A new series shows how the infant NSW colony lost the chance to be an inclusive society, Graeme Blundell from the Australian writes:
I GREW up in outer suburban Melbourne in the 1950s knowing nothing of the original inhabitants of my country.
There were only the cartoons of Eric Jolliffe featuring largely undressed Aboriginal women I occasionally blushingly glimpsed in Australasian Post at the local barber shop.
An aunt was fond of ashtrays and teaspoons that featured the Aboriginal physiognomy, which, along with tea towels and tablemats featuring Albert Namatjira’s paintings, were popularised during the 1956 Olympic Games.
I flashed back to those appropriated images of brown people, red sand and cutesy piccaninnies, almost in shame when looking at the first episode of First Australians, SBS’s ambitious documentary indigenous history series.
Written by Aboriginal filmmaker Rachel Perkins and Louis Nowra, directed by Perkins and Beck Cole, and produced by Perkins and Darren Dale, First Australians is the history of the effects of white settlement, told largely from the perspective of black Australia. It’s engrossing television, heartbreaking, illuminating and often inspiring as stories of courage, resilience and tragedy illuminate the indigenous experience, especially for those of us who know so little of it.
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