Always Was, Always Will Be. Op-ed by Majhid Heath
To celebrate NAIDOC Week 2020, Create NSW asked four talented NSW artists and screen practitioners to share with us their response to the question: What does the 2020 NAIDOC theme mean to you – personally and/or professionally?
“Always was always will be.
Aboriginal Land…. I always think about the rest of that protest phrase. I remember singing this at the top of my primary school lungs – during Australia’s Bicentennial celebrations in Newcastle and in Sydney. I was a militant little Blackfella while all my white classmates were being happy little Vegemites – something that was instilled in me by my mum, dad and extended family.
But why is asserting our sovereignty militant? It isn’t and shouldn’t be. I like to remind every person that is not Aboriginal that they benefit from our oppression – whether they are White, Black, Asian, Queer, Neurodivergent, a refugee, differently abled, and that can be tough for some people to hear – especially if they themselves have faced discrimination. But it’s the truth and Australia need some serious truth telling.
One of my drives as a producer is to change national myth making in Australia. Aboriginal stories are the centre of Australian history and future and should no longer be on the periphery. That’s what drives me because for too long my people and my family were voiceless – living on missions or being taken away from their family by the state or I make television and film and work with both blackfellas and non-indigenous creatives to achieve this lofty goal because that’s what this country needs. It needs to see the truth in diverse characters and diverse stories on screens, instead of a false narrative that aids the collective amnesia that symbolises white Australia’s relationship with its colonial past and present.
My challenge is to do this in an entertaining way – through genre, engaging characters, subverting formats and creating worlds that allow for the full expression of humanity not only a Gumbaynggirr or Dunghutti or Yuin or Biripai or Bundjalung world view. That’s why I do what I do in making the truth entertaining – and it’s time for you to get out of the way of you don’t see it like that.
Because Australia is Aboriginal Land – Always was and Always will be.”
Majhid Heath’s first short film, Brown Lips (2017), from writer/director Nakkiah Lui, was nominated for numerous awards after screening both nationally and internationally. His second project, A Chance Affair (2018) from creator/writer Steven Oliver, screened on NITV/SBS On Demand.
Majhid produced the Horror Anthology feature, Dark Place, for ABC and Screen Australia (2019) and also produced Arts TV Quiz show Faboriginal for NITV/SBS On Demand (2020).
Majhid has also produced a number of documentaries including feature, Le Champion (2019), and Power to the People – Love (2017), Cyber Dreaming (2014) and Message Stick – An Australian Storybook (2011) for ABC Television.
Hear more on NAIDOC Week 2020 from Ian RT Colless, Thea Perkins, and Aaliyah Bradbury
Image: supplied (L- R) Majhid Heath, Rob Braslin and Tom Waugh on the set of Vale Light.
Published: 11 November 2020