NACCHO Mad Bastards News:Aboriginal men learn strength in numbers

Jack Warn

A FILM called Mad Bastards is being used throughout Australia to inspire local indigenous men to reach their potential and become community leaders.

Here we present two major success stories from Western Australia and Victoria

Strong Men’s gathering of indigenous men from the Warrnambool and Moyne areas.

The award-winning movie tells the story of an Aboriginal man rebuilding a relationship with his estranged son and getting his life back on track.

Although it has not received widespread distribution, the movie has been received enthusiastically by men’s groups throughout Australia.

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SPEAKING OF STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

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It was screened this week at a Strong Men’s gathering of indigenous men from the Warrnambool and Moyne areas.

The gathering at the Warrnambool Community Health Centre was addressed by Jack Bulman from the Mibbinbah men’s spaces group, who said the movie was used as an ice-breaker to stimulate discussion about how Aboriginal people could empower themselves.

“The participants already know the answers, we just help them to act upon those answers,” he said.

Among the issues discussed at the Warrnambool gathering were the movie’s portrayal of family violence.

South West Healthcare Aboriginal health programs manager, Allan Miller, said the gathering first created “a safe place” for people to discuss sensitive issues by establishing guidelines for behaviour, such as showing respect for each other.

“It’s a group decision on what happens,” Mr Miller said.

The two-day gathering also provided local feedback about a national campaign being developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men by the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia.

Mr Bulman said the gathering was a “taster” for an eight-week program for Aboriginal men that Mibbinbah hoped to later run in the region.

Mibbinbah will also hold a five-day camp later this year for local Aboriginal men about building up the strength of their communities.

The camp will be run in conjunction with the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative, Kirrae Health Services and South West Healthcare.

Hopes hit film will help reduce Indigenous prison rates

ALSO SEE TRANSCRIPT OF ABC RADIO  INTERVIEW BELOW

The statistics are familiar and disturbing – Aboriginal people make up 2.5 per cent of Australia’s population yet account for almost a third of the number of people in prison. There are hopes that a program being trialled among prisoner inmates in Perth will help reduce the disparity.

PETER LLOYD: The statistics are familiar and disturbing: Aboriginal people make up 2.5 per cent of Australia’s population, yet account for almost a third of the number of people in prison.

There are hopes that a program being trialled among prisoners in Perth will help reduce the disparity. It’s based on the experiences of an Aboriginal actor and the film about his life that has become something of an underground hit.

Bronwyn Herbert’s report begins with an excerpt from that film.

CHARACTER 1: What’s the matter my boy, you got trouble anywhere?

CHARACTER 2: Wouldn’t know where to start.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The film Mad Bastards launched the career of Dean Daley-Jones. He played the role of tormented Aboriginal man TJ, in a script he helped write based on his own experiences – angry outbursts, relationship breakdowns, and time behind bars.

Now he’s become a more familiar face off-screen. He’s visiting prisons right around Australia, doing time with young inmates to stop them reoffending.

DEAN DALEY-JONES: You can still get your point across without thumping somebody in the head.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Today he’s at a minimum security prison in Perth called Wandoo, speaking to the young men aged between 18 and 25.

DEAN DALEY-JONES: Keeping your integrity and respect, and that’s one thing I’ve found, one of the greatest things I learnt through a lot of hard work, like you know, going through all that pain.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The movie and its characters, who face all kinds of pressures, from drugs, alcohol and relationship breakdowns, encourages a roomful of prisoners to open up.

Jack Bulman from Mibbinbah, an Aboriginal health charity based on the Gold Coast, leads the workshop.

JACK BULMAN: Why did the people in Mad Bastards movie, why did they decide to make change in their lives?

INMATE 1: Because of their family and friends.

JACK BULMAN: Because he was worried about his family and friends.

INMATE 2: And for himself as well.

JACK BULMAN: And for himself as well. Beautiful. What else do we reckon?

INMATE 3: Love.

JACK BULMAN: Love.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Daley-Jones’ own revelations, including his time behind bars, old drug and alcohol habits, and an explosive temper, could tell the story of many of the young men in the room.

STEVEN: Dean’s sense, he said in the movie, he had a little man, with an axe, holding an axe inside of him, you know. And that’s his anger, that was his anger that he didn’t want let out, you know.

I guess with me it’s just falling back into the same old habits, you know, just with drugs, using, hanging out with old friends and that. If I get away from that and just focus on my family, my daughter, I think I’ve got a good chance of, you know, making it this time.

BRENDAN: Seeing the changes that TJ made in the end, it really gave me a new perspective on thinking, like, people can change. And I didn’t really believe it before and when I joined this program it really gave me insight to it, and thought oh well if he can do it, surely I can, you know?

DANIEL: Made me realise that for every, like, action I take, there’s always consequences and stuff like that but I don’t know, it’s just made me look at other people’s point of views about stuff as well, and it’s not too late to try and change your life around and get back on the right path.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Dean Daley-Jones says he might not have a PHD in psychology, but his 42 years of life experience is worth sharing.

DEAN DALEY-JONES: If I can help one of these fellas here, I take that with me when I leave this world and that’s going to make me very happy, yeah.

BRONWYN HERBERT: And that might just help these inmates realise they have the power within to break a destructive cycle.

PETER LLOYD: Bronwyn Herbert.

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