Program of Diversity

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The Politics of Life

One of the most important ways that we define our identities and shape our futures is by telling stories. We tell them to ourselves, to our friends and neighbours, and to the wider society. One of the disadvantages suffered by people living on public housing estates is that their stories are rarely heard by people outside of their own community. Estate dwellers find it difficult to project a positive image of themselves to the wider Australian society.

Urban Moon and Cultural Identity

The Urban Moon project combined Western urban street dance with traditional East Timorese dances and elements of Vietnamese cultures. The participating East Timorese girls were aged between fourteen and twenty and had spent almost their entire lives in Australia. Some were embarrassed about their cultural heritage. They were also living under stress. Despite their length of stay in Australia they were still on the Temporary Protection Visas issued to refugees from the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. The visas meant that parents and children could be forcibly repatriated to East Timor when the visas expired. The Urban Moon project's relevance and its power to communicate across boundaries were evident in the many performances for their own community and to other audiences.

My Name is Thanh

The Arts and Culture Program also produced the short documentary film My Name is Thanh, delineating the life and thoughts of its Vietnamese-Australian narrator, Thanh Pham. The camera person and co-deviser was Pip Humphrey, a fellow high-school student who met with film-maker and media trainer Rick Randall. 

My Name is Thanh screened at metropolitan and regional festivals and won the Diegesis Award for Best Documentary. It retains the authenticity of its subject matter: narrator Thanh Pham's personal encounters and special places of individual and community significance. Shot in the halls and classrooms of the Collingwood College, in the units of the high rise estates, and along the streets of inner-city Melbourne, My Name is Thanh is a model of community film-making.

"We brought in East Timorese like cultural activist Bernardo Duarte to work with them on traditional dances and chants as they sought to integrate images and movements that would fuse together and create something unique. The Vietnamese and the East Timorese girls related to each other through the process of art-making when before they had virtually not come into contact, even though living cheek by jowl on the estate."
Liss Gabb, Arts and Culture Program artsworker and dramaturge on the Urban Moon project, 2002