By Pamela Nathan
The three part documentary, ‘First Contact‘, was television at its best. It was a shining beacon that illuminated the ‘undiscussables’ of racism and the ongoing impact of the intergenerational trauma of colonialism.
This powerful series started conversations. It shared stories. It created a dialogue with real feelings being expressed on ‘both sides’ of the racial divide. It was a healing journey, with Aboriginal people expressing their anger and recognition of the trauma trajectory. It also illuminated the incredible generosity of Aboriginal people in working through the antagonism of racist attitudes to achieve respect and reconciliation.
As stated in previous CASSE Blog’s, Aboriginal communities need support to traverse the minefield of generational pain, trauma, violence and racism. The biggest step forward in overcoming a problem is acknowledging it, discussing it, and giving all who are affected by the problem a voice. This empowering process also requires input from all involved. However often those with the most power don’t see themselves as being part of the problem. ‘First Contact’ highlighted the importance of recognising that it is the responsibility of all Australians to take on the mantle of mutual responsibility to repair trauma. The voices and stories of Aboriginal people need to be heard in order to find healing and empowerment.
Reality television is often an ugly space, where the ‘best man’ is often the last left standing, regardless of the cost to others involved in the same journey. ‘First Contact’ was reality tv with a conscience. This was a compassionate and moving journey of healing for all of the participants. There was an understanding that those who express racism and hatred are often projecting their own pain and lack of self-worth onto others. The bravery of the whitefellahs who grew to recognise and finally let go of their racism deserves acknowledgement. And the magnificent women – June Oscar and Debra Maidstone – and their strength, bravery, pride and incredible generosity and patience in the face of ignorance and adversity on many levels were, without doubt, the pinnacle of this journey.
Walking in each other’s shoes and learning from experience are two cornerstones of CASSE’S work and CASSE has hosted with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) a town forum to bring the people of Alice Springs together.
We encourage and are happy to facilitate dialogue between Aboriginal Australians to create further transitional and transformative spaces to achieve being human together