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His name is David Gulpilil and he is one of the most significant Indigenous Elders of our time.
Mr Gulpilil will be an Orientation Week special guest at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus tomorrow when he will give a free public lecture on peace and healing in the Whitebrook Theatre from 12 noon to 1pm.
A legendary actor, accomplished artist and tribal dancer, story teller and writer, he is the man who has brought to life Indigenous culture and language in a way unlike anyone else before him.
His film career has spanned four decades – from being plucked from tribal obscurity at 14 to star in the groundbreaking film Walkabout, to starring and co-directing in his latest highly acclaimed film, Ten Canoes, just last year aged 54.
Along the way he has starred in such diverse films as Rabbit-proof Fence, Mad Dog Morgan, Crocodile Dundee, Stormboy, The Last Wave, The Trackers and his own life story, One Red Blood.
Always a reclusive soul, who has shunned the media and the limelight for a simple, traditional life with his tribal family, the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land, Uncle David, as he is respectively known, is visiting the Northern Rivers region to promote a new film on world peace, Think About It, in which he stars and to help launch a new Australia-wide campaign, Australia’s Living Legends.
Uncle David’s new movie, filmed and directed by Richard and Wendy Friar, of Suffolk Park, seeks to spread a global message of peace and through this, create positive cultural and social change throughout the world, Mrs Friar said.
Mrs Friar said Australia’s Living Legends is a related grass roots campaign she, her husband and Uncle David are launching to enable ordinary Australians to celebrate their Indigenous culture.
“Millions of Australians want to do more to promote healing and to connect with our Indigenous people, but they don’t know where to start or what would be helpful. This campaign will show people just how easy it is and give practical projects people can support,” she said.
Uncle David was 'welcomed to kuntri' by Elders of the Bundjalung nation shortly after he arrived on the Northern Rivers last week, at a gathering hosted by Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples at Southern Cross University.
He told the gathering he and his wife, Miriam, deeply appreciated being welcomed to Bundjalung land and that the connection between their people was a long and enduring one.
“I have been walking around this world since I was born, and I am still walking around, meeting people of all different nationalities and cultures,” he said.
“I have met very famous and important people and very ordinary, simple people. I have met people from the Stolen Generation and people who have lost their culture or forgotten their culture.
“So what are we going to do now about everything that has happened to our people? I say we have got to go forward.
“We are, all of us, black or white or coloured, the nations that live in this world, on this one planet. We are all of one red blood. We as human beings, but also the animals and birds and fish, things that crawl or fly or swim – we are all one red blood. We should not forget that.
“Today what is happening in the world is that we are losing the connection to who we are and where we have come from and how we are connected to all living things and to each other.
“What is important now is to support the future of our children, to remind them of where they came from, where their ancestors came from, how we are all part of the same stream of life, and how we are all one red blood on this special planet.
“This is not my story, it is not your story or anyone else’s story. This is OUR story – the story of ALL life on the planet.
“I want to travel all over Australia until I come back to this same spot at Southern Cross University where I have started, spreading a message of peace and acceptance for everyone, so we can all move forward together and so our children all have a peaceful and happy future to look forward to.”
Photo: David Gulpilil and his wife Miriam Ashley at the welcome to kuntri ceremony at Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples.
Media contact Zoe Satherley, Southern Cross University media officer, 6620 3144, 0439 132 095.