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Carry the Flag (ATOM Study Guide)

SKU: SG1394


    Bernard Namok Jnr, is a Senior Broadcaster and presenter of 'Mornings with Bala B' at the Top End Aboriginal Bush Broadcasting Association – TEABBA. Every day he speaks to thousands of Indigenous Australians across the Northern Territory but he feels disconnected from his own culture and family. When he sees the Torres Strait Islands flag flying, it is for him, not only the symbol of identity of his people, but a poignant reminder of his home and the father he hardly knew.

    Bernard Namok Senior won the Torres Strait Islander flag design competition in 1992. A year after his flag was formally recognised, at 31 years of age, he died leaving behind a wife and four young children. Bala B was just ten at the time but as the oldest in the family, the role of carrying the flag came early to him. He only has a few cherished childhood memories of his Dad, sitting up late night after night doing sketches of the flag that he and his sister were not to touch.

    Bala B journeys back home to the Torres Strait to seek out those in his family and community who can shed light on his father and the meaning stitched into the design of his father's flag. Bala B talks to members of Torres Strait Island Flag Anniversary Committee to discover
why it was so important for Torres Strait to have their own flag. One of the judges Romina Fujii describes how their purpose was to capture for her people the same passion and hugely successful outcome achieved by the black, red and yellow flag for uniting and empowering Aboriginal Australians.

    We learn of the important influencers on Bernard’s flag design including that of celebrated leader and Torres Strait referendum activist, Ettie Pau. Bala B's mother, Bakoi Namok recalls conversations with her father Ettie and her husband about Torres Strait identity. Both men vehemently believed there was no point fighting for a better lot for their people until they had a flag, which would give Torres Strait Islanders a shared identity.

    The Torres Strait Islander flag was officially recognised and presented to the Torres Strait Island people on the 29th May 1992 at the 6th annual Torres Strait Cultural Festival on Thursday Island. Just in time for one of the most significant events of recent Torres Strait Islander and Australian history, the Mabo decision (June 3 1992). The flag was the perfect symbol to celebrate this historic event.

    Carry the Flag is an intimate, observational film that reveals much about a period of dynamic change in the lives of Torres Strait Islander people. At its heart is the journey of a son in search of the father he hardly knew, but a man who left a legacy that is the most powerful symbol of identity and aspiration to all Torres Strait Islanders.

    Curriculum Links:

    Carry the Flag can be linked to the following areas of the Australian National Curriculum:

    • Year 9 and 10 History
    • Year 9 and 10 Visual Arts

    Carry the Flag is also recommended as a supplementary text at Years 9 and 10 English when studying concepts related to 'Identity and Belonging'.

    Please note: Prior to commencing viewing and study of Carry the Flag, teachers should remind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students that the documentary contains images of deceased persons.

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