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Set just off the coast of sunny North Queensland, Palm Island is a tropical paradise. But its shady history sparks memories of Australia’s colonialist past; a darker time, characterised by racial hatred and persecution.
Historically Palm Island was a convict island for Aboriginal prisoners, often shipped over for crimes no greater than insolence. People from mixed race marriages were sent over, people who spoke back to their bosses, people who had done nothing but rub a white person up the wrong way. It was a pen where the unruly “natives” could be sent, out of sight, out of mind.
The United Nations once described Palm Island as the most violent place outside a war zone. Most of its population have entered a self-destructive pattern of dysfunction, drugs and violence by just 15 years of age. Governments have tried, and failed, to break the cycle, but one visionary attained success.
The violence does continue. But not in the way you would think.
‘Boxing for Palm Island’ is a journey of transformation, of how boxer and trainer Ray Dennis changed the lives of the Palm Island Aboriginal community by bringing back boxing – and hope. This film, by ‘Footy Chicks’ producer Michaela Perske, follows four kids who were mentored by Ray: their families, histories, experiences and issues, as they fight not only for victory, but for their own futures.