Over 100 people attended the Newcastle premiere of Where the Water Starts, a documentary that reveals the unique threats and challenges facing the Snowy Mountains and its water sources.

Over 100 people attended the Newcastle premiere of Where the Water Starts at Event Cinemas in Kotara Westfield.

Made in collaboration with Director Amanda King, Producer Fabio Cavadini and Indigenous ambassador of the Invasive Species Council, Richard Swain, Where the Water Starts investigates the destruction of the fragile alpine ecology of the Snowy Mountains, in particular Kosciuszko National Park.

The screening was held at Event Cinemas in Westfield Kotara on April 4, featuring a special Q&A with the film crew and a Welcome to Country by Worimi Elder, Aunty Theresa Dargin.

Members of the local Hunter Aboriginal community and Paakindji Elder, Uncle Owen Whyman from Wilcannia and Kamilaroi man Lawrence Brooke were also in attendance.

The film aims to promote national discussions about the protection of rivers and headwaters, calling for action from governments to address outstanding environmental issues.

Told from the perspective of respected Indigenous and non-Indigenous community leaders, the film gives insight into the region’s vital ecological role.

The documentary is told from the perspectives of Indigenous community leaders. (L to R) Richard Swain, Major Moogy Sumner and Uncle Max D Harrison. Photo: John Ford

These different perspectives illustrate that Aboriginal connection and regenerative science can work together for a better future for the mountains and the planet.

Richard Swain, a Wiradjuri descendant, born in Cooma, has a strong voice in the film.

He details the environmental challenges facing the headwaters of three iconic rivers in the region and what must be done to protect them.

Having witnessed the destruction of the environment by hard-hoofed animals, Swain decided to speak out on the issue.

Swain said traditional farming techniques and the impact of feral animals were doing great harm to waterways, Indigenous species and Indigenous cultural heritage.

He said 34 species of native plants and animals were now under threat due to hard hoofed animals, like horses, trampling on the region’s unique habitats and endangering the viability of the headwaters of the rivers.

“This environment is meant to be pristine, and we can no longer ignore the damage being done by these feral animals,” Swain said.

“It is the responsibility of all Australians to accept this land as your heritage, care for it and protect it as your culture.

Indigenous ambassador of the Invasive Species Council, Richard Swain, features in the documentary.

“It’s at the tipping point now. If we get the horses off and do a little bit of remediation, this will recover.”

Swain concluded the night with an invitation to the audience to share in the custodianship of the land.

He said the community could help by getting involved in progressing government policy into action, volunteering at wildlife support organisations, signing petitions, donating funds or even hosting a screening of the film.

For more information on the film and the issues facing the Snowy Mountains, visit documentaryaustralia.com.au.

Hayley McMahon

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