On 10 November 2011, Jan made a speech in the NSW Parliament in support of an exciting community driven multimedia project, auspiced by the Taree Indigenous Development and Employment (TIDE). The project engages 10 to 15-year-old at-risk Aboriginal youth in film-making. One of the recent films developed by the project, entitled RESPECT, was cast with 100% Aboriginal talent and presents an uplifting real life drama about respect for the Elders in a contemporary Aboriginal community on Australia’s Mid North Coast.
The project has a number of partners but is currently seeking funding to continue to operate in TAFE across the region in coming years. To find out more about the project visit Forster Films at http://www.forsterfilmfestival.com.au/ (Project Coordinator Greg Smith). Copies of the DVD are available to community groups, donations of $10 for the DVD are encouraged to support the project.
Jan also hosted a meeting in NSW Parliament about the project earlier this year. Scroll down to see a copy of Jan’s Adjournment Speech!
ADJOURNMENT SPEECH Legislative Council, 10 November 2011
The Hon. JAN BARHAM [6.05 p.m.]: The Respect Project is a multimedia project operating on the mid North Coast that focuses on 10-year-old to 15-year-old Aboriginal youth. It uses film-making processes to provide a way to address their real-life dramas. For several years the Respect Project has been engaging Aboriginal community members in the development of short films, providing insight into traditional Aboriginal stories and culture. The Respect Project is targeted at young people at risk and their families, especially those who have had contact with the criminal justice system. The project brings together local Aboriginal land councils, the police, Corrective Services, community development bodies and education providers, among others, with the support of non-government organisations such as Great Lakes Community Resources and the Forster Film Festival.
The project has most recently published a film and DVD resource entitled Respect, which features local Aboriginal actors. It focuses on issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, history, culture and respect within these communities. Respect has been shown and well-received in schools, detention centres, prisons and offender programs across the region. In relation to the film His Honour Judge J. C. Nicholson, SC, said, “The film ‘Respect’ does more in 30 minutes than I achieve in a two-hour summation in a six-year sentence.”
On 18 October I was invited by the Respect Project to host a discussion about the project. The Attorney General, and Minister for Justice and the member for Canterbury both attended the discussion to speak with members of the board of directors of the Respect Project about a proposed expansion into TAFEs across the mid North Coast. I thank them for their interest and ongoing attention to this project. I note that funding had previously been made available under the previous Minister for Community Services, the member for Canterbury. Local Aboriginal community representatives included Nathan Moran, the Chief Executive Officer of the Birpai Land Council; John Clark, OAM, the Chair of the Biripi Medical Centre and Chief Executive Officer of the Taree Indigenous Development and Employment; Sheree Drylie, the Chief Executive Officer of the Forster Land Council; and Mark Rutherford, the Aboriginal Liaison Officer with Corrective Services.
These people were amongst the project members who spoke eloquently at the meeting about the positive impact that the project has had on their communities. The mid North Coast region is amongst those in New South Wales experiencing a growing number of young Aboriginal people in detention. As a result of engagement with the project, these local organisations have been able to trace a significant decrease in antisocial behaviour and reoffending of young people in their communities. I have spoken before in this place about the power of art to bring communities together and to tackle difficult issues in a meaningful way. The Respect Project is an excellent example of this.
Members may also recall another highly successful multimedia project that worked with Aboriginal young people at risk called Koori Exchange, which operated in Cranebrook in western Sydney. It was recently profiled on the ABC’s 7.30 Report. By engaging young people in the research, writing, filming, acting, production and screening of short films, and by telling the stories that young people want to tell, projects such as the Respect Project build the leadership skills of these young people and help them front difficult issues. It also provides them with vocational skills and TAFE certification in some circumstances.
The Respect Project is also an excellent example of a community-government partnership, with resources for the project pooled from a number of different areas. Financial support for the project has included funding from the former Department of Community Services. The project has been successful because of the hard work and personal dedication of individuals. However, it is a sad reality that even highly successful projects find it a constant struggle to maintain funding.
A reduction in offenders leads to significant financial savings to a range of government services and prevents trauma to individuals and families who are impacted by violence. Other members in this place, including The Greens justice spokesperson, Mr David Shoebridge, have spoken about the importance of supporting justice reinvestment programs as a way to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It is heartening to see the willingness of this new Government to consider such approaches. I urge members in this place to consider ways to ensure that projects such as the Respect Project are given the support they deserve. I offer the opportunity to any member who is interested in watching the film to contact me and I will make it available for their viewing.