Based on real life events that occurred in 1931, Rabbit-Proof Fence is the story of three mixed-race Aboriginal children who are forcibly abducted from their mothers by the Western Australian government. Molly (aged fourteen), her sister Daisy (aged eight), and their cousin Gracie (aged ten) are taken from their homes at Jigalong, situated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, at the orders of the Protector of Aborigines, A.O. Neville, and sent to an institution at Moore River to be educated and trained as domestic servants. After a few days, Molly leads the other two girls in an escape. What ensues is an epic journey that tests the girls' will to survive and their hope of finding the rabbit-proof fence to guide them home.
Although they are pursued by the institution's Aboriginal tracker and the police, Molly knows enough about bush craft to help them hide their tracks. They head east in search of the world's longest fence - built to keep rabbits out - because Molly knows that this will lead them back to Jigalong. Over the course of nine weeks, the girls walk almost 2,400 kilometres before Gracie is captured attempting to catch a train. Molly and Daisy avoid capture but eventually collapse from exhaustion on the saltpans not far from Jigalong. When they wake, they see the spirit bird, an eagle, flying overhead. Its significance gives the girls the extra energy they need and they are able to make it back to their home.
'Sydney, Australia — Daisy Kadibil, an Aboriginal Australian, was about 8 years old and living in the vast, sparsely populated Outback in the early 1930s when her country’s government forcibly separated her from her parents and sent her to a resettlement camp hundreds of miles away.' (Introduction)
'This article discusses the term ‘sacred’ in relation to the work of nineteenth-century sociologist Émile Durkheim, for whom the word denoted the objects, practices and assumptions that sustained communal solidarity and fostered dynamic energies, whether or not they were conventionally described as ‘religious’. I then turn to the work of more recent scholars of ‘critical religion’ suggesting that the terms ‘religion’ and ‘the sacred’ derive from a predominantly western, patriarchal and colonial context, forming part of a complex network of interconnected categories that represent a distinctive and dominant discourse of power constructing a privileged identity through hostile Othering or exclusions. Arguably, in the Australian mainstream, a discourse of ‘religion’ imported largely by Christian settlers from the west over the last two hundred years has been employed to exclude Aboriginal ways of understanding the world, for example by promoting the category of ‘land’ as an exploitable, God-given human possession. Nevertheless, drawing on the work of Julia Kristeva, I understand that an encounter with the Other—whether the Aboriginal or the balanda—can be viewed differently: as a zone of properly disturbing but also creative possibility. It remains very important, however, to acknowledge the power imbalances that are still embedded within such encounters, and the consequent risks to indigenous Australians, of further dislocation and dispossession. This idea is explored through a consideration of the collaborative film-making of David Gulpilil and Rolf de Heer and, in particular, of two films: Ten Canoes (2006) and Charlie’s Country (2013).' (Publication abstract)
'Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence (1996) is the story of three young Aboriginal girls, sisters Molly and Daisy and their cousin Gracie, taken from their parents by government authorities in 1931, to live far from their home at the harsh Moore River Native Settlement. Written originally by Doris Pilkington Garimara, it was adapted as a film under the title Rabbit-Proof Fence, directed by Philip Noyce (2002). The children were part of what is now known as the stolen generations and their story remains profoundly relevant to the lives of a great many Aboriginal children and their families. While there has been significant critical response to the text both itself and in the context of its adaptation, specifically in the realm of Australian Cultural Studies, it is pertinent and necessary to consider also the social context of the story. This is coming from the perspective of Aboriginal human rights and social justice.' (Introduction)