Dialog Box

Environment | Indigenous
Healthy Country, Healthy People (working title)
This short film will introduce the Indigenous rangers who manage the Warddeken and Djelk Indigenous Protected Areas in West Arnhem Land, an area one third the size of Tasmania with over one hundred clans and twelve languages. The rock country, coastland and floodplains of Warddeken and Djelk are home to dozens of threatened species whose survival depends on the work of Indigenous rangers. \n\nThe film opens with helicopter shots of the monumental gorges and waterfalls of Warddeken, the beachscapes and grasslands of Djelk. A map shows West Arnhem Land and the boundaries of these two massive areas. Music and voice over introduces the history of the Caring for Country movement (80 sites and 600 rangers throughout Australia).\n\nThe film is a journey through “country”, with a feeling of discovery throughout. We rise up over a gorge edge to reveal a waterfall below. We transition from the helicopter to an airboat skimming across the water. We slow down, finding rangers packing up and looking up to answer questions about their work. \n\nOur conversations share rangers’ personal stories and passion for their work. We will hear about the restoration of damaged lands being tantamount to physical and psychological healing. Many of these interviews will be in language with subtitles. \n\nA raging fire takes us to the next location and we see rangers controlling the blaze. As smoke fades against the evening light, we learn about early dry season fires and their value for the environment.\n\nWe travel to the rock art caves on the Arnhem Land Plateau - one of the largest art galleries in the world with some of the oldest art dating back 50,000 years. The voice of a ranger brings our camera to him and more art is revealed. \n\nIn Maningrida Jon Altman, Karrkad-Kanjdji Director, talks with passion about the value of the healthy working lifestyle of these rangers for the well-being of both the country and the community. He talks of the need for a conservation trust fund to secure this work into the future.\n\nInterviews are peppered with shots of rangers at work: quiet moments of reflection around the campfire, a moonlight escarpment with time-lapse stars moving overhead, an Oenpelli python sliding over the rocks, rangers watching magpie geese take off at sunrise. We see faces grinning, then serious with work, and end the sequence on a smile.

How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

This short film will draw attention to the high value of Indigenous land management work in remote Australia, where the healthy working lifestyle of Indigenous rangers is securing the well-being of both country and community. By using West Arnhem Land as an example, this short film will draw attention to the leading edge work of the Karrkad-Kanjdji Trust.\n\nThe Karrkad-Kanjdji Trust is building a conservation trust fund to support the environment, people and culture of West Arnhem Land. The trust fund will provide secure resources for the management of this area. It will deliver long term funding for the achievement of long term outcomes (environment, culture, health, economy, education), add value to government programs and protect against funding fluctuations. With this model that has been used successfully in other parts of the world, the Karrkad-Kanjdji Trust is providing a template for the management of Australia’s high conservation value but under resourced Indigenous estate.\n\nBy increasing awareness of the importance of Indigenous land management and the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust, this short film will help secure the future of the landscape and people of West Arnhem Land and also help forge a new direction for land management in Australia.
Aims & Objectives

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

Increased awareness of the importance of Indigenous land management for all Australians. Impact measured by increased national awareness (media coverage, increased government support, increased support for the Karrkad-Kanjdji Trust, web hits on the short film).\n\nIncreased awareness of the threat of ‘empty country’ to the sustainability of many remaining Australian conservation landscapes. Impact measured by media coverage of ‘empty country’ within 12 months of short film release.\n\nImproved philanthropic and government support for ‘sustainable financing’ as a response to ‘sustainable need’. Impact measured by the number of other Indigenous land owners increasing resources for land management and/or considering the conservation trust fund model.\n\nLocal and national recognition for the Indigenous ranger programs of West Arnhem Land. Impact measured by increased self-esteem of rangers and increased number of people in West Arnhem Land aspiring to this healthy working lifestyle.\n\nProfile creation for the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust. Impact measured by financial support received.

What is your education and outreach strategy?

External:\n\nShort film shared with to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Special Broadcasting Service and National Indigenous Television to encourage more detailed coverage of Indigenous land management in West Arnhem Land.\n\nYouTube versions created for global circulation.\n\nShort film distributed on dvd to the 50 other Indigenous Protected Area communities around Australia.\n\nShort film used to promote the work of the Karrkad-Kanjdji Trust (trust website, events, crowd funding).\n\nInternal:\n\nShort film distributed on dvd throughout West Arnhem Land.\n\nShort film shown in schools in West Arnhem Land (Kunbarllanjnja and Maningrida).
Geoffrey Simpson
Naomi Mitchell
Total budget
10 Minutes