Palm Island — seeking a better future

June 30, 2007

On June 26, 50 inner-west film fanatics gathered inside the Petersham Bowling Club to revive another 16mm film print from the National Film and Sound Archives — a place so far immune from attack in the "history wars".

Made in 1975, Protected is a dramatised documentary of the 1957 Palm Island strike. It engaged the local Indigenous community to act out their true story, despite huge resistance from local authorities.

Cameraperson Fabio Cavadini attended the screening and after the film, Lex Wotton, whose parents acted in the film, addressed the audience. Wotton is out on bail after being charged as a leader of the Palm Island riot in 2004 following the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee.

Quietly spoken, Lex shared some of his recent personal experience as a community leader. His stories were blunt, but his heart was open to seeking a better future together. His legal team beside him made it clear that Lex faced a draconian sentence only possible in Queensland — life imprisonment under an act of 1899. For a similar offence in NSW, it may be as little as six months.

The case is to be heard later this year and the much-needed money to defend him is being raised by the Errol Wyles Justice Foundation.

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