Trespass: Human Rights
Yvonne Margarula and Jacqui Katona, at an environmental award ceremony, talk about the human rights of the Mirarr people. They talk about the frontier approach of the mining companies in the taking of the Mirarr people’s land.
Summary by Romaine Moreton
The Mirarr people have been fighting for their land for generations, and what the mining lease represents is the conflict of cultural perspectives and values. While the Indigenous custodians of the land appreciate the need to protect the land so that cultural knowledge and especially language can continue, to Western interests the mines are all about economics.
A documentary about Yvonne Margarula and the Mirarr people’s fight against the mining companies.
Trespass is part of the Nganampa Anwernekenhe series produced by Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) Productions. Nganampa Anwernekenhe means 'ours’ in the Pitjantjatjara and Arrernte lanuages, and the series aims to contribute to the preservation of Indigenous languages and cultures.
A documentary that revisits the Mirarr people’s fight against the uranium mines in Jabiluka. The Mirarr people have had to contend with the existence of Ranger Mine since 1982, a mine that has had a profound impact upon the environment as well as the people who live in the area. The area in dispute includes Jabiluka Project as well as Kakadu National Park – owned by the Mirarr Gundjeihmi people. Yvonne Margarula is the senior traditional owner of Jabiluka, and Trespass is about the arrest of Yvonne Margarula for walking on her own land, and her later conviction at Darwin Magistrates Court on 1 September 1998 of trespassing on Energy Resources Australia’s Jabiluka uranium mining lease, an area which lies within her traditional country inside Kakadu National Park.
An earlier documentary, Jabiluka (1997), documented the Mirarr people’s fight against the mine and focussed specifically on the fight against ERA. The importance of being able to pass the land on to their children, as well as the Gundjeihmi language, is at the centre of Trespass. This documentary shows the consequence on the environment of 20 years of the mine, the impact upon the local people’s language and lifestyle, as well as the Mirarr people themselves being labelled as trespassers on their own land.
Trespass uses interview material as well as archival footage of the old people who, worn down by the battle against the mining companies, eventually succumbed to illness then death. It is stated at the end that Yvonne Margarula and the Mirarr people will not give up the fight. Yvonne Margarula is a leader who is determined not to be defeated by the mining giants.
Notes by Romaine Moreton