mabo decision in the High Courts that for the first time in the courts recognised aboriginal occupation before British invasion. The jury is still out on how much substance will go with the recent apology to the stolen generation by recently elected Labor Prime Minister Rudd. The speech by former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating in the early ’90’s directly linking white gain to black loss is impressive. The cringing, small mindedness arrogance of conservative PM howard also gets a good airing. See this fine film if you can!
The disappointment was the size of the audience (approx 25) for this free 4 pm Saturday screening. I only recognised one person from the Dublin activist scene and didn’t detect any young Australian backpacker types. (I saw a lot of them in the Outback Pub last night for the screening of the third State of Origin Rugby League telecast!) Not sure if this reflects on the passive racism of the young Aussie backpackers, disengagement of Irish activists who share a common history with the largest group of aboriginal artists to assemble in Dublin or poor promotion of the event.
The gig in the evening was excellent. Obviously a significant moment in the life of Australian muso Shane Howard (Goanna) and those indigineous Australians who had accompanied him to his spiritual homeland. Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter were brilliant making the connections between Irish and Aboriginal history…their songs were great. Mary Black, Steve Cooney and other Irish musicians were also wonderful.
Interview with Peter Postleaite on the film “Liyarn Ngarin” liran Nagarin
Archie Roach “Took the Children Away”
Archie Roach “Walking into Doors”
Yestreday I had the privilege of meeting up with Uncle Bob Anderson an aboriginal elder from Brisbane and former active Trade Union organiser. It was great to hear news of common friends and struggles and of radical history from Brisbane before my time. (Bob snafuued one of the riot batons being produced for the racially selected ’71 Springboks Tour a photo of which made it on to the front page of The Courier Mail exposing what was being prepared for the protesters. I was only 11 when a State of Emergency was declared so a racist game of Rugby could take place. Bob gave me an aboriginal flag badge and I gave him a black shamrock http://www.blackshamrock.org
I hear Archie Roach will be playing Musgrave Park/Brisbane in mid-July during an aboriginal cultural event get there if you can!