BLOOD TIES: Margaret Harvey plays the lead character Faye in Under Skin In Blood. Faye struggles with the impact the Baryulgil asbestos mine has on her family. The film will premiere tonight at the Sydney Film Festival.
BLOOD TIES: Margaret Harvey plays the lead character Faye in Under Skin In Blood. Faye struggles with the impact the Baryulgil asbestos mine has on her family. The film will premiere tonight at the Sydney Film Festival. Contributed

Asbestos mine closed in '70s still devastating Baryulgil

SMALL pox, poisoned food and asbestos.

The invisible things were most deadly to Aboriginal Australians.

Today lawyer, documentary maker, professor and Guardian Australia columnist Larissa Behrendt is taking the story of the Baryulgil asbestos mine to the Sydney Film Festival.

Prof Behrendt's short film, Under Skin In Blood, is about main character Faye looking back on how the mine provided the dream of full-time employment.

It also looks at how the dream began to fall apart as asbestos began ruin her family.

"It was an open cut mine," Prof Behrendt said.

"People used asbestos to block holes in their driveway and children used to play in tailings.

"The tragic thing was the mine was never profitable. They wanted to give the community the benefit of full-time employment."

The Baryulgil asbestos mine closed in the 1970s, but the affects of asbestos devastated the community for decades after.

In the mid-2000s miners received compensation from building products firm James Hardie.

Prof Behrendt said as a lawyer she knew compensation could never alleviate what the miners and their families went through.

"The title, Under Skin In Blood, comes from the fact that a lot of things that are most dangerous to Aboriginal people are things we can't see," she said.

The film includes animations of what happens to your cells when asbestos enters your blood stream.

"What fascinated me is when you look at a tumour at microscopic level they are visually beautiful, but they are lethal," Prof Behrendt said.

"I think the affects of that mine are still felt today. It's not a cheery story, but it is important."


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