ANTaR ACT – August 2019 bulletin

Lots of interesting events coming up in Canberra, even if fewer than the abundance during NAIDOC Week in July. The Canberra Writers Festival offers a couple of events focussed on the power of Indigenous language and storytelling. There is also a festival coming up in Melbourne showcasing First Nations literature: Blak & Bright – a long way to go but sounds amazing so have included that too.

In the July bulletin, we mentioned the National Sorry Day 21st Anniversary History Exhibition, bringing together the stories of the stolen generation. This was covered in the City News here.

Also in the news – Rita Metzenrath, who works for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and is also part of the ANTaR ACT committee, wrote this article about the song that was the inspiration for Yothu Yindi’s song ‘Treaty’, which she came across as part of her work.

This is my last bulletin as the editor – I will be handing over as I am leaving Canberra to live in Aotearoa/New Zealand for a year. Thanks to everyone who provided feedback and suggestions for the bulletin. I’ve enjoyed this opportunity to discover what an amazing community this is, and learn so much more about the story of the First Nations people of this country. I also acknowledge the history of pain and dispossession, and the need to keep advocating for action to redress.

ANTaR ACT: September meeting

The next regular monthly meeting for ANTaR ACT will be Monday 9 September, at King O’Malleys, 6 – 7.30pm. All are welcome to come along to contribute to our advocacy and other activities, including plans for our annual David Hunter Memorial Lecture. Any questions, please email us at


Another Country
Screening by Films for Change Canberra
Tuesday 20 August, 7.30pm (yet another encore screening)
Capitol Cinemas Manuka
For more information see – Films for Change Canberra on Facebook; and Eventbrite for bookings
Legendary Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil has spent his adult life trying to navigate his way through two very different cultures: that of his Yolngu people and that of the colonising Australian culture. In Another Country, he gives us first-hand insight into the confusions and chaos that occur in the clash between these cultures.
[After having included previous screenings of this movie in the last few bulletins, I attended the July screening and would recommend it – a great insight into the issues facing a community.]

My Urrwai
10.30am and 8pm, Friday 23 August
Performed in the Bicentennial Hall, next to The Q
Cost from $25 to $49, early bird discount to 23 July; information and bookings at The Q website
Ghenoa Gela – little sister, daughter, granddaughter, comic, teacher, fighter, gold medallist, air guitarist, charmer, TV star, Torres Strait mainlander, walking political statement – has made a show. This is your invitation into the complex political, social, colonial and cultural expectations she navigates every day. Laughter and deep reflection go hand in hand in this unique and intimate story told through movement and words. My Urrwai, supported by stellar team including director Rachael Maza and dramaturg Kate Champion, is a revealing reflection on and celebration of cultural and familial inheritance, and an unflinching comment on race relations in Australia.
Tour produced by Performing Lines supported by Ilbijerri Theatre.

Blood on the Dance Floor
5pm and 8pm, Saturday 24 August
Tuggeranong Arts Centre
$25-$30, bookings via the website
Blood on the Dance Floor explores the legacies and memories of our bloodlines, our need for community, and what blood means to each of us – questioning how this most precious fluid unites and divides us. A choreographer, dancer and writer from the Narangga and Kaurna nations of South Australia, Jacob Boehme was diagnosed with HIV in 1998. In search of answers, he reached out to his ancestors. Through a powerful blend of theatre, image, text and choreography, Boehme pays homage to their ceremonies whilst dissecting the politics of gay, Blak and poz identities.

A Cultural Passion
Sunday 25 August, 9.30am
Peninsula Room, National Museum
Munya Andrews in conversation with Margo Neale
Bookings at the Canberra Writers Festival website
All of us are cultural beings. Our culture shapes how we view the world and how we make sense of it. Culture influences all of our behaviours and interactions. Culture is acquired: we learn about it from others. Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Munya Andrews (Aboriginal Dreamtime) with Margo Neale, Senior Research Fellow of the National Museum of Australia and principal adviser to the Director on Indigenous Matters, reveal important insights into Indigenous languages and customs, history, native title, art and dance, storytelling and cultural awareness.

Tara June Winch in conversation with Yvette Henry Holt
Sunday 25 August, 11.30am
Peninsula Room, National Museum of Australia
Bookings at the Canberra Writers Festival website
Tara June Winch is a Wiradjuri woman and critically acclaimed author, now based in France. Tara’s latest novel The Yield is the story of a people and culture dispossessed and their reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity. Tara is joined in conversation by award winning poet, academic and comedian Yvette Henry Holt from the Yiman, Wakaman and Bidjara Nations of Queensland. In this International Year of Indigenous Languages, Tara and Yvette explore and celebrate the power of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

Mind the Gap – Bridging the Indigenous Divide
7pm, Tuesday 3 September
The Street Theatre
$27-$37, bookings via the website
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is an Indigenous Alice Springs town councillor and the daughter of former CLP politician Bess Price. In the wake of a growing ‘Change the Date’ movement, Jacinta dives deep to uncover what is causing further division; what is distracting us from bridging the indigenous divide and what a connected future would look like.

Floor Talk: Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Thursday 5 September, 1–2pm
Canberra Museum and Gallery, cnr London Circuit and City Square, Canberra City
No bookings necessary, details on the website
Associated with the exhibition Activism: forces for change in Canberra
The Aboriginal Tent Embassy has been the focus for Aboriginal political rights in Canberra for the past 47 years. Join Aboriginal activists, Michael Anderson of the Euahalayi Nation and Wiradjuri man Paul Coe as they talk about this enduring site of protest.

Blak & Bright
Thursday 5 to Sunday 8 September
Various venues in Melbourne
Details at the website
Blak & Bright is a First Nations Literary Festival based in Melbourne, and established in 2016. Blak & Bright is a four day showcase which celebrates the diverse expressions of First Nations writers, covering all genres, from songs to essays, oral stories to epic novels, and from plays to poetry.

Spinifex Gum
8pm, Tuesday 10 September
The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre centre
Information and bookings on the website
Musical snapshots of life in the Pilbara, north Western Australia, performed by the lush voices of Marliya of Gondwana Choirs, young Indigenous women singing in English and Yindjibarndi. Joining the choir are Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill of The Cat Empire, who wrote and produced the music, and special guest Emma Donovan.

Christine Anu: REWIND – The Aretha Franklin Songbook
8pm, Thursday 12 September
Canberra Southern Cross Club, Woden
Information and bookings on the website
Australia’s soul diva Christine Anu returns in 2019 with REWIND – The Aretha Franklin Songbook. Experience Christine’s powerful performance for the first time, or return to enjoy her soulful and sassy tunes once again.

Tour – Indigenous experiences of Parliament House
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, 2.30 – 3.30pm – current to Saturday 31 August
Parliament House, Marble Foyer, ground floor
Free, bookings required here
Hear the stories of Indigenous parliamentarians and staff, explore the site history of Parliament House, gain insights into how Australia’s First Peoples are participating in the nation’s democratic processes, and enjoy significant artworks from the Parliament House Art Collection by celebrated Indigenous artists.


Translating Traditions: Maree Clarke & Mitch Mahoney
To 25 August, 10am – 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday
Canberra Glassworks
For more information, see the website.
In this exhibition artists Maree Clarke (Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, Boonwurrung, Wemba Wemba,), and her nephew, Mitch Mahoney (Boonwurrung and Barkindji), expand their practice by exploring the use of glass as a new material. Both Melbourne based, the artists are actively involved in reviving elements of Aboriginal culture that have either laid dormant or sadly been lost post Colonisation.
Clarke’s continuing desire to affirm and reconnect with her cultural heritage has seen her reification of the traditional possum skin cloaks, together with the production of contemporary designs of kangaroo teeth necklaces, and string headbands adorned with kangaroo teeth and echidna quills.

Activism: forces for change in Canberra
To Saturday 2 November, 10am—5pm Monday to Saturday
For more information, see the website.
This exhibition is about activism in many forms that has taken place in Canberra over the last century. It includes the well-known stories of the fight for women’s rights, for marriage equality and the establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, but also stories of quiet activism; the creation of services for marginalised groups, artist’s collectives and the protest of presence. No matter whether it’s big and dramatic, or quiet and slow, these are stories of people working for change in the Canberra community.

Body Language
To Sunday 3 November
Learning Gallery, National Gallery of Australia
For more information see the NGA website
Body Language is the first exhibition in the new Learning Gallery and explores the identity of Australia’s diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Through story, dance, song, kinship, carvings, painting and markings on bodies and objects, it seeks to highlight the rich complexity of Australia’s Indigenous cultural expression.


If you know of an event or issue that you would like to see covered in this bulletin, please email us at

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