You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

Connection to Country

2015 Peter Rawlinson Award winner: Jack Wongili Green

Story by ACF December 16th, 2015

Speaking truth to power

“I nominated Jack because I admire his ability to speak truth to power. I also admire his commitment to work through customary institutions to empower the Mambaliya, Wurdaliya, Rumburriya and Wuyaliya clans so that they can make their own decisions and set future directions based on free prior informed consent. Jack is unwavering in his commitment to the customary institutions of the Garawa, Gudanji, Mara, Yanyuwa and Waanyi people, and it’s these institutions that have been vital in building Indigenous enterprises in the Gulf country, such as ranger programs.”

Sean Kerins, Jack’s nominator

“It hit me in the heart and it made me feel really good and happy to get something back to recognise Australia, the importance of this land.”
– Jack Wongili Green, 2015 Peter Rawlinson Award winner


Jack painting daughter Jackie Green's face before the Peter Rawlinson Award ceremony, Borroloola, NT
Sandridge Outstation, Rumburriya country, Southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, NT
Jack Wongili Green during Peter Rawlinson award ceremony, Borroloola, Rumburriya country, NT
McArthur River just outside Borroloola, Rumburriya country, NT
Jackie Green on Wuryarliya country, Karenbrinny Nature Reserve, NT
Jack Wongili Green showing bush tucker, Wuryarliya country, NT
Sandridge Outstation, Rumburriya Country, Southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, NT

'NO more yardin' us up like cattle'

Read this fascinating account of Jack Wongili Green’s work written by Jack Green and Jimmy Morrison with Sean Kerins: No More Yardin’ Us Up Like Cattle. This chapter is from People on Country, Vital Landscapes, Indigenous Futures edited by Jon Altman and Sean Kerins, published by Federation Press (2012).


Jack Wongili Green speaking at ACF's 50th birthday celebration, Melbourne
Sean Kerins, Jack Wongili Green and Marnie Rawlinson, ACF 2015 AGM

Remembering Peter Rawlinson

The Peter Rawlinson Award is named after a person who made an outstanding contribution to caring for our unique natural environment and wildlife. Peter was a zoologist, researcher and university lecturer. He was a compelling voice on many conservation issues and an active contributor to ACF as a councillor, vice president and treasurer. During Peter’s life, he helped and encouraged many people and groups to advocate for their local environment. After Peter’s death in 1991, his wife Marnie started the award to honour his memory and recognise outstanding people volunteering at the local or national level who continue to care for our beautiful environment.

you can help protect gulf country

Jack has decided to generously donate a limited series of his painting ‘Trying to Protect Our Land’ to the ‘Protect Gulf Country’ campaign. The campaign focuses on Jack’s work to get Country back to Aboriginal ownership and then to protect it from the risks of invasive mining. The four clan groups with responsibility for protection of the McArthur River (Gurdanji, Garawa, Yanyula and Mara people) are suffering from the impacts of imposed mining that has destroyed parts of the sacred McArthur River and polluted the water and fish with lead. Now mine operator Glencore has created an even bigger problem, with acid forming in the mine‘s giant waste rock dump and leaching poison into surrounding waterways.

Jack Green’s artworks are held in a number of national and private collections. He says he started painting to get his voice out.

“No one is listening to us. What we want. How we want to live. What we want in the future for our children. It’s for these reasons that I started to paint. I want government to listen to Aboriginal people. I want people in the cities to know what’s happening to us and our country. I want the government and mining companies to know that we are still here. We aren’t going anywhere. We aren’t dead yet. We are still here, feeling the country.”
-Jack Wongili Green, 2015 Peter Rawlinson Award winner

Funds raised through the sale of the painting will be used by Indigenous peoples in the McArthur River region for community-led initiatives to put an end to Glencore’s reckless mining that is contaminating food resources and poisoning local livelihoods. Your support will help a delegation of Traditional Owners attend and speak to the Glencore Executive at the companys Annual General Meeting in Zug, Switzerland on May 16, as well as cover costs for Australian leading experts in legacy mine management to complete a comprehensive closure and rehabilitation plan for McArthur River mine for the community to present to Glencore and the NT and Federal Governments.

Options for purchasing your copy of Trying to Protect our Land

Reproductions are available on both archival paper and canvas in a range of sizes.

Archival paper reproductions: $300 including postage and GST in Australia. Available on 40 x 60cm + 3cm border produced using full archival quality paper, printed with lifetime lasting archival pigment inks.

Canvas: Reproductions are on 430gsm cotton poly canvas supplied rolled and ready for stretching. There are three options:
66 x 100cm + 5cm wrap – $600
100 x 150cm + 5cm wrap – $1300
140 x 210cm + 5cm wrap – 2 only – $2975

*All prices include postage within Australia. International postage costs are extra and will be determined by seller.

Jacky Wongili Green with his painting: 'Trying to Protect Our Land'
Jacky Wongili Green's painting: 'Trying to Protect Our Land'
Footnote: Images with thanks to Karl Goodsell, Courtney Jackson, James Thomas Photo
Borroloola, Northern Territory, Australia
Share this story