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Warburdar Bununu: Our stories, our songs, will shield our water

It is our right to have clean drinking water, clean rivers and healthy food in the river.

Water contamination, when it happens to you it never really leaves your mind.

It happened to us last year in Borroloola, in Garrwa Town Camps (G1).

I still feel really bad, cause you know why. I knew that it’s not gonna stop now.

Our water is going to stay poisoned for a long time.

The bore is still the same.

It didn’t change.

The township of Borroloola got a new filter worth a lot of money. They made it look like they did their job. But they didn’t put a pipe over to our camps then and we are still waiting. So we have to keep doing what we do best, look after our people and water and our lands in our own way.

That’s what Warburdar Bununu is all about; shielding our people and homelands from ongoing impacts of colonisation and mining. Colonisation and mining are the same thing for us.

But the water contamination happened in our homes at G1. The place that is meant to be safe for our kids, for families.

Our bore is right next to the McArthur River. They didn’t fix that.

Gerry McCarthy said they planned a pipeline from Borroloola to G1 – but it didn’t happen. It should have happened straight away. That’s why we made and called the documentary Warburdar Bununu, the Elders wanted to tell that story, just like Two Laws (1981) all them years ago. Two Laws united all of our Elders and clans into a strong voice against mining in our homelands.

We made Warburdar Bununu as a family way to talk story our experience of contamination and my nephew Scotty took the lead on it, a strong young man for our community.

Scott McDinny, Warburdar Bununu (2019) documentary. (Photo credit Ryan Alexander Lloyd)

Scott McDinny, Warburdar Bununu (2019) documentary. (Photo credit Ryan Alexander Lloyd)

I feel like I am one of the only people speaking up about contamination in Australia.  It is our right to have clean drinking water, clean rivers and healthy food in the river. Healthy country means healthy community, money can’t buy that. Money can’t fix the river once its contaminated alone, we need jobs and resources to clean up over decades and generations. So now we rebuilding our homelands in a way that is designed to overcome water contamination and also suit the needs of our families.

Not only G1 we know other bush bores need checking that too. No one is reporting to us about the ongoing monitoring of the water quality. Water is the most important thing to focus on. Power and Water are doing what they want to do. It feels like the NT Labour govt is also doing what the mines and multinationals want. They just announced 1.5 billion dollars to support fracking in NT and that is basically destroying the water systems. It will kill every plants and animals if the water gets contaminated. That is part of why our Elders are so surprised everyone trusts in this treaty process, in this big push for voice to parliament. Can you really trust a Government that invests in destroying our homelands?

By fracking gas things will be worse than the McArthur River Mine. It is not open cut, it contaminates our aquifers underneath and then comes up on the surface or in river beds and then it affects the fish etc. Then we would usually eat it. But not now.

We saw that happening last year when we went on the Frack Finding Tour when we drove 3000 km across QLD, NSW. We was right at the Condamine River and we seen the gas flaring from the land, and the river is bubbling with gas. There was no animals and or fish, I think they are all dead before we went there.

That tour was important because we took that story, saw it for ourselves and took it back home. This is the impact of fracking at grassroots level. It was also important because we went to Redfern and spoke about it together with other mob, our family mainly who are fighting for their rivers and homelands from down there.

Because Blakfellas we are all one mob. We them sort of people that know each other all over. That included Raymond Weatherall, Nathan Leslie and also we met up Bo Spearim who interviewed some of us for his radio show. We know you are all on the same struggle as us to shield your water and stay strong in culture.

We need to spread the word and unify around this. We also connected culturally – we are all blackfellas, we have same law, that doesn’t change it stays the same. In that way we are all responsible for the land, we are all together.

I was really proud to sing that Ngabaya song in parliament house when we occupied in Canberra this year with Tent Embassy, Seed mob, Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance and Original Power.

At the moment I felt really good, you know why, people power was with us. We were all united together and I am still hoping that message gets through to parliament. I have personally asked my own family in parliament – how can your leader support fracking? What is going on? We are still waiting to hear back as to what Anthony Albanese is doing. The system is doing what it was supposed to do; colonise us and extract our resources and the more we keep voting them back, it gets worse. It seems like all they want to do is mine for money.

Warburdar Bununu is part of our own way for storying our survival and not being caught up in the story that the media tells Australia, and even our own mob.

Warburdar Bununu: Water Shield Trailer from Brown Cab Productions on Vimeo.

It has been a powerful way to show our strength and determination to make decisions on our own lands and to let people know we will never leave our homelands.

No pipelines through our homelands, no mining infrastructure, no fracking, no more of these decisions being made in Darwin or Canberra in an office.

We went all the way down to Gadigal lands in Sydney to see the Sydney Film Festival screening of Warburdar Bununu. It was packed out and lots of attention – that pressure and power of our yarnbar jungkurr talking and storying made an impact up in our homelands.

We also screened it with big mob of activists and people who care about environment are coming together to make this water campaign for Narwinbi real, make it happen. We also are screening it at Melbourne International Film Festival, another big one soon! Now after all that attention they have announced the pipe will come to our Town Camps, so that is a victory for our people, a sign that our language and film is powerful and we need to keep making it stronger.

Let’s unite for water for our future generations, for all communities, for all people, for all the animals.

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