July 24' | Community Is Everything Newsletter

Yaama! Welcome to our monthly CIE Newsletter! We are really excited to share with you some news about our CIE (Community Is Everything) campaign, a new film club initiative that we have launched for NAIDOC, and much more!

But first, let us introduce ourselves – Uncle Rodney Dillon is a Palawa man, and our Indigenous Rights Advisor. Kacey Teerman is a Gomeroi woman, and our Strategic Campaigner. And the newest member of the team is Rach McPhail, Gomeroi woman and our Campaign Organiser.

Together, we make up the Indigenous Rights team at Amnesty International Australia, working to amplify the voices of First Nations communities, and campaign for increased funding for community-led diversion programs and a fairer and more humane youth justice system. We are honoured to be able to do this work for our communities, and couldn’t do it without the support of activists right around the country just like you!


The theme of NAIDOC for 2024 is Keep the Fire Burning – Blak, Loud and Proud! It is a nod to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, and a call to action that they put out to First Nations peoples at their 40th anniversary protest in 2012, to ‘Keep the Fire Burning’ in their own communities.

This theme encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to unapologetically be proud of being Blak, and to keep fighting the battles that were started by Elders past and present. It is also an invitation to the rest of Australia to amplify First Nations voices, and stand in solidarity in the fight for Indigenous Rights.

Thank you to Common Ground and Learning To Ngangaanha for their incredible NAIDOC resource which informed this segment.

Firestick Flicks

The Indigenous Rights team is extremely proud to launch our new film club, Firestick Flicks, as part of our NAIDOC celebrations. This monthly film club aims to encourage Amnesty activists, staff, and supporters to watch First Nations films and documentaries, by providing supporting resources, discussion prompts, and reflections to foster deep learning and understanding on the path to reconciliation. We will be focusing on films that are free to access on ABC iview or NITV/SBS On Demand, and encourage you all to get together with other activists as well as your family and friends to watch and learn together.

We thought that we would launch Firestick Flicks with some films that really give some great foundational knowledge about what life was like prior to colonisation, and the changes that came about from those early years after the first point of contact. This month’s Firestick Flicks film is The Dark Emu Story!

Through his book ‘Dark Emu’, author Uncle Bruce Pascoe challenges Australia to rethink its understanding of the history of this country, before and after colonisation. He uses records and written accounts from white settlers and explorers, such as Major Thomas Mitchell, as evidence to disprove negative stereotypes, and show that First Nations communities were thriving prior to colonisation, and had well-developed systems of trade, economy and farming, as well as engineering and architecture.

The Dark Emu Story’ is a thought-provoking documentary which explores the impact that publishing this award-winning book had on Uncle Bruce, and the role that the media played in trying to discredit his research, and ultimately, his identity as an Aboriginal man.

Here‘s a resource for more information about The Dark Emu Story, and how you can host your own screening of this film, and participate in ongoing Firestick Flicks screenings.

Winangala (Listen)Kobie Dee’s Warriors and Storytellers

Kobie Dee is a proud Gomeroi rap artist and performer from Maroubra in South Sydney, Bidjigal Land. He is as well known for incredible storytelling in his music as he is for his community work, and inspiring young First Nations kids to work hard to achieve their dreams.

Kobie took his headline Gomeroi Tour on the road, through regional and remote communities on Gomeroi Country, letting young kids up on stage with him when doing community events, and running songwriting workshops to inspire the next generation.

In “Warriors and Storytellers”, Kobie celebrates the strength and resilience of First Nations communities, as he tells the story of how “We worked hard to get to this spot!”. In the face of resistance from colonisation, Kobie is constantly working to create pathways for the next generation coming through, even setting up a recording studio for his community.

“Share the knowledge how you got it now
In a couple years see the rest gone win
Plenty room in this industry

If there’s not we gone make it be
Pave the way for the M.O.B
That’s a middle finger to the colony

Make sure you follow Kobie Dee on Instagram and Youtube!!

Biibabiiba (Book) Women and Children by Tony Birch

Dr Tony Birch is a First Nations author, who grew up in a large family on Wurundjeri Country in inner-city Melbourne. He is an award-winning author, and his latest novel is ‘Women & Children’.

Set in 1965, Joe Cluny lives in a working-class suburb with his mum and sister. This story follows Joe as he spends time learning from his grandfather, and tries to stay out of trouble at school – however, he is forced to grow up quickly as he comes to understand what is happening to his aunty Oona. This novel review comes with a content warning, as one of the main themes of the story is domestic and family violence – but it is such a beautiful story of resilience and a family coming together to protect one of their own.

Click here for UQP’s Bookclub Notes for ‘Women & Children’

Blak Business Ashleigh Pengelly

We are super excited to finally be able to share our new CIE illustrations by First Nations artist Ashleigh Pengelly, and her business Little Black Duck. Not only is Ash an incredible digital artist, but she also handpaints teapots and serving boards, and creates earrings, mugs and hand poured candles, all from her studio in Uranquinty, on Wiradjuri Country.

Make sure you give her a follow on instagram @littleblackduckaus

Mob Who Inspire Us Uncle Rodney Dillon

In the spirit of “Keep the Fire Burning – Blak, Loud and Proud”, each month we will shine a spotlight on mob who inspire us. For our first newsletter, there could be none other than our incredible Indigenous Rights Advisor, Uncle Rodney Dillon.

Amnesty International Australia’s Indigenous Rights team was established in 2008, and Uncle Rodney has been integral to this work. His wisdom and leadership have guided our efforts and made a significant impact across the country. He is a respected Elder on Palawa Country, and has spent his lifetime fighting for the economic and cultural rights of First Nations peoples.

In 2022, Uncle Rodney finally won a hard-fought battle for fishing rights, so that Palawa mob can harvest abalone without constantly being persecuted. In addition, he was part of the Referendum Working Group for the Voice to Parliament, and also co-founded weetapoona Aboriginal Corporation, securing a large parcel of land on lunawanna (Bruny Island) that has been handed back to Traditional Custodian

“Unc inspires me to be the best campaigner and activist I can be, so that I can have the maximum impact working for and with First Nations communities. I am constantly in awe of how his way of working with communities remains grassroots and culturally respectful, whilst also being able to have a systemic and policy-level reach.” – Rach McPhail

Maliyaa (Friend) Activist Shout Out

Do you know of an Amnesty Activist or Action Group in your local area who is doing some really great work in fighting for Indigenous rights and amplifying First Nations voices? Send us a short yarn (50-100 words) to tell us about the work they’ve done, so we can put a shout out in our next issue.
Please send to communityorganising@amnesty.org.au with subject “Activist Shout Out”.

Coming up next month:
4 August – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day

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