The New Teachers - Starlady

Starlady and Mary

Last night I watched 'Queen of the Desert' one of the warmest, joyful and hopeful documentaries about community worker and hairdresser, Starlady and her work with young Aboriginal girls in communities in Central Australia. If you missed it, it is on again this Wednesday night on ABC2. Too much love for Starlady - smiled the whole way through. This is the new humane.

ABC: Opening Shot - Queen of the Desert

Queen of the Desert takes us on the road with the flamboyant hairdresser trainer and youth worker Starlady Nungari.

Starlady's hair salons began in the indigenous community of Kintore in 2002. Armed with only a bottle of bleach and a pair of clippers, it was a big success. No wonder - hair has always been important in Aboriginal culture. This first renegade salon sparked an idea - what if Starlady started hairdresser training for young people in remote communities right across the Central Desert? Starlady spent five years in Melbourne studying hairdressing and make up then returned to Alice Springs with just a few hundred dollars and a dream. It was a big gamble. The desert is harsh and cultural traditions stand strong; not everyone lasts long out here.

Initially some employers were skeptical about how Starlady might fit in. Having proved them wrong she now drives thousands of kilometres across the desert taking her mobile hair workshops to some of Australia's most isolated teenagers.

Director: Alex Kelly
Producer: Josephine Wright