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Production   /  Stefan Moore

The Bowraville Murders

Three Aboriginal children murdered, an investigation marred by racism, a 30-year battle for justice.

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Impact areas

HUMAN RIGHTS & SOCIAL JUSTICE

INDIGENOUS

Crew

  • DIRECTOR Allan Clarke

  • PRODUCER Dan Goldberg & Stefan Moore

Synopsis

DURATION: 80 MINUTES

The Bowraville Murders investigates one of Australia’s worst unsolved murder cases that has been marred by systemic racism – the 1990-91 serial killings of three Aboriginal children, all from the same street in a rural town in NSW, all killed within five months of each other and all of their remains found off the same dirt track. There has always been only one suspect, a white man who was acquitted of two of the murders after a racially biased police investigation. For 30 years, the victims' families have fought a courageous battle for justice that is now being passed to the next generation.

Over three years, we have followed the families’ emotional journey through the courts along with the dogged cop who reinvestigated the murders and an activist MP who led a Parliamentary inquiry. As a result of their fight, Bowraville has become a rallying cry for Indigenous people everywhere who demand equal treatment under the law – an open wound haunting Australia until justice is done.

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35.92% funded
  • $102,529.00

    FUNDING GOAL
  • $36,829.00

    FUNDS RAISED
  • June 2020

    PROJECT ENDS
  • 13

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Donations

Plus 61J Media $5,000.00
David Rothfield Minax Uriel Pty Ltd $10,000.00
Rachel ward $1,000.00
Janet thompson $25.00
Anonymous $100.00
Laurie Ferguson $100.00
Anonymous $54.00
sheree waks $200.00
Robin Margo $250.00
Megan McMurchy $5,000.00
Sabina Wynn $5,000.00
Taryne Laffar $100.00
Anonymous $10,000.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

When it comes to Indigenous Australians, one thing is certain – justice isn’t colour blind. Whether you are a suspect or a victim of crime, if you’re black, you’ll be treated differently – you are 12 times more likely to go to jail, you are 17 times more likely to die in custody, your testimony will be dismissed in court, and you will be ignored if you are the victim of crime. Through the Bowraville murders, this film exposes the systemic racism that is part of the lived experience of all Aboriginal people.

Impact

What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

We want this film to create a new level awareness and activism about the racism embedded in every level of the Australian criminal justice system. Bowraville exposes the stark difference in treatment of Indigenous Australians by the police and the courts and how this impacts on the course of justice. We expect Bowraville to awaken our audience to the need for fundamental change that the families have fought for with unyielding courage and resolve for the past three decades.

Outcomes

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

Coupled with our own social media campaigns and those of the organisations and individuals we intend to partner with, we expect this film to have a high profile and broad reach instigating dialogue and action on Indigenous criminal justice issues by police, the courts and the community.

In the short term, we will focus on getting this documentary into important film festivals in Australia and around the word. The film has been commissioned by SBS in Australia, and we are connecting with international broadcasters such as the BBC, CBC, and ARTE as well as streaming services.

In the medium term, we intend to partner with a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organisations to spread the word through social media and screenings to create awareness about the documentary and the issues it addresses.

In the long term, we will follow through with policy-makers, NGOs and activists to implement real change in laws affecting indigenous justice

Stakeholders

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

Throughout the development and production with this documentary, we have consulted a broad range of indigenous advisors and groups. They include the Law and Justice Hub of the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education directed by Larissa Behrendt, the NSW Parliamentary Law and Justice Committee initiated by Greens MP David Shoebridge, and Barry Toohey from the Aboriginal Health Services who has worked with the Bowraville families in dealing with the psychological trauma in the aftermath of the murders. We will also be reaching out to key Aboriginal criminal justice groups including Aboriginal Legal Services, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR), the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and others. In all, there are over 50 indigenous rights organisations across Australia that would have an interest in the film as well as the many Indigenous activist groups.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

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

In the case of Bowraville, it is critical that the centuries-old double jeopardy law be changed to allow for fresh and compelling evidence enabling the retrial of the alleged murderer of the three children in Bowraville. More broadly, police and the courts have to be made to provide all Indigenous people equal treatment under the law – from the time crimes are investigated to the treatment of Indigenous witnesses in legal proceedings. We believe that the power of the Bowraville story will create a more profound understanding of these issues and inspire action.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Throughout our social media campaign, we will be measuring success metrics and making appropriate changes to reach the widest possible audience.

In the medium term, we will measure awareness and attitude shifts by the content of discussion on social media, in community screenings and through the attention devoted to the film and the issues in the mainstream media.

In the long term we will develop a strategy to follow up through emails and phone calls with new contacts identified through posts, tweets and other updates. We expect The Bowraville Murders to be used well into the future to educate, inspire and initiate change.

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