Cycle of Violence Radio Plays


This unique series explores an understanding of the dynamics of family violence using a unique metaphor developed in partnership with Yolŋu – traditional knowledge about the cycle of the seasons.

Yolŋu Matha with some English

This unique series explores family violence follows a radio play told over 9 programs. They explore Yolŋu understanding of the dynamics of family violence using a unique metaphor developed in partnership with Yolŋu – traditional knowledge about the cycle of the seasons. The series encourages people to reflect on what action they can take to keep their children and families safe.

The programs are also available on CD with the Cycle of Violence Resource Kit.

Family Violence - Cycle of Violence radio plays - Part 1 - New Shoots

When Yirriṉiṉba is working in her garden, two children tell her that Ḏamala has bought a car for Ŋerrk. Yirriṉiṉba ask three elders why Ḏamala bought it for her. They are a promised couple and a mundhurr (gift) is important for Ŋerrk and her family. This new relationship is like the new shoots (ŋurruniny) that appear during the Guṉmul season (the final part of the wet season). Ŋurruniny is a time of new beginnings that brings long yams (ganguri), round yams (djitama), white sand lily (wärrkarr), red-flowering kurrajong (dharraŋgulk), rat-tailed ray (mithirri), young shark (burruw).

Family Violence - Cycle of Violence radio plays - Part 2 - Honeymoon 1

It is Miḏawarr time (just after the wet season) when food is plentiful. Two boys ask Yirriṉiṉba for banana, mango and cassava. They see Ḏamala and Ŋerrk walking past and the boys see that Ŋerrk is pregnant. Yirriṉiṉba brings the story to the elders on the beach. They remind Yirriṉiṉba that the magpie geese have also started nesting and laying eggs because the räkay (waterlily corn) is ready to eat. Oysters (namura), black-lipped oyster (yunuŋali) and diamond-scaled mullet (gulku) are full of eggs and become fatty at this time of year. Ŋerrk is also pregnant and growing a child in this fertile season.

Family Violence - Cycle of Violence radio plays - Part 3 - Honeymoon 2

It is Dharratharra time and the nights are getting cold. Ḏamala is upset because he didn‘t know that Ŋerrk is pregnant and isn‘t sure who the father is. Ḏamala has been away in Ramingiṉiŋ so Ŋerrk hasn‘t had a chance to talk with Ḏamala. Ŋerrk‘s grandfather comforts Ḏamala and helps him be happy and proud as he prepares to become a father of a new son or daughter. Yirriṉiṉba is sitting with some elders watching a big fire from across the road where Ḏamala and Ŋerrk sit together with blankets. Ḏamala makes sure to warm Ŋerrk‘s body so that the unborn baby is comfortable. The water in the billabongs and rivers gradually runs out to the mouth of the rivers. Barramundi (ratjuk) feel the change of water temperature as do Yolŋu.

Family Violence - Cycle of Violence radio plays - Part 4 - Build Up

Ḏamala is frustrated with Ŋerrk because she is playing cards a lot. He is also upset because her family always use the car and now his fishing spear is missing. Wapiriny saw Ḏamala angrily walking past and Yirriṉiṉba overheard some arguments and big noise from Ḏamala‘s place. The hot season (Rarranhdharr) is beginning and people often become short tempered as they feel their bodies‘ heat up. This is Luku-nhäranhamirri (burning feet) season. Although it is time to collect honey, the bees feel too hot to fly around, so they stay inside the trees. The water is drying up and life gets harder. Yolŋu chew young kentia palm (bulmurrk) for the water held inside when there are few other sources.

Family Violence - Cycle of Violence radio plays - Part 5 - Stand Over

The hot season is continuing to get stronger. Yirriṉiṉba is gossiping with her auntie about Ḏamala and Ŋerrk. All of sudden, they heard a big commotion with people shouting and crying. Ḏamala yells at Ŋerrk as he stands over her before he drives away. Yirriṉiṉba walks to the beach where elders are talking about the season. Yirriṉiṉba asks for fresh water (rarranhdharrwirin) and tells them what she saw in town just before. They wonder why Ḏamala and Ŋerrk continue to argue.

Family Violence - Cycle of Violence radio plays - Part 6 - Explosion

It is just before Dhuluḏur time when the first big storms break. Baywara and Gapuwiyak football teams are playing on the oval. Ŋerrk is a bit tired of Ḏamala and wants to sit down with Yirriṉiṉba‘s family to watch the game. Ḏamala has been looking for Ŋerrk and orders her to come and sit with his family. Ŋerrk refuses and stays where she is. Ḏamala gets very angry and hits her with chair.

Family Violence - Cycle of Violence radio plays - Part 7 - Remorse

Galitju sings cycad nuts (ŋathu) and rock (barrtha) which have strong connotations to this time of year (Mayaltha). Two boys tell Yirriṉiṉba that they don‘t like Ḏamala because he is a problem maker (godu-marimirri). Ḏamala is crying and reflecting what he did to Ŋerrk. Yirriṉiṉba visits elders who want to know more about Ḏamala and Ŋerrk, but Yirriṉiṉba doesn‘t want to talk today because it happened just in front of her. She wants to relax by listening to Galitju‘s story of the rain clouds and lightning. Rain clouds and lightening do not imply explosion according to Yolŋu worldview, rather it is time for Yolŋu to remember their ancestors and family and cry for them.

Family Violence - Cycle of Violence radio plays - Part 8 - New Shoots 2

Yirriṉiṉba feels jealous of Galitju and Wapiriny because Ḏamala brought stingray for them. By chance, Ḏamala‘s car passes. Ḏamala, Ŋerrk and their baby are in the car coming back from hunting. That morning Yirriṉiṉba saw Ḏamala buying lots of blankets and toys for family. But Yirriṉiṉba wonders why Ḏamala bought things for Ŋerrk. Are they back together? This is Guṉmul season again. New shoots (ŋurruniny) are coming out. The plants‘ life-cycle goes around as the plants flourish before drying out and dying back and then sending up new shoots once again. All of the animals and plants go through this cycle of the seasons.

Family Violence - Cycle of Violence radio plays - Part 9 - Discussion

It is important that Ḏamala and Ŋerrk can be apart after explosion stage. We can use women‘s‘ or men‘s shelters (lolu) or send them off to a homeland separately. They need other people to talk to so they can find what is breaking their relationship. Kinship affiliations can bring people back together. By using the opportunity of various ceremonies (e.g. when Ḏamala‘s son goes through circumcision), Yolŋu are able to connect together through law and foundation. It is also a chance for the community to acknowledge and accept the couple again. There is a problem and Ḏamala made a bad decision. Ḏamala might continue to harm his loved ones (like the cycle of seasons) unless we work at the problems hiding inside. The problem needs to be solved so that his son won‘t follow the same path.

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