‘around the kitchen table’ Project Description and Story

1998: ‘around the kitchen table’ Video and Resource Projects Description and Story: 

At one of the WRN’s regular monthly meetings in Spring 1997, Elaine gave a short report of their recent AFR (Australians for Reconciliation) trek she and John had made into NSW.  This included visiting various prisons.  Lithgow Prison was where they became aware of the lack of English Literacy skills within the Aboriginal inmates. 

Earlier in 1997 the book Healing Our Nation Through Women’s Wisdom had been launched.  This was a published book recording the Women’s Celebration held at the NSW State Library with 300 women during National Reconciliation Week in 1996.

Robyn, a staff member from the Dept for Women was present and informed the WRN gathering that their department was about to advertise their next round of Grant Funding Applications and suggested that the WRN apply.  We applied!

By December 1997 the WRN received the news that the WRN had been successful with $20,000 specifically to produce a Video!

 A group of WRN volunteers met in January 1998 for a workshop where we shared many ideas and composed the aims for this project.

This workshop was led by Lisa Jackson, whose key contribution was to name the movie “around the kitchen table” – because this is where the important decisions are most often made!”

With a white board covered in notes and ideas the next step was to collect similar ideas into several clumps. There were 5 clumps.  After researching the length of the movie along with a draft budget the reality was that we would film 4 groups and in the final plan utilised input from 3 key groups.  The filming took place over the last 3 consecutive Saturdays in February.

The following are the 3 groups:

A group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women at Rasme Berolah’s (TSI) home, Casula on Tharawal country with:  Aunty  Jean Carter,(Wreck Bay),  Aunty *Werrimah Betty Little – YortaYorta country,   Aunty Ali Golding, Biripi ,  Aunty *Werrimah Anne Thomas, Biripi,  (Aunty Ali’s sister), and Aunty Dulcie Flower (TSI). 

* Werrimah respectful word to those who have already died

A group related to leadership skills: filmed at Trish Burns home, Hunters Hill with Stella Cornelius AO, OAM, Wendy McArthy, Claire Dunne OAM, Susan Bradley-NT, Judith Steanes and Frayda Myers-Cooper.

A group whose First language was not English at Deborah Wall’s home, Newtown with: Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis OAM,

Margaret Gutman – OAM, Deborah Wall – OAM, Helen Sham Ho -MLC, Wafa Zaim and Angela Chan.

A group of WRN members was also filmed but it was not possible to include it in the Movie. This group was filmed sitting at a circular table in the home of Sally Gray who lived in Crown Street, Sydney. This group included several foundation members some of you will remember including Lyn Pollack and Judith Altman.

Before the filming began discussion took place relative to the decision as to who would be best to take on the actual filming of this project.  One of the team along with a Media student interviewed a professional film company. It was the opinion that an outside filming company may not grasp the aims and vision that the assigned film team wanted to embrace. 

In some fear and trepidation and with confidence we decided to do it ourselves!

The video was filmed under the direction of Lisa Jackson, Sally Fitzpatrick, and Elaine Telford.   During this time Sally was doing a Media Course at UTS and persuaded several class students to assist with the filming under the guidance one of her colleagues Tim Burns who managed his own company – Burning Illusions Films.  


Lisa Jackson was living at Newtown and graciously offered her home for the film team to pore over the 16+ hours of footage in order to responsibly select the ‘pearls’ for the 26 min footage for the video.  This took place during March, April and some of May.  Keeping in mind the launch date during National Reconciliation Week towards the end of May 1998.

We had a couple of sessions where the ‘players’ and film crew joined the review team to review the excerpts we’d selected as the Video Team had worked every day after our ‘real’ day jobs.  Lisa’s lounge room at these times was filled to capacity! This was the most exciting thing some of us had ever done!

Final Tasks:

Music: Marlene and LeRoy Cummins.   

Art: Kathy Jones.  Kathy created a realistic model of land for the opening scenes in the movie along with the Hand painted design on the Silk fabric which was used on each ‘kitchen table’ in the movie and afterwards given to Aunty Betty Little.

Edits: Annie Pratten  

For the editing of this movie WRN was given access to a film studio at Visual Eyes 80 William Street, City who allowed us to use their technical equipment pro bono, during several consecutive weekends.   This film team of was led and guided by Annie Pratten,  a qualified Aboriginal film editor, assisted by the Video team.

The Video Launch was held in the Theatre at the NSW Parliament House in May 1998

LH – RH:  Sally Fitzpatrick,   Annie Pratten,  Lisa Jackson,   Elaine Telford,   Film Editor Vol,  Kathy Jones – Artist,

2000-2005        ‘around the kitchen table’ Resource (to accompany the Movie of the same name):

The Video ‘around the kitchen table’ opened the hearts and minds of those who watched this dynamic 26 minute movie.

A couple of us decided we needed to make a resource which secondary teachers could use in association with the Video.

2000:     Sally had a new baby Jessie Waratah and Elaine’s contract as one of the Australians for Reconciliation team was to the end in December 2000.   We lived close to each other in Marrickville with lots more time in 2001, passion and determination the journey towards this goal began.

Spending many hours talking about this idea the vision slowly began to emerge.

Around 2003 there was a need for a currently accredited teacher.  Patti Nicholson who was a teacher with the Adult Migrant English Service offered her skills. The Resource was finally completed in time for the Launch in May 2005

The video is rich in truth, knowledge, views, aspects and opinions –  Too important to be a filler for an absent teacher’s High School class!

Involving Melissa Vassallo, Fineline& Design Pty Ltd who typeset in her beautiful home office where  Sally and Elaine Telford spent lots of time preparing the Resource document.

2005:  The ATKT Resource was launched in National Reconciliation Week at the ‘Soul Sistas’ Art Exhibition   with Artists- Aunty Elaine Russell and Denise Barry, at the Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Camperdown by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, Governor of NSW  25th May 2005

This 140 page resource has 7 Modules with themes focussing on:

Identity, Belonging, Law, Protocol, Stereotypes, Healing and Action

Each Module has 4 segments to guide the participants along the journey of discovery, learning and the opportunity to consolidate each Theme. 

The topics from the movie content revealed the segment focci as:

1. Awareness Raising. 

2. Experiential Understanding 

3. What you can do. 

4. Consolidation through Research.

The Print runof the 2005 ATKT Resource (240 Pages) was sold or given away and the decision was made to do another print-run.  A copy has been placed in several City, University and TAFE Libraries .

 2010 ATKT Resource (243 pages)

This time Sally Fitzpatrick spent countless hours researching the extensive Appendices with additional  details available linked to the following topics – Supporting Materials, Further Reading, Music, Films,  CDRoms and Websites.  t is with very deep appreciation to Sally Fitzpatrick for the rich additional Appendix  –   expanding the First Edition lists.

The WRN could not have grown into such a meaningful organisation without Sally and her knowledge and understanding of Australia’s First Nation peoples, as well as her unfailing commitment and generosity.