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In this interview of BREAKING GROUND, Bill Harney recalls the hard school that is bush life. He introduces us to Wardaman culture and talks of the problems facing Indigenous Australians and his hopes for the future. He also explains the importance of remaining connected to traditional ways and the land, and speaks with feeling and insight about surviving in two very different worlds – black and white.

Bill Harney was born in the Northern Territory in 1931 – a time when mixed-race relationships were not accepted and many children were removed from Aboriginal families and communities through a government policy of enforced integration.

From his early years, Bill showed that he could prosper in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. Lacking formal education but with determination, enthusiasm and hard work, Bill became successful in business.

But it is Aboriginal culture that has been the defining influence in Bill’s life. A fully initiated Wardaman man and respected elder, Bill is a custodian of his people’s stories, including the remarkable Lightning Brothers paintings – some of the world’s most famous rock art. Available for viewing until this Sunday 9 May.

BREAKING GROUND launches its third release today on indigiTUBE in collaboration with the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's Black Screen. The program follows our blak leaders and their work over the past 100 years of our history. It stands as a reminder of the impact our leadership and self-determination has had on our country and aims to empower those to come. Check the full program HERE.
NFSA Black Screen
Connecting culture with community through screen. Black Screen films are made available on a loan basis to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities for screenings free of charge.


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