To the naked eye, the beauty of Palm Island cannot be denied, and terms such as 'a tropical paradise' have all been used to describe the picturesque piece of country. But for our people the island has a grim history.
By
Jodan Perry

24 Sep 2015 - 4:30 PM  UPDATED 25 Sep 2015 - 11:28 AM

TRANSCRIPT

Natalie Ahmat: Beautiful One Day is a powerful theatrical performance, which tells of the life of Palm Island, by our brothers and sisters who come from the community.

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The play gives an insight into the Island's history, highlighting the oppression faced by our mob there, and also the events surrounding Mulrunji Doomadgee's death in custody.

Queensland Correspondent Jodan Perry has more.

Jodan Perry: To the naked eye, the beauty of Palm Island cannot be denied, and terms such as "a tropical paradise" have all been used to describe the picturesque piece of country. But for our people the island has a grim history.

Aunty Magdalena Blackley: So in 1918 the first boat arrived, and I knew an old lady. She was 14 at the time, she was on board, she used to tell us all stories about it, and she said they were all just herded on there, and then made to go and find their own places on Palm Island.

There were said to be over 40 different tribal groups on board that day...and all displaced persons.

"We're delivering to people an opportunity to open the door to conversation about everything, about how Aboriginal people were dealt with, how policy people were ruling our lives"

They merged on board they said 'We poor fullas now we dont know what we are and someone came up with the language word boolguman, meaning many differenet people'.

Jodan Perry: Aunty Magdalena Blackley joins other Palm Island locals, Harry Reuben and Kylie Doomadgee, niece of Mulrunji, Rachael Maza, and also Paul Dwyer and Jane Phegan, to bring the story of the island to life in Beautiful One Day - an emotionally moving piece of theatre that deals with issues that still confront our mob.

Aunty Maggie: We're delivering to people an opportunity to open the door to conversation about everything, about how Aboriginal people were dealt with, how policy people were ruling our lives, signing away people's lives to send them to some reserve.

Jodan Perry: The centrepiece performance surrounds the death in custody of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee, his story told through the perspective of his people.

Mulrunji's niece Kylie gives a beautiful performance. The dialogue is at times confronting, but crucial to how the events unfolded.

The events following Doomadgee's death were covered heavily in the media, with a negative focus on the conflict between the community and the local police - with events said to have been blown out of proportion.

"In no way are they going to let this story get forgotten"

Aunty Maggie: It remained only a stand, against the policeman, the police house where he lived and the police station, where he died. That was a so-called riot.

Jodan Perry: The big city provides an excellent stage to get the story out to a wider audience, but for the cast members, there was nothing like taking the story home to Palm Island.

Rachael Maza, Beautiful One Day: It took us three and a half years to take the play back, it was amazing. It was one of the most phenomenal career highlights of my life, to be able to bring the play back to the people whose play it is.

So when I was standing on that stage, literally every word I said, was said by someone who was in that room.

Jodan Perry: The production is only showing in Brisbane for four days, but the fight for justice for Palm Island will continue.

Rachael: That community is a community of resistance fighters, in no way are they going to let this story get forgotten, this is going to keep going, and they're not going to stop fighting until they get justice.