We are the eyes during the day and they are the eyes for the night time.” – Nilus

Tayamangajirri means “we look after each other”. Set in Wurrumiyanga on the Tiwi Islands, this half hour documentary made for NITV takes a glimpse into the world of a dedicated team of Tiwi Islanders who work around the clock to keep the local kids safe. Narrated by Australian television and stage actor and singer Rob Collins (Cleverman), we follow patrollers Janey and Camilla as they work through the night to ensure that the local kids are off the streets by 9pm and ready for school the next day.

We also see Nilus at work – he’s from the school attendance strategy team – also known as the “yellow shirt mob”. Even in this small community there are a lot of distractions, such as phone use and social media, but also card games. When teenage girl Sylvia noticeably starts missing classes, our team of patrollers takes it upon themselves to find out why her attendance isn’t what it used to be. Janey, Camilla and Nilus are proud to teach the next generation culture, history and the traditions of their people, and encourage them to get an education so these young people will never have to live in anyone’s shadow and show everyone how talented and ambitious they are.

Set against the vibrant culture of island life, this small community takes pride in their achievements and unity. Once a catholic mission, Wurrumiyanga still shares its traditional culture with catholicism. We see the entire island unite for the Tiwi Football Grand Final, and even then our team of patrollers helps out. Police forces call them a “godsend”. Stories get shared from generation to generation at the waterhole, and when ANZAC day arrives, we find out Janey’s grandfather fought in World War II – a war that was never even theirs to start with.

They are one big family, who cares for each other. The people trust this team, who put their blood, sweat and tears in caring for these children, even if that means they have to miss out on precious time with their own families. They are dedicated to their profession and do it with love.

Director Charmaine Ingram is a Yidinji woman, and started as a journalist working all major Australian broadcasters. Her ABC iView web series Trans Black, was a good example of what she does best: tell stories about the underdog and those who are often overlooked in mainstream media. She says of the documentary: “It was important to me to show how Aboriginal leaders and families care about their kids and their kids’ education”.

Producer Sally Ingleton, who’s currently directing the feature documentary ‘Wild Things‘ about environmental activism in Australia, says, “Most Australians will never have the chance to visit the Tiwi Islands or a remote community. But thanks to NITV audiences will get the chance to see a really insightful and surprising story about how the Tiwi Islanders are grappling with similar issues to many parents when it comes to education and managing their kids use of mobile phones and social media.”

Tayamangajirri gives us an exclusive look inside a traditional community, dealing with issues around social media and phone use by teenagers. It’s engaging and inspiring to witness the next generation of Tiwi Islanders capable of achieving great things, passing on life lessons and not just waiting for change. This proud united community knows the goals they’re aiming for and make changes for the better, while staying true to their beliefs.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The film was shot on lands belonging to the Tiwi people and post produced on lands belonging to the Larrakia nation.

TAYAMANGAJIRRI will screen on NITV, 8.30pm 28 October.

Review – ‘Tayamangajirri’

Reviewed from online screener provided by publicity team, Sydney, Oct. 21, 2019. Running time: 26 min.

PRODUCTION: A 360 Degree Films Production in association with Native Bird Media for NITV, with assistance from Screen Territory. Production investment: Screen Australia, NITV. Producer: Sally Ingleton.

CREW: Director: Charmaine Ingram. Camera (color, widescreen): Gary Russell, Tom Lawrence. Editor: Sam Frederick.

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