The Guardian • Issue #2057

Maritime Union of Australia launches Voice to Parliament film

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2057

The documentary film COME WALK WITH US premiered on 7th June, introduced by executive producer Thomas Mayo. Mayo is a former wharfie, an author, a signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and a leading voice for the Yes campaign in the lead-up to the referendum later this year.

The star of the film, Vicki Morta, is Australia’s first Indigenous woman bosun. Vicki works on a bauxite tanker off the coast of Far North Queensland. Since 2021, Vicki has been an advocate for the Voice to Parliament.

The film follows Vicki on her personal journey to her home in Far North Queensland to hearing stories about her peoples’ history from her Elders, to the national stage where she has become a prominent champion for the “Yes” campaign.

The documentary showcases the Maritime Union of Australia’s (MUA) long record of solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. From wharfie Fred Maynard who led the first all-Aboriginal political voice, the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association back in the mid 1920s, to today supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the referendum for its key proposal: a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice.

The film premiered to a captivated audience who’d travelled from Newcastle, Port Kembla, Wollongong, and across Sydney to Surry Hills for the screening. Afterwards, their spontaneous response was a video message of endorsement and gratitude to Vicki who is still at sea on a lengthy swing aboard her ship.

The film is available as an online documentary and discussion starter via the MUA’s Youtube channel. It is expected to play a crucial role in inspiring audiences with its depiction of the unique and deeply felt perspective of an Indigenous woman at the forefront of a tough industry in the lead-up to the referendum later this year.

Speakers at the launch included Bidjigal man and MUA Sydney Branch Indigenous Committee President, Tony Cook, Torres Strait Islander and adviser to the From the Heart campaign, Kenny Bedford, and MUA Sydney Branch Secretary Paul Keating. The event was Hosted by the Maritime Union of Australia – Sydney Branch, and MCed by the MUA National Women’s Officer, Mich-Elle Myers.

Quotes from the film:

Vicki Morta, Ngadjoni-Jii & South Sea Islander descendant: “We want to be heard. Because at the moment, they’re the ones that are telling us what we want, what’s best for us.”

Uncle Terry O’Shane, KubirriWarra Clan of the Yalanji nation & ex-seafarer: “If we don’t get a positive outcome in this referendum and I think we will, Australia will stay divided. It will not go away because justice has not been done. That’s how important it is.”

Professor John Maynard, Fred Maynard’s grandson, Worimi and historian: “this … is something that our people fought for for nearly 100 years, and it’s long overdue.”

Pat Dodson: “it’ll be the voice where they can say, ‘Hey, mate, you’re doing the wrong thing. Pull up.’ If they don’t listen, then the public will know that the First Nations people have had a disagreement with the Parliament of the day on some law that they’re trying to make that’s going to affect their lives.”

MUA (edited for reasons of space)

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