Redfern Speech enters 'Sounds of Australia' | Connect Asia

Redfern Speech enters 'Sounds of Australia'

Redfern Speech enters 'Sounds of Australia'

Updated 18 January 2012, 17:45 AEDT

The project to preserve important and iconic moments from Australia's film and sound history has been expanded for the fourth year to include, among other things, some new pointers to the evolution of white-black relations.

Australia's National Film and Sound Archive adds to its 'Sounds of Australia' collection each year, based on public nominations. And while it embraces everything audio-visual - from bird sounds, to music, to TV game shows and political speeches - curators say an important thread is the content that relates to Australia's indigenous peoples. And that embraces some very political moments.

Presenter: Linda Mottram, Canberra correspondent

Speaker: Brenda Gifford, co-curator, National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra


MOTTRAM: In 1903, after watching the devastation of her people in Tasmania, Aboriginal cultural advocate Fanny Cochrane Smith made this recording among others onto wax cylinders, trying to keep something of her past alive.


MOTTRAM: This was among the items that started the Sounds of Australia collection in 2007. Also among those first sounds was this 1950s American rock blues style song by the Warumpi Band.


MOTTRAM: Singing in their own language, the song is called Jailanguru Pakarnu - about getting out of jail in the remote central Australian town of Papanya. Curators say it became the first rock song in an Aboriginal language to achieve widespread airplay and recognition. This too was political. And again this year the issues of white-black relations are among the new recordings to join the project.


MOTTRAM: Singer songwriter Paul Kelly whose collaborative work 'From Little Things, Big Things Grow' was co-written with Kev Carmody in 1993. It's about the 1966 Wave Hill walkout, when the Gurindji people led by Vincent Lingiari went on strike over inferior wages and sparked the Aboriginal lands rights movement. Coming full circle, the song's video shows news footage of former prime minister Gough Whitlam years later pouring the soil of the land through Vincent Lingiari's hands - the land claim achieved.

Brenda Gifford is one of the curators at the National Film and Sound Archive.

GIFFORD: I think it honours the work of Vincent Lingiari, the Wave Hill walk off, and that led to the beginning of the Aboriginal land rights movement and I think the themes within the song are universal.

MOTTRAM: And Brenda Gifford herself was present when another of this year's iconic inclusions was recorded.

KEATING (FROM ARCHIVE): We cannot simply sweep injustice aside.

MOTTRAM: In what's become known as the Redfern Speech, then prime minister Paul Keating called for reconciliation between white and black Australians. It was December 1992. The historic Mabo land rights decision of Australia's high court had been handed down and Paul Keating was marking the coming International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples in historic fashion.

Brenda Gifford again.

GIFFORD: Paul Keating will go down in history because of the speech because it's the first time an Australian prime minister spoke about Indigenous injustice in the Aboriginal community, he touched on the subject of the stolen generations, and he made a call for reconciliation.

MOTTRAM: The archive this year has also admitted to the Sounds of Australia collection key war time speeches by former prime ministers Sir Robert Menzies and John Curtin, rock band Daddy Cool's infectiously cheeky 1971 song, Eagle Rock, and sports broadcaster Norman May's legendary call of the men's 4x100 individual medley relay at the Moscow Olympics - won by Australia. But where recordings related to black-white relations and indigenous issues are concerned, one key contribution will have to wait until the expiry of a ten year moratorium, and that's the historic apology to Indigenous Australians delivered by former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd in February 2008.

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