Homeland Story is a moving portrait of Donydji, a small, remote Indigenous community in East Arnhem Land in the far north of Australia. The film charts the community's transition from nomadic life to the digital age, from the 1960's to the present day. It documents their struggle to overcome corrosive government policy and mining interests and remain on their land.
The film also tells a remarkable story of cross-cultural co-operation. Dr Neville White, a genetic anthropologist has been working with the community since 1974. Responding to their request he helped map the clan lands in 1970s -80s to resist the threat of mining license claims. In the early 2000's when housing, education and employment became the community's major concern, he convinced the Rotary Club of Melbourne to fund a partnership between Vietnam Veterans and the young men of Donydji to build a school, houses, workshop, etc. Fifteen years later this partnership continues.
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
Homeland Story shows the importance of Homelands and their value in promoting wellbeing and protecting culture. (Homelands are places where Indigenous communities live on their traditional lands.) It personalizes the positive reality of Homelands for an Australian public who knows little about them beyond the rampant child sexual abuse and neglect claimed in the Howard government's Northern Territory Intervention. The film exposes the real problems that Homelands face: sub-standard education, deplorable service delivery, lack of job opportunities for the youth, inadequate government policy and bureaucratic mismanagement.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
Homeland Story is an advocacy film that aims to support and sustain Indigenous Homelands. The Donydji community wanted this film made so their voice could be heard. They want white Australians to listen to their story.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
We aim to increase awareness about Homelands. The film gives decision makers and the general public the opportunity to understand what Homelands mean to the Yolngu and why they must be protected. It shows the failure of Canberra-style solutions to meet the basic needs of isolated, tradition-oriented communities. We hope the film will improve government support for Homelands and self-determination.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
Rotarians and Vietnam Veterans have been assisting community development at Donydji for the past fifteen years. Screenings hosted by their nation-wide networks will help spread information about Homelands to a wide cross-section of people.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
Encourage decision-makers to actively support Homelands.
Encourage Australians in general to support Homelands and self-determination for Indigenous communities.
Encourage other Australians to follow the example of Rotary and the Vietnam Vets in partnering with Homelands to help their long term security and supporting communities to be self-determining.
Educate the younger generation to respect and admire Aboriginal culture.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
Track spread of partners' actions in promoting the film
Track publicity for the film (articles, interviews)
Track # of film screenings
Survey audience post screenings
Track sales to the educational and general market
Track size of social media audience for the film
Track narrative responses to the film via website and social media.