Utopia Comes to JCU

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Documentary film Utopia was screened at JCU last week to a packed crowd of students, lecturers and rights activists.

By Kodie Jia-Craige

Packed: The full Education Lecture Theatre, Townsville.

Packed: The full Education Lecture Theatre, Townsville.

On Wednesday night, students, educators, and members of the Townsville community were invited to the screening of John Pilger’s documentary film, Utopia.

The controversial film displayed many issues within Indigenous Australian communities including health issues, housing, land rights and deaths in custody.

John Pilger’s film portrays indigenous struggles of the past and the present.

Around 100 people turned out for the event,which was held at James Cook University’ Education Central building.

The night concluded with a discussion, led by guest speakers Gracelyn Smallwood, an Indigenous activist, Lex Wotton, an activist involved with the Palm Island resistance, and Noel Loos, a professor at JCU who specializes in White-Black race relations and history.

Since its release in January this year, the film has attracted criticism from conservative commentators.

The main purpose of the forum was to raise awareness of the issues facing Indigenous populations across Australia and to generate ideas and actions on how the problems can be addressed.

Panelists: Noel Loos and Gracelyn Smallwood lead the discussions.

Panelists: Noel Loos and Gracelyn Smallwood lead the discussions.

Prominent Indigenous leader Gracelyn Smallwood says equality for her people cannot be reached without unity from the entire Australian community.

“We can’t do it alone. We need non-indigenous peoples,” she says.

A resounding agreement that certain action needed to be taken to improve the outlook for indigenous peoples was felt by all attendees.

Professor and author Noel Loos says the injustices across the spectrum need to be addressed particularly the living conditions the most disadvantaged are subjected to.

“You wonder how we in Australia would be perpetuating that, why it’s allowed to happen.”

Television channel SBS will be airing Utopia on 31st May at  8.30pm.