Directed by award winning filmmaker, Steven McGregor, Servant or Slave is told through the heartbreaking experiences of five women whose experiences mirror those of many thousands of Aboriginal girls, stolen from their parents, placed in institutions, and trained to serve white households.
Rita Wright, Violet West, and the three Wenberg sisters: Adelaide, Valerie (Linow) and Rita, share in captivating detail their stories of government sanctioned enslavement and the ripple effect it has had on their futures.
“Estrangement from families, rape, torture, and being coerced into remaining silent are all common experiences of these women. For them this isn’t about personal healing. It’s about shedding a light on a barely acknowledged part of modern Australian history,” says McGregor.
The removal of Aboriginal children from their families began in Australia in the early 1900’s. Servant or Slave examines the intent of the government’s policy of ‘protection’ and ‘assimilation’, and the blurred line between paid help and slavery.
Through the testimony of experts, supported by archival footage, the documentary uncovers how stolen wages owed to Aboriginal people were locked up in a self-perpetuating government system, and even funded programs to remove more Aboriginal children from their families.
“These people were unwittingly funding their own disenfranchisement and were effectively committed to a treadmill of abuse, from which there was little hope of escape,” says writer, Hetti Perkins
In addition to McGregor, Servant or Slave is backed by a stellar production team including writer Hetti Perkins (art + soul) and writer and producer Mitchell Stanley (NITV’s Colour Theory).
Emotional and confronting, Servant or Slave is poetic in its storytelling and celebrates the fighting spirit of those Aboriginal people who were removed from their families and survived to tell their story today.
Servant of Slave premieres Wednesday 30 November at 9:30pm on NITV