Filmed in remote Arnhem Land, DJÄKAMIRR follows Ḻäwurrpa and Sarah on a unique journey through ancestral time, country and culture. As mutual trust develops between the two women, they hope to empower
Yolŋu and reclaim 60,000 years of birthing culture from the stronghold of Western medicine. This is their story of working with community to pilot the training of djäkamirr- the caretakers of pregnancy and birth.
‘A journey of exploration recognising and sharing thousands of years of cultural knowledge and practice.’
President -Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives
About the Documentary
For over 60-000 years Yolŋu childbirth happened on-country with skilled djäkamirr- midwifery caretakers -using ancestral wisdom and bush technologies to support women and babies. Yolŋu flourished.
Since the recent arrival of Western missionaries in the 1920s and the removal of childbirth to hospital, Yolŋu have been suffering. Women are now disconnected from their support systems and the region has profound health inequities including the highest rate of preterm birth in Australia.
DJÄKAMIRR is a privileged insight into the aspirations of remote First Nations communities to reclaim their birthing
culture from the stronghold of Western medicine; and be part of the solutions to improve health. Filmed over a two year period on-country in Arnhem Land, the documentary is a rare invitation to experience Yolŋu women’s culture and hear their aspirations for maternity services. This is a journey of hope, demonstrating that when Yolŋu and Balanda (non-Yolŋu) Australians work together, positive change and community empowerment is possible.
The documentary is a creative output from the Caring for Mum on Country project.
DJÄKAMIRR is a two year project, filmed on the ancestral homegrounds of the Yolŋu First Nations people in North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia.
It is a collaborative project with community based on the strength of relationship and the importance of connection.
Yolŋu have a strong cultural identity and speak Yolŋu Matha as their first language/s. The region is remote and despite the wealth of Australia, has inequitable health outcomes and poor access to many basic services.
The documentary explores childbirth from the perspectives of Yolŋu women in Galiwin’ku, a small town on Elcho Island.
‘The stark urgency of this human rights issue and the rationale for ‘Birthing on Country’ have never been so clearly illustrated.’
Professor of Midwifery
Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney
CO-DIRECTOR & CO-WRITER
Ḻäwurrpa is a multilingual senior research fellow at the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre. She is a Yolŋu Elder, Cultural Authority, resident of Galiwin’ku and a passionate advocate of redesigning childbirth health services to meet the needs of Yolŋu. DJÄKAMIRR is her first foray in documentary film direction and writing. Maypilama has a background in primary school teaching and education, with 20 years’ experience in applying Yolŋu research methods and methodologies. She received an honorary doctorate in recognition of this work from Charles Darwin University and has an Associate Diploma in Teaching from Bachelor Institute of Indigenous Training and Education.
CO-DIRECTOR, VIDEOGRAPHY & POST PRODUCTION
Pat is a multilingual freelance videographer, editor, sound engineer, director, producer and musician. He is an innovative resources creator and technical expert with more than 25 years multifaceted experience throughout Australia and international work in Asia Pacific and Europe.
DJÄKAMIRR is his first collaboration co-directing with Maypilama. Short film and documentary credits include: NDIS Testimony by Elaine Maypilama, Aboriginal Cosmology, Pacific Microcosm, Mysterious Seoul, Creative Minds, Summertime in Provence, Tatts Finke Desert Race, ....
CO-WRITER, INTERVIEWER, PROJECT MANAGER
Sarah Ireland is a medical anthropologist, nurse and midwife. She has a clinical background in remote area nursing and midwifery with experience delivering primary health care in collaboration with First Nations communities and practitioners. She has First Class Honours and a Doctorate in medical anthropology. Ireland is an early career researcher at the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre; and DJÄKAMIRR is her first incursion into writing for screen and production.
Shellie Morris is a multi-award winning song-woman who sings and creates in around 17 Aboriginal languages, many considered “sleeping”. Since discovering her Wardaman and Yanyuwa roots over 20 years ago, she has tirelessly worked to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, especially in the Northern Territory. Poignant, knowledgeable and full of humour, Morris’ illustrious career has balanced being one of Australia’s most celebrated singer-songwriters with her unwavering commitment to healing through music within communities. Armed with personal experience of connection and disconnection, Shellie imparts the importance of having a voice, listening to one another and that every individual is important.
Rachel Baker is a Yolŋu woman from Elcho Island, Northern Territory. She is a registered Interpreter and founder of Elcho Clothing which supplies the Brand Yapa Skirts, Australia wide. Baker provides cultural and linguistic support to many researchers and projects. She is a passionate mentor of young people; and delivers suicide prevention and awareness programs across North East Arnhem Land. Baker is also an accomplished Pandanus Weaver and regularly teaches these Yolŋu skills to small groups. She is a student at the University of Southern Queensland, specialising in cultural studies and anthropology.
DJÄKAMIRR is the debut documentary for One20 Productions and demonstrates a genuine commitment to working in partnership with community.
Patrick Josse & Sarah Ireland
MOLLY WARDAGUGA RESEARCH CENTRE
The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre was established in April 2019 and is dedicated to the late Molly Wardaguga, Burarra Elder, Aboriginal Midwife, Senior Aboriginal Health Worker and founding member of the Malabam Health Board in Maningrida, Arnhem Land. Molly was an important contributor to the Australian discourse regarding the importance of Birthing on Country. Her work and mentoring in Aboriginal health and research; and maternal and infant health, in particular, has galvanised many advocates to improve maternity services for Indigenous Australians.
Molly's vision to support women’s cultural and birthing aspirations, especially those living in remote locations, will endure through the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre. https://www.cdu.edu.au/mwrc
The Northern Institute is a hub for research expertise, leadership and impact for stakeholders. Northern Institute’s researchers are recognised nationally and internationally as leaders in their fields. Our research teams work through partnership with context experts locally and content experts internationally to bring together
a deep understanding of people, policy and place. Our researchers explore and adapt theory and methodologies to key research issues. Researchers focus on sharing research outcomes through a number of avenues that relate to the range of stakeholders we work with. Our capacity is developed through the involvement with PhD and Masters by Research students who can examine issues deeply, through partnership with stakeholders as well as the Public Policy postgraduate programs offered online to policy makers and policy partners internationally. https://www.cdu.edu.au/northern-institute
Australian Doula College
The Australian Doula College is an integrated organisation providing education, support and continuity of care for Birth and End of Life Doulas and anyone needing support through any one of life’s many transitions. Doula training is possible throughout Australia and the world with the Australian Doula College. We cover a multitude of subjects starting at conception, working though the mechanics of labour, your fears and feelings, possible fears and challenges for parents, homebirth, hospital policies and procedures, post-natal issues, breastfeeding and postnatal doula-ring, just to name a few.
Australian Doula College - founder & director
Yalu Aboriginal Corporation
Yalu is an Aboriginal Corporation delivering programs, research and community education to strengthen health and well-being from a foundation of cultural integrity. Our organisation was established in 2002 and we began working with our community, Universities and research organisations to facilitate research programs focused on the Yolŋu way of life and from that, have now grown into a nurturing centre providing employment and services across Galiwinku. We are grounded in our commitment to facilitate two-way learning of Yolŋu Rom (Law) and western ideology with mutual understanding and respect.
Charles Darwin University
Charles Darwin University (CDU) is based in the capital city of Darwin at the heart of Australia's tropical north. It is the Australian university located most closely to the Asia-Pacific region. CDU has all the advantages of a dual-sector university including flexibility in study options – as a recognised leader in online education – creativity, adaptability and freedom to embrace the history and traditions of First Australians and the multitude of nations represented by our international student population.