After the Apology – cinema on demand


Larissa Behrendt’s film After the Apology is a real look at the rising number of aboriginal children who have been placed into out-of-home care.

The film is now available for screenings. Paddy Gibson, who has supported the men and women in relation

The following podcast and transcript is the conversation we had with Paddy about the work and support he has helped with the Grandmothers Against Removal (GMAR) and the roll out of the film into communities.


My name is Paddy Gibson. I’m a senior researcher here at Jumbunna . I was working a tutor and casual researcher at UTS at the time, but I developed a relationship with Larissa and Nicole through voluntary work I was doing as an activist; organizing public meetings, preparing demonstrations that allowed people from the Northern territory to actually speak directly to people in Sydney about their experiences of the intervention.

I was working a tutor and casual researcher at UTS at the time, but I developed a relationship with Larissa and Nicole through voluntary work I was doing as an activist; organizing public meetings, preparing demonstrations that allowed people from the Northern territory to actually speak directly to people in Sydney about their experiences of the intervention.

Well, it’s probably one of the most rewarding and quite special for me personally. Aspects of my time working has been the development of that Grandmothers Against Removals organization and the work that we’ve done as a unit with those women. It really started out of the work I was describing before around the Northern Territory Intervention because I found myself in remote communities increasingly. It was increasingly common that people were approaching me particularly young women asking, “Can you do anything to help get kids back?” And this I actually found quite surprising. I was really quite ignorant of the extent to which child protection services were removing Aboriginal children out of communities and the scale on which that was happening.

When I first started to have a closer look at some of the cases of the women who’d come to me, it was really shocking actually to see the brutality with which removals were being executed, the use of police and raids on houses, children being taken hundreds of kilometers away from their family, put in situations where they’re cut off completely from their language and their culture. It was a very confronting reality that I had no idea about. And coming back to, and I did do quite a bit of what I guess you’d call just straight case work like really … and it builds on another area of Jumbunna’s work, which is strategic litigation, which is we actually get in and get our hands dirty working on legal cases and being advocates for people that are involved in legal cases for Aboriginal rights

I was doing some of that work around child protection. Assisting people to find legal support to challenge the removal of their children in court, accompanying them to meetings with departmental officials to put demands on the department about being able to access their children and time frames for potential restoration of children, helping people prepare affidavits, helping get support statements from other organizations that would assist in getting children back. When I came back to Sydney, I became quite quickly aware of the fact that the problems are actually worse in New South Wales than it is in Northern Territory.

The number of Aboriginal kids in out of home care in New South Wales was more than 10% of the Aboriginal child population, which is far and above the situation in the Northern Territory. And what I could really see going on was really actually the intervention was importing a model of forced child removal from the East Coast into Central Australia, what I realized what was going on. And so we just did similar work here on the East Coast.

There was a number of cases I was involved in actually, trying to get children back and sometimes successfully getting children back as well, which is always quite special when that does happen. But as I’ve described before, I’m a political activist, I do a lot of organizing rallies around a whole range of issues not just Aboriginal rights issues so I was always looking for an opportunity to try and take the issue of forced child removal from those individual case level that we’ve discussed and try and bring it actually into the political sphere and try and raise it as a serious campaign issue.

This is something we want people to actually get organized and fight about. I came to realize that there were Aboriginal people around Australia that were already doing this particularly out of Brisbane. The Brisbane Aboriginal Southern embassy out there had held a number of sittings of the office of the Child Protection Department to demand action in particular cases and this was really inspiring to say and I started talking with some women that we knew here in Sydney about that, and after the really, really shocking removal of the grandchild of one of the women that we’ve come to work with quite closely, I think they really just picked on the wrong family in that case.

Because I knew Hazel from other political movements. She’d been at rallies against mining, she’d been quite close to a friend of mine Olivia Negro who was doing some activism around mining and also knew about my concern with child removal, and out of that relationship and out of that discussion when they removed Hazel’s grandson, Hai Dzu knew that there was a network of people there that were wanting to do something about this and she said, “Well, I think we’re ready for a protest.” And that’s when the Grandmothers Against Removals first started.

She established a group in Gunnedah and they came to Sydney four years ago on the 13th February the anniversary of Rudd’s apology. We held the first demonstration, which really brought this issue into the public spotlight in New South Wales out from the shadows if you like. Aboriginal people had been living with this crisis of contemporary removal for quite some time. There’s always a lot of stigma and shame around the issue of department being involved in people’s lives but these women who spoke at that first rally they were just like, “The songs have to end. We need to break the songs. People need to know we don’t care the more they sing at us about all our so-called child protection concerns. We want to be out there talking about what’s happening with their kids.” And that’s when that really started.

I did a lot of work myself. On the weekends we had rallies and other things but here at Jumbunna there was some really serious support given to the formation of the Grandmothers Against Removals. As a proper network, we help people get press releases out, we help with the legal support as has been said. That culminated really a lot of that work in the production of this film after the apology, which is just such a wonderful resource to have. Larissa is a magnificent storyteller and a lot of the stories that came out of that period are now highlighted in this film, which is something that means a lot to me and also means a lot to a lot of these women that there is that recognition for the work they’ve done. It’s packaged up in such a way as after the apology.

There’s a long way to go before we get any real change in this space. The kids are still been taken at an incredible rate, but I think one of the things that we can be really proud of is being part of a movement to break the silence on the issue and make sure that people in Australia know the insane numbers of kids that have been taken today.

What we’ve got is incredibly well produced page documentary film funded by Screen Australia. A really wonderful resource, but no prospect really of a serious commercial distribution. People aren’t … Cinema houses aren’t going to take up showing films about Aboriginal kids getting stolen. It’s just not the reality unfortunately that we live in so the distribution of this film is really going to be, I’d say, I’ve been telling people it’s going to be a people per distribution. It’s going to be up to people themselves to organize screenings where they are, for their workmates, in their community, and the first way that that’s going to happen is actually through a formal cinema or on demand process so there’s a website people can visit. If you just Google After the Apology, you’ll be able to find the various websites and particularly if you look for After the Apology cinema on Demand, you’ll be able to find links to how May.
You can actually contact Yuraku Cinema and get them to start selling tickets for screening and if there are enough tickets to sell, then the screening goes ahead. It’s quite a simple way for people to make a contribution to make sure the story is heard. That can start now. You can start organizing those screenings since now and they’ll begin to be shown on the 14th of May and that will happen for two weeks and they’re laid up to the 26th of May, which is Saturday when the Bringing Them Home report was launched back in 1997. It’s the anniversary of that day and Stolen Generations organizations back in the Light Nannies use that day as a day of protest to demand the implementation of the Bringing Them Home recommendations, which we still haven’t had. We’ve got the apology which was recommended, but there’s a whole lot of things that were also recommended to go along with that apology that haven’t happened. One of them being Aboriginal self-determination in issues of child welfare. We’ve got the opposite of that at the moment.

We see it important to basically build a campaign of showing people after the apology, getting discussion going about the issues and there’ll also probably be some mobilisation on the 26th of May that we can use the screenings to promote. Whether it’s a demonstration, we’re trying to get a joint letter of various organizations, individuals to sign a petition that we can present on that day and then after Sorry Day, the film will be available for people to screen in the town hall or in the church hall. We’re also hoping that it’s used as an educational tool actually in the professions that deal in this industry, and certainly, it is an industry of Aboriginal child welfare.

We want to make sure that the child protection workers will see it, we want to make sure the core clinicians will see it, the magistrates that are sending kids away into out of home care, but we also want to make sure that a lot of the Aboriginal organizations that are out there struggling day-to-day to provide support to families that are going through this can see this film can see that there is an attempt to really challenge and push back against what’s going on.






Returning and Connecting Collections with Communities

by Kirsten Thorpe

Cultural and Critical Archivist, JIIER Research

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) recently held a forum in Canberra, to report back on their project Preserve Strengthen and Renew in Community.  The project, which is a research pilot, aimed to work with community members to establish protocols for keeping materials safe, as well as to determine relevant access procedures for materials that were held in the AIATSIS collections. In addition to this, the pilot sought feedback on ways in which community members wished to manage processes around knowledge production, documentation and preservation.

The case studies for the pilot were drawn from Western Australian communities. As the project description notes:

The project involves three case studies and is carried out in collaboration with Indigenous Desert Alliance (Central Desert Native Title Services and the Kimberley Land Council) and Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. The three project partners have varying objectives in terms of the production and management of materials. The Kiwirrkurra traditional owners are focused on initial discussions of processes for repatriation and information recording for future generations, Wangka Maya is looking at the management of material that exists as part of the AIATSIS archive, and Karajarri cultural advisors and rangers are seeking to develop cultural knowledge through the repatriation of archived material and the recording of new material, but are also looking at how information should be stored and the best way to achieve this.

The forum provided an opportunity for attendees to hear more about grass-roots needs in regard to the management of cultural heritage collections, as well as aspirations for the future. A number of community members from the Indigenous Desert Alliance were in Canberra for the forum, as well as representatives from the National and State Libraries of Australasia, Universities and community organisations.

The project page has reports on each of the field visits, reporting on return of materials, recording of new materials, and discussions around protocols for ongoing management. Each report has signed project approval letters from the respective organisations, demonstrating practice in line with the AIATSIS Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies. AIATSIS plan to share the pilot findings more broadly in support of communities connecting and returning collections in similar ways. The approach, they hope, will also be a guide for communities to assist them in developing community protocols.

It was evident in the forum discussions that many complex issues arise from discussions around return of collections to communities. From a lack of resources and skills for management of materials at a local level, to challenges around the capacity of collecting institutions to digitally returned often dispersed and under documented collections. Calls for a national framework were discussed at the forum, where communities could have access to a distributed network to support digital infrastructure and skills/training required for the long-term preservation of materials.  With major cultural and collecting institutions across the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector being connected to return materials in a coordinated way. Any further research coming from the pilot would benefit incorporating case drawn from diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia, in urban, regional and remote areas. Further research around the needs and capacity of collecting institutions to respond appropriately to requests for digital return is also vital.

There is growing research in the GLAM sector around these priority areas. The report and recommendations of the Trust and Technology Project (Australian Research Council funded project led by Monash University) provide some insight into the human rights and social justice agenda associated with returning archival collections, as well as an action agenda for holistic approaches to community-based archives.



Larissa Behrendt Distinguished Professor

On the 9th of March our Chair Indigenous Research, Prof. Larissa Behrendt was appointed a Distinguished Professor of the University. Prof. Larissa is the first Indigenous academic to be appointed as a Distinguished Professor at UTS.


Prof. Larissa Behrendt

Larissa is the Professor of Indigenous Research and the Director of Research and Academic Programs at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney. She has a LLB and B.Juris from UNSW and a LLM and SJD from Harvard Law School. Larissa has a legal background with a strong track record in the areas of Indigenous law, policy, creative arts, education and research. She has held numerous judicial positions and sat on various community and arts organisation boards. Larissa is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia and a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. She chaired the national review of Indigenous Higher Education, was the inaugural chair of National Indigenous Television and was the Chair of the Bangarra Dance Theatre. Larissa is an award-winning author and filmmaker. She was the 2009 NAIDOC Person of the Year and 2011 NSW Australian of the Year. Larissa is also the host of Speaking Out on ABC Radio.

Quote from Larissa “It is such an honour to have this recognition from the University. Jumbunna has always been a team effort and I am so grateful for the support of my colleagues. “

On another note we also want to congratulate Larissa for being shortlisted in the Indigenous Writers’ Prize for the 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for Finding Eliza.

Finding Eliza is Larissa’s book about Eliza Fraser, who was purportedly captured by the Butchulla people after she was shipwrecked on their island off the Queensland coast in 1836. In this deeply personal book, Behrendt uses Eliza’s tale as a starting point to interrogate how Aboriginal people – and indigenous people of other countries – have been portrayed in their colonisers’ stories.

Exploring works as diverse as Robinson Crusoe and Coonardoo, Behrendt looks at the stereotypes embedded in these accounts, including the assumption of cannibalism and the myth of the noble savage. Ultimately, Finding Eliza shows how these stories not only reflect the values of their storytellers but also reinforce those values – and how, in Australia, this has contributed to a complex racial divide.

The winners will be announced on the 30th of April.

Field trip to Wathuarong Country

On Thursday 8th of March, Pauline Clague, Craig Longman and Lindon Coombes, were asked by Prof. Bruce Pascoe to come and meet the Wathuarong community on their IPA lands to discuss how the Jumbunna Research Unit can support their work in revitalising their lands with regrowth of Native plants. Reg Abrahams, Alfie and Peter are doing some exciting things on the Wurdi Youang Property that is assisting in relearning Cultural knowledge about our Native Plants and Food.

watharoung 02WATHAROUNG

It was a sweltering 38 degrees in Melbourne and the field trip started with us all sitting around in the shed of the Property, learning the history of the area and the work the community are doing in maintaining the lands in the area.

As some people may know Wurdi Youang is an aboriginal stone arrangement located off the Little River – Ripley Road at Mount Rothwell, near Little River, Victoria.

The Wurdi Youang Aboriginal stone arrangement, consists of a roughly egg-shaped circle, about 50m in diameter, of about 100 basalt stones. The stones range from small rocks about 20cm in diameter to standing stones about 1m high—some of which appear to be supported with ‘trigger stones’—with an estimated total mass of about 23 tonnes.

Plan of the Wurdi Youang site showing the solstiti

Fig. 1. Plan of the Wurdi Youang site showing the solstitial and equinoctial alignments from the westernmost stones. The scales are in metres. © Ray Norris

The three largest stones in the circle are placed together at the western end, from which a number of small outlying stones indicate the setting position of the Sun at the solstices and at the Equinox, to an accuracy of a few degrees. The straight segments on the north-east and south-east sides of the ring also indicate the sun’s setting points at the two solstices when viewed from the eastern apex of the ring.



Interns at the Clinic


Interns Emily Treeby and Muhammad Jarri Haider Syed with Deputy Director and Senior Researcher Craig Longman

A big thank you to Jarri and Emily who joined us for their Aurora placement over the last week. It has been a pleasure having them with us. Their work on a coronial matter we are engaged with is an essential contribution to fighting for justice and accountability in relation to Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.


court 1

We are extremely proud of Sophie Quinn and Flordeliz Bonifacio who were admitted this month to the rolls of solicitor. Sophie and Flordeliz have worked with us for a long time through their university studies and PLT terms, assisting on criminal matters as well as deaths in custody. Diligent, passionate and moral, the profession is in safe hands with such new members.   

court 4

Flordeliz Bonifacio


IWD Because of Her Panel

Here at Jumbunna Research we held our first International Women’s Day event, celebrating Indigenous Nurses and their impact on the health system, the workforce, the history of our communities.


The room was full of a range of audience from young nursing students to community members and UTS staff.

The day started with Aunty Joan Tranter (elder in residence at UTS) doing an acknowledgement to country.

Prof Larissa Behrendt convened the panel of nurses. Aunty Dulcie Flower, who gave us a history of the community work and strength of our nurses. Dr Odette Best opened our minds with the history of the nurses she has found over the past 100 years, talking to the woman she found from 1906 as a registered nurse. Prof. Juanita Sherwood who take to the stories of cultural safety in the workplace and the tertiary education of our nurses today.

We had a great time listening to these incredible women who have played such an instrumental role in not just the health industry, but other areas of activism.

We also launched the banner for NAIDOC, as fittingly the theme for NAIDOC this year is “BECAUSE OF HER, WE CAN”. Jumbunna has done a revamp of the Rosie the Riveter poster and over the coming months will be looking to share more stories of the strength of our women in our communities.

Our first banner fittingly for today is based on Nurses. The concept is conceived by Pauline Clague with Palawa Artist Designer Tony Thorne, today’s unveiling is based on one of the icons of the nursing industry “Sister Alison Bush”, a true giant of midwifery in Australia . She spent over 40 years as a midwife delivering thousands of babies. Over the year Jumbunna will be hoping to bring light some of the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have been resilient, courageous and trailblazers for our community.

Rosie                     Alison Bush

Thanks to our guest speakers on the ‘Because of Her’ International Womens Day Panel, celebrating the work of Indigenous nurses, convened by Larissa Behrendt.

Aunty Dulcie Flowers, Elder in residence Aunty Joan Tranter, Professor Odette Best and Professor Juanita Sherwood.


If you missed our live streamed event,  please view below.


Because of Her – International Women’s Day Panel

Next Wednesday don’t forget to RSVP to our Women’s Day Panel.

Larissa Behrendt will convene the panel and talk to three women who have played a role in the nursing fraternity, but also in other areas like education, community activism and  keeping the history of this area alive and engaged for our communities future.


Dulcie Flower is a very proud Torres Strait Islander (TSI) Woman from the Meriam nation.  She grew up as a member of the TSI community in her birth place, Cairns QLD.

Most of Dulcie’s life has been spent as a Registered Nurse, and she participates in life and initiatives to improve the well-being of both TSI and Aboriginal families.

Dulcie has been actively involved in:  The education and training of Aboriginal Health Workers.  Many consultative committees and expert panels at all levels on a wide variety if health and related topics.

She was also very active in both the Aborigines Progressive Association and FCAATSI and her work in the creation of the strong Aboriginal medical Services has left a great impact on society.


Professor Juanita Sherwood is a proud Wiradjuri woman. Juanita is a registered nurse, teacher, lecturer, researcher and manager with a depth of working experiences of some thirty years in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education

She is currently working as the academic Director of the National Centre for Cultural Competence at The University of Sydney

Professor Sherwood has pushed boundaries from a grassroots, community based position that seeks to engage with and build capability within communities, deliver culturally safe models and research methodologies in partnership with communities and recognise in policy and practice the straight line between world views and social justice.


Odette is a proud Wakgun clan member of the Gurreng Gurreng Nation. She is the Associate Professor at University of Southern Queensland in the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

She has worked extensively in the area of Aboriginal health, as a sexual health co-ordinator and within the women’s and youth prison systems in Brisbane.

As an historian of Aboriginal nurses and midwives she is passionate about uncovering and documenting the experiences and saving them from historical oblivion.

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