A new documentary called The Bowraville Murders will investigate one of Australia’s worst unsolved murder cases and the David versus Goliath battle within our judicial system that followed.
In the early 1990s, three Aboriginal children, who lived on the same street in rural NSW, were killed within five months of each other. Their names were Colleen Walker, Evelyn Greenup, and Clinton Speedy-Duroux. There has only ever been one suspect, a White man who was acquitted of two of the three murders following a racially biased police investigation. For 30 years, the victims’ families have fought tirelessly and courageously for justice.
The documentary was directed by Muruwari and Gomeroi man Allan Clarke, and written by Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi man Stan Grant (The Australian Dream).
“At the core of our documentary, we look at the role race played within our judicial system in Australia,” Clarke told P.TV. “This is a system that is supposed to protect all of us – it’s meant to be colour blind, but it isn’t.”
For Clarke, Bowraville represents the lived experienced of being an Aboriginal person in Australia. “We’re told from a very young age from our media, from our legal system, and our government that our lives are worth less than a White life.”
“This documentary is truth-telling at its absolute raw. And truth-telling is something we need to do as a nation to address the inequity between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous people and our systems of power.”
As a filmmaker and working journalist in Indigenous Affairs, it was important that the documentary put the families of Colleen, Evelyn, and Clinton front and centre, giving them a platform to speak in a raw and unfiltered way.
“Australia has a history of reporting and presenting Aboriginal issues and communities without speaking to people affected by it. This is a chance to actually work with the families and collaborate with them. They are not talent, they are not subjects in the film, it’s their voice and their film.”
As part of the documentary, the crew spoke to Gary Jubelin, the former NSW detective who worked the Bowraville murders and has supported the family ever since. They also interviewed Greens MP David Shoebridge, who in 2015, moved a motion to establish the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Bowraville murders.
The doco has been crowdfunded through the Documentary Australia Foundation, with all $102,529 of its funding goal met. Any additional donations will go towards flying the families to the Sydney premiere next year.
Clarke said the support has been so heartening to see, particularly at this time with the Black Lives Matter movement reigniting the discussion of Indigenous deaths in custody in Australia.
“It really took a toll on me and once we started doing the fundraising, it restored my faith in a way,” he said. “It’s just amazing that there are people out there who really want to make change and invest in something like this.”
He hopes the documentary will wake people up. “And for those people who are saying, ‘I don’t know what to do’, you can watch stories like this and then really hold authorities to account. Aboriginal people have shouldered the burden for so long, trying to fix a system that never included them. It’s time for the rest of the country to share that burden.”
The Bowraville Murders will air on SBS in 2021.
You can learn more about The Bowraville Murders on the Documentary Australia Foundation site, right HERE. You can also follow the documentary on Twitter and Instagram, @BowravilleDoco.