Australian Arabic Council
Discussion of 'Tale of Two Peoples'
"Tale of two peoples" is a 26 minute, educational
documentary that examines the effects of dislocation from culture
among Arabic and Aboriginal youth in Australia. It focuses on
their attitudes and aspirations whilst tackling the roots of
racism. Young people from both cultures actively engage in debunking
the myths that stereotype them. Tale of two peoples is packaged
with an easy to follow teachers manual, and covers a number of
learning areas. This film is relevant in light of the current
levels of racism in Australia
The Age 20/8/01
Young Arabs and Aborigines Graft Olive Branch
By STEVE WALDON
Monday 20 August 2001
Multiculturalism seeps into Australian society, overcoming entrenched
resistance. Cultural diversity insists on being a fact rather
than a notion. Sometimes, often in unheralded ways, the essence
of multiculturalism reveals itself.
And so it is with Tale of Two Peoples, a 26-minute documentary
commissioned by the Australian Arabic Council which chronicles
a historic joint project involving Arab and Aboriginal students.
The short film, just launched, features students from the Al
Kamal College, in Melbourne's east, and their peers from the
Worawa Aboriginal College, in Healesville.
The Al Kamal students, all from Arabic backgrounds, tell the
camera how they are young Australians, but they want to retain,
even develop, their sense of having an Arabic heritage.
We see them on a bus, heading towards their first tentative meeting
with the Worawa students. In a series of role-playing workshops,
the two groups recognise they have a shared future _ they are
the latest generation of Australians to encounter racial stereotyping.
The revelation among the students that they have parallel issues
is coaxed from them by Aboriginal musician and film maker Richard
Frankland, who co-directed the film with Laurence Abou-Khater
of the Australian Arabic Council. The "we are not alone"
impact among the students is pervasive and, because of it, they
all seem to take away hope instead of frustration.
The concept for Tales emerged from a discussion Mr Abou-Khater
had about two years ago.
"We were talking about the shared experience of people not
quite fitting into the contemporary Anglo-Saxon Australian society,
" Mr Abou-Khater said.
"It's the same for minorities everywhere. If I grew up as
an English kid in China, I'd have identity issues. Who would
I talk to about it?
"When we came to making the documentary, we thought it might
be a chance for this unlikely meeting, where the Arabic and indigenous
kids could get together without a 'white' person as a conduit.
In the decade since its formation, the council has developed
a reputation as an active opponent of racism in Australia. Perhaps
its biggest success has been in confronting and then correcting
negative images of the Arab community, particularly lazy labeling
of people as being "of Middle Eastern appearance".
The council received some funding for the documentary from the
Federal Government's Living In Harmony scheme, and the team behind
the film is negotiating with SBS over telecast rights.
In keeping with its charter of tackling racism through education
initiatives, the council hopes the documentary will be used in
schools, and is preparing a teaching pack.
Certainly, the participants are enthusiastic about the film.
"I learnt to keep a broader vision, to appreciate another
culture, " said Josh Atkinson, from Worawa. Lillian Alame,
from Al Kamal, thinks the sharing of stories and traditions is
a truly productive outcome.
Wurundjeri elder Joy Murphy-Wandin said the project meant Melbourne's
Arab community was "part of the Wurundjeri extended family".
Frankland believes passionately in the documentary's motif. "Aborigines
were considered part of Australia's flora and fauna until 1967,
" is his brutal assessment. "Minorities are made by
attitudes, and attitudes are supported by legislation. "
It is a small step, but the Australian Arabic Council has grafted
an olive branch on to a wattle tree, then planted it in Wurundjeri
Who knows what new tree will flourish . . .
30 min. Session