MAKE IT RIGHT! [from the AIATSIS Collection]
Barunga, in the Northern Territory, hosts an annual festival of Aboriginal sport and culture. In 1988, 200 years after the British flag was raised in Sydney, the Festival took on a special meaning. Prime Minister Bob Hawke was invited to attend and the Festival organisers had high expectations of a political outcome.
Wenten Rubuntja, Chairman of the Central Land Council, Galarrwuy Yunupingu, Chairman of the Northern Land Council, John Ah Kit, Director, of the Northern Land Council and Pat Dodson, Director of the Central Land Council, worked together to prepare a major petition representing many clans from the Northern Territory. In the form of a large collaborative painting in which clans expressed their “story for Country”, and a written document, the petition asked the Prime Minister to recognise the government’s obligations to Aboriginal people and for agreement to commence negotiations for an Aboriginal Treaty.
Presenting the painting and statement to the Prime Minister, Galarrwuy Yunupingu’s speech expressed the need to change the relations between white and Aboriginal Australia, to “make it right!”. Bob Hawke’s speech in reply made a clear commitment to commence Treaty negotiations in the life of the present Parliament, but this was not to happen.
Kim McKenzie’s beautifully filmed portrait of the festival – the preparations, the sport activities, the singing and dancing, the tensions prior to Hawke’s arrival – eloquently captures the cultural and political importance attached to the Festival by the participants and by the thousands of spectators.
Collaborator on the film was sound recordist Wayne Jowandi Barker, who had previously worked as a trainee at the AIAS Film Unit.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Barunga Statement, an on-line exhibition has been created by AIATSIS in collaboration with Parliament House. View the exhibition here: aiatsis.gov.au/barunga-statement or Visit Australian Parliament House to see the exhibition. It will be on display until Sunday 29 July 2018.
Produced, directed, photographed
Produced by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, the Northern Land Council, and the Central Land Council
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