Gurrumul Screening and Q&A

30 October 2018
Theatre Auditorium, The University Club of WA
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

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A film screening followed by a panel Q&A with Professor Carmen Lawrence (UWA School of Psychological Science), Professor Dawn Bessarab (UWA Medical School), Professor Patricia Dudgeon (UWA School of Indigenous Studies), and Dr Nicholas Bannan (UWA Conservatorium of Music)

Paul Williams’ must-see documentary about the late, great musician does justice to a life lived between two worlds … a rich, dense, stirring and soulful ode to Australia’s most important voice. (Luke Buckmaster, The Guardian)

Gurrumul portrays internationally acclaimed Australian musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. An Indigenous man descending from the Gumal and Gumatj clans, he was born in Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land. He was blind from birth, and died prematurely at the age of 46 in 2017. The film not only showcases Gurrumul’s ethereal music, but raises more fundamental questions. What does it mean to be an Indigenous Australian in the modern world? What does it mean to be an Indigenous artist in a society obsessed with fame and fortune? What role can art play in bridging cultural divides? What is the importance of music for cultural and spiritual identity, cross-cultural communication, and psychological well-being? 

This event is a collaboration between the UWA School of Psychological Science and the Institute of Advanced Studies.


Professor Carmen Lawrence is a psychologist whose research focuses on the forces that drive significant social change as well as exploring our reactions to change. She is Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Change in the UWA School of Psychological Science. In her career in politics, she was WA Minister for Education and Aboriginal Affairs and the first woman Premier and Treasurer of a State government. In federal politics, she was elected as the Member for Fremantle and appointed Minister for Health and Human Services and Minister assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women.

Professor Dawn Bessarab is an Aboriginal woman of Bardi (West Kimberley) and Yjindjarbandi (Pilbara) descent and an experienced researcher and social worker. She is engaged in qualitative research looking at interventions and collaborative approaches to addressing the health issues affecting Aboriginal people across the State. She is interested in the application of Indigenous research methodologies and the translation of research into policy and practice.

Professor Pat Dudgeon is from the Bardi people of the Kimberley area in Western Australia. She is a psychologist and Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society, as well as a Commissioner of the Australian National Mental Health Commission, deputy chair of the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association, chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health group, and co-chair of the ministerial Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group. Her area of research includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention.

Dr Nicholas Bannan studied music at Cambridge University, where he specialised in vocal studies and composition. He has contributed to the development of the field of evolutionary musicology, which explores the nature and origins of the capacity for music in our species. Nicholas is passionate about music education, especially new pedagogical approaches and advocacy for music in schools. He also explores the potential of singing as a means of social communication in dementia sufferers. He has authored articles in leading music and psychology journals on the phenomenon of singing and its role in human cultures.