Every Australian should see Rabbit-Proof Fence
A Northern Territory member of the Stolen Generations is urging people to see the new Australian film Rabbit-Proof Fence. Yilli Rreung Regional Council Chairwoman Barbara Cummings says the film is an important means of explaining the history of the Stolen Generations. Ms Cummings was taken away and raised in Darwin's Retta Dixon Home for "half-caste" children. She is the author of Take This Child, and a vocal advocate for the Stolen Generations. She was speaking after attending a preview of the film. "This is not a bleeding-heart depiction", Ms Cunnings said. "This is a very powerful, realistic film. It tells how it happened. "I understand the director, Phillip Noyce, has used some artistic licence regarding Molly Kelly's story and included some elements that did not happen to her personally. "I don't see why some people have a problem with this. The film is based on undeniable fact — these things did happen to us. That's why I believe it is so important all Australians, especially our young people, go and see it. "This is our history. It's not about making people feel guilty for the past. It's about gaining a greater understanding of where we come from and the legacy these policies have left us with today." ATSIC Commissioner for NT Northern Zone Kim Hill said he had been heartened by the public response to the movie as it opened nationally over the past month. "It's encouraging to see the amount of goodwill and interest this film has initiated in the wider community", Mr Hill said. "I strongly believe Australians are now more open to the stories of our indigenous past, but we must also remember that we still live with the painful effects of these policies, especially the removal of part- Aboriginal children from their families. "These have been extensively detailed in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody released 11 years ago, and more recently in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report, Bringing Them Home. "I only hope that the renewed public interest in the Stolen Generations generated by Rabbit-Proof Fence also acts as a prompt to Federal, State and Territory Governments who have not yet fully committed to the implementation of recommendations from these two landmark reports. "Only then can we truly move forward as a mature nation, one that is prepared to confront its history and remedy the legacy of past injustice." ATSIC assisted Birch, Carrol and Coyle with the movie's Darwin premier, which featured the presence of councellors from the Danila Dilba Medical Service who were on hand to assist those who may have found the film's subject matter difficult to deal with. "It does bring up a lot of emotion and painful memories", Ms Cummings said. "But hopefully it will also assist with the healing process so necessary for us to get on with our lives".
* * *Koori Mail, March 2002