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Torres Strait Islands video uses local footage and languages

DSS made a video to inform Torres Strait Islander people about the payments they could get and how to apply. It was recorded in 4 languages.

I hope that you go play your role for gaining information, because it will benefit you, yourself, as an individual or as family or as community ... 

Getano Lui Jnr, 1991
About the artefact

The Department of Social Security (DSS) made this video in Torres Strait Islander languages in 1991. Translations helped to tailor social security content to a Torres Strait Islander audience.

The video may be the department’s earliest use of Torres Strait Islander languages.

Included here is an excerpt of the introduction. The full video includes footage of people who weren’t able to give permissions.


Getano Lui’s introduction  

The excerpt is an introduction by the Chairman of the Island Coordinating Council, Getano Lui Jnr, speaking in Yumplatok and English. It was included at the start of each of the translations.

Getano Lui asks viewers to watch the video and to talk to local DSS staff. He even names staff from the area and their photos appear on screen.

Lui says people have a duty to themselves, their family and their community to ensure they get the right payment.

He also notes how important it is for government departments to speak to people in their language, and asks other departments to follow the approach of this video.

Use of language, local footage, and explaining payments

Each version goes for about 13 minutes. The languages used are Yumplatok / Torres Strait Criol, Miriam Mer, Kala Lagaw Ya, and English.

The background song accompanying the video is also in language and each section opens with footage of the islands. The islands shown are Waiben / Thursday Island, Mer / Murray Island, and Poruma / Coconut Island.

Each version explains the range of payments people can get. First, it tells people how to check if they qualify for a payment, and how to apply. Next, it shows images of people engaging with DSS staff and the forms they need to use. It ends by explaining how to appeal DSS decisions.

An image of two men talking in an office, one with his back to the camera. Facing the other man and the camera is Toshio Nakata, wearing glasses and a polo shirt.
Toshio Nakata in the DSS office on Thursday Island

At the end of each video, rock and reggae group Blekbala Mujik sing ‘Right story, right money’. DSS arranged for this song to be written for the video. The catchy song tells people to let DSS know when their circumstances change to get the right payment.

A poster and t-shirt were also made as part of the ‘Right story, right money’ campaign.

This video demonstrates how DSS tailored their messages to appeal to Torres Strait Islander audiences in the 1990s.

Source details

The DSS Corporate Television Unit worked with the Torres Strait Island Coordinating Council and the Torres Strait Media Association to produce this video.

This video was edited to only show people who gave their permission for use in the excerpt. The full video and original VHS are held in the Department of Social Services Library.


Permissions to use this excerpt were granted by Councillor Getano Lui Jnr AM and Toshio Nakata.


Department of Social Security (1991) Information video: Torres Strait Islander communities [video], Corporate Television Unit, Department of Social Security, Canberra.