Monthly Archives: July 2014

The gift of Words is why I write

Let me tell you a story of a child who grew up in two worlds. This girl learned a lot about the bush from her grandfather and her mother and aunties and uncles. She learned the words from her mother about the land, animals and trees. Her mother taught her, her language, and from her Aunties and uncles she learnt pidgin.

She learnt the story of her Grandfather and how he travelled she learnt the story behind his prized didgerdoo that he some how came back from the Northern Territory with. She heard the stories of Aunties and Uncles taken to Cherbourg and Purga. She heard stories of mistreatment. Mistreatment from the Whiteman, police and from other blackfullas. Different race but skin colours are the same.

This girl from  her father she learnt gaelic. She learnt the stories of the fight for freedom She heard of the anger towards her people, the Irish Catholic. She was taught of the fight for a free Ireland. Knows the stories so well of heros being imprisoned.

She learnt her fathers story of being drafted in the English army because his mother was English. His grandparents encouraged him so that some money can be sent home.

This girl had a mother who had barely any schooling, Schools in those days didn’t encourage Aboriginals. her mum sat her scholarship and wasn’t allowed further because of the colour of her skin. The girls father had a similar upbringing over in Ireland. He couldn’t go any further because he had to go out and start working to help with the family.

These two people shared their love of the written word and the spoken word to their children. The no nonsense language of this land, words that can in one sentence sum up a sunrise.  Gaelic has a beautiful flow, it lilts and tilts it has a rhythm and a rhyme that just make it so beautiful to listen to. It is musical.  Both parents of this child spoke English and they spoke it very well they read allowed to their children. They encouraged their children to read.

Every night at dinner each child had to share something new that they had learnt that day. Well that usually meant a rush before dinner to the Dictionary or the Encyclopaedia.

This girl grew up loving reading. Her mother told her reading was a passport to worlds unknown. And that Books can be your best friend, when all else fails a book is still there. Books were an open invitation to the rest of the world they held so many words and wonders. You shed tears in some and others you shed the pages of the book in rage at the actions of a person in the tome.

But the best stories were the ones told by family members, her father telling of the wailing of the Banshee. the carriages of the dead coming. of seeing spirits and going straight to the church to light a candle.  Hearing how our family were involved in fighting against the English. How we learnt from the Fey and had an ancestor who was a selkie.

These stories didn’t seem absurd they just made the world a more magical place. My mother would teach us of junjeries and  the spirits. Tell us the stories of the Dreaming and how the world was made. How crow brought fire to us, Willy wagtail is a trickster and the Eagle is a guardian.

This girl had so many stories bursting to come out she needed a release. She loved telling her stories the stories handed down to her to her children and nieces and nephews. She would share them with anyone who wanted to know. Plenty of people don’t know their history or the stories of their peoples but to share mine I think is an honour so that someone can feel a part of this land that they belong to.

This girl also writes her stories and poems and always says one day I will see if they are good enough to get published. She is shy about her work, it tells tales of love, of problems with grog. Stories of bashings and stories of beautiful children who turn out alright considering their parents and environment.

This girl worked as a journalist for a long time loving sharing stories. Our ways but done in a different way. She loves hearing Aboriginal voices doing mainstream. She loves the infectious laugh of Rhianna Patrick. The soft sultry voice of Karen Dorante.

This girl now blogs and twitters. But one day her voice will be heard in the minds of others as they read her book?

Advertisements

pain in revue

I was having a crap day, just a bit of an ache. I stopped whinging to myself (no one in the house will listen) after I had a couple of pain killers and a big reminder to myself.

This time last year I wasn’t expected to live. I had a lot of pain between the brain tumour and the lungs, but mainly from my bones. The Chemo therapy had made my bones brittle. I have had four ribs broken one twice. I have had a major fracture in one hip and a lesser fracture. Lets add to that a herniated disc and fractured L1 & L2 this is on the spine and it affects the hips and abdomen. Because I was so ill with the reactions from Chemotherapy gone wrong, high blood pressure, taking warfarin tablets to thin the blood and also still on the steroid. I couldn’t be operated on so I had to have a sling kind of thing and do minimal movement. I had my physio everyday in hospital and everyday when I came out. The Doctors were sure that I would never walk again. Well I can walk I do hurt quite a bit at times but I am mobile and intend to be for quite a long time.

But when I was going through all of this I was in massive amounts of pain I was screaming and swearing I was cussing God demanding to know why this was happening to me. Why couldn’t I just die in peace?

All the time I just wanted death. A sweet release from the pain the anguish and the drama of all the problems. Death is not something you really want unless you are in a lot of pain or you see no end in sight. Some talk of suicide as a horrid problem and I agree. I don’t like teenage suicides etc. . I will talk on them on another day.

But for the hopeless, the ones in pain sometimes assisted suicide can be a blessing. Don’t talk to me of Gods blessing of life. Talk to me of the Blessing of the release of the pain the horror of what I have been through. These are major problems. No one can understand unless you have lived through it.

Curled up in a ball, not being able to go to the toilet. You loose all dignity when you are lying in a bed covered with your own shit and piss. Screaming in pain and anger that you cannot stop the pain. You cannot control your bowels and then you start throwing up as well.

Have you ever had your 11 year old daughter try to pick you up off the ground? Have you ever had to depend on you teenage son to lift you out of your own shit and have your daughters try to clean you down. While they are doing this. You are screaming in pain and shame. You totally lose the plot. All the drugs affecting you all you can do is scream and scream and scream again.

I would hurl abuse at my children. Talk about a dysfunctional family, my children dealt with so much. Two were still in high school, one had just started when I was hospitalised. My son had moved out of home and then had to move back home to help take care of me. My 16 year old daughter she moved out of home to get away from me. She and me arguments all the time. We had physical arguments we shouted we yelled we chucked things at each other. It was horrible. But happily we are now all together. She needed to move out for her own good and mine. She really couldn’t cope with school work and a sick mum. Don’t get me wrong that we sorted it all easy. It took a lot of talking and arguing to get through it all.

My big boy gave up university to move home to help take care of me and his youngest sister. That was hard too. Because he and I had fought a lot before he moved out. And we fought a lot when he moved back in. but we would after a cooling down period talk.

The baby of the family was caught in the middle she was a lost soul and had no where to go she kept it all in.

But we got through it. I don’t have any major pain days anymore. I still have days when suicide seems like a good option but today isn’t one of them. Today I just needed to be reminded to be thank full.

 

 


beyondblue – Stop.Think.Respect

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts

BBL0201-Race-Discrimination-Email-Banner_V1

beyondblue is launching a new national anti-discrimination campaign – Stop. Think.Respect. – on 29 July.

Highlighting the impact of racism on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the campaign’s key message is that subtle or ‘casual’ racism is just as harmful as more overt forms. Stop. Think.
Respect. encourages everyone in Australia to check their behaviour.

The campaign will run for six weeks across television, digital and outdoor advertising channels. If you’d like to join the conversation on social media, we’ll be using #StopThinkRespect from 29 July.

You can read more about the background to Stop. Think. Respect. here

Read More

View original post


Cultural Nazi’s part 1

We know they are out there we have all come across them. You know who I am talking about the ones who lets be honest know nothing but hear something and that’s it they are the be all and end all of Culture.
All our mobs had a lot of different beliefs that was because we were in different areas. So of course desert mob are not going to do some things the same as coastal mob. Stands to reason. Yet some people think we all have to be the same and talk over or pull the Elder bullshit.

Let me explain myself yes we have Elders when I was growing up we addressed people as Mr or Mrs. Some people were Aunty or Uncle and others were Nanna and Grandad or similar terms. they were not always related in blood way but they were our Elders. The started the movements for the Medical Centres, Legal Aids and other organisations that help us today. Elders were older and they were respected they didn’t drink or gamble nor did they rip off money from hostels or ADC or other such departments and organisations.

I am old enough that a lot of the Elders I grew up Knowing were still culturally strong. Still tribal or semi tribal as the terms were in such days. A lot of women and men coming off the missions in those days to come down to Brisbane to get an education so they could help their people, those people now are some of our Elders. But the term is over used, anyone it seems can set themselves up as an Elder. We have different Elders groups some get full funding and some get minimal but do a lot. We also have those who are Elders and get paid to do Welcome or acknowledgement of country. Now this is a continuous issue. If we want White Australians to join us in doing this we have to set some guidelines. One Elder charges up to $600 to do a Welcome.
Some see this as fine let them get what they can from the white man some think its fine because its intellectual property rights. Well can I ask whose rights are they?

When I was growing up they didn’t get up and do this welcome to country. I first heard of it out in the Northern Territory. I have watched it slowly creep its way around the country. Now I think its a good thing. But lets not let people charge for it when a lot of Traditional owners do it for free.

Now everyone is Aunty and Uncle and expect to be deferred to when you have no idea who they are and they aren’t all respected Elders, or just Elders some of them are just fools, like the rest of the age groups but they still have to big note themselves.

I see uncomfortable young girls being told by older men, that they are their elder, their uncle and to give them a kiss and a hug. That’s not culture that’s sexual assault.

Aboriginal Cultural Advisors have a lot to answer for because I have seen some people in these positions who know absolutely nothing about Culture or how to engage with Aboriginal people. I have no problem with someone trying to learn their culture. We have victims of Cultural genocide. The stolen generations and those who suffered from the forced removals. But if you grew up white you should not be in a position where you are talking of Aboriginal issues.

The other ones like this are the born again blacks. when I was growing up we had a lot of Polynesian princesses they were the ones who had lighter skin didn’t want to be Aboriginal so they were Tahitian, Hawaiian. We also had the wog brigade they were supposedly Greek or something. then suddenly you see them in uni or in the government jobs and they full of hey sista, long time no see.

Next on my hit list is people who judge us by our shade. they say things about fair skin Aboriginals. Well I have to admit I used to say things as well. I saw that my less black skin was more acceptable than my cousins blacker skin. I noticed some ones when I was studying who were very light and wouldn’t Identify to the other students it was their dirty little secret when they came down to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander unit. So I then started look down on them in distain and think how easy for them to just sit back claim the money and never deal with the real racism. Over the years I met many women and men who changed my opinion and pointed out the ones that I had met made it harder for them. They have to fight the white man to be accepted and they have to fight our own to be accepted.

Now to the CEO’s of Black organisations who squeeze out the other black staff. Why do they do this? Are these other members of the same race a threat to them? But worse when they push out Elders. Let me share a secret with you ACPA has said its resident Elder cannot be Elder in residence as well as being the Elder on the Board. Now the position has always been like that. So what has happened with this? We have young students who used to go and talk about their problems to the Elder, Aunty Flo Watson. They got no one now. How can we do that to our own?


Too much work for too little pay

The return to work seems to be working on the outside. Centrelink is happy since they didn’t want me on disability. But gong back into work is so strange structures have changed people have changed and then we still have some old favourites and some that I would happily stab in the eye.

The pressure that you come under is unbelievable apart from trying to do a job and relearning the job you have to deal with hypersensitivity stupidity and any other idity you can think of. At first they kept saying you are not close the gap. so now I am close the gap.

Honestly the gap is widening the amount of programs that I used to run have all been cut we don’t have the money for it. we seem to be sitting at our desks more times than enough. We await a call from a doctor or client. Otherwise we await a practice liaison officer to contact us and tell us that a General Practice needs a bit of help around Close the Gap.

Now I can’t blame all of this stagnation to the government I have to say some of it is the organisation. Black fulla don’t matter unless they get their money. We also seemed to have a blockage with staff members not wanting to change. Okay you know what I mean they just blocked.

The white fulla he talk the talk but he certainly isn’t walking the walk. I don’t know what the hell he doing with his feet. I think it’s a quick two-step so that they can keep the money and use it to employ more stupid people. We have a former manage back as a consultant to work on relationships within the organisation. Lets all sit in a circle hold hands and sing Kumbaya. WE have come up with the idea that in groups we need little tables with stools that look like bongo drums and we have bean bags. Maybe the person who came up with that idea should have spoke to the ladies who put in a formal complaint about me for calling them young ladies.

Speak anything to do with Aboriginal issues you get told to shut up, if it’s not health we don’t want to know it. What happened to the holistic view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health? We have been a big organisation that amalgamated for about three years they are still working on a RAP. When the smaller organisation I had originally came from it took us 6 months talking to all staff, and meeting local community members. But not making it a select few ( the select few get paid to attend meetings). It was everyone. But big business must keep the wheels turning we have to look good and keep some people around to give them a sense of purpose. plus it looks good for the next funding round.
But back to the bitching about returning to work. I was three half days, but was put on to five half days, because as far as the work place goes I have to get up quick to fill my contract and that makes Centrelink happy. the only people not happy about this is my doctor and me. I am at the end of the day sore and in pain. Stairs cause all sorts of problems and having to sit in on lots of stupid internal meetings is annoying I have luckily been out and about to the community during NAIDOC and that was great. Caught up with so many people and had to tell so many more that I don’t run programs anymore.
What are we doing? how can we be letting down our own mob and we have our own sitting high up who stop some of this. so what is this little black duck to do?
Basically I have to keep going, hope change will come as I can’t afford to leave the job I have too many medical bills to pay off.

As they say hi ho hi ho it’s of to work I go, I owe to much to give it up. I owe I owe I owe.


the hair bear bunch

When I was a kid I always wanted an afro. I pictured myself with the perfect fro, looking like someone from soul train. Yep dancing cool and looking great with that fro and the obligatory Afro comb sticking out of my hair. But alas I was never gifted with such great hair. I used to get my hair plated and had piggy tails that I tore out on my way to school and tried to fro my hair…End result I had the worst hair in the world.

My hair is a mixture of curly, frizzy and straight. It just doesn’t want to do what I want it to do. I have years worth of horrible school photographs where I am the weird black kid with the bad hair. It usually looked like I had a landing strip on the top of my head.

The problem was as my hair grew the weight of it would make it drop and I never gave it a chance. I had a great hair cut in the 80’s I actually got an afro. It was short well cut and rounded and I learnt that as it grew if I put heaps of my mums hairspray on it I could have the afro I always dreamed of. Finally I had the look I wanted. Who cared that it didn’t fit under the school hat. I had reached what I wanted.

But then being a fickle teen I had to have a change so I went for what now days is a fohawk. I didn’t have a mowhawk I had the huge rise and the shave at the scalp. Think back to Grace Jones. I thought I was great. Shame I wasn’t 6t and skinny. So from that cut to the dreadlocks. I loved my dreadies. I could grow my hair, it let me have the weird hair slowly growing and I cut wind it and work it and let it grow. But the reality of the Dreadlock is that in that era it made it hard to get a job. Being Black was bad enough but one look at the hair and they assumed you were a yandy head as well.

So dreadlocks got the chop and I started to grow the hair again. I wore scarves and hats to hide it growing until I could work out what I wanted. I plated it like my mum used to that I hated to much. I just didn’t know what to do and you go to a hairdresser and talk and they had no idea on how to deal with “black hair”. Around this time the “wet look” was coming in. Lionel Richie had it. So everyone went running out to get it. so many people who had afro didn’t. People were doing home job with Glat. With glat everyone was straightening their hair. No more irons. Yes if you are young enough you wouldn’t know this. As a kid I used to have to iron my older cousins hair so that it was straight. That hair was smooth when they left home and when they came home on the last bus. It was half and half.

The things we do for our hair to make it better. Define Better? Isn’t what god gave you better? isn’t changing that fro along the lines of lightening your skin? Are you not totally embracing your blackness, curly, frizzy, waving, straight messy but totally natural hair.

But I finally learnt to love my hair when after much hunting went to a hairdresser, was told by a cousin I had to tell them I want a reverse perm. The hair dresser laughed and said “No you just need to stop brushing your hair” so after a hair cut she said never brush your hair unless you are tying it up, otherwise run your fingers or your afro comb through it when its wet and just leave it to dry. It worked I have done it for years and my hair loved it.

303523_342285045862264_511372923_n

Having had no hair to now growing it I have taken a bit more notice of peoples hair. I have some family and friends who have full on fuzzy hair, and they spend a fortune straightening it. I know of women and teenagers spending big buck straightening it and buying straighteners. My daughters have their moments of wanting to spend a day straight. That is fun, as doing it for a special occasion. Some of our women are always up to date with the latest do and you wouldn’t know they really have an afro.

I know women who for the past twenty years have had their hair done so its a perfect curl, or a perfect quaff. They think nothing of it. It’s like the smokes or going out. It is just part of life.

For some of us we would be totally shocked as to how some people look with out all the product and chemicals in their hair. I at the moment am waiting to see what my hair will do, some bits seem to have tight curls and some bits are whispy. But I cannot who you to much of it yet.

971705_10152019687743435_322920147_n

this is what it is looking like now. As you can see I have a bit of an afro coming. You won’t see me out and about like this. as I have to have my head covered because of cultural reasons to do with my head having to be opened up.

But I will let you know how it goes


Cancer, Combat and Conquer

Here we go again I am standing on my soap box….Cancer and our communities. We have the lowest diagnosis rates but the highest death rates. What is going wrong? Why is this happening?

We see cancer as a shame thing, we don’t talk about we don’t want to think about it. Bury your head in the sand and it will go away. Well that doesn’t actually work, because while we are burying that head, our bums are up in the air and next thing you know colon cancer!

Cancer is a killer lets be realistic about that. Not all cancers are uncontrollable. We can deal with some we have cures for many if they are caught early enough. We need to go and get our pap smear and then go back to the doctor to see what the results are. We need to get the susu taken care of, AS they say get to know your breasts, if you feel something different or if they just feel different get it checked out. Don’t forget that if you are older or if you have a family history of Breast cancer go to breast screen. If you are shame or scared take a friend. I have heard of a group of ladies who made a day of it they went and then had lunch. They all went back again together for their results so they could support each other.

Breast Cancer has really great outcomes there has been a lot of research into it and a lot of information available. Ovarian Cancer actually kills more women. So don’t let any little thing put you off going to the doctor if you get pains, you think something is wrong with your periods go and get it checked. Go and see a lady doctor. Don’t be shame, because your shame could cost you your life.

Now I haven’t forgotten you fulla’s out there. You have to get checked get that prostrate checked, and like women check for anything unusual around your breasts because men get breast cancer too. While you’re at it check out that cough and give up smoking, lung cancer is the next big one for our men. Liver cancer I almost forgot it. Men you need to be aware of these and get yourself checked make appointments with your women and do things together, back each other up.

The other problem we face is the increasing number of Brain Tumours in people over 40. Yep you hear it on the news all those footballers, well they are just copying me. We as a people have an increasing rate of brain tumours. The causes as I keep calling them Punch drunk (from fights & the fighting tents) Saddle drunk (ringers rodeo and cattle men) Tackle drunk (from playing sports). This isn’t just for the men women have it too. I have a brain tumour they can’t tell me if it’s from domestic violence or from playing soccer.

So what can we do to stop this? We have to stop seeing Cancer as something to be scared of. We have to stop hiding it away. I hear stories of people who have felt abandoned when they are diagnosed no one comes around. No one is there to help them, support them. Families sometimes keep it in the family. Well let’s get it out there.

CANCER IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. Hiding it away is something to be ashamed of. Ignoring the signs is shameful, not helping our own people in the community is not just shameful it’s abhorrent.

We have to get out there and share our stories we have to let other people know that Cancer isn’t always a death sentence. It’s hard to sit in an office and hear the word cancer but it’s a lot harder to give in and just leave your family in the lurch.

I have been told I am terminal. I say ain’t no freaking bus stopping here. I was told I could go in a second or I could go in 20 years. Well I chose to ignore them and keep living. I do my check-ups I do my medication. I do the right thing, It caused me problems as chemo didn’t quite gel with me. But shit happens and I am determined to keep going. I have been clinically dead more times than I care to think of. I have had the hospital phone my kids to come and say good bye. But I wasn’t ready. I have too much to do yet.

I have kids to raise. Grandkids to get. I have to share the news of cancer is not a shame thing. I have to make sure my mob is healthy and understand that they can deal with cancer, they can combat it conquer it.

I am not a survivor I am a conqueror.