WRAP ME UP IN PAPERBARK
Speedy and Kathy's mother, Kingarli, was one of the ‘Stolen Generations’, taken away from her family and traditional country at a young age and forced into domestic service in Darwin during the early 1930s. She was never able to return to her land, in life or in death.
Although Aboriginal remains have been returned to their communities from museums, this case involves reclaiming an individual buried forty years ago. This is the first time such an initiative has been undertaken in the Northern Territory or anywhere else in mainland Australia.
In the film, Speedy’s requests are rejected twice by the Northern Territory government, claiming it lacks the power to approve such an undertaking. It is a case of Australian law being unable to accommodate Indigenous customs. The irony is that white laws originally endorsed the removal of Aboriginal children from their homes and families, and now they prevent the return of these Stolen Generations - even after death!
But Speedy and Kathy’s efforts now may have paid off, helped by the making of this documentary.
In the final sequence, the new Minister for Local Government breaks the news that her Government will draft amendments to the Cemeteries Act to give the Minister authority to consider requests for exhumation and grant them under certain conditions.
The amendments became law on 24th November 1999, but Speedy and Kathy know there is no guarantee their quest will succeed. They still need to persuade their brother who believes that their mother’s remains should not be disturbed.
However, getting the law changed to accommodate Aboriginal customs will open the way for other indigenous Australians to follow and have a chance of bringing their people back home.
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