Female Producer and Director Team Receive $738,000 to Make Landmark Documentary About Child Removal

19 August 2016

Screen Australia and the Adelaide Film Festival, in collaboration with KOJO and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA), have today announced that Larissa Behrendt and Michaela Perske are the recipients of the Indigenous Feature Documentary Initiative for their feature documentary project, After the Apology.

After the Apology is a landmark documentary exploring the continued practice of child removal and the community response. In their proposal, Behrendt and Perske stated, “It shocks many people to learn that the number of Aboriginal children being removed today by welfare agencies is much higher than during the time of the Stolen Generations.”

The Indigenous Feature Documentary Initiative supports observational or social justice documentary proposal that will then premiere at the 2017 Adelaide Film Festival. The film will educate people about this practice and follow Grandmothers Against Removal, a network of families directly affected by forced child removal who are fighting back to bring the children home.

Penny Smallacombe, Head of Indigenous at Screen Australia said: “Documentaries have the power to inform and mobilise people, and we think that the powerful team behind After the Apology can create a feature that brings the issue of child removal into the spotlight so that all Australians know that this practice has continued. As the Grandmothers Against Removal say, ‘sorry means you don’t do it again’.”

Producer Michaela Perske said: “Larissa and I are thrilled to be given the opportunity to tell the story of the incredible advocates working across Australia in the area of child removal. Given that next year is the 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, it is not only timely but imperative to highlight that the number of Aboriginal children removed from their families has increased by five hundred per cent since the report was released. The initiative shows a strong commitment from Screen Australia and the Adelaide Film Festival in their support for feature documentaries that speak to social justice issues that are often overlooked.”

Filming is currently underway in New South Wales.


Director Larissa Behrendt is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction with a passion for telling the stories of Indigenous Australia. She is an experienced researcher with a legal backgreound, and is involved with several arts organisations and educational programs. She wrote and directed the Walkley Award-nominated documentary, Innocence Betrayed which aired on NITV in  2014. Her short drama Under Skin in Blood recently screened at the Sydney Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival. She is currently Professor of Indigenous Research at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Producer Michaela Perske is an award winning journalist and producer who made the transition from radio to television in 2004 with the documentary feature Footy Chicks (SBS) which premiered at the Sydney Film Festival. This was followed by Inspiring Teachers (SBS), Making Babies (SBS) and Embedded (SBS) a series where everyday people confronted wider issues facing the community. In 2010 Michaela established Pursekey Productions and produced Boxing for Palm Island (ABC) which was a finalist in the 2010 IF Awards and has screened at a number of international festivals and sold internationally. Her other work includes Sex: An Unnatural History (SBS) and the Screen Australia-supported documentary, 88 – a reminder that white Australia has a black history. Her work has sold internationally to broadcasters in UK, USA, NZ, Canada, China and Europe. She is currently developing a slate of drama and documentary projects.

For further information about Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, go here.

Download the After The Apology media release here.