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Harry’s War (2000)

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clip Preparing for war

Original classification rating: M. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

A young boy Keithy (Sam Kirby) runs along a dirt road screaming, ‘Djaambi! Djaambi!’. He jumps into the arms of his older cousin, Harry Saunders (David Ngoombujarra) and both roll on the ground. Harry Saunders is dressed in army greens, his mother (Christina Saunders), father (Bob Maza) and cousin (Pauline Whyman) have come to bid him farewell walking him to the train. Keithy tells Harry he has something for him, and hands him a crumpled photograph of three generations of Saunders men; Harry’s father, Harry and Keithy. A crow craws, sitting atop a sign nailed to a tree that says 'Three Waterhole Creek’. Harry walking by the crow pauses to consider the black bird. A train whistle cries in the background. Harry Saunders, Thomas Green (Glenn Shea) and Mitch (Peter Docker) walk into a bar. Mitch (Peter Docker) the only white digger is invited to have a beer, but the two Aboriginal diggers are not welcome. Harry turns to the patrons and tells them that if he can wear the uniform, he can have a beer. The publican (Terry Gill) tells Mitch he and his mates can have one beer, 'then get on your bike’. The men drink to the 2nd 14. Harry yells, ‘My shout!’, and tosses his coins onto the bar.

Curator’s notes

It is estimated that between four and five hundred Aborigines served in the First World War, and over 3,000 in the Second World War, yet Aborigines are greatly excluded from the Australian digger legend. While both Aboriginal men and women fought along side other Australian’s during the Second World War, Aboriginal people were not recognised as citizens in Australia, and social mobility and interaction restricted as in accordance with the Restriction of the Sale of Opium and Protection of Aboriginals Act from 1897 to 1971. Reg Saunders MBE was the first Aboriginal man to be promoted to commissioned rank. Faith Bandler, who enlisted in the Australian Women’s Land Army during the Second World War was also involved in the fight for Aboriginal Rights that culminated in the 1967 referendum to grant Aboriginal people rights.

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