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    OUR VOICE, OUR HEART: LOCAL FILMMAKERS BRIDGING COMMUNITIES IN REMOTE AND URBAN AUSTRALIA

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    By Jemaine Cooper

    Motivated by the glaring knowledge gap between urban Australians and remote Indigenous communities, First Nations men Jaxon De Santis and Justin Grant have embarked on a transformative journey.

    Grappling with their own uncertainty about the impending Voice to Parliament referendum they’ve travelled to the Northern Territory to try and understand the perspectives of those most affected by the referendum. 

    Their quest is not only to find their own voices but to empower others to do the same via a shared journey of understanding, guided by the wisdom and experiences of diverse First Nations communities across the NT. 

    Their travels are being turned into a documentary titled Our Voice, Our Heart by director Laurens Goud from local Yarraville production team Trade Creative.

    For Justin Grant, who co-directs and co-produces the film, it’s very much a journey of discovery. ‘Many people ask me how I will vote in the Referendum, but I have no answer. If I don’t know, how can millions of Australians living in cities know how to vote?’ Jaxon De Santis, who also co-produces, adds ‘It’s an experience that impacts everyone. We need to find out what difference it will make to us all.’

    The journey begins with family which for Justin is desert Gurindji Country. Jaxon is saltwater mob and travels to Pirlangimpi (Melville Island Tiwi) where his mother is from. They then move overland into new lands to hear a diversity of voices from communities in Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land, at the Barunga Festival in South Arnhem, and the communities of Kakadu (Patonga Homelands) and Gunbalanya.

    The documentary aims to foster understanding between the Indigenous population of the Northern Territory and the rest of Australia. Jaxon and Justin strive to promote dialogue by approaching conversations with genuine curiosity and attentive listening. Their goal is to provide Australians with a basic awareness of how First Nations communities think and live on land, so that they can approach the referendum knowing what is being proposed.

    The 40-minute documentary premieres this month at the Garma Festival, accompanied by a 10-part social engagement and impact campaign featuring artwork by Gerard Black, a talented Worimi artist. Black’s art beautifully portrays the journey of these two men, depicted holding empty knowledge cups and a message stick, as they seek wisdom from elders and leaders across different Indigenous communities.

    Both Jaxon and Justin bring their unique perspectives and deep understanding of cultural diversity to this timely project and hope to ignite a national conversation which helps foster a society that values and respects the voices of all its citizens. 

    You can join the journey and conversation by following @ourvoiceourheart on social media.
    Additionally, you can register to host a screening and panel Q&A within your own community group and organisation. This way, you can actively engage in carrying forward crucial conversations about ‘The Voice to Parliament’ within your own community.

    For more details and to register your interest, visit our website at ourvoiceourheart.com.au.

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