Aboriginal Police Officers try radical new approach in groundbreaking NITV documentary, Our Law.
In a country with a deeply troubled history of Aboriginal-Police relations, two Aboriginal police officers are trying something different in new Western Australian documentary, Our Law, set to premiere on NITV as part of Karla Grant Presents at 8.30pm on Monday 22 June 2020.
The documentary is already making waves ahead of its NITV broadcast, with today’s announcement that it is an Official Selection at Sydney Film Festival 2020 and also a finalist for Best Australian Documentary.
Our Law follows two Noongar police officers, Senior Sergeant Revis Ryder and Sergeant Wendy Kelly, as they police one of the most remote beats in the world, Warakurna, home to an Indigenous community still practicing the lore of one of the world’s oldest living cultures.
Ryder and Kelly learn Yarnangu Lore and culture and master the local Ngaanyatjarra language, in an attempt to gain trust and replace the historical black and white law enforcement approach of the past.
“I don’t think you can police effectively if at least you don’t try to learn languages where you are,” said Sergeant Wendy Kelly.
Warakurna is Western Australia’s first and only Indigenous-run police station. Speaking the local Aboriginal language or learning about how the Law intersects with Aboriginal Lore have never before been considered as police responsibilities or strategies.
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson recently issued an apology on behalf of the WA Police Force to Indigenous people, acknowledging that past wrongful actions have caused immeasurable pain and suffering, and that police actions have significantly contributed to a traumatic Indigenous history.
Written and directed by Cornel Ozies and produced by Taryne Laffar and Sam Bodhi Field, the Western Australian filmmakers hope that creating awareness of Warakurna police station could be the start of a radically different approach and could pave the way for many more Indigenous-run police stations across Western Australia.
“Our Law shows that to repair the broken relationship between Police and the Aboriginal community, you just need a little respect and deep listening to build real human connections,” said Director, Cornel Ozies.
“Our Law is a heart-warming journey into remote Indigenous life, where the power of traditional language is revealed to create common ground for two very different worlds. Our Law takes a fascinating look at the junction between law enforcement, Indigenous agency and culture, asking can language offer a new kind of empathy in the conduct of policing? NITV can’t wait to share this story with our audience on 22nd June,” said NITV Commissioning Editor, Cieron Cody.
“Screenwest was pleased to support the development and production of Our Law, which addresses the need for deeper cultural understanding and tolerance to forge a pathway for healing within Indigenous communities in Western Australia. The project’s selection as part of the Sydney Film Festival demonstrates that this project is a timely reminder, and encouragement of wider audiences to acknowledge and experience the wealth of stories and culture from Indigenous people across this vast state, and we are thoroughly looking forward to its reception at the prestigious event,” said Screenwest Indigenous Manager, Devina McPherson.
Now in its second season, Karla Grant Presents is a selection of half-hour documentaries hosted by prolific journalist and TV personality Karla Grant. Karla introduces the films, delving into each, offering her personal insights and contextualising each story for the audience. All of the documentaries have been created by Indigenous filmmakers, aimed at showcasing diverse stories from across Australia.
You can watch Our Law on NITV on Karla Grant Presents on Monday 22 June at 8.30pm or purchase tickets to a sneak peek virtual screening at Sydney Film Festival, running online from 10 – 21 June 2020.