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Development   /  David Clark

The Aboriginal Child Artists of Carrolup

Aboriginal child artists gain international acclaim, challenge racist policies and influence four generations of artists


Impact areas







  • DIRECTOR David Clark and John Stanton

  • PRODUCER David Clark and John Stanton



When teacher Noel White arrived at Carrolup Native Settlement in Western Australia in 1946, he was unable to communicate with the traumatised Aboriginal children as they were so fearful. The children had been removed from their families as part of government policy and lived in squalid conditions. Mr White connected with the children and empowered them to create beautiful drawings that gained public acclaim. They also displayed outstanding sporting achievements.

Seventy-one-year old Englishwoman Mrs Florence Rutter was so captivated by the children after visiting Carrolup, she promised them she would make their drawings known throughout the world. She exhibited the drawings in Europe to much acclaim, but the government closed Carrolup school in 1950. We have taken up Mrs Rutter’s mantle with our multi-platform project. We are not only telling the children’s inspiring story, but also helping them ‘reach out’ from the past to facilitate the healing of trauma amongst Aboriginal people.

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0.02% funded
  • $450,000.00

  • $100.00

  • 31st July 2020

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Anonymous $100.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

At its heart, our story is about the healing of trauma. As a result of European colonisation, Aboriginal people of Australia—and Indigenous peoples around the world—have suffered a trauma which has been unwittingly passed down the generations. The consequences of this intergenerational (and ongoing) trauma include mental health problems, addiction and suicide. With our multi-platform project, we empower Aboriginal people to heal from trauma by creating hope, understanding and a sense of belonging. We help them connect to their culture, country, family, spirituality and history, in part through creating cultural pride. This form of connection is key to healing amongst Aboriginal people. We also show our audience the nature of trauma and how healing can be achieved. We enhance public awareness of the resilience and achievements of Aboriginal people in the face of great adversity, which helps reduce the racism and prejudice in society that are major barriers to healing.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

We wish to facilitate the healing of intergenerational (and ongoing) trauma amongst Aboriginal people at: (1) an Individual level, empowering and connecting Aboriginal people by creating hope, understanding, a sense of belonging and pride in culture, and (2) a society level, by enhancing awareness, empathy and acceptance in order to help reduce prejudice and racism. We want more Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to walk alongside each other as equals to help improve wellbeing in society.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Society has the knowledge to facilitate the healing of trauma, but this knowledge is often poorly implemented. We aim to facilitate the healing of trauma (and its consequences) amongst Aboriginal people by:

(1) empowering and connecting Aboriginal people
(2) increasing awareness and empathy amongst non-Aboriginal people that will reduce barriers to healing such as racism and prejudice
(3) creating institutional change, so that services working with Aboriginal people tackle trauma directly, rather than just manage symptoms
(4) encouraging Aboriginal people and communities to tell their healing stories, and develop their own local healing initiatives
(5) encouraging schools to use our educational package about the Carrolup Story and the healing of trauma
(6) ensuring that more people around the world know about the achievements of Aboriginal people in the face of great adversity.

Of course, our project should also facilitate the healing of trauma amongst non-Aboriginal people.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

The story told in our documentary will create hope, understanding (of the nature of trauma and healing) and a sense of belonging amongst Aboriginal people. It will facilitate the development of empathy and acceptance amongst non-Aboriginal members of our audience. The film will inspire members of our audience to visit our website (and read our book) and look at our educational packages that will enable them to learn much more about the story, the impact of the Carrolup children’s achievements on people today, the healing of trauma, Aboriginal culture and much more. People will be able to become part of a grassroots initiative to facilitate the healing of trauma.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

We have been engaging with people connected with the Carrolup story, (e.g. family members of people who were there), some of whom will be subjects of our short films (and written stories) and possibly appear in the main feature. Our advisors include world-leading experts in the healing of trauma and its consequences, as well as cultural leaders and Noongar artists. We are partners with the Berndt Museum of Anthropology, which has the largest collection of Carrolup artworks, and we will be linking up with other key organisations that aid project development and enable us to reach a wide audience. We will link up with other grassroots healing initiatives in order to enable the continual spreading of healing stories, as well as information about the nature of healing trauma and developments within other healing initiatives.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

These actions include the following:
- visit our online Storytelling, Education and Healing resource, purchase our book, and engage in one of our education packages
- tell others about our multi-platform activities and healing initiative
- engage in our developing community, via the website and related social media, keeping us informed of relevant personal or community developments they are happy to share
- use our content to connect with family, history and culture
- tell their personal stories related to the Carrolup Story
- organise a screening of our film or other relevant community event
- use our film content and education packages for education and training
- donate to our initiative
- search out healing initiatives in their community and volunteer if possible
- bring people together to develop a healing initiative in their community
- contact their MP and relevant Minister about the need to expand and support Aboriginal healing initiatives.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

One of our team (David Clark) previously developed the online community Wired In To Recovery that helped people recover from addiction and related problems and facilitated the development of a major addiction recovery advocacy movement in the U.K. (and further afield). Two major way that he was able to monitor how well the initiative was achieving its aims was to: (1) follow activity on the website (stories, blogs, comments, statistics, etc) which informed the world of new initiatives, personal engagement and successes, etc, and (2) visit communities to look at new initiatives and witness successes.

We will use a similar approach here. We will encourage people to keep us informed of personal, family and community ‘stories’ and initiatives. We will regularly monitor our website to see how our audience is growing, keep track of how often our educational content is used, and visit communities when possible. We will train people to take this community initiative to the next stage.