Australian South Sea Islanders 150 Commemoration & Festival

In August 2013, the Australian South Sea Islanders Secretariat ( is presenting Australian South Sea Islanders 150 Commemoration & Festival in Brisbane. There are a number of events happening and you could jump on board at the March to Remember tomorrow (SAT 17 August) starting at Raddacliffe Place in Brisbane city from 10am – all welcome. “August 2013 will mark 150 years since the ship, the Don Juan arrived with 67 Pacific Islanders on board to work as indentured labourers in Qld. Many more ships came with many more South Sea Islanders over the next 40 years. This March is to REMEMBER those who were brought here, to ACKNOWLEDGE their contributions and CELEBRATE the survival of South Sea Islanders here in Australia despite the many hardships faced over the last 150 years.” (ASSIS Facebook Event).

Here’s the overall program:

ASSIS 150 Program

Pacific Stories Co-facilitator and documentary filmmaker Amie Batalibasi has been working with the Australian South Sea Islanders Secretariat to run some community film screenings and a digital story workshop on 23rd August at Brisbane Square library. Please find the flyer and program below. Here is the Facebook Event: ASSI Community Film Screenings Day 2. 

ASSI Community Film Screenings Day 2

The showcase of ASSI Community Film Screenings involves Short Films and Workshops at Brisbane Square Library!! Please join us -FREE EVENT!!

SESSION ONE : ASSI SHORT FILMS (Brisbane Square Library Theatrette, Ground Level)
10:30AM – 12:00PM
Screening of a series of short films exploring ASSI stories of family, history, identity and culture.
Followed by an open discussion.

SESSION TWO : WORKSHOPS (Brisbane Square Library – “The End Room” Level 2.
1PM – 3:30PM
• Seminar – Beginning Family History Research by Queensland Family History Society (20mins)
• Digital Storytelling Workshop –
Technical Tips and tricks to tell your story through film & photography (2 hours).
Faciliated by filmmaker Amie Batalibasi –
Limited spaces for this workshop – RSVP: email: or phone Jacintha Batalbasi Ph:0435 007 069.

ADDRESS: Brisbane Square Library, 266 George St, Brisbane.
DIRECTIONS: Enter on the ground level, go past Cafe and Information Desk to find the THEATRETTE (for Session ONE). For Session TWO Workshops take the lift or escalators (near the information desk) up to Level 2 – exit left to “The End Room”.


It’s a WRAP!!!!

After an amazing week back at Robinvale P-12 College we have captured some amazing footage that will now be part of the two films that the Harmony on the Murray  team is creating.

The 9 young people that have been involved were thrown straight back into the project on Monday morning, revising what we had learnt during the first workshop and storyboarding for their films. The films being made are around “Talented people in Robinvale” (an idea pitched by participant Moj) and “Religion & Spirituality in Robinvale” (an idea pitched by participant Ofiu).  Both really big topics with heaps to explore within such a dynamic community like Robinvale.

Shoot with Eric for the ‘Talent’ film. © Pacific Stories 2012

“Talented people in Robinvale”  saw the film makers look into the lives of Chrissy Ale- a 16 year old singer who is working hard to become a professional singer when she leaves school.  With a voice of an angel, Chrissy performs across the region.  Chrissy’s song that she wrote and plays guitar to will definitly be a major feature of the film!!  We also met Eric Peniongo who is a 12 year old drummer with mad skills!!  Eric is a drummer for the Robinvale Brass band- which is headed up by Tongan conductor Siua and has a 20 strong membership- you should hear them play R-E-S-P-E-C-T!  We also meet the newly established Hip-Hop dance crew “MIXTURES” who mix cultures and dances to come up with their own dances.  Congratulations to Jarome, Mary, Sarah and Moj for working as such a great crew on the film.

“Religion & Spirituality in Robinvale” allowed the film makers Lillian, Juanita, Kadeasha, Dua and  Leone to explore religion and spirituality from both the Tongan and Indigenous perspective.  A massive topic, the filmmakers interviewed three prominent community members.  Sissy Petit, who is a cultural advisor and grew up in and around Robinvale was filmed down at “Easter Camp” along the Murray River.  Sissy spoke about cultural connection to country and it’s importance to Indigneous people.  We heard stories from that land and learnt things that we didn’t know about Robinvale’s first people.  Thelma Chilly was also interviewed, she explored Spirituality and Christianity and the role that it has played in her life.  From the Tongan community, Alefosio Ale who is the P-12 Chaplain and Pastor of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.  Ale (who is also Chrissy’s dad) talked about his role as a Pastor and how it informs him as a community and youth worker.

Interview with Sissi Petit at ‘Easter Camp’. © Pacific Stories 2012.

Overall, the community of Robinvale has again been incredibly gracious and generous with sharing their time and stories with the film makers.  We now have heaps of great footage that we are taking back to Melbourne to get edited with assistance from some of the Young Media Makers Project crew.

Participants, Facilitators and Project Supporters on our last day. © Pacific Stories 2012.

The screening has been booked for Tuesday June 26th in Robinvale so mark the date in your calendar and stay tuned for more information  about what is going to be another amazing Pacific Stories event. We have a group of students developing and managing the screening event.

Pacific Stories would like to thanks all who have participated in week 2 of this project.  From the filmmakers and their parents who have supported them to be part of this project, the school staff and all of the community that we have worked with and our project partners, funders and supporters.  A special thanks to Glenn in the music room who has allowed us to use his space and gear.  It takes a community to raise a child – and in Robinvale there is such a supportive community behind these children – we feel very blessed to be a part of it!!

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Stay tuned and follow Pacific Stories on Facebook for more info and photos!

Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray PRESS RELEASE


A group of young people from Robinvale P-12 College are talking about issues important to them by making short documentary films to be screened in Robinvale in June.

Harmony on the Murray project. © Pacific Stories 2012

The group of 9 young people are participants in a community filmmaking project called Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray where they have had the opportunity to learn how to make films with guidance from filmmakers & project facilitators Amie Batalibasi & Lia Pa’apa’a from Melbourne. The group of young people are from Pacific Islander and Indigenous communities in reflection of Robinvale’s Aboriginal & Islander Harmony Committee.

The young people were involved in a week long intensive in March where they learnt everything from storyboarding, to camera operation, sound and editing; and had group discussions about culture, identity and religion to come up with the two film ideas that are being shot around Robinvale this week– Talented Young People in Robinvale and Religion & Spirituality in Robinvale.

“The Harmony on the Murray project allows young people from Robinvale to explore their own identity, the identity of others through the medium of film. I think that the participants have found a lot of strength and beauty within their own communities by exploring the film topics of talent and religion” says Lia Pa’apa’a.

One of the participants, 15-year-old Lillian explains, “I think it’s important to be part of this project because if you have a message to tell people and you don’t have a voice, this project is the perfect opportunity for you get your message out and it’s also a great way to learn the different techniques about filming.”

This week, now that the stories for the two documentaries are confirmed, the students are behind the camera, filming around Robinvale, interviewing their peers and other respected community members.

“It’s been fantastic to see the young people working together as a film crew and figuring out group dynamics. Filmmaking is not an easy process. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing but we certainly are working together to learn and grow as a team throughout this process. Lia and I really expect a lot from them – and we are using professional filming equipment – so they have really done well and stepped up to the challenge,” says filmmaker Amie Batalibasi.

© Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray 2012.

Facilitators Amie and Lia are both filmmaker/ artists based in Melbourne and the Harmony on the Murray project is a continuation from Pacific Stories, a short film project run in Melbourne in 2011 where eight people from Pacific Islander backgrounds produced stories around culture and identity. “Pacific Stories was the start of what has become a great working relationship between Amie and I but also a vehicle for us to engage other communities across Australia. It has showed us that there is a need to empower community through film in order for them tell their stories to broader communities,” says Lia Pa’apa’a

Amie adds, “It is such a pleasure and a privilege to be here in Robinvale working with these young people and the community. The idea isn’t for us to come in and make a film about the community, but to share filmmaking skills with the participants so that they can tell their own stories in their own way. The young people are so creative and have come up with great ideas. I can’t wait to come back in June for the World Premiere Screening.”

Harmony on the Murray is funded by Regional Arts Victoria and Swan Hill Rural City Council. It is further supported by Robinvale P-12 College and Robinvale Network House.

To follow the project and see photos you can subscribe to the blog at OR find us on Facebook at:

For further information please contact Pacific Stories on

Harmony on the Murray- Pre Production WEEK 1

Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray has had a great first week in Robinvale working with our 9 new film makers from Robinvale P-12 College.  The community welcomed us on the first evening with a BBQ and after showing the parents some of Pacific Stories and My Story, My Place- Through the lens the parents wanted to know when there would be workshops for the adults!!

We ran an intensive film making workshop with the students.  The group is made up of 9 students from Tongan and Aboriginal backgrounds.  We wanted to give students from these two backgrounds an oportunity to explore their identity and relationship to each other through the film making process.

Pacific Stories - Harmony on the Murray group. © Pacific Stories 2012

We started by exploring film, culture and identity, with students learning about film genres, the film making process as well as some Indigenous Australian history and exploring their own cultures and identities, both as cultural groups and then individuals.

Students also learnt the technical aspects of film including composition, framing and interview techniques – which they all got to put into practice during a vox pop session at lunchtime, where the filmmakers interviewed their peers about different isues. And at the special assembly to welcome the school’s Japanese visitors.

Vox Pop in action: Sarah, Mary & Lillian ask fellow students about what culture means to them. © Pacific Stories 2012

Students then went on to learn about STORY – something that we always come back to as filmmakers!!!  Students studied script and storyboards, developing their own in small groups of a 6-shot film that the students then went out and filmed in the school yard.

By the end of the week it came down to the business end of the workshops, with students having to develop their own individual film concept. They developed a sysnopsis and  plot and pitched it to the group. All 9 students came up with really interesting ideas but after the pitches only 2 could be chosen and there was a unanimous vote for two films.  The films that Harmony on the Murray project group is making are about- “Religion in Robinvale” and “Talented People in Robinvale”.  We are really excited to get back up to Robinvale for the first week of May to start making these films.

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On friday, after a very long intensive week, we asked the students about the Pacific Stories experience to date and this is what they had to say:

” The thing I enjoyed the most is filming all the angles because it helps me when I’m filming something.” Jeremyaar.

“I think it’s important to be part of this project because if you have a message to tell people and you don’t have a voice, this project is the perfect opportunity for you get your message out and it’s also a great way to learn the different techniques about filming.’ Lillian

The part I enjoyed most was storyboarding and filming it and watching the varieties of documentaries they have previously filmed. I deeply love Pacific Stories! You learn, use skills and most of all have FUN!” Mary

” I have enjoyed interviewing people’s thoughts on this school because we got to have a go with using the camera and learning different techniques.” Ofiu

“I have enjoyed using the video recorders, and being able to film many things. Like: interviewing people, making a story board and producing it. I am enjoying how we interact as with each other, and how we co-operate together, to improve our team work skills.” Moj

” I think that it’s important to be part of this project because the community will hear what the youth have to share and we could also get a lot of skills out of this” Ebony

” Its important to be in this project because you learn how to film and learn about filming and how to use a camera and all about the different types of angles, shots and about production and directors and producers.  You learn heaps that you never learnt of heard before and it is an opportunity to learn more about filming.” Sarah

“I cannot say what I have most enjoyed about the filming process because I have enjoyed everything because I am learning all different kinds of things about filmmaking and each other.” Kadeasha

” I think that it is important to be in this project because I want to learn more about things and get to know more about the people that we work with.” Juanita

Back L-R: Amie (Facilitator), Ebony, Mary, Lillian, Sarah, Ofiu, Moj, Jerammyaar. Front L-R: Nita, Kadeasha, Lia (Faciltiator). © Pacific Stories 2012

So, it was a hugly productive and inspiring week working on Harmony on the Murray – a film project that is not only going to have some great outcomes with the the creation of 2 short films that will be screening in June, but also with the development of these 9 exciting new film makers.

Thanks for following us on this journey!

Editing & Scripts

You haven’t heard from us in a while because we have been hard at work in the computer labs!  Lately, Pacific Stories participants have been introduced to an editing program called Final Cut Pro.  We have also been nutting out scripts and storyboards because filming is starting soon.  There are going to be some great films produced from this project – stay tuned for a screening date in June.  Meanwhile keep an eye on the Pacific Stories Facebook groupfor other Pacific related events happening around the place.

Pacific Stories hits Melbourne city

This week we hit the city for some learning and inspiration. At ACMI’s Screen World exhibition we had time to experience many of the interactive video installations like ‘the Matrix booth’ where you can video yourself jumping in the air (like Keanu does in the movies) and then email yourself the video! There was so much to see in this exhibition including a history of film and TV in Australia that spans from some of the first film recorded in the Torres Straight right up to the digital age with Reality TV and the internet.

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After a yummy lunch in China town we headed to NGV’s Unerved – The New Zealand Project. It was a chance to see stories told using many different types of visual mediums other than film (although there were some great films too!) – sculpture, photography, mixed media.  By the end of the day I think we were all exhausted but happy to have our heads filled with new ideas, perspectives and stories.

These are both free exhibitions so if you are in Melbourne, check them out at Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square and National Gallery of Victoria.

The cameras are out.

This week we finally got out the cameras and had a bit of a play.  We discussed camera framing, movement and angles; and participants worked in groups to make a short 6 shot film as well as an interview.  This footage will be edited when we hit the computers later on.  Also, Lia led a discussion on Pacific People and Health – the group had a lot to contribute to this important issue. We discussed societal factors that affect our health, as well as the media.  Check out Venina’s post on the Pacific Stories Facebook group – a great example of standing up to the media’s misrepresentation of Pacific culture.  Next week we hit the city for our first excursion!

Amie Batalibasi

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