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Promoting the Excellence of Indigenous Australian Culture and Peoples

Indonesia: Innovation

Person usuing Virtual Reality headset.
enVizion Group's virtual reality kit a hit in Indonesia. Credit: Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Indigenous innovator and social entrepreneur Julie-ann Lambourne visited Indonesia during NAIDOC Week 2018 as a guest of the Australian Embassy Jakarta and Consulates-General in Surabaya and Bali.

Ms Lambourne is a Torres Strait Islander woman using the power of innovation and digital technology to help disadvantaged communities in Australia to overcome adversity. Ms Lambourne is CEO of Cairns based enVizion Group, an Indigenous owned and operated business.

enVizion designed and developed the world's first Virtual Reality Training Bus, which allows Indigenous communities in remote parts of Northern Australia to access vocational training in new and innovative ways.

During her visit, Ms Lambourne met Indonesian digital innovators and social entrepreneurs, visited innovation hubs and presented at the Indonesia Development Forum, a high-profile Indonesian government conference.

Demonstrations of enVizion's virtual reality kit highlighted the company's tech credentials.

Ms Lambourne also shared her experiences as a female Torres Strait Islander business leader.

The digital sector is a growing area of cooperation between Australia and Indonesia. Earlier this year, the Australian and Indonesian governments held the first Indonesia-Australia Digital Forum, which brought together digital stakeholders from both countries.

South Africa: Film Collaboration

Group photo of 6 people infront of cafe.
Australian film director Rachel Perkins hosted an Indigenous film festival in South Africa. Credit: Australian High Commission, South Africa

In 2017, renowned Indigenous Australian Film Director Rachel Perkins toured South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe on a public diplomacy initiative to promote Australian filmmaking and Indigenous content.

Ms Perkins engaged in an intensive program of screenings, workshops, seminars and media engagements, focused on her experience of using film as a medium to tell the stories of Australia's Indigenous history, culture and identity.

Ms Perkins' tour accompanied 'Storylines: The Best of Aboriginal Cinema', a selection of Indigenous documentary and feature films she curated.

In Johannesburg, Ms Perkins introduced her documentary film 'Black Panther Woman' which evoked a strong audience response drawing on similarities between the Indigenous rights movement in Australia in the 1960s and 70s and that of the anti-apartheid liberation movement of South Africa.

Indigenous Australian film content is very well received in Africa as it draws on parallels with African culture, art, customs and social issues. Several South African film industry contacts approached Ms Perkins about possible collaboration in the future utilising the Australia-South Africa Film Co-production Agreement signed in 2010.

Following on from Ms Perkins' tour of Africa, the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) undertook a film-production scoping mission to Australia to establish networks and promote the Co-production Agreement with Australian film organisations and major studios.

DTI are exploring opportunities to include Australian films at the annual Durban (DIFF) and Cape Town (CTIFF) International Film Festivals in 2019.

Poland: Art

Group photo of artwork in a gallery with Australian flag on railing.
Australian representation on show at the Art Naif Festiwal in Katowice. Credit: Australian Embassy, Poland.

The Art Naif Festiwal in Katowice is a unique annual exhibition of Naïve Art (art produced by "self-taught" artists) in Poland. Australia was a focus country of this year's Festival and the Australian Embassy in Warsaw was the honorary patron.

The works of 40 artists from around Australia, including 15 Indigenous artists, were presented at the Festival.

This was an exciting opportunity for these artists to present their work at one of the largest International Festivals of Naïve Art in Europe (around 40,000 visitors this year).

The Australian exhibition was curated by internationally acknowledged Australian Naïve artists Wayne Elliott and Marie Jonsson-Harrison.

Eight artists attended the opening in Katowice, including an Indigenous artist from Girringun Arts in Queensland.

Participation in the event enabled Indigenous artists to showcase their work in Poland, a market that usually does not have much exposure to Indigenous art. The Indigenous artists represented at the Festival sold a number of their works.

Given the diversity of the artists, Australian Naïve Art presents multiple perspectives and narratives of life in Australia. This impressive diversity gave visitors a broad view into contemporary Australia.

New York: Poetry and Art

Photo of first Nations Writer Ali Cobby Eckermann
First Nations writer Ali Cobby Eckermann at the Marc Straus Gallery in Manhattan. Credit: Australian Embassy in Washington DC, United States of America.

First Nations Writer Ali Cobby Eckermann shared her deeply personal poetry in Manhattan's Marc Straus Gallery, contextualised by the artwork of Central Australian Artist Margaret Loy Pula.

Ali, a Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal poet, recognised for her literary achievements by Yale University, visited the United States to accept the institution's Windham Campbell Prize in Poetry and engage in high-profile literary events.

Ms Pula, winner of the 2017 prestigious Arthur Guy Memorial Prize, is one of the most celebrated Aboriginal artists today and was enjoying her second solo exhibition in New York, having created a distinct body of abstract work known as the Anatye paintings.

The Australian Consulate-General, in partnership with the Marc Straus Gallery, celebrated these achievements with an evening of poetry and art in recognition of Ms Eckermann and Ms Pula, two outstanding women who demonstrate true Indigenous excellence.

Chengdu: Tourism

Indigenous man using didgeridoo in a public space.
The sound of Descendance's didgeridoo attracted a crowd at the Sichuan International Travel Expo. Credit: Australian Consulate-General in Chengdu, People's Republic of China.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing arts group Descendance headlined the fourth Sichuan International Travel Expo held in Leshan on 17-20 September 2017, where Australia was the Country of Honour.

They enticed audiences in one of China's fastest-growing regions to take a trip 'down under' during the 2017 Australia-China Year of Tourism.

More than 100,000 guests visited the Expo's Australian Pavilion and Australian Products Market, where they experienced the unique landscapes of Uluru and the Gold Coast via virtual reality headsets, and stocked up on fresh Australian milk, beef, wine, skincare and other products, many on sale for the first time in Leshan.

Descendance performed 24 times over four days, engaging audiences with dances inspired by life on the Cape York Peninsula.

On 19 September, Consul-General Christopher Lim hosted a cultural exchange performance at the foot of Leshan's UNESCO World Heritage-listed Giant Buddha, where the sounds of Descendance's didgeridoo joined local hung drum player Li Yibing and the voices of Yi-minority band Nine-Zero Tribe, who injected a creative twist inspired by local life.

More than $85,000 worth of products were sold at the Australian Products Market. A live online stream of the Expo launch events attracted more than 1.4 million viewers.

Last Updated: 10 January 2019
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