Australian Biography: Rosalie Kunoth-Monks


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1996, 27 Minutes.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks is an actor, ex-nun and Aboriginal activist.

Until the age of nine, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks lived on remote Utopia Station in the Northern Territory where she learnt the Aboriginal laws of her tribe, the Amatjere people. Her father insisted she attend school in Alice Springs, where in 1953 she was discovered by filmmakers Charles and Elsa Chauvel. Rosalie won the lead role in Jedda, a film that became an Australian classic.  

Filming took Rosalie away from the life she had known. Though for a year she was exposed to totally new and bewildering experiences, once production was completed she resumed her former life for a time.

Rosalie became increasingly attracted to the Anglican Church. In 1960 she moved to Melbourne, joined the Community of the Holy Name and became a nun. After ten fulfilling years in the convent, Rosalie left to set up the first Aboriginal hostel in Victoria. In 1970 she married, settled in Alice Springs and became involved in social work and politics.  

The then Northern Territory Chief Minister, Paul Everingham, appointed her an advisor on Aboriginal Affairs. Rosalie stood for election to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in 1979, in order to fight the proposed construction of a dam which threatened sacred land. Although not elected, she continued to oppose the dam, which remained a hot issue for another decade. The issue was finally resolved in 1992 when plans for the dam were abandoned.  

Recently Rosalie returned to Utopia Station, where she now lives while continuing to fight for the advancement of her community and her people.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

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NB The Australian Biography series (1-11) are only available for sale within the territories of Australia and New Zealand.


Producer/Director/Writer: Frank Heimans

Interviewer: Robin Hughes

Year: 1996

Running Time: 27 Minutes

Classification: G

Curriculum Links: Beliefs and Values, English K-10 'Insights into Aboriginal Experiences in Australia', Film and Media Studies, Indigenous Studies, Politics, SOSE, Women's Studies.


Women of Utopia

SKU 199400907
Brand Film Australia

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