Ablaze screening sparks insightful conversation.

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On Tuesday 5 March, judicial officers, tribunal members, guests and Aboriginal Elders gathered at Cinema Nova for a viewing of Ablaze - a feature documentary by Tiriki Onus and Alec Morgan.

The documentary centres on Tiriki’s discovery of a 1940s film created by his grandfather, Bill Onus, and his cultural and emotional journey to uncover the context and meaning behind the footage. In doing so, Tiriki unearths the rich legacy of Bill Onus as a captivating filmmaker, performer, entrepreneur and activist, and showcases Bill’s resolve in using his art to advocate for his people.

Viewers are confronted with footage showing the horrifying reality for First Peoples in 1930s-1950s Australia, including entrenched racism, segregation and dehumanising and violent mistreatment. These scenes are interwoven with key events in the Aboriginal civil rights movement, including the Cummeragunja walk-off, formation of the Aborigines Advancement League and the successful campaign for the 1967 referendum.

After the screening, Tiriki was joined by Andrew Jackomos PSM, former Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and Commissioner of the inaugural Victorian Treaty Authority, for a conversation and to facilitate a Q&A discussion with attendees.

Questions ranged from filmmaking and unearthing surveillance archives, to personal stories about Bill Onus who made Andrew ‘the only left-handed returning boomerang in existence.’ Tiriki, a gifted storyteller, described in detail his respect and connection to his grandfather despite having never personally met, and expressed his desire for reconciliation and change, and the importance of allyship in amplifying First Peoples’ voices.

Elders Aunty Yvonne Luke and Aunty Patsy Smith then invited Tiriki to share his film and stories at a future Indigenous knowledge workshop.

The College extends its thanks to Tiriki Onus for so generously sharing his film and family stories, Andrew Jackomos for his engaging and insightful discussion with Tiriki, Magistrate Rose Falla for her generous introductions, and the wider Judicial Officers' Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Committee for their guidance on this event.

Upcoming special event: Prima Facie screening

The College continues to provide opportunities for judicial officers to gain new perspectives and insight and on Wednesday 17 April will host another special screening, this time of Prima Facie – a thought-provoking play that shines a spotlight on the experiences of sexual assault victims and the court processes that fail to protect them.

Prima Facie playwright Suzie Miller will join the Hon Marcia Neave AO, the Hon Jennifer Coate AO, and the Hon Justice John Champion for a Q&A discussion after the screening. 

Judicial officers are welcome to bring a partner, friend, or family member to this event.

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