Jo Dillon ‘Yarns Up’ with storytellers in the Torres Strait Islands


Our Acting CEO, Jo Dillon, recently travelled to the real-life ‘set’ of Blue Water Empire – the dramatized documentary TV series that showcases the history of the Torres Strait Islands, which received investment from SQ.

Jo was part of a small group of corporate executives and education leaders who visited Murray Island (Mer), Friday Island (Gealug) and Thursday Island (Waiben) with Bond University’s award-winning ‘Yarning Up’ experience.

A previous winner of the Queensland Premier’s Reconciliation Award, Yarning Up is a five-day cultural immersion that gives participants an opportunity to engage directly with families, Elders and community leaders living in remote Aboriginal and Torres Islander communities.

“On Murray Island, each of the Yarning Up delegates was teamed up with a primary school child and their family for the duration of our stay,” said Ms Dillon.

“We spent time with them walking along the beach and at community meals, talking about school and what they want to do when they grow up.

“In many ways, it seems their lives are idyllic – living in an island paradise up in the Torres Strait – but on our second day, one of the Murray Island mothers shared some of the behind-the-scenes stories of the reality of life here and the hurdles local families have to overcome to access those things in life that the rest of us take for granted.”

SQ is proudly paving the way for the creation of more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander screen content. Opportunities like Yarning Up give our team the opportunity to make meaningful connections with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in order to help share their stories.

“A key part of being able to share those stories is understanding the storytellers – their culture, where they come from, what’s informing their thinking and their point of view,” said Ms Dillon.

SQ strongly encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander screen practitioners to apply for any of our initiatives or programs currently open for application. 

About Bond University’s Yarning Up:

The Yarning Up experience offers a unique opportunity for leaders and individuals to live – for just a short time in the world of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Bond University launched its Yarning Up experience in 2014, originally as an educational initiative that saw Principals from Australia’s leading girls’ schools spending five days in the Lockhart River Aboriginal community on the Cape York Peninsula.

It now alternates each year between Lockhart River and the Torres Strait Islands. It has also expanded to include corporate representatives from organisations like Screen Queensland who can build on-going relationships, not just with children, families and schools, but with the broad spectrum of community and business leaders.