Monthly Archives: May 2016

Wow what a response

The other day I was contacted by a journalist from NITV. She did an online story about my blogging

http://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2016/05/31/colleens-blog-helping-blackfellas-talk-about-cancer

Wow what a response. Thank you for sending me your stories, I will publish them, of course with your permission and thank you for the post suggestions.

I will share with you one quick story.

I read about your blog and had a read, I laughed at the thought of some of what you have done, but I really like the cheap things you had, I have some ideas on how to save money so I will send them to you or maybe I should blog.  I had a melanoma, strange to think that a blackfella like me could get it. My skin is about the same as yours, but they tell me it is in my genetics, I hope Ernie Dingo checks his DNA for that, since he is a viking. When I was getting surgery we had problems making ends meet. I had to go to town for hosiptal and that meant my man had the kids. He did a good job, the kids were all still there when I got home. I had to pay for a lot of special body wash, couldn’t use the same stuff as the rest of the family and had to buy creams from the chemist for my skin. It took away our savings, we were saving up for a house. my man says house can wait, but him and the kids can’t be without the mum. Can you do some more things to help us out in the country. We don’t have a choice sometimes in where we go to hospital and we don’t have much choice in the soaps, moisturizers and sometimes even teh food. Keep it up sis, and we will all get better together

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A is for Aboriginal

A is for Aboriginal,  a is for apple. Not much difference I hear you say, well there is to me and to my brothers and sisters. We are Aboriginal people, not aboriginal or aborigine.

We are a people who have a name, and if you remember your schooling you would know that a noun is a naming word and has a capital. So my name Colleen, is always started with a capital, Australia, is always begun with a Big A, not a little a.

I am drawing your attention to this, because as a wonderful woman Kate Bowles, pointed out in my last post I had lower case. I share many stories from people and when they write to me, I don’t edit it or change it in any way, except for taking names out. Thanks to Kate, she thought it was time for a refresher course in the linguistics of the First Nations People.

Aboriginal map

We call ourselves Aboriginal, I know many of you say but that is not a noun, but it is as far as we are concerned. We will tolerate Aborigine, but prefer not to have it used, as we prefer not to be called Indigenous, oh by the by, it is Indigenous with a capital when referring to us or others specifically, e.g. Indigenous Australians, Indigenous New Zealanders. Lower case when referring to the indigenous plants of an area. We also like Traditional Owners, and First Nations People, these two terms are also applicable to Torres Strait Islanders.

Our fellow Indigenous people of Australia, are the Torres Strait Islanders, who come from the Torres Strait, well I guess you already realised that.

regional_map-static

Please refer to them as Torres Strait Islanders or Torres Strait Island People. As a combined group we often get called Indigenous, because apparently it is too hard to say “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders”.

We do not like it when you shorten it, I have a way of dealing with people who call me ATSI, I tell them they are Non ATSI, thus making them a NATSI. (say it in your head, you will get it). We also do not like Ab&TSI, Really, who thought that one up?

It really is not that hard to call us by these terms. preferably if you know the terms used in your region use that, Koori,Goorie, Nunga, Palawar, these are just a few of the regional terminology that is acceptable. But over all why is it so hard to say Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander? Many can manage to say African-American, Northern Territorian, Pacific Islander, so why is this so hard?

I hear you saying but we have to say Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander, well yeah you do in some circumstances, but that is when it is needed like in the health sphere, or when it comes to a person self identifying, we can be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. But for the overall terminology, preferably use what we want to be called and always always capatalise .

A is for Aboriginal, T is for Torres Strait Islander, I is for Indigenous.

 

 


I used to think it was all overrated

I am sharing another story from someone who is dealing with cancer. This one not only made the medical profession take note, but it changed the opinion of the writer.

I used to think the talk about racism against aborigines was over rated and that it was all in peoples minds. I have lived in this country for ten years and have had my life disrupted by hate. But when I see the country and watch the news I think that aborigines have bought it all on themselves, they don’t work they don’t do anything, yet me I am an Indian man and I have to feel the hate all the time, people make fun of my faith, my accent and my people.

This country has a great medical system, anyone can get the help he needs you just go to the hospital. I did that when I had pains, I stayed in hospital for a couple of days while they ran tests. I had to put up with the jokes of me driving a taxi, I don’t know why they would think I would find that funny, because I am an accountant. But I laughed and smiled. See nothing there to make me think aborigines have it bad.

I was in a room with another bed, into that bed came an elderly gentleman, he looked black, but then so do I. Then man who pushed this gentlemans bed in my room made a remark about his being the curry room. I thought I would be able to talk to the gentleman about this kind of talk and how it is not funny. That maybe that is the Australian way, they are always joking. But the gentleman didn’t answer me in the way that I was expecting. He called me brother and said that while we are black brothers, he was aborigine. I admit I was annoyed that they put me in a room with one of them.

He talked to me, even if I didn’t want to hear it. He had visitors which I didn’t have and his visitors included me in everything, shared the biscuits, chocolates, they gave me one of the bunches of flowers to put on my side of the room. His grand daughter made me a get well card. The little boys and girls would talk to me about the kangaroos and koalas around their house. They told me storys about the animals.

I started to realise that my fear of them as a people was from what I saw on television and not my own experiences. I liked having this extra family around me, they welcomed me into their lives, it was fun.  I was released from hospital with addresses and names. I went around to visit this gentleman, who insisted on calling me nephew. Nephew? I am not related but he was ready to include me in his family.

When the gentleman went into hospital, and he went in often as he was slowly dying from cancer. I would go in and spend time with him. He was wonderful to me and the least I could do was repay his kindness and love with my own friendship.

One day I went into him and visited, his daughter and wife were upset and arguing with the nurses on the ward. I felt a pit in my stomach, I thought my friend had passed away. But luckily he hadn’t. He had been bed washed by a female nurse. Now I was confused at first, then aunty told me that as a man he couldn’t have certain parts of his body touched by a female. I didn’t think this was unusual, I thought of my family and out customs very similar, it is not the place of a woman to do this. I spoke to the nurse on behalf of the family. I was saddened to find out that the staff seemed to think that the family were being silly, there words. A nurse washing a patient was not unusual. I said politely that in the culture of the people  that this was unacceptable and that it should not have been done.

I spoke to an aborigine worker at the hospital and told him what had happened. He was upset and said that this information was on Uncles file that no woman should do that. He said that the hospital flies the flag out the front, but does nothing to really help the people. He said this kind of racism happens all the time. I was more saddened by this news. I spoke to staff in the hospital and asked what would happen if a follower of muhumed came in with beliefs, I found out that they would call in the diversity people and follow the guidelines for that.

So why did my wonderful Uncle have to suffer the indignities of people who overlook his beliefs, who think that he is not worthy of respect for his beliefs.

My Uncle was very saddened and I believe that this incident hastened his demise.

So I ask if you have Aborigine people in your ward, please listen to them and accept their belief system is just as valid as your own.

 


Just Dying for it

So yesterday the media went into overdrive about Euthanasia because of the ABC Vote compass, which as you know polls the nation. 75% of those who voted want voluntary euthanasia to be legalised in Australia.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-25/vote-compass-euthanasia/7441176

 

 

So while I listened to the people on the radio share their  views and I listened to those for and against, I was reminded of Gillian Mears, who passed away recently, she was against euthanasia, until she had a terminal illness.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-20/author-and-euthanasia-advocate-gillian-mears-dies/7430760

I think that unless you are faced with a terminal illness, you should not speak against it. If I can be so blunt, I don’t think a male should talk about periods, blood flow cramps etc, because he has no idea what it is like. So if you are healthy don’t judge a person with a terminal illness who wants to have voluntary euthanasia.

I have a  terminal illness, and I have been in great pain and I know what is coming towards the end of my life. If I am lucky the brain tumour will just let me die easy, maybe in my sleep or in a sudden zap. But I also have to face the high chance that I am going to lose my sight, be in excruciating pain from it, lose most of my bodily functions. That is not an easy death. I am not talking easy as in a cop-out and not wanting to face the realities of death. I am talking that what I will go through will be I am not me, my children will have to watch this happen to me and I don’t think that they should have to deal with that.  They have been through enough with my cancer, they have watched me die and be revived over and over again. They have watched me have to learn to walk again, talk again and do the little things. They as children and teenagers have had to help their mama shower and toilet. That goes against my beliefs and my sense of pride and dignity.

I want to be able to die with my family around me, not alone in pain in a hospice. I have no problem with being in palliative care, but I want to be in a place where they can accept that I want to go when I can say good-bye to my children, while I can remind them that I love them.

I want to die humanely. If an animal is really sick or injured we put them down, the vet puts them to sleep and it is considered the humane thing to do. So why can’t I have the same.