Rabbit-Proof Fence and Cultural Issues in Nursing

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I select this this particular movie to express my opinion. Because, this movie is a great example of the ignorance of the people. All these generations of kids were stolen along with their culture and will never know their relatives. They forcibly took away the happiness of all these kids just for a sick twisted belief. It is sad and shameful that the humanity has to experience cases like this. We are all equal, no matter any particular feature, we are worthy to live freely.

The United States has one of the most demographically diverse population worldwide, due to the immigration of so many groups of people. People from all over the world come to the “land of the free and home of the brave” for many reasons. Some of these reasons include persecution of religious beliefs, freedom of speech against the government, refugees, escaping wars or persecution, and individuals and families seeking opportunities looking for a better life for themselves and their families. Whatever, the reason, many immigrants view America as a promise land with a liberal society. This was not the case for Molly, Gracie, and Daisy who are forcefully taken from their mothers by the Australian government; and a man, Neville, who believes that giving half-castes a chance to join his “civilized society” is the virtuous thing to do, even if it means stripping them of their family, traditions, and culture.

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These three runaways were half-caste children, meaning their mothers are Aborigines and their fathers are white. The Australian government believed they were doing the right thing by removing these half-caste children from the Aboriginal community, and stripping them from their families. The half-caste was sent to schools that were at comparable levels to a prison, and the purpose behind this was to train and teach the children to either become a house servant typically for females. While the males on the other hand trained to be farm laborers. In this real life account the settlement that the three Aboriginal sisters, Molly, Gracie, and Daisy, were sent to was Moore River Native Settlement, which was approximately 1,600 kilometers away from their home village of Jigalong. An interesting thing as well to note about this movie was the perspective in which it was plays. Molly is the oldest of the sisters and appears to be the main figure in this story. Molly’s daughter Doris Pilkington wrote this book from the accounts from both Daisy and Molly. The constant fear from the start of novel, to the settlement, and throughout the escape, mixed with Molly’s confidence gives the viewer mixed assumptions of what was going to happen next. Every mother of a part-Aboriginal child was aware that their offspring could be taken away from them at any time and they were powerless to stop the abductors I could only imagine the devastation these parents went through when their own children were taken from them simply because of their race. The mothers of the half-caste children and the children constantly lived in fear. Fear is the state when one feels in danger or often threatened by a superior figure. Then, these Aboriginal communities are powerless to the superior white Europeans who continuously are taking away, the Aborigines’ rights. Fear is shown throughout the whole story. When Molly, Gracie, and Daisy first arrive to the settlement at Moore River Native, they were placed in what looked more like a concentration camp [rather] than a residential school for Aboriginal ”children”. The children were being assimilated to European culture; the settlements refused to let the half-caste children speak their native language. When one loses their ability to speak their native language, it is known that their native culture will drift away as well. The Europeans wanted the half-caste children to forget their native culture and live in fear, so they would have to rely on the European culture for survival.

The confidence Molly had, proved to be essential in their nine-month dreadful journey home from the Moore River Native Settlement. Her bushcraft knowledge, kinship of direction, and intelligence helped the girls survive through the journey as well. When Molly finally spotted the Rabbit-Proof Fence, she said, “We found the fence now. It gunna be easy.’ I believe this shows how Molly took on leadership and used hope as a motive to get her sisters to continue through the hardships. There was a constant struggle between the idea of fear and confidence Molly feeling throughout the story. Confidence that they will survive only appears in Molly. All the other characters they run into on their journey, the two other sisters, and those at the settlement believed they would never be able to make it back home or they would be caught and sent back. Another important aspect to the story was the people that offered to help on the journey back home to Jigalong. The girls learned to fend for themselves through their bushcraft skills, but there were times when food was scarce, and they needed assistance. There was even a Mardu man who supplied them with matches and food. Mrs. Flanagan gave the children a place to stay out of the rain, food, and some warm clothes. These people and the others who helped the half-caste children would give them supplies and food, but once the children were out of sight they would call the Moore River Native Settlement in order to report where they last saw the sisters. These people thought that it would be beneficial to the children if they called the police to get the children. They believed the children would rather go back to the settlement than die or get lost on their journey. The people who helped the children on their journey back, I believe are a representation of the Australian government. Both the government and the people in the story believed they were truly doing the right thing by taking them to a separate civilization to change them. The Aboriginal girls conquered obstacles throughout the shocking nine-month journey. Many doubted their ability to make it completely back to Jigalong as well as their ability to stay alive. But the three Aboriginal sisters “walked in silence, concentrating on movement, distance, and safety and proved people wrong by making it back to their home village. Following the story on the movie is an explanation on how the girls’ lives continued after this story. It was very heartbreaking to hear that Molly went through so much to get back to her home village where she became a mother, only to have the white Europeans in the half-caste’s life once again. The Europeans came back and required Molly to return to the settlement and bring along one of her children, while leaving the other child behind. It was very depressing to further read that not only did she go through this tragedy once and survived, but had to go through it again with her daughter. The question in this story was why did the Europeans think this was okay to dehumanize these half-caste Aborigines? The Europeans after reading the story honestly believe they were doing the right thing. They believed by kidnapping these half-caste children from the Aboriginal community they were helping place them into a specific race.

The movie Rabbit-Proof Fence affected me, by bringing to the forefront the constant prejudice black face daily dealing with prejudice from other groups. We see in the movie that once Phillip Noyce’s ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ expresses many of the values and attitudes regarding respect and dignity. This is clearly shown by the unjust policy enforced by the government during the 1930’s with the mistreatment of the aboriginal people. Using the Molly, Daisy and Gracie, and their tale, Noyce creates a story that explores and contrasts issues such as the aborigine’s relationship with the land with the enormous achievement of returning home, the spiritual bond within the family and the injustice of the children removal. It’s always so frustrating to see black people being held in high regards when we’re scoring points on a scoreboard, starting our businesses, but once we cross the color barrier and decide to pursue or date someone from a different race or background then blacks are no longer considered good enough.

The film realistically portrays the events, it does so with obscurity. The truth of the story is actually generalized to the experience of all who witnessed the events of the Stolen Generations (Watson). For example, the scene where chief protector of aboriginals, gathers Aborigine children to check the color of their skin, putting aside the “fair skinned” or lighter skinned ones for education, is not true to the case of Molly, the oldest of the three girls (Watson). With the notion of selecting by color, the film indicates that the government sought to immediately invest more into those they saw as similar to themselves, based on color. Later, when fully integrated into society, detecting their nativity would be difficult, and everyone would view them as white and educated. Other portions of the film are exaggerated to add to the brutality of the government workers and gain sympathy from the audience. For example, in the film, the scene where the children are separated from their mother is full of resistance and dramatic, which did not apply to all cases (Watson). The children traveling in a metal cage is also exaggerated (Watson). Even so, these scenes help explain the harshness the children experienced.

I would recommend the movie The Rabbit Proof Fence to nursing and college students. I feel like it gives the audience insight on specific stereotypes associated with certain races. The issues discussed in this film could affect patient care in the sense of a patient not wanting to receive Western medical treatment for their healthcare needs. For example, although Molly, Gracie, and Daisy migrated between indigenous Australians and English colonists, they never considered the indigenous Australians as home, so most likely if they were to get sick and needed medical care, they would probably want to be treated with health traditions from their home in Jigalong. The issue of interracial dating might affect patient care because the healthcare provider may disagree with interracial dating causing them to not provide the best care to a sick patient. Cultural competency is a recognized and popular approach to improving the provision of health care to racial/ethnic minority groups in the community with the aim of reducing racial/ethnic health disparities. In order to create an environment where everyone feels welcome, healthcare providers and/or healthcare institutions should implement practices that value diversity. Such practices would be respecting and accepting differences between and within cultures. We often presume that a common culture is shared between members of racial, linguistic, and religious groups, but that is not always the case. “Cultural differences in the manner in which information is conveyed to others may be reflected in the nature of information processing” (Ishii, K, 2013). Understanding the dynamics of differences is another way intervention healthcare provider/healthcare institution can use for everyone to feel welcome. A culture or race that has been mistreated for years from another race may feel mistrust towards that particular race. Institutions and healthcare providers planning to interact with varying cultures need awareness of such a dynamic if they want to be effective. As health care professionals we ought to always provide culturally competent care. We take care of people from various backgrounds and ethnic groups and we ought to assess these patients thoroughly before we attempt to implement care strategies. Care must always be patient- centered, and we should strive to meet every need of the patients, regardless of the limiting factors being presented. “Researchers emphasize the need for cultural competence in health care to address health disparities and to ensure equitable services” (Kersey-Matusiak, 2013). It is often said that people will forget what you said, and what you did, but they will not forget how you made them feel. We ought to make people of every color, creed, and continent feel loved and appreciated. Not only are we agents of care, but we are also agents of care, advocating for the needs of whomever comes under our care. Health care providers are privileged to be in the position which they are, and we ought to protect these vulnerable patients.


  • Ishii, K. (2013). Culture and the mode of thought: A review. Asian Journal Of Social Psychology, 16(2), 123-132. doi:10.1111/ajsp.12011
  • Kersey-Matusiak, G. (2013). Delivering culturally competent nursing care. New York: Springer Pub. Co.
  • Rabbit Proof Fence. Dir. Noyce Phillipe. Perf. Everyln Sampi, Laura Monaghan, Tianna Sansbury. Mirimax Films, 2002. Film.
  • Watson, Christine. “Nugi Garimara (Doris Pilkington) Interviewed By Christine Watson.” Hectate 28.1 (2002): 23. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27. Jan 2014

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