If there are two sides to every story, untangling these perspectives is the often unenviable task faced by a journalist, as it was for Brisbane Times reporter Zach Hope, who followed the Darwin trial of Constable Zach Rolfe over the killing of Indigenous man Kumanjayi Walker.
Hope joins us on an episode of Good Weekend Talks to discuss his magazine cover story – BROKEN HEART – about the death of a 19-year-old from Yuendumu at the hands of an Alice Springs policeman.
On one side of that story is a young white police officer from a wealthy family in Canberra. “And they say that he’s the sacrificial lamb,” says Hope. “That the police executive threw him under the bus to appease an angry crowd. That Rolfe was just doing his job as a police officer.”
On the other side are Aboriginal people still living on their traditional lands, still practising traditional culture, and still speaking their traditional language. “And what they’re still grappling with is how a young man is dead and there are no repercussions for that. They’re still grieving, and they still can’t understand how it got to this point.”
Hosting this podcast chat is Greg Callaghan, the deputy editor of Good Weekend, who questions Hope about the nuances and underlying issues at play in a case as prominent and controversial as this one became.
“The story became a real touch point on this country, and how it’s grappling with matters of race and power and privilege and its colonial past,” says Hope. “It was just one of those moments in Australian history that I think will be revisited over and over again.”
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