Powerful stories of change for First Peoples rights at Melbourne Museum

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum presents two new exhibitions that explore formative moments in Aboriginal cultural resistance and community activism from the perspective of First Peoples of Australia.

Northlands Rally On The Steps Of Parliament House Melbourne 27 November 1992

Two new exhibitions will open on Saturday 6 November at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum. Fight for Survival: Cultural Resistance – Reasonable Rational Responsible – The story of Northland Secondary College and Still in my Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality, showcase pertinent traditional and contemporary works by First Peoples artists that speak to two pivotal protest and strike actions in Australian history.  

Fight for Survival: Cultural Resistance – Reasonable Rational Responsible – The story of Northland Secondary College chronicles a landmark moment in Victoria when students and teachers from the Northland Secondary School community united in a three-year fight against the Kennett Government in 1992 to save the college from closure. At that time, Northland Secondary School was one of the only schools in Victoria with a diverse and an innovative approach to learning that drew upon Aboriginal knowledge systems and cultures. Fight for Survival: Cultural Resistance – Reasonable Rational Responsible – The story of Northland Secondary College has been developed from content gathered and explored during a multi-year collaborative project by Dr Gary Foley and Dr Clare Land from Victoria University, and the Northland Collective Mob. The exhibition, on view in Birrarung Gallery, features photographs, artworks and text from former students and community members, including work by Yorta Yorta artist and activist Lin Onus, with historical material that reflects on why Northland Secondary College meant so much to so many people.

Inspired by the words of revered Gurindji/Malngin leader Vincent Lingiari ‘that land... I still got it in my mind’, touring exhibition Still in my Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality considers the ongoing impact of the Gurindji Walk-off, a formative event in Australian history that sparked the national land rights movement.

Curated by participating artist, Brenda L. Croft, and produced in collaboration with the Indigenous community in the Wave Hill, Victoria River regions and Darwin, Northern Territory, Still in my Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality is a richly diverse multi-media exhibition. Through photographs, experimental video installation, newly commissioned paintings, contemporary and historical prints and drawings, textiles, found objects, digital platforms and archives, the exhibition retells this historical event as a powerful act of self-determination that the Gurindji Community maintains to this day.

The Gurindji Walk-Off was a nine-year act of self-determination that began in 1966. By 1975, it had become a catalyst for understanding Indigenous land ownership in Australia, eventually resulting in the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, the first legislation that allowed Indigenous people to claim land title if they could prove a traditional relationship to the country.

Still in my Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality is a moving and distinctly immersive experience. Drawing on shared and specific Gurindji knowledge of historical and cultural significance, the exhibition presents the ongoing determination to re-establish the connections to Country that have been impacted since colonisation.

Fight for Survival: Cultural Resistance – Reasonable Rational Responsible – The story of Northland Secondary College and Still in my Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality open on Saturday 6 November at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum. Free with Museum entry, bookings essential.

Quote attributable to Shannon Faulkhead, Head of First Peoples Department, Museums Victoria 

“These are two powerful stories of change for First Peoples rights in their own Countries. Whilst often represented as political in nature, their strength is in the people who said that ‘this is not right!’ and fought to make a change. Both exhibitions tell the human and the political - the personal and the public - the pain and the love. Museums Victoria is proud to be able share these stories at Bunjilaka, Melbourne Museum” 

Statement attributable to the Northland Curatorial Collective - Lyn Thorpe, Jill Morgan, Clare Land and Megan Evans

"This is a Celebration of our Strength and Resilience. It celebrates what we can achieve when we stand up together for something we believe in and have genuine respect and pride in, both as individuals and as a collective. Whether we’re black, white or brindle we all have a connection to the Northlands story and so do our next generations! The Northlands Spirit lives on!"

Quote attributable to Brenda L. Croft, curator Still in my Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality

“As a Gurindji/Malngin/Mudburra woman I pay my deep respects to the Bunurong, Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation and express my heartfelt gratitude for hosting Still in my Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality on their traditional homelands. The significance of Still in my mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality being hosted by Museum Victoria dates from the time of the Gurindji Walk-Off from Wave Hill Station in 1966.

Many supporters who came to Daguragu during the nearly nine-year-long fight for their land were members of ABSCHOL, an Indigenous Students Rights organisation established in Melbourne in the 1950s, which broadened its scope to call for national land rights following the Gurindji Walk-Off from Wave Hill Station in 1966, leading to one of the first national land rights marches in Melbourne in 1968. Touring Still in my mind to Melbourne is somewhat of homecoming, a way of thanking supporters from over a half a century ago. The struggle continues, not just in the Northern Territory but on First Nations Country throughout Victoria. Always was, always will be, Marntaj.”

Quote attributable to Shay Vigona -Goudge, Chief Executive Officer, Artback NT

Still in my Mind is a pertinent exhibition that speaks to Australia’s multifaceted and disparate history since colonisation. There is a present undercurrent that explores the treatment of First Peoples of Australia and the ongoing impact past and present government policies have had and continue to have. Central to the exhibition is Gurindji experiences of home and kinship and this informs important discourse, although at times confronting, continues to tell the stories of Aboriginal people at Bunjilaka.”

Also showing at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre

First Peoples | Open Daily
A shared endeavour of Museums Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal community, this major exhibition celebrates the history, culture, achievements and survival of Victoria's Aboriginal people, telling the story of Aboriginal Victoria from the time of Creation to today.
Free with museum entry, bookings essential.

Milarri Garden Trail | Open daily
A self-guided trail to learn about the plants, animals and waterways of significance to Aboriginal people of south-eastern Australia.
Free with museum entry, bookings essential.

River of Language Virtual Tour | Online
Experience the online virtual tour ngulu wurneet, galada-al wurrung u, parniwaru tyalingi, waran woorroong-ee, barringgi dyaling | River of Language. Co-curated with VACL, the languages of south-eastern Australia are brought to life through the voices, artwork and animations of the First Peoples of south-eastern Australia.
Tour River of Language online now.

Media kit for Still in my Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality
Media kit for Fight for Survival: Cultural Resistance – Reasonable Rational Responsible – The story of Northland Secondary College

For interviews and media enquiries please contact

Museums Victoria Media and Communications team
e: [email protected] p: 0466 622 621

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