We tend to think of uni assignments as being all about the marks. As insular bits of intellectual gruntwork whose sole use expires as soon as the course lecturer returns a passing grade. But Swinburne University student Alexander Owsianka’s capstone project for his Communication degree is set to be so much more than that.
The documentary that Owsianka and his five colleagues are working on is set to shine a spotlight on an ugly and shameful piece of Australia’s past, one that’s been largely forgotten thanks to decades of historical whitewashing.
Their project centres around the character of Angus McMillan — a man credited as one of the founders of the Gippsland region, and who has been honoured for eternity with one of Victoria’s Federal electorates named after him. But the doco delves into a more sinister and lesser-known side of McMillan’s CV; the fact that he was also he was also involved in one of the most deadly Indigenous massacres in Victorian history.
By investigating this venerated founding father’s role in instigating the Warrigal Creek Massacre — which saw up to 180 Aboriginal people slaughtered in the Gippsland region — Owsianka’s uni assignment is set to expose the gaping difference between written history and Indigenous oral history, and help Australia on its way to bridging the problematic chasm that still exists between the two.
And the most impressive part of the whole thing is — even though the Swinburne collective have already scored top marks for the project without having to see it through to a finished product — they’ve resolved to finish the doco anyway, out of pure dedication to making a difference to the Indigenous peoples who’ve gone for generations without having a significant and traumatic part of their history openly acknowledged.
Hear Owsianka give Crave Australia the lowdown on his game-changing doco in the video below.