MV Blog


Talking Difference at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum

by Sam Boivin
Publish date
16 September 2015
Comments (0)

Friday 28 August - Monday 23 November 2015

Back in August 2014, I gave a presentation on Talking Difference at a forum called Just Encounters: Bringing Together Education, Arts and Research. This forum was presented by the Minutes of Evidence (MoE) project.

Also at the forum, and hearing me talk, were staff members from the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, who were planning an upcoming exhibition, Oil Paint and Ochre: The incredible story of William Barak and the de Purys, which explores the complexity of first-generation negotiation between Aboriginal and European people in Australia.

As part of the exhibition's complementary public programming, researchers were looking for an engaging and interactive way to bring the story right into the present – to show and remind visitors that the exchange and negotiation across cultures is ongoing in Australia, and to allow any issues or thoughts raised by the exhibition to be voiced and explored. They remembered my presentation at the Just Encounters forum and contacted me about a possible residency for the Talking Difference Portable Studio, for the duration of the exhibition.

The Talking Difference Portable Studio The Talking Difference Portable Studio at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria

On Friday 28 August I travelled east to the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum and set up the studio. A workshop was then held with fifteen local year 8 students. Many of the themes Talking Difference addresses were discussed, including personal identity, judging people based on outward appearances, and why making jokes about another person’s race or skin colour is not okay. The students demonstrated a good grasp of the workshop ideas and a lot of empathy. At the end of the workshop, students came up with some questions that were then recorded in the Talking Difference Portable Studio for members of the public to respond to:

  • How do you identify yourself?
  • Have you ever felt like you had to change part of your identity? Why?
  • How do you feel if someone tells you that they are a different religion to you? Why?
  • Have you ever been ashamed of your culture or race? What happened? How did it make you feel?
  • Have you ever stereotyped someone? How do you think it made them feel?
  • Have you ever been teased because of who you are? How did it make you feel?
  • Is it okay to tell a joke about someone’s race or skin colour? Who gets to decide if the joke is funny?

Talking Difference Talking Difference as viewed from the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum exhibition galleries.
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria

The Oil Paint and Ochre exhibition presents objects and stories from the de Pury family collection, including diaries, letters and artefacts. I was lucky enough to be given a walk-through preview of the exhibition, and found the stories and content quite moving, especially in the use of intimate snippets of the forty year exchange between two cultures. The exhibition represents a great opportunity for Talking Difference to reach a historically rich part of Victoria and to add to its growing collection of community responses to questions about identity, belonging, racism, and the other themes that Talking Difference seeks to address.

Oil Paint and Ochre: The incredible story of William Barak and the de Purys, is running from Saturday 29 August - Sunday 22 November, 2015 at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum: 33 Castella St, Lilydale VIC 3140. The Talking Difference Portable Studio will be in residence for the duration of the exhibition.

Nicky Winmar's jumper

by Kate C
Publish date
18 September 2012
Comments (2)

Throughout the 17 April 1993 St Kilda vs Collingwood match at Victoria Park, Collingwood supporters hurled racist taunts at two Aboriginal St Kilda players. At the end of the game, with St Kilda victorious, midfielder Nicky Winmar lifted his guernsey and pointed proudly at his skin. 

Nicky Winmar's AFL jumper Nicky Winmar's 1993 AFL season jumper, which he was wearing when he made his famous stand against racism in sport.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Photographs of this spontaneous gesture became a powerful symbol of Aboriginal pride and a statement about the problem of racism in sport. Historian Joy Damousi was in the audience at the match and reflected upon that moment on a May episode of ABC Radio National's 'Life Matters'.

This particular moment is really one of the most significant events in Australian cultural history...A simple material object that can encapsulate an era, a mood, a period, a turning point and Nicky Winmar's jumper does that beautifully...

Museum Victoria held a celebratory event at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum this morning to announce our acquisition of Winmar's jumper. The year after the famous gesture, Winmar traded the jumper with his friend Tim O'Brien, a former basketballer for the NBL. O'Brien put the jumper up for sale in May this year with the proceeds planned to fund a documentary film about racism in sport. MV purchased it for display in Bunjilaka's forthcoming First Peoples exhibition, using funds reserved for acquiring important objects for the museum's collections.

After reflecting on Nicky's brave action on that momentous day in 1993, Bunjilaka Manager Caroline Martin, Museum Victoria CEO Dr Patrick Greene and Tim O'Brien unveiled the jumper together at the event this morning, much to the excitement of those gathered around.

People with St Kilda football jumper L-R: Dr Patrick Greene, Tim O'Brien and Caroline Martin with Nicky Winmar's jumper this morning.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

"This jumper represents a proud moment in history for Australia's First Peoples," said Caroline Martin. "It symbolises pride and strength in our culture and we are delighted that future visitors to Bunjilaka will be able to commemorate the inspirational story behind this jumper, as we did today." 


'The day the game changed' by Nabila Ahmed, The Age19 April 2003

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.