Australian Council on Children and the Media

The Australian Dream

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Not recommended under 15 and parental guidance to 18 (coarse language, themes and confronting social issues)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for The Australian Dream
  • a review of The Australian Dream completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 September 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to coarse language, themes and confronting social issues.
Children aged 15–18 Parental guidance recommended due to confronting social issues that deserve consideration through discussion.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: The Australian Dream
Classification: MA15+
Consumer advice lines: Themes of racism and strong coarse language
Length 105 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Australian Dream recounts the life story of footy legend Adam Goodes. With a Scottish father and an Aboriginal mother who was taken from her family and knew little of her roots, it wasn’t until adulthood that Adam began to learn about his cultural identity and build an understanding of who he is and where he came from. Adam was mentally very strong and believed that the harder he worked the more he would improve. This philosophy led him to earn 2 Brownlow medals and helped him lead the Sydney Swans to victory for the first time in 72 years. Adam became a source of pride for Aboriginal communities all over Australia, however, being in the public eye highlighted how people are not all treated the same. As Adam began to experience racial vilification, what he loved about the game slowly began to change. Adam had to smooth over ruffled relations and publicly accept apologies from ‘professionals’ who continued to behave poorly. Adam also had to tolerate hurtful comments from both players and spectators but when a young teenage girl shouted, “Goodes, you’re an ape!” during one of his games, he decided enough was enough. Making a stand, Adam began using his prestige as a platform for highlighting injustice and racism and starting conversations addressing these issues. The social media storm that followed would have devastating consequences. Left unchecked, the animosity of the crowds who continued to “boo” Adam for standing up for Aboriginal rights truly began to affect him. Ultimately, the relentless insults and hostility resulted in one of the best players Australia had ever seen leaving the footy field. Adam headed home to a place where he could heal, where he was loved and accepted and where the spirits of his ancestors could lift him up again and help him find the strength to continue to stand up for what is right and to educate and inspire others by the difference his example has made.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Breaking down barriers, racism, the Stolen Generation, connection between heritage and identity, injustice, footy culture, the personal impact of harassment on individuals.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Talk of domestic violence in the homes of family members that Adam and his brothers visited during their childhood.
  • A spectator told Adam he was going to find out where he lived and kill his family.
  • Talk about the history of Aboriginal suffering including poisoning, shootings and massacres. Photos show Aboriginal men with chains around their necks and drawings depict bodies being thrown off cliffs.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Some of the drawings and photos of Aboriginal people in chains, being ‘made white’ or killed are graphic are likely to be upsetting for young viewers. Indeed, they should be upsetting to us all.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Adam’s mother recounts the story of how, at the age of five, she was taken from her mother. She is emotional and recounts how she hid and was very scared. The impact of hearing what happened clearly takes an emotional toll on her sons. This may be confusing for young children who don’t understand the context and it may also be upsetting.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Aside from the above-mentioned scenes it is unlikely that children between the ages of eight to thirteen would be frightened by anything further in this movie.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that children over the age of thirteen would be frightened by anything further in this movie.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • A close-up image shows a child drinking a can of Solo soft drink.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There are brief references to the fact that many Aboriginal women were raped.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • There is an iconic image of Nicky Winmar raising his shirt, exposing his chest during a game, and pointing to his skin when he shouted, “I’m proud to be black”.
  • Adam lifts his shirt and poses in the same position in a tribute to Nicky Winmar’s courage.
  • The players occasionally pat each other on the bottom.
  • There are images of Aboriginal men clad only in loin cloths with chains around their necks.
  • Naked (from behind) drawings of Aboriginal people are shown being shot or in various stages of battle.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Some people drink during Australia Day celebrations.
  • Adam recounts there always being lots of alcohol at every BBQ he attended as a child.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “Bullshit”, “Shit” and various forms of the word “Fuck”.
  • Adam is referred to or addressed as: “Black bastard”, “Abo”, “Nigger”, “Soft”, “Idiot”, “Moron”, “Jerk”, “Stupid”, “Fuck you, ape faggot”, “Wanker”, “Cunt”, and “Black, monkey looking cunt”.
  • Adam is called “an ape” which leads to a media storm condemning him for being sensitive to comments from an ‘uneducated child’. He is repeatedly called a “fucking ape” and a “fucking moron”.

In a nutshell

The Australian Dream is an eye-opening documentary providing a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of Adam Goodes and the battles he fought against racism, injustice and the suffering of the Aboriginal community both on and off the footy field. The messages are powerful and the story is well woven. The confronting social issues and the past and current sufferings that Aboriginal communities continue to endure deserve consideration through discussion and offer important lessons for us all, however, this movie is not recommended for younger viewers.

The main messages from this movie are that no matter who you are or how mentally strong you might be, words have the power to hurt; home has the power to heal; the ‘Australian dream’ is rooted in racism; and as a society we need to stand together against injustice, hatred and cruelty.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Teamwork
  • Respect
  • Encouragement
  • Justice
  • Compassion
  • Courage
  • Resilience
  • Determination
  • Forgiveness
  • Tolerance and understanding

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The impact words have on others
  • The pernicious effects of racism
  • The courage it takes to stand up for what you believe in and understanding it may not always go the way you want, but the importance of having that courage and standing up anyway.
  • The history of the Stolen Generation and the continuous, intergenerational suffering it has caused.
  • The policies and behaviours that saw countless Aboriginal communities decimated following the arrival of the British and what can happen when we don’t deal with history.

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