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Women Of The Sun: 25 Years Later -

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(generated from captions) my way.

# Yolngu way

# Go, go, go, go

# We're living in the mainstream

# Go, go, go, go

# Under one dream

# Go, go, go, go living in the


# Go, go, go, go under one

together dreamHere here we're living

# We're living together

# Sharing together

# We're learning together

# We're living together

# Yongu

# Balanda # Closed Captions by CSI

(Woman speaks in Aboriginal language)

the making of 'Women Of The Sun'. So, today it's 25 years after a privilege, really, For me, it's been... to be involved with the series. Hyllus Maris, And the woman who wrote the series, she has her family here today. Tony and Julie. And we are making this film

in memory of her and respect for her

to the Aboriginal people, and also to pay respect to the long history of Australia, that they've had. and for the wrongs and sufferings of 'Rush' for the ABC I had written an episode for an Aboriginal woman and in it, there was a part more or less a prostitute and she was a woman who...was with all the miners, played the part. and Justine Saunders and she said to me, One day I went to the rehearsal and she was quite upset, shown as victims? she said, why are we always me, what she had said. And this stayed with me. It haunted going for a walk through the bush It was about a year later and I was the history of Australia, and it suddenly hit me to show of Australian history, the last 200 years of Aboriginal women. through the eyes of a different culture, I realised that as a white person to write a story I would never be able the Aboriginal people. which was true to for some Aboriginal person So then, I started searching

to work with me. a woman called Margaret Tucker. And then Molly Dyer mentioned to me was taken away from her family She told me then about how she and we both sat there and cried and on the bed, there was a poem. It was lying there

left there on purpose. and now, I'm sure it was It was a beautiful poem to reach the woman and I was really very interested who had written this poem, was Hyllus Maris. and that of course, people. "I'm a child of the Dreamtime, like the gnarled gumtree. "Part of this land, that glides..." "I'm eagle, crow and snake My mother, she say you've got to... got to be proud of being Aboriginal type of background. because we come from this We're not like these people. the history of the tribe She would explain to me and tell me and who we were and our ancestors. and talk to me. She'd take so much time to sit down that's what she said. You've got to stand up and fight, stand up and fight physically And it didn't mean to only let anyone really get you down, but to take hold of things and not

regardless of who they were. the context of the time. You have to understand Aboriginal history proper. There wasn't such a thing as There was only Australian history to Aboriginal people and anything that had happened history was just a part of Australian an Aboriginal viewpoint and there couldn't be viewpoint in the record. because there wasn't an Aboriginal contending with these stereotypes So, 'Women of the Sun' was primitive societies of the stone age, timeless, doomed to extinction. of the Sun' was too early in a way I think I have to say that 'Women evidence for the propositions because a lot of the scientific came afterwards, yeah? in 'Women of the Sun' it became fashionable So, it was saying things before to say these things historians later figured out because the scientists and complicated in Australia that life was much more than they previously imagined. is a four-hour mini-series BOB WEIS: 'Women of the Sun' I produced in 1981 on Australian television which screened initially

on SBS and then on the ABC.

land for settlement. We have come here to acquire the eyes of five Aboriginal women. It showed Australian history through

It had a major impact on my life and is, and I wondered what the impact was, the major roles. on the women who played SONG: # Women of the Sun # Women of the Sun # Four stories are four journeys # From Women of the Sun. # I took in 1980 I'm retracing the route here on the Arnhem Land coast. when I first came to Yirrkala, Hyllus Maris had a relative here a group of people and we came together to recruit to be the cast on the first episode my friend and guide, Roy Marika. and I met then, the elder who became with his surviving family. Today sadly, I met again Hello. Good. How are you? Good to see you again. Yeah. I came 25 years ago? Do you remember when with the driver. Sat out at the front I remember. Yeah. Yes. Hi, Johnny. I'm Bob. That's my son, Johnny. and visit them? MAN: Well, you wanna go around We're going... and more so later It was strange to realise then

Aboriginal man I'd ever met that he was probably the first that I befriended. and certainly the first '93 he went. that 25 years ago, It seems amazing to me I didn't even question the fact an Aboriginal man before, that not only had I never met was to become my friend. but he was a man that for allowing us on to the land. I want to thank you by the way, My pleasure.

of past and the present. For me, it's a...a journey Yeah. Yeah. (Man hums) They said to me... me to be initiated. This is where Roy brought I'm just looking at it now, into the water naked at midnight. I can't believe that I walked of the man in front of me. There was a spear in the hand This is where we were...this is... That's the...log that Roy built, a bridge, long time ago. Baptised in this river. That was lovely sort of experience when I was a Christian lady.

You know, I grow up and I learn more about Him. About the Lord. And I'm still learn about Him, you know. Because the church is very good for all of us. Right. Yeah. That's what I feel. And I know, you know, for my life. The church is very good for us. How's the relationship now between people in Nhulunbuy and your colony? Because when I was here, it was not so good. Yeah. It's going better and better. 'Cause women, thousands of women... last week, we have a women's night. There were hundreds of people coming, you know. Hundreds of women. We were enjoying, eating, dancing, and telling jokes, stories and we have fun, you know. And we have... mixing the women, you know, white, black, brown - all women. And I, very, very happy

'cause it make me see the world, you know, the women, all colours. TRADITIONAL SONG WOMAN: The first episode of 'Women of the Sun' is about the loss of the land. It is the story of Alinta, who grew up in the traditional way with Nyari people and it deals with the arrival of the white man. Boat. We had to swim. Let me be frank with you.

We have come here to acquire land for settlement. To him, owning the land meant wealth and power. To the Nyari people, it was their spiritual home. The home of their ancestors. A link to creation.

GUNSHOT MAN: Warriors. We're good...we're good warriors. I'll show you something. You won't send us back.

(Audience murmurs) You don't understand. Why the hell should they? 25 years ago, Roy decided that his people couldn't make the journey south within our time frame.

Mawuyul Yanthalawuy, who played the lead in episode two, suggested we come with her to Gapuwiyak. A short journey by plane from Yirrkala, where she was born,

and talk to the people there about coming south.

In fact, that community did end up coming to Victoria

and were the cast of episode one. We needed people to speak in language but basically it was a tribal situation. So, we went to the Northern Territory and sat down for four days and sat and talked, and just discussed it with all the people and finally, it was very strange, actually. The missionaries didn't say a word. Very quiet.

But after we walked away, they went up to the people and whispered in their ears, "People who go south don't come back. "They get diseases and they die." They didn't want them to go. But the people had belief in Mawuyul, I think. And they really wanted to do it. There were other Aboriginal people living in this land - Australia - you know. And that is how they were treated and I guess, everywhere this is how people were treated, you know. And...for us to... go and do this filming, it wasn't really us. It was sort of like, them. We're doing it for them. Because that's what happened in Victoria. Every Aboriginal is the same, and how we are treated. You know, how we've been treated in the past and up until now. Yeah.

I mean, there's the obvious things about feeling the shame of what's happened to Aboriginal people and the way they were just stripped of everything. And this was a local story, a localised story about Victorian Aboriginals and it just seemed very important to tell. It was so beautifully written,

so heartfelt, and so real. It didn't feel to me like it was a sort of drama that somebody had made up. It felt like the story of a people. But I suppose the thing that came home to me years later was, having lost most of my own family in the holocaust, I could really relate to it. I mean, we were the Aborigines in Europe and completely decimated

to the extent that my mother lost all of her close family, apart from a cousin and... but parents, uncles, aunts - all gone. My father went into a camp with his sister...

sorry, his brother, his mother and his grandmother and straight off the train. They went to the left, he went to the right.

Never saw them again.

And so, there's a bond there. There's a commonality of history that sadly continues in Aboriginal history till today.


Because it was all done in... (Speaks Aboriginal language) in our...the language that I speak, people read the scripts to us and we had to practise saying them, translating English to our language, the Aboriginal language.

WEIS: There was a sort of argument about,

you know, we're talking to an English-speaking audience and you've got to give them something in English and, there were examples given of American Indians speaking English in cowboy and Indian films. But I wasn't making an cowboy and Indian film. I was making a film which starts with the very first contact. For the first time really,

there were Aboriginal languages spoken on television, yeah? People were speaking in an Aboriginal language on television. Well, even today, many Australians think that Aboriginal people speak in grunts.

It's good. (Audience laughs) I didn't know that we were going to be, you know, topless when we were doing this film and it was really embarrassing for me, you know. And coming back from the movie, I didn't want to watch this movie. Because I was thinking about my family, specially the brothers because you are not allowed to be seen topless. The shamed thing, you know. But the screening that happened, I wasn't ashamed. I loved it. My favourite part was from the beginning to the end. Watching myself and my family go through that, you know.

Doing it together. I knew there were brothers sitting in the background, but I didn't care. I just laughed my head off and I enjoyed it. Just like my other families there. I'm excited to meet Naykalan who played the young Alinta and now is a mature woman.

(Voices indistinct)

SONG: # Women of the Sun # Women of the Sun... #

(Cries in distress) Willie, Willie, do something. For Christ's sake.

(Cries in distress) For Christ's sake, help.


I'd come across Chip Mackinolty first as an artist when I bought a work of his without knowing anything about him. When I found out that not only did he have a role as advisor to the Northern Territory government, but that he was in Darwin the same time we were filming, I decided that we had to meet. We've near got 5 out of the 25 members of parliament are Aboriginal, including three women which is an extraordinary turnaround from 25 years ago

where there were no Aboriginal people in parliament and... we now have a situation where there's more Aboriginal people in Parliament than there are members of CLP who traded on the race card for decades. So, it's one of those great electoral ironies that has been such a huge turnaround. And I think the most interesting thing is that a large number of Aboriginal women from all parts of the Territory, all bush seats for the women from central Australia through to the Tiwi Islands and to Arnhem Land. And given that women play a very strong role in most communities, I think that's reflected in the number of women who are now in parliament as Indigenous women representing Indigenous seats.

You let her carry that. She's big enough. I'll give her to Bill. He wants someone to fetch and carry. You're not give my daughter to that man. WOMAN: The second episode, it showed a different woman by the name of Maydina who was kept by some white fellas - some sealers. When she found out that her little daughter was going to be sold, more or less, to a white man, she couldn't bear the thought and she escapes and she finds refuge at a missionary farm. What can I do for you? It's not for me. It's these unfortunates. They need shelter and protection. Do you still take people in? You can see for yourself. There's a never-ending stream of these wretched ones. Yes, yes. I think I'd just like to talk to you a little bit about the sort of things that we teach in Aboriginal culture. As I said before, we first of all taught them the history, their tribes, their clans, their language, where their country was, their lineage from the ancestors from the beginning, the superheroes that we descended from, the women from the sun and our female ancestors and our male ancestors from the Milky Way, their names that we can trace back, further than that from Adam and Eve. And I'll not have you speak in your native tongue. We all speak English here. And every morning and evening, we meet and we pray to the great Spirit and His son, our dear Lord Jesus.

And I shall tell you how He came down into this world to save us.

MARIS: There are many, many thousands of years ago. Not 40,000 or 50,000 but 100,000 years ago. We're part of this country. Then, they have a pride in knowing that they do have a background,

and that they do have language and that they can speak and sing in their languages and that the dances mean something more than just dancing. That is part of our prayers

and part of the movement of the land itself.

WOMAN: That's what's so important about it

because it starts to tell the stories based on personal recollections by people who actually lived those experiences before they become widely, publicly known and that applies to the way in which the missionaries tried to suppress Aboriginal religion by stopping people from keeping their religious objects - their sacra.

It has come to my ears that you have been very disobedient.

That you still follow your old and evil customs. Together, we shall burn. The tools of the devil. I want you to bring these things to me. We cannot give these things to you. (Outcry) That all happened here in Victoria and the history's told later after the showing of 'Women of the Sun'. Much later. So, we know for instance that the missionaries completely banned Aboriginal religion and created a pretty much... kind of a police state. Why do you stay here, Joe? You're doing work for Mrs B? Why not go away with Johnny? This is my mother country. One day, I'll get something back. One day, I'll build a house for myself, for my wife, for my children. You're Christian? That Bible they talk about, black fella story too. The Great Spirit was here long time before the white folk got their story. I'm Christian for Mrs B. Keep her happy. But I don't have to give up my law. Because of the ignorance and lack of understanding, they tied all they could to bash down the Aboriginal culture. But, you know, because it's a spiritual culture, it can never be broken down and part of the people and it's part of the land that will live forever. and it's just something

Leave me alone! Leave me alone!

(Horse neighs) The impact was enormous. across Australia Thousands of Aboriginal people were going to their television sets watching 'Women of the Sun' because it was the first representation of Aboriginal people on television that told the story of what had happened to us. Keep the woman back. Come with me. No. No.

(Screams and struggles) So, it started a nationwide discussion.

It made people think, yeah, I know about that. That happened to my mother, my grandmother told me that.

And that applies to the story of Maydina's child

being taken from her by the missionaries. It's much, much later that people become aware of what we now know as the Stolen Generations. (Cries in distress) They say that 'Women of the Sun'

reverberated in the memories of those people who watched it. (Distress cry echoes)

And without them being aware of it, they were inspired to... or tell their own stories write history or make films and so, 25 years later, by 'Women of the Sun', the stories that were first told films, histories now appear in novels, and amongst reasonable people,

of Australian history. are accepted as a core part over the valley. "Clouds are racing by "The trees bend and sway.

the wind seems to say "Stay awake, stay awake, and away. "as it roars down the valley "Once the Yarra was here.

"Once Wonga was here. "Their protector, he came. "Come and live with us, he said. sugar and tea and red cloth. "As he promised them flowers, cloaks of skin. "No more wearing those "Be civilised. "So they went, the old ones ours for countless thousands of years "with our great knowledge that was on the sacred stones "and dust gathered "there, in the quiet places. learnt to count to ten "At Coranderrk, the children "and sing hallelujah. in the shade of the gums. "The old ones rest now

But soon they'll come. "Not yet, not yet. "The wind races by over the valley "and shouts to the moon. of the people have returned. "See there, the little ones the Yarra live once more." "The people live, takes place in 1939. WOMAN: Episode three and rebellious woman And the heroine is a young

called Nerida Anderson. Mum! you were coming? Why didn't you tell me on government missions. It shows what life was like detention centres. Quite similar to modern Who are you? She's just come down. It's my daughter, Nerida. Have you reported to Mr Felton?

I've just got here. to come on the mission? Have you got your permit You go and see him straightaway. No. the first to stand up Nerida is one of and hopeless manager. to the corrupt Go on...

Justine Saunders She was played by actress near Sydney. who today lives in Windsor birds coming through Round here, we get a lot of beautiful why I've come out here and that's the reason

to the western area of Sydney. the busy area there. To get away from the... of buildings and concrete. This is where it's full waking up to the birds You don't see enough of the gorgeous and the animals, etc here. this little mutt here. And especially, Gooda, come over here.

And this is Wundala. Come and say hello. (Goose honks) Come on, Wundala. aren't you? Yes, you are a beautiful girl,

Look at you. Yes, darling. She's a bit of a sook at the moment. here at the mission? Ever spent much time Like the bright lights, eh? What did you do in Melbourne? I worked. What are you doing back here now? No. Get the sack? What happened? does it, Mr Felton? That doesn't concern you, Look, I'm the manager around here.

So, you just watch how you talk to me. If you must know, I resigned. I'd heard about the project and read about it

incredible ladies, Hyllus and Sonia. and then I looked at these two own instinct as a woman, They said to me, take out your as a black woman, where you come from, your background, and how you feel about it. by a white director - male director, The fact that I was being directed did not deter me because Steven...was wonderful to work with. in the script But it was what was written

and I let the lines and the story tell their own. less is more. And what I was always taught is, It was a harrowing story

but also, to keep the honesty in it was so, so important. You know, you can do your family a lot of good. Or a lot of harm. Specially your brother. No! Don't you touch me! story was something The Cumeroongunga that established the fight a physical fight. and it's not necessarily It was a spiritual fight in regards to people saying, look we've got to stand up and make a stand for ourselves as a people. Andy here gave our petition Well, as you all know, Protection Board. to Mr Watson of the Aboriginal We haven't heard back from them to face the fact but I think we've got replace Frank Felton, that even if they do manager's going to be any better. there's no guarantee that the next We know the government won't change. happened to the mission. They don't care what Or us black fellas on 'em. or the church We cannot let the government these little Indigenous people to fight over us to say whether

to tap them on the head and say, have to stay here and we have this is what you've got to learn. language anymore. You can't speak your You cannot go back to what you call your country. This is called Australia. This is not called your country. Yes, it's called Australia. before it was called Australia. But the thing is, it was our country trying to establish. And this is what they were be arrogant and say, They did not want to you know, get all these white people off of this country. Bull shit. It was just to say, acknowledge us. To you, we're just savages. To you, we've got no feelings. Have you ever tried to understand? Now, just a minute. that we're humans? Have you ever thought of what's hidden beneath your belt? Why don't you use your head instead

know these stories. Lot of people don't 'Women of the Sun' was something for a long, long time. that had gone on and on

told as well. There's incredible survivor stories We've got to acknowledge the history to get on with the future.

Australia is a nation divided. But first tonight, to shame our country Aboriginal leaders are threatening

with violent protests during the Olympic Games. But our Government is refusing to back away from claims the Stolen Generation of Aboriginal children never existed. And amid the storm, we bring you one woman's story. Acclaimed actress Justine Saunders talks for the first time tonight about her forced removal from her family, and makes the greatest protest she can by rejecting the highest honours this country can give.

The Government, in their wisdom, decided they wanted to give me an Order of Australia Award. I thought... "Why do I have this "when other things are happening in this country?" But I didn't say anything about it until... about three...four years ago. I picked up the paper and we were talking about our Stolen Generation, and the Howard Government says that what I lived through was a lie and that was an insult. Not only just to me, but to the rest of our generation in this country. SONG: # This story's right # This story's true # I would not tell lies to you... # Some of it was like in a jail, I was actually in a jail cell. When you're first taken into these institutions you're put in to this place which is very black, no windows. You're given a mattress on the floor and a... a bucket in the corner, that's about all.

For three days, I didn't know whether it was day or night. SONG: # Snatched from their mother's breast... #

This is the secret Australia tried to hide. Each of these faces are the faces of children forcibly removed from their parents. Now, their pain has been branded a lie, their history a myth. So I've sent it back and I said,

"I'll accept it back when I hear the word 'Sorry'." SONG: # I would not tell lies to you... #

MAN: I understand the effect it's had on many hundreds of Aboriginal children, but I wasn't there. I-I-I wasn't there. I can't apologise for the actions of people of past generations. Particularly when it was done, what they believed, was in the interest of the children. Now, we know that it... it was not in many respects. We know it was legal... How dare... How dare someone have the arrogance to say what we spoke about,

the fact that I spent half my life in four homes, before I turned 13... tell me that was a lie, from my family, that I was taken away from my culture, my mother, my grandmother,

everything else, and I lost out on my language. They're takin' Alma's girls. OFFICER: Come on. WOMAN: DON'T TAKE HER! ALL: (Screaming) How dare... anyone is arrogant enough to say that what I lived... They do not know anything, let alone a white man in a suit to tell me what I said was a lie. I care as much about the happiness of Indigenous Australians as I do about any other Australian. ALMA: (Wailing) That's why the story of 'Women of the Sun' was about. It was about the honesty. It was about the people getting together and looking and acknowledging what was happening in this country. That's what it was about. It was about the relationship between the Indigenous people of this country and the people who came that we said we would share with.

That's what pissed me off. Ron... ..we've decided to leave Kamala.

(Gasps) What do you mean? We're going away and never coming back. Mm. Mum, you can't leave this place. Where you gonna live? (Crying) In a tent if we need to. You know, I'm very proud to say, that my mother was actually the first Aboriginal women leader. Because...working with my two uncles to... to get the people motivated to leave the mission station because it was the first walk-off from those conditions which they had to put up with. know, she... She had to do so much work to get the women to accept that it was better for the women to... to strike out and to do other things than to stay there and talk about the situation and wish they could do better.

Where the hell do you think you're going? I'm talking to you! I never give you a permit to go anywhere. We're going, all the same. You're still on a bond. I can bring in the police. You do that, Mr Felton. JUSTINE: People just go, "Right. "We're gonna get everything together and we're gonna move." It still grabs me in the throat to see it. The reason is, is that its people actually taking their future in their hands and saying, "This is what we're going to do. This is what we have to do, "not just only for us, but for the future of our people."

Well, with the men having their natural leadership taken from them because of the Government's policy and the way that they were beaten down, the fact that... the lack of education. Because Aboriginal people... It was the policy of Government that Aboriginal people don't have to be educated. So women had to come to the fore

and do all the things that they've done on behalf of the family, on behalf of the people. No, you and Bill ride in the back. But not in this rain. No black fella rides in the cab with the manager. You know the rules. And if you don't, learn them now. You bastard! Ompf! Right! If that's the way you want it, you can walk. Go on. You got your son to blame for this. I want you off this mission NOW! WOMAN: Mr Felton... My brother, Paul and I,

both went for the two different parts. One was a priest, which is the one that I eventually got. And the other one was a man that stood up for himself. We organised a football game, your Honour, to raise money. And I'd like to know what he's done with the funds. It's in a trust account. And there's a trust account he got for all the workers which we ain't seen a single farthing of that. And he's selling cattle to the farmers, mission cattle, belong...our cattle! All this is quite irrelevant to the charge. Then what is relevant? BOORI: All of the things he did up to that stage were out front and... He never liked to take a... a back step on anything. And he...he really stressed that we should, as individuals,

and as a whole stand up and be counted. JUSTINE: He was so intense. the most talented, talented man. And one of the things that I'll never ever forget was this scene that we had in the barn. I was looking into his eyes and I saw this very, very strong person.

At the same time feeling, a little bit lost. And I was saying this thing and I thought, "Am I seeing this for the last time?" A story that I heard and that I've been carrying around with me for years - he was going to Edinburgh Gardens to play baseball, got picked up by the police,

took him back to Fitzroy Police Station, beat him up, and that was it. Well, see, there's a lot of conjecture about that too. It's about, like... You know, I heard that... ..he rubbed shit all over his face and all over his body and he had to walk home. The police said that they didn't do it. His partner at the time, Glenda, had to sit him down in the tub and wash him. And it was after that event that actually... he just... His body was alive but everything else had almost gone. RUBY HUNTER HUMS HAUNTINGLY You know, you can take that stuff. You shouldn't have to, but you can take it if you see...positives.

The amazing thing about Aboriginal people is that instead of exploding we implode and we hurt ourselves. And I think a lot of Aboriginal men die of broken hearts. RUBY HUNTER HUMS HAUNTINGLY

BOORI: I think his going... I suppose, a statement for me to kind of pick up the slack and deal with it. So if you can survive this then you... you can approach almost anything. Good morning, everybody. CHILDREN: Good morning, Boori. Before I start I'd like to acknowledge the traditional people of the land that we are on today.

Everybody put your hands up, shake them round like that, give yourself a big hug and go, Mm-mmmm... CHILDREN: Mm-mmmm... Put your hands up again like that. Turn to the person next to you, big hug, and go, Mm-mmmm. Mm-mmmm...

No kissing. (Giggles) Just hugging. OK. I'm gonna share some stories with you after, traditional stores,

that go back, at least 20 to 30,000 years. That's what makes this country really special. Because Aboriginal culture is the oldest continuous living culture in the whole world. For my work, what I do, is I work with children - preschools, through to Year 12. There are lots of great positives because what I share is positives. There's our stories, our dances, our songs. Mum said while Dad pushed the head of the snake up against the pillow

Mum was gonna gently flip me out onto their bed which was just over here.

But Mum was real strong in them days. When she flipped me out she nearly threw me out the window. Little black wriggly thing's flying through the air, with this little black woman chasing it around the room. Mum reckoned I looked like a little black helicopter with a nappy on

flying around the... She's standing there going, "That's really beautiful." And it's kind of...not only their growth, but my growth as well.

'Cause remember I came from the point of, like... 10 years of dealing with just one brother's death, and there was another brother before him, and there was a sister after him. Then another sister who died of lupus.

And this is not counting all the nieces and nephews and cousins that have committed suicide. So, it's kind of my growth through all of that.

So, I'm walking home through the bush and I'm... What actually nurtured...that growth and empowered and made that strong was the children sitting in front of me - laughter and the love and...the eyes of these children that sparkle. You go, "Wow! That's kind of... It takes away another... another layer of pain. There's lots of layers there, and you go, "Well, I'm feeling good now. My heart's not gonna break just yet. "You know, it's kind of... This is good." Have you got a real life frog that can, like, drive Toyotas and it's really good at going over bumps? I was giving a talk to a group of teachers in Melbourne.

One of the teachers put up his hand. I said, "Yeah, mate?" He said, "You know, Aboriginal people have been, like... shot...and this..." and he went through all the things. He said, "How come you haven't... you know, um... How come you..." And I said, "What? You mean, shot people or...

"blown things up or stuff like that?" And he goes, "Yeah." I said, "Cause we're nice people." I said, "We're good people... and we're patient people. "So we'll wait for you." SONG: # On a blue sky cloudy day. # Episode 4 shows light in 1982. What was it like for the Koori people

at the end of the last century? The lead character, young Lo-Arna, has grown up with white adoptive parents and thinks she's from south-east Asia. She's devastated when her Aboriginal mother tries to contact her. LO-ARNA: ..thinking more of a Scarlett O'Hara or a... Hm! Well, you're so American. You should be someone American. I don't have an American accent. Everyone says you have an American accent.

I was only there for two years. Maybe Mae West. You've got a natural personality for Mae West. (Chuckles) I don't really have a great sense of...

.. my Aboriginality. I've got an American accent. I spent a lot of times growing up in America, a lot of time there. Um... And even when I came back, and I hope I don't offend anybody, know, I felt it was a little bit pushed in my face. I didn't really... I... And I wanted to be me. And part of that keeps me... probably... I don't know. Maybe I'm a bit scared of it or know. I... I felt... ..yeah, a bit distant. Like, I needed to figure out myself first. Maybe part of that's being... not knowing my culture. Well, why don't you go in a sari? You'd look lovely in that. But you can't move in a sari. Besides, that'd mean I want to be Indian. Well, what about Polynesian? But I am Polynesian. I can't dream about being something I already am. That character was very similar because of not understanding or not knowing

or not even having it affect my life in any way... until I came back to Australia. be quite honest with you, I probably still... feel a bit the same. I really don't... I... I tend to... probably don't have the broad insight that a lot of the rest of my family members do. Excuse me? Yes. Haven't I seen you somewhere before?

No. No, I don't think so. Where do you come from? How do you mean? You are Aboriginal, aren't you? No. No, I'm not. I could have sworn you were. I can relate to the way that the character felt because I understand that feeling of being denied a certain thing and then being expected to understand it and appreciate it. So I can understand a bit of anger on that part. I do feel that too. MAN: Ann? What I have to say is far from easy. You are my daughter. You're not an adopted child. You're my father?

That's right. If you're my father... ..then who's my mother? Your mother's a woman called 'Alice Wilson'. She's an Aboriginal. Oh, I can't bear it. It's all so ugly, ugly, ugly. (Sobbing)

I didn't really get her revulsion at the time. I didn't get that, to be quite honest with you. I-I've never... I didn't know why she was so upset at being Aboriginal. I guess I didn't understand that. I'm a boong, an Abo. So obviously when she said those things to her boyfriend,

and the mother did put that on her, and the father was weak and... inefficient.

Well, that's what the shame is, I suppose, you know. It's not how... It's how other people can make you feel about yourself too. Did she mind when you took me away? Oh, no. No. No, no. Um... I think she was quite relieved...really. See, she'd have had a difficult time bringing you up, giving you a decent education. And there was another bloke she was interested in. Didn't she ever want to see me? No. She never came near you, Ann. If I was going to play a character like Lo-Arna again, I think I understand now more the feelings that this character really did feel, because I was probably... in a bit of denial at the time, or maybe hadn't even recognised my own feelings, but now I... I...know how to play her to a tee, except I'm not 18 anymore. (Laughs) But...I...I definitely have that feeling of... ..really wanting something. That's what it felt to me, is that that character is really wanting something, but...not wanting it at the same time. And I think that confusion is just how I'd play it. Because that's all there is to it. That's basically what I saw in that character, that's what I see in myself. (Sobs)

I'm going to Kywan. I gonna go see my mother. Now? Yes. Why? I want to meet her. Oh, Ann. She came here yesterday and I couldn't face her.

I didn't have the guts even to call out to her. Look, darling... That woman, she's my mother. She carried me inside of her for nine months.

I want to know her. I want to feel her. I want to listen to what she has to say. Look, darling, I know how you feel.

It's a time when you think all this is very important. But it is! You're full of ideals. Wanting to do what you think is right? I think it's probably been the one thing that actually... connected me in the most way to my family. I mean, the thought that Aunty Alice thought so much of me that she thought of me in this role and... it seemed to me that she took to heart some of the feelings I had that I didn't even realise that So, yeah, it changed my life in way that I'm very... I've got something to look back on that I'm mad proud of.

I'm so proud of... I'm very proud of it.

So I'd say that's one of the thing 'Women of the Sun' did for me. Just make me appreciate my family and... and...the story of our culture.

BOB: She said that her place was not the one on the corner. MAN: Here it is. OK. Unit 2.

EVA JOHNSON: Hello, sweetheart. How are you? You OK? Yes, I'm fine. Oh, beautiful to see you again. Wonderful... You don't look any different now than you did 25 years ago. Oh, there's more grey hair. Last time it was... the grey hairs was out of a bottle. Was it? Yeah, for the film. Well, what's this all about. Look, you know what's it all about. That's why you didn't come out the front door. Look, our people in three country towns desperately need housing. You never even read our letters. They all wind up

in the wastepaper basket. When did you send in your submissions? What? You mean you haven't got one of our submissions yet?! When I read the script, the synopsis that was sent to me, I realised that it was a very real aspect of my life, and I realised that it was a very important issue. And I knew that this film, or this series, was having a very credible historical profile. And something that was very sacred and secret and also precious to many Aboriginal people's lives. I believe I've seen your daughter. I was afraid not to take the opportunity to do this.

And I felt that I had to, I felt that this is the time - I will take it, 'cause I will at least speak on behalf of the tragedies of women who did have their children taken from them. Lo-Arna. And all the time I think it was just... thinking that... "Perhaps my mother's watching me." I felt, "Well, this is for you, Mum. "I'm doing this to show the world your sadness. I'm playing you." Hello, Alice. Alice Turner was a mother who was searching for her daughter. In that particular scene she was confronting her ex-boyfriend who was the father of the daughter, why he won't let he see her daughter. And do you relate that back to your own life? Not necessarily. My questions were different. I believed she wasn't alive because I had been told that my mother was dead. But I believed I still had her spirit. All I was was a child that had been taken from my mother and I wanted to tell her story. This was more, for me...a process of going through my mother's feelings. You sent me a telegram. What do you want from me? Regardless of the past, I haven't been able to supply you with any money.

Ah? I'd like you to accept some now. There's not much there - it's $300 - but there's more if you want it.

(Sighs exasperatedly) What's the money for? I don't want your money. You should have given that to me 20 years ago. It would have paid for the hospital. Would have helped me and my little girl. What are you afraid of, Doug? I was put on a mission after... I was taken from my mum. And we was brought up in a Methodist church, but we never used the word 'Aborigines'. I think then they were even telling us to use the term 'half-caste', which meant that... it's a better class of Aborig... better class than Aborigines. Aborigines were...'full bloods'. Half-caste was the ones who were a bit better because we were more educated. I had been indoctrinated. I learnt the meaning of that word. When I looked back on my life, my passage of being taken from my mother, put on a mission,

and from there being sent to be adopted or fostered to a white family. All that was just absolutely boring. I detested that whole process, that journey. All I want is to see my daughter. Well, I don't think that's a good idea.

No. No, you wouldn't. What else are you hiding from her? Nothing. Look, she is living a good life. She is perfectly happy.

Joy and I have brought her up. You two have got nothing in common.

Haven't we?! Nothing! Nothing?! I'm her mother. I want you to take this money. I owe it to you, Al. And as the film... gradually got through the process of... daughter, then finally finding her. her finding and teaching her

out. I just thought that... (Sighs) My emotions are just blown have happened to me. ..if only that could I'm going to see her, Doug.

it actually happened. And the irony is, the children. I was cooking tea for... on the lawn with the dog and... They were out the back playing the phone rang. And I answered it. crackling noise on the phone And...there was a crackling side, be a long-distance call." and I thought, "Oh, this must And there was this very faint voice, "Are you Eva Birrit?" this women said, ever called me that since..." And I...was, "Hey-hey, no-one's 'Women of the Sun'" "I made the film, my mum's name. That was the name I used, And...I said, "Yes." worker at the Casuarina Hospital, And she said, "Well...I'm a social

Darwin Hospital in Casuarina. we've got your mother here." She said, "And I believe I know I did two things - And I...I think I did... with my head. My mother's dead. I swore at her and said, "Don't play that she was dead. "The missionaries told me And I slammed the phone down. "Get off my phone." in the passage and cried. And I just cried, I just stood they heard me, they heard me scream. And my children came in, "Mum, look, don't worry about it." And they said, she rang back again and... 20 minutes later I'd rung my sister, actually In the meantime, who was ringing saying that. and said that there was this woman I'll come over." She said, "Well, perhaps she is. rang back So she came over and this woman what she was saying was true. we both, my sister and I, believed I was 38 years old. when I was taken from my mum. And so it was 36 years... WOMAN WAILS IN ABORIGINAL LANGUAGE Casuarina Hospital, So I went up to the and two nurses at the desk bay. walked in and saw the sister And they just...saw me and when I said, "Could I please see Betty Birrit?" They said, "Oh, yes, we know who you are," immediately. And I just started crying. They were crying. I hadn't even seen her yet. she's in that room across there. And they said, "Well, "She's on her own. she's having a rest before lunch." "The blinds are down - It was 11:30.

and I sat on her bed... And so I just went in slowly ..and I held her hand and squeezed my hand and... and she moved and woke She knew it was me, she just knew. and we hugged and didn't let go. She screamed and grabbed me for about 5/10 minutes. Oh, and she were rocking me

It was... It was really a... I'll never ever forget. ..a moment of my life the most precious thing in her life. My mother held me as if I was

She...she asked me to stay with her. And I did. with her. I spent a week sitting there And we understood the gap. We understood... We understood the distance. And I understood exactly... have been feeling the pain...that she must when she had three children taken from her. But she was alive and there I was with her. And I was touching her again. the women in the Darwin Hospital And it only happened because and they recognised me. watched the series one day "This is Betty's daughter," They said, that I found my mother. and that's the only way and she rang me. They told the social worker And that is the most amazing... ..part of my life, my story, that...

It's very dear to me. And my children. 'Cause they, you know... That was their grandmother.

She was so deeply affected by her forcible removal

from her own mother that, for her, she wanted to give that love that she never had, and found it difficult... ..when doing so because she kept thinking about herself and what she'd missed out on. As an adult I can understand a lot of the things that happened when we were younger

and how her work has definitely portrayed a lot of her emotions and what happened to her and her history and her past and stuff. And I think it's a good outlet. In the eight plays that I've written, was produced and performed. everyone of them Overseas, as well. And they all had one genre... stories. ..Indigenous people of Australia I was invited to the... Playwrights' Conference It was the first International in Buffalo, Upstate New York. After the two weeks co-ordinators of the conference I was invited by one of the

some talks throughout America. if I would like to stay and do different places down south, My itinerary went to four or five up to Washington, to New York. I spoke at Harlem. to a group of women I was asked to give a tutorial multicultural women's history who were studying

and women of difference. in this room of six or... And I was only expected to be 15 women at the most. of nearly 500/600 people. And there were a whole theatre Of course, I was absolutely... ..astonished. WOMAN SINGS IN ABORIGINAL LANGUAGE

Healing was a part of actually acknowledging all my denials going back to the trauma of my separation from my mother. I don't think I ever addressed that trauma, the initial trauma of...

from my mother's breast. ..of being separated over the last four or five years, And it's only now, since and reconstructing my life. that I've been searching and actually forgiving... And facing my demons for doing this harm to me forgiving myself and to my children, to my family. actually is the pain that I've had, And the hand on my head on me all my life. the demon of alcohol having a grasp who's been sitting there saying, And that subconscious person and heal and come through this, "You are worthy, you have to deal

"because you are beautiful person." I love you, Mum.

(Kisses) Oh, thank you, bub. my darling. Oh, you've been so strong too, Thank you for that, sweetheart.

Don't, I'll cry. (Chuckles) Want a cup of tea. ABORIGINAL STICKS TAPPING WOMAN WAILS SADLY

I not see you long time now. White fella been take me from you. I don't know why.

Gave me to missionary to be God's child. All time I cry, they say, "That shame."

ABORIGINAL STICKS TAPPING WOMAN WAILS SADLY SCREAMING my name. Gone is my spirit, my dreaming, our country to claim. Gone to these people, where our dreaming began. They do not know and the laws of white man. Our destiny lies in the hands

All time I cry, They say, "That shame." for your sacred sites. I'll fight for your land, with a brolga in flight. To sing and to dance in your own tradition. To continue to live was replaced by a mission. Our culture for me your song, One day your dancing, your dreaming, back where I belong. will take me, your spirit, and our story untold. Two women we stand And now as our spiritual bondage unfolds we will silence this burden this longing, this pain. When I hear you, my mother, give me my name.

SONG: # Where have all the good girls gone # I wonder if they're getting on they were young # And if they've changed since # When life was different then # The time for growing up was strange # I had to conquer so many things # They were all good young women then # 'Cause only sisters understand # Where have all the good girls gone # I wonder if they're getting on # And if they've changed since they were young # Well, life was different then # Yes, only sisters understand. # BETTY: Dear Lord, I thank you from the depth of my heart and from the wellsprings of my soul. I beseech thee to accept my humble words of gratitude for all that you have done for me and my people. Lord, I thank you for missionaries and their humble words and goodwill and dedication.

Thank you for used clothes, mismatched shoes... ..for the Bible, for handbags, for the alphabet,

velvet soap, and evening gowns, wedding veils. And, Lord, thank you for the Queen. Lord, I give thanks for tin sheds and food rations, and bless the mining companies, and Pine Gap and missiles. I especially give thanks for loyal understanding, sympathy, police with riot helmets, police with dogs, handcuffs and paddy wagons. Thank you for blind justice, for 10,000 laws,

and all-white juries. And especially for all the soul destroying institutions,

Lord, I thank you. And Lord, bless Australia, the clever country... ..the land of opportunity, freedom and justice for all. I thank you, Lord. .

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