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Witness
Aurukun: Mining for a future
One determined aboriginal woman fights for her destitute community's share in Australia's mining profits.
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2012 16:12

Filmmakers: Nick Ahlmark and Nicole Precel

Aurukun in Queensland is one of Australia's most remote aboriginal communities. It is also considered one of the most destitute and dysfunctional. Unemployment hovers at around 80 per cent and the local school is one of the worst-performing in Queensland. Tribal violence is part of everyday life and there are around 100 government agencies for a population of only 1,200.

Gina is an aboriginal businesswoman from Aurukun and like her mother before her, she is not after hand-outs or hand-ups from the welfare system. She wants to make a meaningful difference in her community - the Wik people - by providing skills and economic opportunities for them.

"I believe in my people like they believed in me. I believe that we can have change, have a better life for our children. I don't want my daughter and her children to suffer from what we've suffered here. The social fabric of my community has deteriorated over the last 30 to 40 years and it will continue to deteriorate if we don't do something now .... We need to get onto it now, because we're burying people all the time, our people are dying," Gina says.

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She is fighting for a seat at the table with the big companies that are making a fortune from bauxite mines on tribal lands. It is a long and sometimes lonely journey and Gina's work is constantly interrupted by the desperate realities of aboriginal life.

As she battles on, trying to get a group of young men prepared for training in the mines of far away western Australia, she witnesses the fall-out from the heritage of Australia's appalling aboriginal policies.

The ever-present alcohol, locally known as 'grog', the daily violence and the emotionally charged issue of aboriginal child protection are no side-show to Gina's work - they are the very reason she is passionately determined to build an economic base in Aurukun. And, small step by small step, she is getting there.

This Witness film gives us a rare insight into aboriginal life from the perspective of an empowered and determined community woman who is trying to make a real difference.

This film can be seen from Monday, July 2, at the following times GMT: Monday: 2230; Tuesday: 0930; Wednesday: 0330; Thursday: 1630.

Bringing global issues into focus through courageous and inspiring human stories. Watch more Witness.

Follow the filmmakers - Nick Ahlmark and Nicole Precel - on Twitter: @Storytime_Films

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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