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Gamarada’s peaceful warriors

REDFERN: On the night of Friday March 23, an intimate film screening and forum was held at the NCIE (National Centre of Indigenous Excellence). The free event was organised by the Gamarada Aboriginal men’s group, a Redfern-based association of volunteers committed to “Indigenous healing” and life skills programs for men and youth reports Andrew Collis in the April 2012 edition of The South Sydney Herald.

A Welcome to Country was offered by Uncle Charles “Chicka” Madden, who emphasised the value of community support.

Guests were drawn to the warm spirit of generosity. “I’m always looking to make connections within the community,” said Dr Mari Rhydwen of the NSW Board of Studies. Local teacher, Jodie Swan, said, “Indigenous cinema is so important, I think – and I’m keen to know about other events to be held here”.

Following a screening of the award-winning Mad Bastards (directed by Brendan Fletcher, 2009), the film’s co-writer and male lead, Dean “Koodah” Daley-Jones, told of how the story’s anti­domestic-violence message is enabling boys and young men, including those in prisons and remote communities that have hosted screenings, to see what words such as compassion, courage, respect, love and dignity look like in action. “It’s my story. It’s our story, and there’s a lot of blood, sweat, tears and laughter ... It’s about regaining balance, the balance of a warrior,” he said.

The film, we learn, took eight weeks to shoot, and at least eight years to write and plan. It’s a gritty evocation of life in the Kimberley region – hard men battling to do the right thing by their families.

The Gamarada Indigenous Healing and Life Training organisation, through its men’s groups and programs like Biyanga Naminma (“Father to Share”), encourages fathers (and father figures) to be more aware of the root causes that lead to the breakdown of relationships and isolation. Using culture as an underlying theme, the men are disciplined in expressing negative emotions. Through small-group discussion, mentoring and meditation (or Dadirri, an Aboriginal practice of contemplation and connection to spirit) men are empowered to reclaim their rightful place as carers and peacemakers – “peaceful warriors” in the community.

For more information about Gamarada visit Contact: Program Manager Ken Zulumovski (

Photo: Andrew Collis - Actor and filmmaker Dean Daley-Jones (front centre) with members of the Gamarada Aboriginal men’s group

Source: The South Sydney Herald April 2012 –