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  • The

  • Australian outback is the last true cathedral on earth. You are just in this enormous expanse

  • and there's something quite spiritual about that, I think. Where were going to, in

  • Pipalyatjara, that’s maybe 800 ks south-west of Alice; so it’s a long way inland. The

  • first time I went out there I found it really overwhelming I felt that I didn't belong there

  • and I still get a sense of that when I go to the APY lands that you do feel honoured

  • to be allowed to be there because it is, a very strictly, tightly controlled Aboriginal

  • space. When Damon was very young he didThe Tracker

  • with David Gulpilil and they had a really close connection.

  • I respect Aboriginal law as much as you respect whitefella’s lawmaybe more

  • It was the first time I'd ever met an Aboriginal man and was just completely captivated with

  • him and his stories. Them blackfellasthey probably cooked

  • him and ate him. You know, were all cannibals... LAUGHS

  • To go and spend time with him and live with his family and live off the land and hunt.

  • It was just a complete ... I was only 23 and it blew my mind, because I'd never experienced

  • something like that. But I felt the magic of that, and the simplicity of it, and that

  • it just made me feel different. But there was an element ... when I’d seen how much

  • Coke people were consuming and that kind of really shocked me

  • And that image stayed with him, and little did he know at the time how pertinent it would

  • be to his unfolding story around sugar, down the track.

  • Damon: It’s not just saying fizzy drinks are baddrink water but understanding

  • why, especially regards kidneys and Type 2 diabetes and what not...

  • People in the APY Lands, I think, live ... their average life expectancy is about 55 years,

  • so it’s 20 years less than we do. This is a dry community, there’s no alcohol here,

  • hasn’t been there for 40 years. So all these diseases we are seeing there are predominantly

  • diet-related. How’s it all going well?

  • Yeah, yeah, Kellie’s been busy. I’ve been sort of going around spreading the newsprepping

  • everything. John Tregenza's one of those people that I,

  • you know, I feel very, very fortunate to meet. In the last 35 years, he's seen the health

  • deteriorate, and that would be very hard to watch, so that's what drives him, I think,

  • to keep going and trying to, try and make a difference.

  • Damon discussed with me what we might be able to do in tackling these chronic illness problems.

  • Myself and Kelly and Fiona, the two nutritionists, really want to help out.

  • I think one of the important things that has really helped is the fact that they're volunteers,

  • cos Anangu relate to the fact that people come out here out of their own goodwill to

  • try and do something to help them. For me, it's like, can't we at least give

  • these people healthy, nutritious food, you know and I guess that's the driving motivation

  • for doing what we're doing at the moment. When I met Zoe, self-care wasn't high on the

  • list, I was still enjoying a packet of cigs a day and a couple of Cokes.

  • I was aware of eating healthful foods. When Damon came into the picture, I think he was,

  • he was curious. We met in Timor, in a place called One More Bar. I was over there shooting

  • a documentary, and Damon came over forBalibo’. Damon as Shackleton: The buildings here are

  • deserted. We spoke to one soldier today who believes that a potion given to him by his

  • family, BOOM!!! Bomb goes off And I remember thinking, wow, he’s handsome,

  • he’s intelligent, he’s charming, and doesn’t he know it.

  • And I just, yeah, every cliché in the book, I just, I was like, oh wow, that's the girl

  • I'm going to be with for the rest of my life, I just had one of those things.

  • Damon was very much in that acting world. When you're part of that scene you're inclined

  • to go out, get a bit drunk, or have a good time.

  • But I knew as soon as I met her, I'm going to have to change some things in my life.

  • She's the one, but I've got some work to do. I hadn't been drinking for quite some time,

  • and he'd been dabbling with the idea of not drinking, and that sort of bonded us in a

  • small way, we kind of both liked the lucidity of our relationship.

  • It was tough, early on, because I was so used to sweet things that I was sitting at dinner

  • going, no, give me some salt or sweetness, for god’s sake, smother this in barbecue

  • sauce. But I got to a point where I started going, wow, I feel different, I'm sleeping

  • like I've never slept before and people keep commenting on my, on my eyes and my skin and

  • I've lost some weight and, what's going on here. I started seeing some articles about

  • sugar, and I thought, well, I know my experience from that is quite real, so I wonder and then

  • it kind of all snowballed from there. My name is Damon Gameau. Sugar has become

  • so prevalent in today's society, that if you removed all the items containing it from a

  • standard supermarket's shelves, just 20 per cent of items would remain.

  • Having been an actor it was an inevitable transition for him to be making films eventually.

  • There was a few stats that were quite motivating to me, and one was that Type 2 diabetes now

  • kills someone every six seconds, around the world, and this is a disease that's preventable

  • by diet, um, the fact that one in four Aussie kids are now overweight or obese, and so we're

  • seeing, for the first time in history, children get type two diabetes. From my perspective,

  • I didn’t want that to happen to my child. And there’s so much debate and conjecture

  • on the topic that it's hard to know what to believe. The only real way to get some answers

  • is for me to start eating sugar again and see what it does to my body. So here are the

  • rules for my next 60 days. I must consume 40 teaspoons of sugar a day.

  • When he was gearing up to shoot and make the sugar film, he was almost in perfect physical

  • condition to do such an experiment on himself, because he had very little refined food already

  • in his diet. I was thinking about how to tell the narrative

  • how do you tell the storyand I picked up a can of tomato soup and I saw that it

  • had seven teaspoons of sugar in it, and this was just like a one-serve tomato soup, and

  • I thought, I don't reckon many people would know that there's almost as much sugar in

  • that as a can of Coke, you know, and yet this is really perceived as a healthy, savoury

  • meal. So, that's really how, how it started, and I thought, I wonder if I could eat what

  • most Australians are eating every day, but actually do it through the foods they're not

  • aware of. Because we did the experiment where I didn't have any chocolates or ice cream

  • or lollies or, you know, I was only eating perceived healthy foods, I genuinely didn't

  • think, or know, that we'd get any effect. But the fact that things started happening

  • to me so quickly, and my body started deteriorating very quickly, we probably could have stopped

  • the experiment after 30 days. After 60 days and 2360 teaspoons of sugar,

  • I gained 8.5 kilograms over all. The speed at which my high sugar diet was affecting

  • me, took us all by surprise. I was going to have to expand the scope of the experiment

  • and this would take me out of town for a few days.

  • By the end I'd developed pre-Type 2 diabetes, I had heart disease, I had 11 centimetres

  • of visceral fat, which is the fat on the inside of your bodythat is the more toxic, dangerous

  • fat. The big one was the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was almost in a full-blown state

  • where, if it goes much further, you know, it starts to harden and you get the cirrhosis

  • of the liver. One of the things that was always important to me was, I thought I don't want

  • to just make a film. Part of me was, what are the next steps, like how do you actually

  • impact change? Just 100 kilometres from Uluru is the small

  • town of Amata. In 2007, its population of just under 400 people consumed 40,000 litres

  • of soft drink. I just found this story about this town Amata

  • in the APY Lands where the elders had got together and decided to remove full-strength

  • Coca Cola, I just went, wow, that's ... that, that needs to be told.

  • When Damon approached me he said he was making a film and he asked if it was possible to

  • come onto the lands to sort of argue the case of reducing people's sugar consumption, um,

  • I was fairly wary. I undertook to help Damon on the basis that he would give something

  • back, he just can't come onto these lands and make a film and go away, er, without what

  • we callNgapartji Ngapartji’ – what are you going to give back in return for this

  • favourand he said that if the film was a success, he would set up a foundation to

  • assist the people to understand the sugar message.

  • So one Aboriginal man decided to do something about it. His name is John Tregenza. This

  • is his case, this is his puturu, and this is his nickname. Why?

  • John: Cos I cut through the bullshit. Yeah, I arrived on these lands in the early

  • ’70s, and at that time most of the diet was coming from the bush, and only supplemented

  • from the store. John Tregenza was a social worker at Amata,

  • he saw the effect the reserve was having on the Pitjantjatjara. When they asked him to

  • come here as community advisor, he agreed. John Tregenza understands the Pitjantjatjara

  • because he is a man in their termsthat is, an initiated man.

  • Life was, good, long time, there was no store, no houses, long time, they were like a warriors,

  • you know, and feed their families in the bush. John: These little communities have sprung

  • out of these people's desire to get away from settlements and missions, with all of the

  • social problems that those places create. Back in the ’70s people were probably sourcing

  • 90 per cent of their food from, from the bush, and about 10 per cent from the store. Now

  • that's changed over the last 30, 40 years to pretty much round the other way; in fact

  • it's probably more like 95 per cent out of the store and about 5 per cent out of the

  • bush. They lost access to bush tucker. People used to live a lot off rabbitscalecivirus

  • wiped out the rabbits, the Port Arthur massacre and the response from the Australian government

  • to that essentially disarmed the men. Soonce were hunterscan now only point

  • their finger at the game. They don’t have the weaponry to go out and hunt. Apart from

  • the fact, of course, that the game is scarce because of the buffel and the camels.

  • What weve got now is a changed environment. That’s native grass, that, but that there’s

  • buffel and the rest of the plain, as you go out there, is choked with buffel. The problem

  • is that not only don’t ’roos and big game not eat it, it’s also very hard for predators

  • the birds and others to find their feed so it doesn’t only impact on the big game,

  • it impacts on the whole food-chain. In the early ’90s, the defunding of the

  • homelands forced people to come into the larger settlements and with that event, the reliance

  • on the store became stronger. All the stores were operating with non-Aboriginal managers,

  • and the prices were outrageous and the products were terrible.

  • In those days it was basically the store manager became responsible for the nutrition of the

  • community. People were having tons of sugar added to their normal diet.

  • Sugar came, so people they had a taste, hey, this is beautiful taste, sweet, I might get

  • one for my children. We didn't know, we thought it was a good,

  • like sugar, instead of eating um, fruit and vegies.

  • Insulin resistance syndrome increased, obesity increased, and diabetes, Type 2 diabetes.

  • All of the health problems including diabetes and the kidney failure is all related to the

  • diet. I've known almost everyone buried here, I've got family members buried here. Most

  • of these, um, these deaths here are premature, and could have been avoided, um, with correct

  • diet and access to affordable healthy food. It's a complete tragedy.

  • We formed an Aboriginal Anangu steering committee to have a look at the whole problem.

  • John and his team with the local committees there, formed a group called Mai Wiru, which

  • meantgood food”. They would operate the stores with good food, good education,

  • and try and restore the health of the local people.

  • I was the first general manager of the Mai Wiru stores policy. We were funded at that

  • stage through the Department of Health and Ageing and we had in-house, a nutritionist.

  • The original intention of Mai Wiru was that stores should be seen as an essential service.

  • They're the only source of food and nutrition in the community and they should be allowed

  • to be not for profit. The Mai Wiru itself, the, the stores group,

  • makes up of five stores now. Mai Wiru it has help this community and other

  • communities too so everybody like it, oh yeah, we might try and put up something, I think

  • that's a good idea, Mai Wiru, it's good. Mai Wiru was working, and in a very short

  • time Amata had the lowest rate of sugar consumption in the region.

  • So things were going along in that way until the Federal Labor government decided that

  • the Mai Wiru group no longer was to be funded under the health budget and we became the

  • responsibility of, essentially, the Aboriginal Affairs Department of the Commonwealth Government.

  • The stores were told that they had to be economically viable in their own right.

  • They have a great word in Pitjantjatjara, ‘tungungpunganyi’ – we're stubborn,

  • we're just going to keep going, you know. We got there, over two years, and developed

  • the Mai Wiru stores policy and we certainly improved on lots of the retail structures

  • within the stores. So they're very well run stores, they're very efficient, they've got

  • good managers. There's no government funding comes into Mai

  • Wiru at all, so that's weaned ourselves off that, which is good. We've now run a weekly

  • service. So from the Adelaide markets, we're getting fresher fruit and veg into the lands,

  • quicker than what people in Alice Springs is getting it.

  • But in this whole process, whilst everything's fine commercially, there are still huge amounts

  • of sugar being consumed and the emphasis on health has sort of been lost on the way.

  • When they lost the funding from Department of Health that also meant they lost the funding

  • for a nutritionist and that's been difficult to sustain a nutrition focus, because you

  • also need somebody who's dedicated to looking and monitoring the nutrition of the store.

  • What people are consuming here is not a lot different to what people are consuming everywhere

  • else. The difference with here is there's one store. They try to provide as much choice

  • as possible in that store but there's a lot of other factors producing chronic health

  • effects a lot quicker. There's a lot of sugar consumed by children. It’s not as clear

  • cut as it would be maybe in a city. One statistic that we found out about todayonly today

  • was that there's 100 kilos of raw sugar sold a week in Pip for about 150 people. So,

  • we have some work to do. And the AACTA award goes toThat Sugar

  • Film’ – Nick Batzias and Damon Gameau. Thank you very, very much. So many people

  • to thankIt is the highest-grossing Australian documentary

  • of all time now. Because of the success of the film and the attention it gave Mai Wiru,

  • we were able to establish the foundation, which has raised about $100,000 so far and

  • made it possible for nutritionists to return to the APY Lands with an education program

  • around added sugar. Today, part of the deal of getting a meal

  • is that you also get a free movie screening thrown in. So were going to serve the dinner

  • after showingweve got an Aboriginal version ofThat Sugar Film’. Just to

  • get everyone on board with what were trying to do

  • Given the level of funding that the foundation had, I considered it was best to start in

  • one community. Pipalyatjara was seen as a good place to start.

  • The store is in quite a good state. It's a smaller community, um, and John Tregenza has

  • good relationships with people in that community, so it was just chosen as a pilot really.

  • JOHN TREGENZA: I have family and friends out here and that's where I've lived for many

  • years. It's a lot more comfortable out here, to introduce something new and to talk to

  • people about it. So that's really what the foundation was about

  • and teaming up with John again was to try and help reinvigorate that aspect and provide

  • the nutritionist and employ that nutritionist that they couldn't afford anymore so that's

  • really what we're trying to do. Things are quite embryonic at the moment. Were just

  • beginning but one of the first things were focusing on is just the store itself. Were

  • going around, sort of, educating the local people as well to understand what were

  • trying to do about putting clearer labelling on the foods to make sure were aware of

  • the foods that have got added sugar in. In

  • an ideal world it would be lovely just to take everything off the shelf and just put

  • (laughs) everything that you want in there, as a nutritionist, but it takes time to change.

  • It was just fantastic having Damon and Kellie and Fiona. We had no idea how much sugar was

  • in some of this stuff. They just came and said, look, how about coming in and putting

  • some labels up in the store about the thumbs up, thumbs down and helping people make those

  • choices. So the key is to try and get familiar foods

  • that are comfort foods but theyre sort of, we can use slightly different ingredients

  • lots of colours so we get lots of vitamins and nutrients in there.

  • We had a few of those children come in and help us. They've all done cooking before;

  • cooking's a big thing out here. Keenan, who was my little helper all day, he wants to

  • be a chef, which is music to my ears. A healthy chef, hopefully.

  • The thing that I say in community meetings all the time is that the reason we're doing

  • this is so that the young children now, our grandchildren now, do not end up going down

  • the same track of diabetes, kidney failure, dialysis machines and early death, which is

  • the track that many, many people out here are on now.