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Message Stick (1999 - 2012)

Magazine program
Weekly x 30 minutes

Series synopsis:

Message Stick is a television magazine program that presents Indigenous articles that are both current and historical.

Curator’s Notes:

Message Stick enables Indigenous Australians to tell their own stories to a national audience. In a weekly half-hour Sunday afternoon slot, Message Stick screens documentaries by Indigenous filmmakers. Also repeated on Friday evenings, program content may include interviews and profile stories, historical footage, music video clips and lifestyle and cooking segments.

Past Indigenous presenters of Message Stick include Rachel Maza, Kelrick Martin, Deborah Mailman and Trisha Morton-Thomas. The current host is Miriam Corowa.

Message Stick is produced by the Indigenous Programs Unit at the ABC and is part of the national broadcaster’s commitment to Indigenous content. The IPU was founded in 1987 and is based at the ABC Ultimo studios in Sydney. Previous IPU programs include Blackout (1989-95), Kam Yan (1995-96) and Songlines (1997).

Titles in this series

Message Stick – Arafura Pearl 2003

Kathleen Mills (nee McGuiness) is a respected Indigenous Elder of Darwin, mother of eight, and mother to the singing group The Mills Sisters.

Message Stick – Babinda Boulders 2005

Young men fall victim to a waterhole that, according to Aboriginal legend, is a sacred place where the spirit of an Aboriginal woman dwells.

Message Stick – Bill’s Wake 2001

Bill Neidjie decided to have a wake while he was alive, rather than waiting until his death, to hear what everyone would say about him.

Message Stick – Black Olive 2005

Mark Olive (aka the Black Olive) uses native ingredients to prepare cuisine with a local flavour.

Message Stick – Blacktracker 1996

Bernadette Yhi Riley narrates the story of her great-grandfather, Aboriginal tracker Alexander Riley, who served with the NSW Police from 1911 to 1950. We see Yhi Riley searching through archival records and talking with older family members and a former ...

Message Stick – Child Artists of Carrolup 2003

During the 1950s children from Carrolup mission in Western Australia, south of Perth, became artists under the instruction of Mr White, but after leaving the mission many of them never painted again.

Message Stick – Koori Court 2005

The Koori Court in Victoria was set up to reduce high imprisonment rates by combining Aboriginal beliefs with the white legal system.

Message Stick – Kurtal: Snake Spirit 2002

Spider, an 80-year-old Indigenous elder and Wangkatjungka man, returns to the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia to perform a cleansing ceremony at a sacred jila, a water supply that never dries up.

Message Stick – Macumba: Outside Looking In 2003

Macumba: Outside Looking In pays homage to the highly respected Aboriginal media legend John Macumba and to his legacy in Aboriginal radio broadcasting. It documents events in Macumba’s life that led to his career in Aboriginal media. It focuses on ...

Message Stick – Scotty Martin, Rodeo Boy, Don’t Say Sorry 2005

A story about songman Scotty Martin, who inherited the role of composer of songs. This episode also features rodeo boy Bowman Button, a four-year-old cowboy, and a short film titled Don’t Say Sorry.

Message Stick – Tent Boxers 2001

Tent Boxers tells the story of the Aboriginal men who travelled across Australia with tent-boxing troupes in the mid-twentieth century. The film documents this travelling-show phenomenon through a combination of interviews with former tent boxers, historical footage and still images.

Message Stick – The Convincing Ground 2007

This two-part documentary looks at the traditional, historic and contemporary stories associated with the massacre of up to 60 Aboriginal people by whalers at the Convincing Ground, near the coastal town of Portland, Victoria in the 1830s.

Message Stick – The Long-grassers 2005

An exposé on the homeless Aboriginal people of Darwin, known as 'long-grassers’.

Message Stick – Wathaurong Glass 2003

The Wathaurong community of Geelong began a glass business in order to provide employment for their people.

Message Stick – Wayne’s World 2005

An episode that introduces us to award-winning filmmaker and actor Wayne Blair.