Not Just Numbers

Films by Genre


Availability ended 30/10/2020 BST
(29 Oct - 1 Nov worldwide) Not Just Numbers is the inspirational journey of a group of Aboriginal women to stop the violence in their communities.

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Director Bio

Shirleen Campbell is an Aboriginal woman from Hoppy’s Town Camp, Alice Springs. Shirleen was born in 1981, is a mother of five and a grandmother of one. Shirleen is a Warlpiri and Anmatyerre woman from her Dad’s side, and Arrernte and Luritja from her mother’s side. Shirleen has been a leader on the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group since 2015 and was employed as the Co-ordinator in 2017. Shirleen is a strong voice and advocate for women and children in the area of family and domestic violence and wants to see visibility for Aboriginal women and their stories. Shirleen works from the grass-roots to close the gap for Aboriginal people and is a strong advocate for two-way learning, which means sharing knowledge, stories and skills across all cultures so that we can all learn and value what each of us bring.

Shirleen works from the grass-roots to close the gap for Aboriginal people and is a strong advocate for two-way learning: sharing knowledge, stories and skills across cultures in order for us to learn to value what each brings. Shirleen was awarded Australian of the Year 2020 by The National Australia Day Council Board for her work as an anti-violence activist.

Director Statement

I’m a Central Australian Arrernte – Luritja – Warlpiri – Anmatyerre woman. I’m a mother of five and grandmother of one. After losing women in my family to violence, I wanted to develop the women’s safety group. I needed to do something about it. I didn’t want my children to think violence is normalised in our culture.

It makes me angry how colonisation occurred and introduced these negative feelings, worries and actions. We’ve been crying out for over 200 years and no one has been listening. Now finally people are starting to hear about the good work we are doing. Coming from a diversity of language groups around Central Australia, we are grassroots Town Camp women, speaking strong and talking straight.

It’s not hard to start a women’s group, it can start in your own home. Conversations can start there with women you look up to, knowing it is important to always have that deep listening and respect for our elders.

Not Just Numbers is about sharing our messages. We don’t all have the same views and solutions. Making this documentary gives women a chance to develop individually, mentally and spiritually. I hope to inspire other women to develop their own strong women’s groups in their own small towns and communities. Start small!

At times, making Not Just Numbers was difficult, but it helps to know that I’m doing this work for my family and that I have to look after my family. We don’t want our future generations having to ask the same questions, dealing with the same traumas. I know that I have inherited inter-generational trauma that I carry with me from my grandmother and her experiences of colonisation and the massacres. Knowing that my granddaughter will be carrying those same traumas inspires me to make sure there are better outcomes for these next generations.

I remember making “Card Stories” (series for Indigenous Community Television) which was about gambling, and that is part of the underlying iceberg of family and domestic violence. At that point I thought it would be beneficial to make a film about the work we are doing, painting a picture so others can walk in our shoes and see the world through our eyes. This is positive storytelling.

When I watch documentaries about our mob, I feel like I’m there, like my spirit is travelling. I feel the passion and strong-ness that builds up in me. As an Aboriginal woman I’m told that I’m nobody. But seeing documentaries that reflect who and what I am, I know I am somebody.

Listening to my grandmother and watching her paint, I would wonder how she could paint landscapes having never been in an aeroplane. Until it happened to me: I had an out-of-body experience. That gave me an understanding of how our ancestors travelled through space and time. I felt like I had that strength of vision of my grandmother.

Making Not Just Numbers was a good experience and a hard one. I questioned myself a lot. Am I getting it? Is it right? Will others like it? Why would others want to watch us?

I’ve realised that when people are trolling online, I assign their negativity to themselves. And I think, ‘At least they’re still listening!’

I may be small but I’ve got a big heart and I’m actually doing something about the violence. I wake up every day knowing I’m doing something for the next generations. 


Directed by Shirleen Campbell

Written by Danielle MacLean
Shirleen Campbell

Produced by Anna Cadden

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