3 Documentaries That Will Change How You See Australia
Australia, both considered a country and a continent, is a land full of rich and diverse stories that explore its current issues, history, and vast outback.
Today Australia is known for many great things, including offering a high level of education, low crime levels, a hospitable climate, and often being ranked amongst some of the happiest countries in the world.
Here are 3 documentaries that will change the way you see Australia:
- Australia's New Stolen Generation
- Breaker Morant: The Retrial
- Surviging the Outback
- Australia's New Stolen Generation
However, Australian history is also marked by a grim, barely-kept secret. Since colonisation, between approximately 1905 to 1970, numerous government laws, policies and practices resulted in the removal of generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and communities across Australia. Thousands of children were removed by governments, churches and welfare bodies to be raised in institutions, fostered out or adopted by non-Indigenous families, nationally and internationally.
These children are referred to as the Stolen Generations, and the exact number of children who were affected may never be known. Anything from 1 in 10 to 1 in 3 children may have been affected, forever changing every Aboriginal and/or Strait Islander community.
In 2008, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd offered a formal apology to members of the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian parliament. Crowds of people across Australia watched the Apology on TV, and tears and relief flowed as he finished speaking.
However, ten years after the Apology, Australia's New Stolen Generation explores how optimism for the future has turned to despair, as “the number of indigenous children being removed from their families has almost doubled”, leaving the numbers higher than ever in the country’s history. Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are being removed from their families at 10.6 times the rate of non-Indigenous children, pointing to a “new stolen generation”.
2. Breaker Morant: The Retrial
Going further back in history, we get to know one of the best known figures of Australian military history, Harry “The Breaker” Morant.
Breaker Morant: The Retrial is a documentary series that tells the story of the greatest military controversy of Australian history—the trial and execution of Breaker Morant and Peter Handcock. The documentary re-examines the Breaker Morant case, combining cross examinations of historians and legal experts, and the presentation of evidence that suggests betrayal and subterfuge at the centre of the trial.
Harry Morant was born Edwin Henry Murrant in England, but moved to Australia around 1883 at the age of 19 and changed his name. He acquired a reputation as a horse-breaker, drover and womaniser and from 1891 contributed bush ballads to the Bulletin as “the Breaker”. Morant and his friend Captain Percy Hunt joined the Bushveldt Carbineers (BVC) and Morant was commissioned as a lieutenant. While on patrol, Hunt was killed by a group of Boers and his body mutilated. Morant assumed command of Hunt’s detachment and pursued the Boers who had killed his friend. Morant would continue to execute several more Boers and wound up being arrested, alongside other BVC officers, and charged with murder.Interestingly enough, after his death, Morant became a folk hero, a symbol of the difference between the posh, stiff, condescending and untrustworthy British and the straight, larrikin, honest and tough Australians. The graves of Morant and Handcock became a popular pilgrimage destination for Australian tourists, even leading to the Australian government refurbishing the site in 1998. Whether a war criminal or not, Morant has become an emblem of the nation, somebody who signifies its identity, the way it wants to see itself.
3. Surviving the Outback
Another thing Australia is best known for is its incredible outback, which is dry, almost entirely uninhabited, and can be dangerous and unforgiving to the inexperienced. In Surviving the Outback, Michael Atkinson, also known as Outback Mike, puts his survival training to the rest.
Recreating how Messrs Adolf Klausmann and Hans Bertram, German aviators who ran out of fuel on a flight to Darwin and found themselves stranded in a remote corner of the Kimberley, western Australia, hundreds of kilometres from any human presence, with steep, rugged terrain, scorching temperatures, large obstructive rivers and a lack of obvious food, Outback Mike attempts to navigate his way back to civilization, equipped only with the same outdated gear that the aviators possessed at the time. Without food, water, nor fuel to get back home, he builds a raft and heads along the coast, before ditching it and trekking inland to safety.
Outback Mike’s experience produces not only incredible footage of Kimberley, but also the sheer grit involved in surviving the outback and how it is not for the faint-hearted.
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