First Nations/
Ablaze: Film screening with Director Tiriki Onus.

Image of a snippet of the Ablaze film with Ablaze text overlayed.

Tuesday 5th March 2024

Seminar | 5:00 PM-8:00 PM


When Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung artist and academic, Tiriki Onus, discovered an old photograph in a basement suitcase, his subsequent cultural and emotional journey would help assemble vital pieces of 20th century Aboriginal history.

The photograph—of Tiriki’s grandfather, William Townsend Onus (1906 – 1968) at the helm of a movie camera—opens a portal to a time when Aboriginal people were excluded from going into public places, and, if they were able to go to the movies, were confined to the front stalls. As Tiriki uncovers the meanings behind the photo, he sheds light on the civil rights movement led by his grandfather as entrepreneur, theatre impresario, entertainer, activist and leader.

A film about film-making, Ablaze raises questions about cinema as a site of cultural reproduction; where stories are framed and disseminated and where some voices have authority and others are excluded.

This series of events is presented in partnership with the Judicial Officers’ Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Committee (JOACAC), chaired by Justice Jane Dixon and Magistrate Rose Falla.




Tiriki Onus
Tiriki Onus is a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung artist, academic and Head of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development at the University of Melbourne and co-director of the university’s Research Unit in Indigenous Arts and Culture. He is a successful visual artist, curator, performance artist and opera singer. His first operatic role was in the premiere of Deborah Cheetham’s Pecan Summer in October 2010, which he reprised in 2011 and 2012 for the Melbourne and Perth runs. He received the Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust’s Harold Blair Opera Scholarship in 2012 and 2013. Most recently, Tiriki co-directed the feature documentary Ablaze which premiered at the 2021 Melbourne International Film Festival to great acclaim. The documentary uncovers a film made 70 years ago by Tiriki’s grandfather, William Bill Onus, an important leader in the Aboriginal rights movement.
Treaty Authority, Victoria
Andrew Jackomos PSM
Andrew Jackomos is a proud Yorta Yorta man, with direct heritage to the Gunditjmara, Taungurung and Boandik nations. He is also proud of his heritage from the Greek Island of Kastellorizo. In December 2023, Andrew was appointed one of five inaugural members of the Treaty Authority, Victoria. The Authority will oversee upcoming Treaty negotiations in Victoria and help parties navigate the conversations required to realise Treaty in Victoria. From 1999 to 2013 Andrew led the development and implementation of three iterations of the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement. He became the inaugural Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People in 2013 where he led Taskforce 1000, a landmark review into the impact of the child protection system on Aboriginal children and young people.  In 2018 as the Special Adviser on Aboriginal Self-Determination to the Victorian Government, Andrew led the development of the Guiding Principles on Self-Determination for the state. In 2019, he led Aboriginal Economic Development initiatives with the Victorian Government.