Private Project

Our Wellbeing, Our Way

Indigenous Australian’s holistic and interconnected ways of experiencing wellbeing is brutally disrupted by British colonisers, leading to negative intergenerational trauma and systemic disadvantage.

  • Luisa Mitchell
    Ball and Chain
  • Radheya Jegatheva
    The Quiet, Bird Drone, Pacing the Pool
  • Luisa Mitchell
    Ball and Chain
  • Luisa Mitchell
    Ball and Chain
  • Radheya Jegatheva
    Key Cast
    The Quiet, Bird Drone, iRony, Painting By Numbers
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Dramatic Educational, Animated Short, Informative, Historical Drama
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 36 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 23, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    40,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    3D and 2D animation
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Luisa Mitchell, Radheya Jegatheva

Luisa Mitchell is a published writer and filmmaker. Originally from Broome, Western Australia, she is of Whadjuk Nyungar and European heritage. Luisa writes predominantly about family relationships and trauma. Her short films have been selected at international film festivals and viewed over a million times on Youtube. Her writing has appeared in Liquid Amber Press, Westerly, Portside Review, Kimberley Stories, and more. Luisa currently works as story program coordinator and producer at the social impact charity Centre for Stories.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I am a producer, writer and filmmaker originally from the remote northwest town of Broome in Western Australia. I was privileged to grow up in a multicultural town that embraced its traditional Yawuru and Djukun (Aboriginal) language groups as well as its historical ties to Asia, particularly Japan, Philippines, and Malaysia. My own heritage is Whadjuk Nyungar, a clan from the southwest of WA in what is now known as Perth, and colonial settler European. I have always been drawn to telling stories that bring me closer to my own Nyungar family and identity, as well as celebrate our being the oldest surviving culture in the world. Over thousands of years, the hundreds of tribes that make up Indigenous Australia have carefully and strategically curated a system of living and understanding that ensures both perfect harmony and balance with the natural world, and within themselves. This was and is achieved through marriage and kinship systems, totemic practices, traditions of responsibility and protection towards mother earth, and beliefs in spirits and ancestors who gave guidance through stories and songs.

When I was approached by the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention about creating a short film on Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, I knew that I needed to tell audiences a much bigger story about our shared history - of this balance that existed before colonisation, and how badly it has continued to be damaged as a result of it. Indeed, this couldn’t just be a historical film; as colonisation is an ongoing process that is impacting First Nations mob today, it was important to reflect on current injustices and pathways to healing for the future. Due to the decades-sweeping scope of the story, and the subject of the film heavily reflecting on themes of harmony with nature and wellbeing, I chose to use a rough, free-hand animation style that appears as if it is constantly moving -- across time, across characters, across the different domains of wellbeing -- whatever it was, I didn’t want this film to be visually stagnant, and few shots are ever truly still. The colour palette chosen also symbolised Country, that which ties all First Nations principles together: oranges and reds of earth, dust and blood; black of people and the night sky; blues of oceans, rivers and waterholes; and yellow of the sun, life and hope. I also decided to take a dramatic storytelling lens to what could have otherwise been a dry informational video on health and share this nation’s history through a few key characters: the young woman living through colonisation; the grandmother in the missions, broken from trauma; and the old man who teaches his grandson lessons for a better future. These characters are at moments interchangeable, though years have passed and they reflect a different time period in history. This was done purposefully to reflect our ways of viewing time as being a circular construct and living thing - past, present and future intermingling.

I had two key messages I wanted to articulate with this film. The first was that the strong emotional sense of brokenness and distress felt by Indigenous Australians is not tied to a distant past, but being felt today, and is therefore a responsibility of all Australians to end the causes of those symptoms. The second was that health and wellbeing for Indigenous Australians is so much bigger than just mental and physical health - it is holistic and highly complex, relating to principles of kinship, country, spirituality, and other factors. In this regard, I want audiences to understand that a one-size-fits-all approach to Indigenous health will never be successful at removing the long-standing issues our communities face, such as lower life expectancy, higher disease morbidity, and staggering rates of death by suicide. Yet the film finishes on a message of hope and unity: by recognising our society’s duplicity in colonisation and this system we have built, that simply does not work for Indigenous Australians, we can come together to forge strong solutions for an equitable future.