What began as a simple conversation on the sidelines of a local rugby league game has now become a world-leading reconciliation pilot program, using the humble act of catching waves as a method for bringing people together; talking, learning, sharing - and most importantly - surfing!
Burra Jurra is a sensational film by Juliet Carrington from Terranora that documents the rise and rise of a collaboration between The Arakwal Corporation, representing the traditional owners of the Byron Bay region, and Surfing Far North Coast with its long list of surf royalty supporters, to provide surf coaching for local Indigenous youth.
The film stars Layne Beachley, ‘the greatest female professional surfer in the history of the sport’ and seven times World Champion, who has lent her support as an Ambassador from the Laureus Foundation - an organisation with “a belief in the power of sport to break down barriers, bring people together and improve the lives of young people around the world”.
It also features surfing icons, World Champion Pauline Menczer, current ASP World Tour surfer Adam Melling, two times World Junior Champion James Woods, two times Australian Junior Champion Jock Barnes, to name just a few…
Just how did Burra Jurra attract this all star line up? They have one common connection. Each was coached at some point by Byron Shire local, Steve Foreman, whom one day about five years ago, was asked by Yvonne Kay-Stewart, Arakwal Corporation CEO, if he could teach some local Koori kids about surfing, while their sons played rugby together.
Juliet explained “when Steve organised the first program, he set specific times for the surfing to start. Sometimes hours would pass and no one had turned up. He then realised that not many of the Aboriginal folk were wearing watches, and that they were coming out with the sunshine. As a people they are in tune with the land, the weather and the environment, and weren't being governed by a clock. He said he found it very refreshing to see that, but after that first program, the kids had so much fun that there were no late issues ever again!”
When Ms Beachley became involved, she brought with her the international power of Laureus, which provided initial three-year seed funding to get the surf program up and running to “embrace the principle of using sport to help bring positive social change”.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The Byron Bay International Film Festival is honoured to be screening the World Premiere of this deeply important film with Juliet Carrington and other members of the cast and crew present at the screening. The story of Burra Jurra is inspiring, uplifting and relatable to surfers and non-surfers alike. Through sharing intimate stories of individuals overcoming adversity, this film encourages everyone that no matter what challenges you might face, they can be overcome so you may become all you are meant to be.
Tickets go on sale Monday 17 February. For exclusive presale offers please subscribe to the newsletter.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in face of all types of discrimination.”
~ Nelson Mandela – Laureus Foundation Patron.