I SSUE 5: MOB
30 Eid al-Adha
31 Eid al-Adha
1 Eid al-Adha
12 International Youth Day
17 National Science Week
2 Eid al-Adha
9 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
18 National Science Week
19 National Science Week
International Lefthanders Day
20 National Science Week
15 National Science Week
21 National Science Week
22 National Science Week
16 National Science Week
23 National Science Week
Women’s Equality Day
Do you have an upcoming event? Let us know and we’ll do our best to include it in our calendar. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
ISSUE 5: MOB
CONTENTS 5 NEWS
28 ILLUSTRATED: SYMBOLS IN ABORIGINAL ART
6 60,000 YEARS PLUS
30 YOU ARE HERE: DARUG COUNTRY
32 WRITING ON THE WALL: STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
54 TO GRANDMA
9 A GROUNDBREAKING STEP 10 “RACISM IS THE VIRUS” 12 NAIDOC WEEK
56 REPEAT OFFENDERS
34 TOO WHITE TO BE BLACK
37 EPIPHANY IN ÉPERNAY
58 TV AND FILM
40 PROFILE: ON INDIGENOUS WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP AND EDUCATION
59 OPPORTUNITIES AND RESOURCES
14 MAAAAATE! 18 INDIGENOUS STUDIES UNIT GUIDE 20 #IMPACTOFTRAUMA
23 REGULARS 14 POP CULTURE REWIND: F.R.I.E.N.D.S 26 OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE: UNDERSTANDING YOUR PRIVILEGE
50 ART BY LAKKARI PITT
43 A SOJOURN IN THE PM’S RESPONSE
60 ARTIST FEATURE: LEAH FLANAGAIN 61 HOROSCOPES
46 BLAK BUSINESS
Content Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following articles may contain images and voices of people who have died.
Editor’s Letter Last year I undertook the colloquium ‘Indigeneity: unlocking the value of traditional knowledge and culture,’ as a part of the Global Leadership Program. It was here that I first heard of Ngarrindjeri man David Unaipon, an exceptional inventor, political activist, and Australia’s first Aboriginal author to be published in the English language. Despite a lack of opportunity and funding, through inexhaustible self-education Unaipon developed a centrifugal motor, a multi-radial wheel, and a mechanical propulsion device. He designed motors prior to World War I which were later thought to have contributed to the invention of the helicopter. That he is the face of our $50 dollar note and that I had never heard of him before, points to the gross inadequacies in Australia’s education system. In choosing this issue’s theme, ‘Mob,’ I wanted to hear from, and learn from, the talented First Nations writers and artists at Macquarie University. For those who may not know, mob is a colloquial term in Australian Aboriginal English used to connect to others within the Indigenous community. It may represent a family group, clan group, or the wider Aboriginal community across Australia. Volume 12: Issue 5: Mob marks the first ever First Nations’ edition of Grapeshot Magazine. Download the ‘Walking Darug Country’ app to access a guide to the sites of cultural significance throughout Macquarie University. Thank you to the wonderful staff and students at Walanga Muru who both promoted and wrote articles for this issue, your contributions have been invaluable. Thank you also to the Indigenous Students’ Association and to Dylan Barnes, whose stunning artwork features on all of our section openers. Flip to our ‘Il-
lustrated’ segment on pages 28 and 29 to see Dylan unpack the meaning behind the symbols in Aboriginal art from the Wiradjuri language group. You can see his artwork Gaagu-Ma-Rra-Awa-y-Gunha-Niiringal (Sharing Tomorrow) displayed on banners in Macquarie University’s newly installed Arts Precinct. Another great article I highly recommend reading is ‘Maaaaate!’ which addresses why we should change the date of Australia Day on pages 14 to 17 by Neenah Gray, the student representative for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The phenomenal cover art for this issue is by Lakkari Pitt, a Gamilaroi Yuwaalaraay woman from Walgett, New South Wales. In her own words, Lakkari’s art is a contemporary take on the knowledge that her Elders and significant people in her life have passed down throughout generations. It explores the movement, essence and stories of Country. One final thank you to Kathleen, the Creative Director for this issue, and to everyone on the Grapeshot team who has helped put together what has been for me the most rewarding issue to date. Jodie, Editor-In-Chief
Got something to contribute? SEND PITCHES, IDEAS, QUESTIONS, WORDS, PHOTOGRAPHY, ART TO
EDITORIAL & CREATIVE PRODUCTION EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jodie Ramodien
DEPUTY EDITOR Katelyn Free CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kathleen Notohamiprodjo LEAD ILLUSTRATOR Sam van Vliet NEWS EDITOR Saliha Rehanaz REGULARS EDITOR Harry Fraser FEATURES/CREATIVES EDITOR Sara Zarriello ONLINE EDITOR Gabby Edwards
EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Rhys Cutler, Aylish Dowsett, Madison Scott
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Natasha Balsdon, Dylan Barnes, Avni Bharadwaj, Wayne Charters, Neenah R. Gray, Gabrielle Green, Ky Stewart, Kaveri Talukder, Olivia Williams, Tamika Worrell
COVER AND SECTION OPENERS Lakkari Pitt
SECTION OPENERS AND ILLUSTRATIONS Dylan Barnes
EDITORIAL REVIEW BOARD Sowaiba Azad, Neenah Gray, Marlene Khouzam, Jay Muir, Ateka Rajabi, Angus Webber
GRAPESHOT acknowledges the Wattamatagal clan, of the Darug nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and meet. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceeded, no treaty was signed, and would like to pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. We would like to extend those respects to all First Nations people reading. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.
Yuranha Mawambul (Grow Together) (50cm x 100cm) By Dylan Barnes I had the honour to display this artwork at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Redfern back in October. I wanted to express the personal journeys that we all experience throughout our lives, and the connections that we make with others along the way. As we grow older, we meet new people, establish new relationships, gain new knowledge and expand our connections to our culture and community.
60,000 years plus Note: Whilst reading this article, take into consideration the geographic positioning of each of these sites. If Mungo Man dates back to 40,000 years ago, how long would it have taken Aboriginal people to inhabit the whole of Australia from Top End, down to Victoria and eventually Tasmania?
In an Australian classroom, the generic dating of Aboriginal Australia predates 60,000 years ago. This is only spoken about, and not supported with the archaeological evidence Australia has to offer. I personally would argue that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lived a symbiotic life on the Australian continent for longer than this proposed date, hunting megafauna and perhaps even witnessing the slow separation of what is recognised as Gondwana in prehistory. The lack of consultation and recognition of such archaeological evidence has played a significant role in the dismissal of Aboriginal history and humanity that this vast nation has been home to. The following archaeological sites below are older than the proposed 40,000 years and show extensive evidence of habitation, hunting and farming long before colonisation.
Kakadu National Park, NT, Madjedbebe: Kakadu National Park, on the traditional lands of the Mirarr people of Arnhem Land, saw the excavation of 11,000 artefacts that date between 65,000 – 80,000 years old. These findings were first published in a Nature article and are thorough proof that Aboriginal Australia co-existed with megafauna and played a significant role in human dispersion across the world’s continents. Associate Professor Chris Clarkson from the University of Queensland states these dates assume Aboriginal people were hunting megafauna for 20,000 – 25,000 years more than what was originally proposed by archaeologists. The artefacts were found in the national park in what is known as Madjedbebe rock shelter and have been through several controversial excavations since the 1970s. With concluding evidence and data to support Aboriginal occupation of up to 80,000 years, Professor Clarkson hopes that this recent study can put all the controversy around dating to rest. Of the 11,000 artefacts, 10,000 were uncovered in a cave, in the layer known as the zone of the first occupation. These
artefacts include the oldest unbroken groundedge stone axes in the world and the oldest known seed-grinding tools in Australia. These tools, alongside bones of megafauna show the interaction between Aboriginal people and what we need to recognise as The Living Dreamtime. The narrations that keep Indigenous knowledge systems intact prove to be much more than stories when they derive from a time in which the Indigenous peoples of Australia were living alongside such giant creatures.
Madjedbebe site custodian May Nango and excavation leader Chris Clarkson in the pit. Image: Dominic O’Brien/Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.
Willandra Lakes, NSW, Lake Mungo:
Skeletal remains of Mungo Man, which are approximately 40,000 years old and were found in 1974 at Lake Mungo, New South Wales, Australia.
In the lake system of Willandra Lakes, two of the earliest anatomically modern human remains were uncovered by geologist Jim Bowler. Mungo Man and Mungo Lady, date to approximately 40,000 – 42,000 years old and had both been ritually buried. Mungo Man in particular had been placed on his back, his hands crossed in his lap and his body sprinkled with red ochre. There is continuity even into today’s traditional burial practices as the presence of ochre and body positioning is highly important, amongst other things such as eucalyptus leaves and tree bark. The remains of Mungo Lady proved to be highly extraordinary. Evidence shows that her remains were burnt prior to her burial, thus proving to be the world’s oldest cremation and ritual burial. To date, the skeletons of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady are the oldest human remains found in Australia. The site of Willandra Lakes continues to be guided by traditional owners of the Paakantji, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngyimpaa people. Guided by the traditional owners, excavations of the lake system still occur today under the supervision of Nicola Stern, from La Trobe University. The site of Lake Mungo provides a powerful perspective into the ongoing cultural and spiritual connections Aboriginal people hold between them, and the land around them. Archaeological sites show the significance of the cultural continuity Aboriginal people have sustained for over 40,000 years.
Flinders Ranges, SA, Warratyi Rock Shelter: Excavations at Warratyi Rock Shelter in the Flinders ranges, 550km from the capital city of Adelaide, contain the first reliably dated evidence of human interaction with megafauna. La Trobe University Professor Giles Hamm, alongside local Adnyamathanha Elder, Clifford Coulthard, were surveying the gorges when they uncovered the site. Over the course of 9 years, 4,300 artefacts have been uncovered together with 200 bone fragments from 16 mammals and 1 reptile. The dating of the artefacts and fossil finds prove humans occupied this part of South Australia from 49,000 – 46,000 years ago. Some of the fossil finds appeared to be bones from the extinct giant wombat-like Diprotodon, and hunting tools, proving that Aboriginal people were hunting these monster-like creatures upon arrival into the continent. Cuddie Springs in New South Wales is the only other recorded site in Australia where megafauna bones and hunting tools have been found
together. This ties into an overall debate here in Australia determining the most significant factor of megafauna extinction: human hunting or climate change?
Co-authors Clifford Coulthard and Sophia Wilton with Christine Coulthard of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (Supplied: Giles Hamm).
Warrnambool, VIC, Moyjil: Over the course of 11 years, the site of Moyjil has become the most extensive archaeological site in Australia, moving dates of occupation back to 120,000 years ago. An analysis of a shell midden that was already suspected to be between 70,000 – 80,000 years old, had been carried out in addition to uncovering charcoal and burnt stones indicative of an Aboriginal type cooking hearth. Thermoluminescence dating techniques were used to conclude a range of 100,000 – 130,000 years old, consistent with stratigraphic evidence. Such a proposed dating has entitled this site as potentially one of the last interglacial features of Aboriginal Australia. The official publications were a collaborative work between Jim Bowler, who we know from excavations at Lake Mungo in the late 1960s and other credited peoples such as Dr. John Sherwood. They were able to date the shells, burnt stones and surrounding cemented sands, establishing this significant interglacial date of 120,000
years old. With a consistent date such as 120,000 years, this doubles the generic proposed date of occupation of Aboriginal Australia and should be at the forefront of all historical discussions regarding Indigenous occupation.
One of the digs at the Moyjil site at Point Ritchie, near Warrnambool. Photo: Ian McNiven.
Together, these sites show the extensive occupation Aboriginal Australia has had and will continue to have over this vast continent. The ceremonial elements, hunting practices and ingenuity uncovered at all four of these sites are indicative of the ongoing cultural legacy of the world’s oldest living tradition. Here is proof of the living legacy that flows through the veins of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today. All of these sites show that The Living Dreamtime was something our ancestors walked through themselves, encountering giant wombat-like, and emu-like creatures. Archaeological excavations in Australia are sadly underrepresented, and need to be more present in the education system, to show that Indigenous peoples were not just ‘huntergatherers,’ but a people group that held a symbiotic relationship to the land, that worked and farmed great fields and hunted some of the biggest animals of this continent’s past. by Neenah R. Gray
A Groundbreaking Step
Macquarie enters new territory with its new Indigenous Queer Studies Unit
Macquarie has made a landmark change to their Indigenous unit offerings through the introduction of a new hybrid unit looking to centre the experiences of queer Indigenous peoples. As part of Pride Month, Indigenous Early Career Academic Fellow Andrew Farrel gave an online presentation titled ‘Developing and Delivering Indigenous Queer Studies,’ exploring the themes and concepts behind Macquarie’s new Indigenous Queer Studies unit. In explaining the creation of the new unit, Farrel stated that “While generally treated as separate fields of research, Indigenous Studies and Queer Studies share many empirical, political, and theoretical considerations.” Farrell further noted that the unit and event were aimed at exploring “the need for a better understanding of Indigenous queer identities and the specific challenges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ people continue to endure.” This announcement came alongside Macquarie’s decision to join in with a program of Pride Month events for the first time, in collaboration with other Australian universities. This collaboration is part of the recently created NSW/ACT Higher Education Pride Network, described as “a collective effort by several universities to foster LGBTIQ+ inclusion in the Higher Education sector by sharing leading practice on policy, processes and systems, learning and teaching, and leadership from our organisations,” by Izzy de Allende, Coordinator of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion at Macquarie and Network member. The unit seeks to combine the fields of Indigenous and Queer studies as they both focus on the subjugation, marginalisation, and violence that minority populations experience. While both fields have sought to prioritise the voices of Indigenous and Queer peoples respectively, the new unit addresses the need for a better understanding of Indigenous queer identities and the specific challenges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ peoples experience under colonisation. As of yet, no other Sydney universities have sought to create a program that bridges the two fields of research. This makes Macquarie the first to take this practical step in combining the disciplines to create richer cultural understandings and educational offerings. The stories of Queer Indigenous peoples have historically been more in the territory of VICE documentaries and Junkee articles, however Macquarie’s new unit is changing that gaze. By centering these experiences in its academic offerings, the university has taken an important step forward in acknowledging the nuanced experiences of our First Nations people and recognising that these experiences are a fundamental aspect of contemporary Australian culture. by Katelyn Free
“Racism is the Virus”
A look into how the Black Lives Matter movement transpired around the world to evoke Australia’s dark past.
As the newsfeed of popular social media sites turned black and flooded with a single phrase, #BlackLivesMatter, the world came face-toface with a concept deeply rooted in every country’s history: racism. On May 25th, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black male, was arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Receiving a call from the store employee about a 20 USD counterfeit bill which Floyd had used to purchase a pack of cigarettes, police arrived at the scene. After being handcuffed and restrained, Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pinned Floyd down with his left knee between the head and neck. For seven minutes and forty-six seconds, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck, the Minnesota prosecutor’s report had stated. After repeatedly screaming the words ‘I can’t breathe,’ Floyd was dead. Moments after Floyd’s tragic death, videos of his brutal murder were shared across all social media platforms. On May 26th, the four officers involved with Floyd’s murder were fired and hundreds of demonstrators showed up to the streets of Minneapolis and proliferated the largest Black Lives Matter movement, since it began in 2013. Following the week after Floyd’s death, protests had transpired from national affairs to a global widespread call to action, unveiling issues buried deep under the blanket of privilege. As the sentence, ‘I can’t breathe’ was painted on every wall, every sign and every blank canvas in America, the movement narrated a story that extended further than the police violence against black people. It spoke to the rage rooted in America’s slave past, which institutionalised black disadvantage and white privilege. It brought to light the legitimising of the subhuman
treatment of black people, like what happened to George Floyd and to hundreds of others, even 150 years after emancipation. Racism has existed and been instilled in America’s history for hundreds of years and continues to exist today. However, the issue has sparked a greater flame this time than ever before. In an interview with New Yorker, Opal Tometi, one of the community organisers who started the Black Lives Movement, discussed how the protests are different from what came before, and why they are different. Tometi explains, “While we see that a lot of anger and outrage and frustration was sparked by the barbaric murder of George Floyd, it’s also clear to me that we have been sitting in our homes, navigating the pandemic, dealing with loved ones being sick, dealing with a great deal of fear and concern about what the day and the future will hold. We have millions of people who have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment and are living paycheck to paycheck and hand to mouth, and I believe they are just thoroughly fed up and thoroughly beside themselves with grief and concern and despair because the government does not seem to have a plan of action that is dignified and comprehensive and seeks to address the core concerns that the average American has. “And so my belief and my view of these protests is that they are different because they are marked by a period that has been deeply personal to millions of Americans and residents of the United States, and that has them more tender or sensitive to what is going on. People who would normally have been at work now have time to go to a protest or a rally, and have time to think about why they have been struggling so much, and they are thinking, ‘This actually isn’t right and I want to make time, and I
have the ability to make time now and make my concerns heard.’” “So, I think it is markedly differently in terms of the volume of demands we are hearing. People are absolutely lifting up names like Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, but I think they are very clearly in the streets for themselves and their family members because they don’t know who is next, and they are also concerned about the economic realities that they are faced with.” The Black Lives Matter movement also speaks to a more profound connection between Indigenous Australians, African Americans, Asians, and other minorities. Numerous activists leading the movement around the world have shared a similar opinion that one has to be a person of colour to actually feel the discrimination, or injustice that individuals suffer on a daily basis. It has been described as a bond that is uniting people of colour, something which is innate, and not necessarily taught. For Indigenous Australians, the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted others to learn more about their struggles. Storytelling is an integral part of Indigenous culture and it has been for more than 65,000 years. It helps Indigenous individuals to maintain a connection with their community, and it supports them to heal from the traumas of their past. In an interview with ABC News, Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman Teela Reid, explains Indigenous storytelling as “honouring our ancestors and celebrating the fact we tell stories in different ways that don’t necessarily comply with Western forms.” For non-Indigenous Australians, it provides an avenue to learn about the deep-rooted history that is written into Australia’s landscape and learn about the language that intertwines with the country we are in.
It fosters the process of truth-telling. “Our storytelling is intricately linked with the Black Lives Matter movement because it demonstrates our ways of expression, and it is a movement that tells the truth about our experiences,” Reid explained. With access to a plethora of resources, it is no longer about raising awareness, but using these resources to create change. The conversation around justice for Indigenous people has been going for more than two centuries, but it took the death of George Floyd in the United States for Australians to open their hearts and minds. When we are prepared to confront our past, we can start to empathise with those who reject symbols of those who oppressed them. Taking down statues of those who profited from oppression is not about rewriting history, it is about making the choice to not celebrate their oppression. It can be repeatedly said that in any case, history is not fixed in time, it is fluid. However, no matter how many protests take place, and no matter how many communities come forward about the oppression they have faced, there can be no healing unless we acknowledge the problem that exists in our society. Till then, it is our responsibility to continue to share the message and to speak out about the injustice that you as an individual might not face, but the injustice that your fellow human faces. At the end of the day, it is the knowledge that the oppression of one is the oppression of all. by Anonymous
It invites conversation and by engaging with Indigenous content, it unlocks the door to our silenced history and unearths our nation’s dark past in order to step forward in the right direction.
A brief history and timeline of NAIDOC Week and the importance of commemorating the First Nations people of Australia.
NAIDOC stands for the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee. It is an important week in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a week to rejoice, to share our beliefs and customs, celebrate our history, join our diverse communities, and to show the rest of the nation that we have survived and revel in our culture. NAIDOC Week generally happens each year between the first and second Sundays in July. While there were some activities in July, November 8th-15th will be the official 2020 celebration week. This is due to the fear that Covid-19 might spread rapidly in communities and devastate our precious Elders. NAIDOC Week events are held in various towns and cities where music performances, art showcases, cultural workshops, talks, and activities for children take place. Before the 1920s, Aboriginal rights groups shunned Australia Day in protest against the ongoing marginalisation of Indigenous Australians. By the 1920s, they were progressively aware that the wider Australian public were mostly ignorant of their embargoes. If Aboriginal rights groups were to make progress, they would need to be more active.
The Australian Aborigines Progressive Association (AAPA) in 1924 and the Australian Aborigines League (AAL) in 1932 emerged to promote Aboriginal rights. Their efforts were largely unheeded and due to police persecution, the AAPA abandoned their work in 1927. In 1935, William Cooper, founder of the AAL and a Yorta Yorta man, drafted a petition to send to King George V, asking for special Aboriginal electorates in Federal Parliament. The Australian Government denied responsibility believing that the petition fell outside its constitutional responsibilities. The petition was rejected and thereby not presented to King George V. One of the first civil rights events in the world was the 1938 Australia Day March in Sydney, when more than a thousand people marched and attended a congress. It was known as the Day of Mourning. Following the congress, a delegation led by William Cooper, who was born in Yorta Yorta territory, presented Prime Minister Joseph Lyons with a proposed national policy for Aboriginal people. This was again rejected because the government claimed that it did not hold constitutional powers over the Aboriginal people.
After the Day of Mourning, William Cooper failed to gain support for an annual event after writing to the National Missionary Council of Australia. William was a Christian and achieved the creation of Aborigines Sunday, which was observed in Churches across Australia from 1940. Until 1955, the Day of Mourning was held each year on the Sunday before Australia Day. It was known as Aborigines Day. In 1955, Aborigines Day became a celebration of Aboriginal culture as well as a protest and was moved to the first Sunday in July. The National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was formed in 1956 and the second Sunday in July became a day of remembrance for Aboriginal people and their heritage. After the 1967 referendum, the federal government took formal responsibility for Aboriginal people and began counting them in the national census. Researcher Matthew Thomas surmises on the Parliament of Australia’s website that: “The significance of the 1967 Referendum has been somewhat obscured by a number of myths. These include the misconceptions that the Referendum granted Aboriginal people citizenship, the right to vote, wage equality and access to social security, among other things. In terms of its practical significance, perhaps the main achievement of the Referendum was to raise the expectations of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people regarding Aboriginal rights and welfare.” Following this, in 1972, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) was formed by the Whitlam Government. It sought to foreground self-determination when it came to policy making regarding Aboriginal affairs.
Since 1984, there have been calls for National Aborigines Day to be made a national public holiday, to help commemorate and appreciate the rich cultural history that makes Australia unique. In the early 1990s, due to an increasing recognition of the diverse cultural histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, NADOC was extended to acknowledge Torres Strait Islander people and culture. NADOC then became known as the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC). This new acronym has become the title for the whole week. Each year, a theme is chosen to signify the key issues and events for NAIDOC Week. For example the 2018 theme celebrated the strength and wisdom of ATSI women with ‘Because of her, we can!’ The year 2019 saw the theme of ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth.’ and in 2020 the theme ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ “recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.” The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) took over the management of NAIDOC until it was dissolved in 2004. The current NAIDOC committee makes decisions about themes, events, and activities for NAIDOC Week. It can be found at: https://www.naidoc.org. au/about/naidoc-committee by Wayne Charters
In 1974, the NADOC committee was composed wholly of Aboriginal members for the first time. In 1975, it was determined that NADOC should cover a week, from the first to second Sunday in July.
Maaaaate! Neenah Gray dissects the history of Australia Day and her call to action to change the dates to acknowledge Australia’s Black history.
Australia Day is not an inclusive day for everyone who calls themselves Australian. For non-Indigenous people, the 26th of January is a celebration of national pride, that is marked by the coming of the First Fleet of the British Colony in 1788. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this day marks the beginning of the foundation myth of Terra Nullius that justified the invasion of Australia and inherently the start of the genocide of hundreds of thousands of people. Alongside the White Australia Policy, Terra Nullius was the national foundation that laid Australia. Sadly, these do not reflect the true value and nature of what it means to be an Australian. Thus, a re-evaluation of the day and what it means to be an Australian should go under some consideration. This article analyses the historical controversy that surrounds January 26th as a national holiday. This article will conclude with the need to move away from British Colonialism, and the subconscious White Australia Policy that still dictates the Australian Political System and the Australian ethos. I will also propose a new date for Australia Day – May 8th, or Maaaaate as I believe this is more reflective of the true nature and image of Australia. 14
Australia Day is a controversial day, bringing uneasiness from its historical meaning to how it has evolved to be a national day. January 26th marks the arrival of the First Fleet on the shores of Botany Bay in 1788 led by Captain Arthur Philip of the British Colony. It marks the introduction of a new way of life that saw consequences for the ones who had practiced egalitarianism previously for over 80,000 years. Captain Philip, along with 1480 men, women and children, brought an entrenched world view that would later lay the foundations of Australian Nationalism. The raising of the Union Jack Flag was used to symbolise that the British were now in control and had dominion over what we now call Australia. The claiming of Australia was legitimized under the notion of Terra Nullius meaning ‘land belonging to no one’ to discredit Aboriginal Lore and custom that had already governed this vast nation. Terra Nullius was the foundation myth that stripped Aboriginal people of their cultural identity and human rights in order to prepare for the British control. The First Fleet meant for the convicts on board a fresh start and a new life. For Aboriginal people living, within the now Sydney region, it meant that their existing way of life and cultural Dreaming was in danger.
In conjunction with these entrenched views of White Australian Nationalism, the justification of the massacre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prevailed during Settlement. Government policies that existed, such as the White Australia Policy and Terra Nullius justified the murder of First Nations people between 1788 and 1901. In 1920, 250,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were killed, or had died due to diseases. A 1798 report by the Judge-Advocate and Secretary of the Colony, David Collins, indicates the extent of disease pursuing Aboriginal Australia. He states: “At that time a native was living with us; and on taking him down to the harbour to look for his former companions, those who witnessed his expression and agony can never forget either. He looked anxiously around him in the different coves we visited; not a vestige on the sand was to be found of human foot; ... not a living person was anywhere to be met with. It seemed as if, flying from the contagion, they had left the dead to bury the dead. He lifted up his hands and eyes in silent agony for some time; at last he exclaimed, ‘All dead! all dead!’ and then hung his head in mournful silence.” January 26th stands for a beacon of change for both the British and the Aboriginal people: a change that brought bloodshed through the notion of survival. January 26th is a day that represents the cruel intentions to diminish a people group to justify the acquisition of Australian soil by the British Colony in 1788. ‘Australia Day’ as a celebrated national holiday is only relatively new within the scheme of Australian History. This acknowledges that January 26th is not well established. The date was depicted as Foundation Day or Landing Day prior to Federation but was not officially recognised or established as a public holiday until 1994 under the Keating Government. In fact, during
World War I Australia has evidence of trying to secure July 30th as the National day of celebration. The idea of Australia being celebrated on the 26th of January came from a re-enactment of the First Fleet onto Botany Bay in 1938. The re-enactment saw 25 Aboriginal men being forced to dance and if they refused they were threatened with the removal of rations or simply shot. They were locked in jail cells the night preceding the event. This inhuman celebration and blackmail sparked protests throughout the city of Sydney, and it was called a Day of Mourning in the Aboriginal community. The 150th anniversary celebrations saw the largest Aboriginal Protest to circum Australia. This original celebration of Landing Day has never illustrated a progressive society, or an inclusive community. To Aboriginal and Torres Strait people across the nation, this day has always marked a mourning period. January 26th reconciles with Sorry Business. It has been a day to recognise British governance over Australia, and the discrediting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait human rights and cultural lore. From the beginning of Australian History, the hardship and the trauma that proceeded January the 26th is a constant reminder for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as the celebrations for Australia Day take place. Early days of Australian Colonialism is very much indicative of the ‘master and controlled’ intentions that the British had adopted as a framework for their relationship with Aboriginal people. The notion of Terra Nullius has been favourable to non-Indigenous Australians throughout the development of the nation. It has been reassurance for non-Indigenous people, reinforcing the archetype of the ‘discovery’ of the country and simultaneously dehumanising Australia’s First Nation peoples. Terra Nullius strengthened by the notion of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, saw 15
for the extermination of Aboriginal people and a scientific approach was taken in observation for anthropological purposes. Proceeding such ideologies gave rise to 230 years of public policy and hidden agenda that justified significant numbers of murders, and massacres throughout Australian history. These massacres are remembered as events such as The Stolen Generation, Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and many more.
played a significant part being exclusive to a predominantly white, male society that embodies ‘egalitarian’ values.
The difficulty with Australia’s multiculturalism is that people’s understanding is based upon superficial ideas of what constitutes cultural difference and cultural doing. This creates boundaries of fear. For some migrants, Australia Day and the overrepresentation of the Australian Flag illustrates the difficulties For Aboriginal people, celebrating on the day and the hardship faced by the racist heritage of the arrival of the First Fleet is remembering that depicted Australia’s unity. There have been numerous occasions throughout the deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Australia’s History that have seen the idea Islander people from the time of Colonialism of Australian White Nationalism expressed through to the 21th Century. It is the memory through the symbolism of the Australian Flag of the injustice that Aboriginal and Torres that has caused discontent throughout the Strait Islander people have faced throughout migrant community. The problematic feature major events in Australian history. January of Australia being a multicultural society, 26th marks the start of the Invasion that took is that it does not overcome the fear of the a complex 232 years to complete and in some ways is still continuing to this day. Thus different cultural practices that are seen to threaten and damage Australian identity. changing the date of Australia Day would recognise the dispossession, the injustice and the inhumanity that Aboriginal and Torres In order to combat against migrant inclusion, the Australian Government has had Strait Islander people have endured caused Citizenship Ceremonies as part of Australia by Terra Nullius. The new date of Australia Day event programs. Sixteen thousand people Day would also recognise the need for have received their citizenship on Australia Indigenous people to be a part of Australia’s Day in 2019 to promote “unity as a nation and modern identity and to remember that White … commitment to Australia and its people, Australia has a Black History. the values we share and our common future,” according to the Australia Day website online. Australia is one of the leading nations in Although this seems like a great idea, the multiculturalism, yet a sense of belonging is inherent ideology behind this is similar to questioned when notions of Australia Day the Assimilation Policy of 1951. The quote and the symbolism of the Australian Flag above does not portray the true meaning of still have remnants of the White Australia Australia, and does not acknowledge people Policy. Multiculturalism was the dream that succumbed the nation during the 19th century. coming from afar only to unify them into the current scheme of Australia. The ‘common It was used as a defence mechanism against future’ inherently is still indicative of racist the“cheap imported labour” threat that colonial ideologies. The changing of the date immigration imposed. Since then, Australia’s of Australia Day would inherently diminish migrant population has seen an increase, the White Australia Policy and justify the statistics depicting 60% of Australia’s debunking of Australia preserving a Britishpopulation growth was due to immigration derived culture. in 2013. Australia as a political body has
A new date for Australia Day is May 8— Maaaaate which I would like to argue is more indicative of the true nature and identity of Australia that we as a Nation are still in the midst of creating. The idea has stemmed from Facebook public influencer, Jordan Raskopoulos, in an attempt to explain, in a less than a two minute video, why January 26th raises controversy within First Nations communities. Coming from a migrant background herself, she understands the true nature that encompasses Australian identity – mateship. The idea of mateship has been at the heart of the Australian being since its first international affair of World War I. The Gallipoli campaign saw mateship strengthen Australia, asserting an independence and identity away from its motherland, Britain.
It has a platform with a strong historical background and something that can reside in all Australians.
Mateship was centralised by the key features of ‘sacrifice and national duty’ that sought the discovery of Australia’s national identity. This is also a chance for Australia to recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers that sacrificed their lives for the greater good of Australia. The idea of the ANZAC Digger has played such an important role in history that it has idealised the heroic aspect of national identity for some Australians. It is a depiction of fulfilment of hope and ‘superhuman bravery.’
Moving away from British Colonialism is essential to the rendering of the Australian identity and would inherently cause for a more inclusive celebration of a national holiday. The notion of mateship has the potential to be more thoroughly embedded in Australian society, and would re-create Australia’s National and International Image. Celebrating Australia Day on May 8 would be an inclusive date as it encompasses the true nature of mateship, belonging, bravery and sacrifice that Us as Australians value and we know produces a better nation for all.
The Aussie Digger had encompassed the nature of patience and persistence handling the harshness of the bush, and patriotism and mateship that stemmed from their experience in the war – making for a holistic man, and at the same time acknowledging the women that played their part in the war effort. The ability of May 8 to acknowledge Australia’s past wrongdoings and to celebrate what it means to be Australian starting from Australia’s greatest military setback is more than plausible. Mateship today in modern Australian society is more than accepted within Australian vernacular and being.
In conclusion, the date of Australia Day needs to be readjusted in order to be more inclusive to those who have migrated here, and our First Nations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The changing of the date would acknowledge Australia as debunking values of British Colonialism that are still entrenched in the political system. The Australian Constitution, laws and policies are still drenched in colonial ideologies that have subconsciously been embedded into the fabrication of Australian society lingering with the notions of Terra Nullius and the White Australia Policy.
by Neenah R. Gray
Indigenous Studies Unit Guide Marandayi maranama Dharug ngurra. Always was, always will be Dharug country.
A great way to learn more about Indigenous perspectives, knowledge, histories, practices, and the challenges these communities overcome is to enrol in the Indigenous Studies units taught by Macquarie University. These units are available at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level. The Department of Indigenous Studies facilitates a number of areas of research including the Forum for Indigenous Research Excellence (FIRE) and the Journal of Global Indigeneity, a digital journal that features critical essays, workshops, and conferences, with a focus on Indigenous communities on a global scale. Note: The following information is from the 2020 Macquarie University course handbook. ABST1000 – Introducing Indigenous Australia This unit offers a broad introduction to the histories, politics and cultures of Indigenous peoples in Australia. Students in this unit will study the historical impact of British colonisation on Australia’s first peoples and reflect on their own histories, politics and cultures. Students will learn about Indigenous political resistance focused on the protection of land, country, and cultural identities driven by goals of achieving social justice and the recognition of human rights and Indigenous specific rights. Students in this unit will also be introduced to the social, cultural and political outlook of contemporary Indigenous identity and explore the impact and influence of early colonialist race theory on contemporary representations of Indigenous identity. This unit presents as a thought provoking and challenging experience of learning about Australian history and contemporary politics through the lens of an Indigenous worldview. Thus providing a solid theoretical foundation for anyone wishing to pursue further Indigenous studies. ABST1020 – Dharug Country: Presences, Places and People This unit introduces students to Dharug perspectives about Country, spiritual concepts including human and non-human ancestors, and the importance of connecting to place and belonging. Students will learn valuable insights from a diverse group of Dharug community members telling their own stories about sites of significance to them. Students will be introduced to Dharug language, art and other cultural practices demonstrating the continuity of knowledges that Dharug people have maintained for over 65,000 years.This unit allows students to connect with contemporary Dharug people and learn about the impact of colonisation on the community and also better understand how Dharug people and communities have resisted and survived. Dharug people will share stories of importance so students can be more aware of the politics of place.
ABST1030 – Introduction to Indigenous Queer Studies This is a multidisciplinary unit that draws from both Indigenous and Queer Studies which have generally been treated as separate fields of academic inquiry. This unit prioritises the voices and perspectives of Indigenous Queer populations as transformative of the social, cultural, and political landscapes of Australia and beyond. Through critical engagement with Indigenous LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer) perspectives, students will develop an understanding of Indigenous Queer identities and the specific challenges that these communities endure under oppressive colonial regimes. This unit will explore Indigenous Queer worldviews and standpoints that interrupt, challenge, enrich and recalibrate our understanding of community, culture, gender, sexuality, the body and desire. ABST2020 – Indigenous Culture and Text This unit will examine Indigenous Australian texts to explore Indigenous peoples’ perspectives of culture and continuity. Students will be introduced to a variety of creative works, including biography, music, literature, and the growing presence of Indigenous voices in online spaces. We will consider the range of reasons Indigenous Australians write and create, from resistance to celebration, as well as the political motivations for publication. Students will also examine the impact of Indigenous creative works on national identity and understandings of Indigenous Australia. ABST2035 – Global Indigenous Queer Identities Indigenous societies have recognised diverse genders and sexualities for thousands of years. This unit will investigate global case studies of Indigenous gender and sexual diversities including Australia, the Pacific, and Northern American regions. Students will analyse the continuity and development of gendered and sexual practices and the ways in which they have transformed in multiple colonial contexts. This unit will
interrogate and challenge the influence and enforcement of western gendered and sexual norms by embedding an understanding of Indigenous worldviews situated within, beyond, and against the scope of the gender binary, heterosexuality, and gender and sexual taxonomies across the LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer) spectrum. ABST2060 – Indigenous Histories and Knowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are recognised as belonging to the oldest living culture on earth with over 60,000 years of history and knowledge to draw upon. This unit explores Indigenous history and knowledge from the Big Bang through to contemporary times. Students will develop an understanding of Indigenous relationships to land, water, fire, food and medicine and recognise the ways in which Indigenous knowledges are utilised in everyday activities. This unit will provide a significant understanding of how Indigenous knowledge about the world can inform future thinking about conservation, land management, climate change and sustainability. ABST3025 – Indigenous Research Methodologies This unit examines contemporary and historical research practices and explores decolonising and Indigenist research methodologies. This unit also provides students with the skills and knowledge to engage in ethical research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Students are guided by a range of documents outlining ethical research practices including, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research guidelines, the National Health and Medical Research Council’s, Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (Values and Ethics) and Macquarie University Ethics Approval process. ABST3035 – Indigenous Queer Theory & Practice This unit will explore the convergence of theories that inform Indigenous Queer Studies as an interdisciplinary space. Through an investigation of post-structural theories, this unit will explore the emergence of Indigenous Queer critique from the margins of social and cultural movements, such as feminism. Students will be introduced to Indigenous Queer readings of theories such as intersectionality and examine how Indigenous Queer perspectives unpack, translate, and reterritorialize knowledge in ways that centralise Indigeneity and Queerness. This unit will inform students understanding of multiple and complex forms of resistance to the ongoing erasure of Queer Indigenous and coloured populations and challenge the dominance of non-Indigenous ideas and knowledge which continue to enable and comply with settler colonial projects.
ABST3040 – Indigenous Policy: Politics and Activism This unit provides a focused reflection and critical analysis on the political histories of Indigenous peoples in Australia. Students in this unit will study past and current social and political movements dedicated to achieving social justice through the pursuit of human rights, civil rights, and Indigenous rights. Students will learn about a range of approaches to social and political movements striving for justice for past and present acts of colonial violence, protecting land and country, protecting sovereignty and asserting the political status of first peoples. Through a process of critical reflection embedded in the unit, students will also reflect on the social and political movements that have influenced their own lives or their family’s life. This unit presents a thought provoking experience of learning about social and political movements in Australia from an Indigenous perspective. ABST8990 – Master of Research - Indigenous Studies MRes Year 2 students in the Faculty of Arts will develop their knowledge and experience of research in their chosen discipline via a program of Faculty-level and department activities and assessments. Students will complete two assessed and two non-assessed tasks to assist with the design and implementation of an independent research project, the findings from which will be communicated via a 20,000-word, e xternally examined thesis. Alternatively, students enrolled in the departments of MMCCS or English may be required to produce a creative work and a 10,000-word thesis, which are also externally examined. For more information: Visit the 2020 Macquarie University course handbook: coursehandbook.mq.edu.au Visit the Department of Indigenous Studies website: www.mq.edu.au/faculty-of-arts/departments-and-schools/department-of-indigenous-studies by Jodie Ramodien
Grapeshot interviews the founder of Letters to Strangers, Diana Chao, to learn more about BIPOC Mental Health Month and the key to creating a better society, mentally.
1. If you could describe BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) Mental Health Month in one sentence, what would it be? Originally advanced by Black activist Bebe Campbell, BIPOC Mental Health Month is a celebration and acknowledgment of racial diversity and how ethnic cultures/identities can impact one’s mental health. 2. Mental health is an issue that persists amongst all walks of life, regardless of race, gender, or social class. What is the purpose behind having a mental health month dedicated to BIPOC individuals? Western psychology and psychiatry as we know it today was established by and for White individuals. From over 85% of American therapists identifying as White, to the relegation of culture-bound syndromes (symptoms that manifest particularly within one culture, such as “hwabyung” in Korean communities or “ataque de nervios” among Caribbean Latinos) into only the appendix of the DSM (the diagnostic manual used by professionals to diagnose mental illness), a lot of the minority mental health experience has been ignored or even weaponized in medical history. For example, stereotypes (such as the idea that Black individuals have “thicker skin” – metaphorically and literally) has led to provider bias where doctors prescribe weaker (or zero!) dosages of medication to treat the pain of Black people. Some dismiss patients outright by delegitimising their suffering. And some patients have difficulty even accessing healthcare in the first place. Indigenous people in the U.S. (and elsewhere!) sometimes live isolated from major urban centers (due to colonisation and genocide, mind you) and have little to no culturally-competent mental health specialists on their reservation. So it’s very important that we recognise how BIPOC individuals are disproportionately affected in non-standardised (read: non-White) ways by mental health stressors and concerns.
3. What are some ways of appropriately raising awareness about mental health in BIPOC communities? It’s important to elevate the voices of people in those communities first and foremost. Share your platform with their stories. Remember that there is nuance for everyone, so do your research and educate yourself, but don’t categorise all people of a certain background as one “archetype” of a mental health patient. If you want to help by starting a project, talk to leaders in the community first. Don’t just assume you know the best solution on their behalf. No need to build a whole new project from scratch, either, if you can help revamp/grow/emphasise the existing work of people in those communities. Remember that at the end of the day, awareness is important, but all the awareness in the world cannot make sustainable change unless we get to the ground and work. So post educational content, but also donate, support legislative reforms, and maybe even become a professional yourself so you can be the change from the inside out! 4. Why does mental health continue to be a stigma in societies all around the world? There are a lot of nuanced reasons for this, but much of it is tied to history and culture. The need to be “strong” is already prevalent in society, but in the context of BIPOC, many grew up with generations of trauma (from survivors of slavery to refugees of war). This forced people to become “strong” to protect themselves and their loved ones for the purposes of sheer survival, which meant that any sign of “weakness” or “vulnerability” was seen as endangerment and carelessness. Miseducation and misinformation also plays a part. Misconceptions, such as the idea that mental illness makes a person violent, or that people with mental illness are “unmarriageable,” etc. further this notion that mental illness is something that not only brings shame upon you, the
individual, but also upon your community at-large. But we are seeing more and more now that vulnerability is a sign of emotional maturity and strength; the need to be “strong” is a superhuman feat that no one should have to fulfill every second of every day; mental illness is not a death sentence and those who have a condition are not “inferior” but rather warriors who learn to live with and tame the fire in their hearts. 5. What is Letters to Strangers and how has it been at the forefront of raising awareness about mental health? Letters to Strangers, or L2S, is the largest global youth-for-youth NGO seeking to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment, particularly for youth aged 13 to 24. We operate through three main pathways: 1) Anonymous letter-writing exchanges with therapy-informed themes and guiding questions. 2) Science-backed peer education curricula, such as our world’s first youth-for-youth mental health guidebook (available on our website). 3) Policy-based grassroots advocacy efforts. We support 35,000+ people in over 20 countries on six continents worldwide. Highlights of our network include: the first student mental health task force at Rutgers University Honors College (NJ, USA); the first mental health professional ever brought to speak at our Karachi high school Chapter (Pakistan); the first Mental Health Resource Center in Monrovia with our Liberia Chapter; a short film series created with the Screen Actors Guild of New York.
6. How has Letters to Strangers been supporting individuals during these difficult times, i.e through COVID-19, Black Lives Matter protests? We’ve always been committed to racial and minority equity, but the need for that commitment is more obvious than ever. For COVID-19, we launched the COVID-19 Letters Collective (www.letterstostrangers.org/covid19), where we send letter bundles to frontline workers and those who are particularly isolated right now, such as seniors in nursing homes and chronic patients in pediatric hospitals. We also pushed up the launch of our online letter-exchange platform (www.letterstostrangers. org/letterexchange) to allow people from all over the world to partake in letter exchanges. Workshops have been moved online, and some of our Chapters are conducting workshops on sewing reusable masks, sanitary hygiene products, and other necessities of human dignity and function that have been increasingly difficult to access as import restrictions/travel lockdowns skyrocketed the prices of products in many nations. We’ve also been conducting education on BIPOC mental health, using our guidebook (www. letterstostrangers.org/store) as a reference since it contains the first deep-dive into Race/ Ethnicity and Mental Health in the U.S. in almost 20 years (since the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report in 2001). For Black Lives Matter specifically, we are fiscally sponsoring a queer & Black-led organisation in Chicago (Activate:Chi) to provide medical professionals and equipment on protest frontlines (Chicago saw the most violent weekend in 2020 during the BLM protests).
7. As an individual, what can I do to create a better society mentally for others? Practice empathy – learn the difference between that and sympathy. Practice active listening – learn the difference between that and passive listening. Practice normalization of vulnerability, of flaws, of human existence. Be vocal and proactive in your support of others, but also emphasise the importance of maintaining the self. By living the example, you can help others who are too afraid to seek help see you as someone who might potentially understand them, so that you can be a sort of “uplifter” to help them get to the point where they feel safe and sound. The important thing here is that we are all protagonists of our own stories. This means your job is not to solve other people’s problems for them – your job is to help them get to that point themselves. We aren’t the knights in shining armor – and that’s good, we don’t have to be! The only lead role we play is in our own stories: how we self-care, how we approach healing, how we learn to amplify and protect. For others, we can walk side-by-side as a friend – as simply, but powerfully, someone who deeply cares.
8. In times of struggle, what keeps you motivated and enables you to continue what you do? Honestly, it’s my community! The incredible L2S family keeps me going when I often feel burnt out or mentally drained. To see the passion and lived experiences of our network is both humbling and inspiring. But also, perhaps it’s my own belief as well that I must live this second chance at life right. I survived suicide attempts when I was younger, in the midst of the worst years of my bipolar disorder, and I feel the raw fragility of life acutely. Living is so precious; community is powerful even when you don’t know it’s there. Maybe, at the end of it all, it’s the faith that I think I need to have for a better future that propels me to fight on. Optimism – and by extension, hope – is a luxury. But it’s one of the few luxuries we can afford ourselves. To donate or learn more about L2S, visit their website at https://www.letterstostrangers.org/.
by Saliha Rehanaz
Darralanganha Dhulubang (Restless Spirits) (100cm x 50cm) By Dylan Barnes This artwork represents the vibrant spirits of my queer Indigenous community and the sharing of experiences and power through our connections. We as queer/trans people are able to create a sense of solidarity through our gender-nonconformity. I wanted my artwork to portray the importance of queer Indigenous communities and the feelings of liberation that come with the unification of our restless spirits.
POP CULTURE REWIND
F.R.I.E.N.D.S I am just going to say it. I have never been a Friends fan. I know it is probably shocking to you and the rest of the modern world and trust me, I have received enough criticism to understand how deeply loved this show is. But alas, here I am making my distaste of Friends public. My surface level issues are that I never understood the humour, and nothing about it really appealed to me. I was also raised on Seinfeld, which definitely has its own issues. I was always shocked at how many people scoffed at me or looked at me wide-eyed when I told them I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like Friends and that I have watched a grand total of 5 episodes. I started to think I was the one with the problem and I should give the show a chance. So, I gave it a chance. I watched all of Friends. It was no easy task so I will hold for applause. Thank you, it was really hard for me and may I say, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m glad I was never a fan. If I were an impressionable youngster watching this show I would think that having a different body shape was unattractive, that toxic masculinity was a viable excuse for poor behaviour, having a parental figure be part of the LGBTIQ+ community is something to be ashamed of, and that the world around me consists of only white people (bar two side characters). But I am not an impressionable youngster and I am mature enough to understand the deeply problematic nature of Friends and pull it into question.
POP CULTURE REWIND Let’s start with the rampant homophobia and transphobia present in the show shall we? Friends could have broken ground in being a positive LGBTIQ+ show that challenges the opinions of the day and been one of the first mainstream TV shows to accurately portray people from the queer community properly. Instead they resorted to cheap gay panic jokes and constantly having gay, lesbian and transgender people be the butt-end of comedy. Throughout the show’s seasons, there is a consistent theme of homophobia mixing with toxic masculinity which we all know is a dangerous cocktail. Having Chandler’s father Charles be a beautiful drag queen could have allowed the show to embrace different gender identities and expressions. The writers instead chose to have other characters poke at the fact that Chandler’s father is a drag queen and is probably a gay or bisexual person. Chandler’s own internal homophobia radiates after learning about his father because he fears that people will now think he is gay, which makes absolutely no sense at all. They also take cheap shots at Ross’ ex-wife who is lesbian while Ross is thrown into a head spin after seeing his son playing with a Barbie doll. The possibility of the fact that maybe Ben just wants to play with a Barbie doll is so abhorrent to Ross that he conjures the idea that it is the fault of his lesbian ex-wife and her partner, which again, makes no sense at all. The problems don’t stop there but I really wish they did. On top of the explicit homophobia and transphobia, the cast is completely white. Like, not one of the main characters is of colour. In fact, there are only two notable non-white characters on the show, one being Ross’ girlfriend Julie and Dr Charlie. This is highly damaging as not only does it prevent non-white people from seeing themselves in the show, but it also perpetuates the notion that the world is white focused. Saying that Friends was just a product of its time is incredibly problematic as most of our generation and the one above us religiously watched Friends and so these dominant themes and ideas are woven into the fabric of our already ignorant society. Having such a popular show be filled with so many insensitive and damaging themes and jokes is not going to cut it anymore. It is 2020, maybe it is time to leave Friends in 2004. by Ky Stewart
OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Understanding Your Privilege The word ‘privilege’ has become the buzzword of 2020 and so it should. It is a word that everyone, especially those in dominant groups, should come to properly understand. Privilege has been at play for centuries and has been systematically institutionalised in every aspect of our society. People should understand how the privilege they might have, whether they like it or not, has disadvantaged others. I’m sure you have seen Instagram has turned into an online protesting platform. From the controversial black tile to the endless cycle of Instagram stories spreading awareness and links for various different causes relating to BLM or other humanitarian crises. This movement is spreading desperately needed awareness of the constant injustices faced by disadvantaged groups. It is a way for our society to recognise what is happening and what has happened. It is a way to voice our anger and fight for a united end to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and everything else that has pushed people down. What has emerged out of this movement is the discussion about privilege. As a white passing Indigenous man, I exhibit a set of privileges my non-white Indigenous brothers and sisters do not get to have. This is something that I have had to realise and learn about. For example, I can talk about Indigenous issues freely and be given a platform and people will be more inclined to listen, but my friends cannot do the same just because they have a different colour skin. As white people, it is easy to ignore the vast issues in societies or not completely understand why people are protesting for their human rights. This is probably one of the more dangerous privileges, because you are able to ignore something that is killing others simply because it doesn’t affect you. I have had many discussions and heated arguments with people who have told me that they haven’t had it easy and that saying that all white people benefit from privilege is unfair because not everyone is racist. Which shows to me that they probably don’t understand what privilege is.
OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Having privilege doesn’t mean that you are racist. Having privilege doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to help fight against racism, it just means that you need to understand that there are systems in place that will ultimately benefit you and not others. Reading a book doesn’t equate to an immediate understanding of racism and privilege, but it is a good place to start. Listen to the stories being told by non-white people about their experiences. Start researching and unlearning what has been told to you in your education that comes from a biased Anglo point of view. Get involved in politics and stop using the excuse that you are not interested, or you don’t understand. Because other people don’t get the choice to be disinterested in politics when it encroaches on their lives. What we need is for people to stop and think about how they might be able to get an education, walk down the street without fear, or feel safe with police presence. Having privilege allows for you to support movements like BLM and use it to break racist systems. In the end, please just be kind and love everyone. Fight in the face of injustice and wash your hands. by Ky Stewart
Symbols in Aboriginal Art I am a person of Wiradjuri descent from my mother’s side and have been taught artistic styles from my Aunties and Uncles who are both Elders and experienced artists. I also have cultural connections to the Ngardi people from East Arnhem Land and the Darkinjung people from the Central Coast. These symbols that I am sharing with you are specific to my own cultural upbringing and understandings. Many of these symbols can be found within other language groups’ artistic styles, but they can have slight variations or meanings depending on their cultural histories and Dreaming stories. I ask that if you see similar symbols in other Aboriginal artist’s work, be mindful of their cultural connections and think about the contextual meaning of the artwork that may influence the visuals and meanings of certain symbols.
Sitting Person A very common symbol for most Aboriginal language groups which depicts a bird’s-eye view of a person sitting down. This symbol can sometimes be seen with lines next to them which represent spears. In some language groups the amount of ‘spears’ depicts the sitting person’s gender (e.g. 1 = man, 2 = woman). It is also common to see body art on these symbols which are very specific to the artist’s cultural connections, and the meaning behind the painting.
Path / Flowing River This symbol also has a different meaning and look depending on the artist’s connections and context. I personally use this symbol to represent ‘journey paths’ from ‘campfire’ to ‘campfire,’ and to express stories of travel, growth, and learning.
ILLUSTRATED Emu Footprint This symbol depicts the three-toed footprint of the Emu and is a fairly common symbol around Australia. Emus were a vital food source for Aboriginal peoples and their entire bodies would be utilised. Their bones were used for tools and weapons, their skin for leather, feathers for ceremonial practices, and fat for bush medicines.
Kangaroo Footprint This symbol is also very common around Australia and can sometimes be seen with a line under the footprints to represent the Kangaroo’s tail. Kangaroos are a common food source due to their high meat and fat content, their bones and skin were used for tools, weapons, and carrying pouches.
Coolamon The coolamon is a common tool for Aboriginal women that was used to hold and transport water, bushfoods, and sometimes to cradle babies. This symbol is mostly seen next to the ‘sitting person’ symbol to signify that the person is a woman.
Campfire / Waterhole This symbol represents either a campfire or a waterhole, depending on the artist’s cultural connections, and the contextual meaning of the artwork. Many artists surround these symbols with ‘sitting people’ to represent community, family or people who are closely connected. I personally use this symbol to represent ‘community’ and the unification of peoples who are connected spiritually or emotionally.
by Dylan Barnes 29
YOU ARE HERE
Darug Country Each issue Grapeshot uses the ‘You Are Here’ segment to shine a light on the quirks and foibles of a particular suburb. In this special First Nations’ edition of the magazine we wanted to learn more about the traditional custodians of the land on which Macquarie University is built. Merrilee McNaught, a Darug Elder living in the Hornsby Shire, answers our questions. In its Acknowledgement of Country, Macquarie University pays respects to the Wattamattagal clan of the Darug nation. What does it mean to you to hear an acknowledgement country? It depends on the context. Sometimes it’s respectful, but sometimes it’s just tokenism, and tokenism doesn’t have any substance. The people who are saying it are doing it for show and have no idea of what they are actually acknowledging. But, when it’s done properly and with respect then I really appreciate it and it moves me greatly. Unfortunately, it’s now seen as something that has to be done, and it’s lost its value. Do you identify as belonging to a specific clan or language group from the Darug nation? Because I’m a part of the Stolen Generation, I was not brought up in Aboriginal tradition. I know I am Darug, I can trace my ancestry back to Maria, who was the original Elder, mentioned in Governor Macquarie’s letters and in a lot of the early teachings. She did some amazing things if you investigate Maria. She was my greatgreat-great-great-great-grandmother but I don’t identify as a particular clan because Darug nation was split into many-many-many parts in the Stolen Generation. The Maria referred to here is Maria Lock, daughter of Yarramundi, known to Europeans as ‘Chief of the Richmond Tribes,’ he belonged to the Boonooberongal clan of the Darug people. Alongside her father and clan, Maria was present during the first meeting between Governor Macquarie and the Aboriginal peoples of the Cumberland Plain in Parramatta on December 28th 1814. She was the first student of the Native
Institution, which Governor Macquarie established with the aim of educating, christianising, and assimilating Aboriginal children into colonial society. The foundation of this institute facilitated the first government policies that led to the Stolen Generations. How do you stay connected to your Indigenous heritage? Through Facebook mainly, and through research, and through keeping in contact with people who are of my family, the Lock-Webbs. In Annette Salt’s book Still Standing you mention your desire to teach Aboriginal stories and songs to your children. Which stories and songs did you choose to pass on to them and why? By the time Annette contacted me my children were both married and had their own children. So I never had the opportunity to do that but I always had Aboriginal stories in the bookcase and I still use Aboriginal tales when I’m teaching younger children at school and I teach them some of the songs in the Darug language that they relate to like ‘Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,’ which has been translated into Darug and a few other folksongy things where they know the tune and we put it into Darug. I also have a couple of Pitjantjatjara songs that the kids like singing. Growing up how did you discover these stories and songs? Research. I’m an educator and I’m very good at research and sourcing out things—there was a book in the Penrith library which was written as The History of the Darug Nation and it’s still available in the Hornsby library and every library in the State. And the acknowledgement by the Department of Education of my clear Aboriginal heritage did help me in establishing the fact that I could talk to other Aboriginal teachers, plus I was in the (NSW) Teachers Federation as a councillor and I met a lot of Aboriginal people who were involved with the Federation.
YOU ARE HERE In Salt’s interview, you mention that you were taught a historical narrative that excluded Aboriginal people, that you were brought up in a very “white world.” As an educator, and with the experiences of your children, do you see a shift in this depiction of history? I have seen a distinct shift since the Aboriginal consultations in the late 1980s where Aboriginal teachers were brought together to talk to teachers about incorporating Aboriginal influences in their consultation, in their teaching with the older children, and with the younger children. We have to have an Aboriginal perspective in everything. It also made the other teachers aware that they could still learn something about their own heritage. Let’s face it, not many teachers are of Australian heritage. There are people from all over the world, thankfully, we have such a wide variety of ethnicities within the Department of Education and every one of them brings a unique perspective on their cultural heritage but most of them are really keen to learn about their new country, the origins of people in this new country, and people will ask questions, they really-really want to know. Teachers in particular want to know and they’ll come to me and say “how can I put an Aboriginal perspective into this?” There are a lot of materials put out by the Department of Education, and publishers now, which also give an Aboriginal perspective on many topics. Were the experiences of you and your sister different due to your differing appearances? Were you treated differently? She was very dark and she always claimed Italian heritage if anyone asked her. I was very fair, no one asked me about Aboriginal heritage. So I was given a lot more freedom I guess to be myself and to grow whereas she tended to be judged a little because of her dark colouring and dark hair. Are there places that have a special significance to you in Darug country? I know when I’m on Darug country. The land I walk on tells me and I can tell when I walk into another country and I don’t know how to explain that but the Darug land has a particular feel to it under your feet. It’s just Darug country. Most of the country that my people came from is the lower Blue Mountains, Penrith, St Marys. In fact, quite a few of my relatives live there still.
There is a feeling, as an Aboriginal, you do know your own country. There’s no special place but when you’re not there you know you’re not home. It’s not a house, it’s not an area, it’s a feeling that: this is my country. Do you speak the language (or alternatively languages) of the Darug nation? They have managed to recapture a lot of the language but it’s very rarely spoken because most of my generation and the next two generations are the stolen people. My children had no interaction with other Darug children, not that I didn’t want to but that we were scattered so far and it’s very hard to get back together. There is an interesting thing though, I’m acknowledged by other Aboriginal people without having to say “I’m Aboriginal.” I was on a train one day and these Aboriginal women were fighting. There were a couple of other people who said “come on, let’s get out of here,” and I just looked at them and said, “they’re not hurting anyone.” They turned around and said “thanks cuz.”
Aboriginals are not a unique tribe, they are people, who happen to have a particular heritage just like everybody else has a unique heritage that is unique to you... I think you need to acknowledge that Aboriginal heritage is unique. That we are blessed to be Aboriginal people. To live in a land that is so blessed and originally they talked about our country, our Australia, as if it was the Garden of Eden because it is such a blessed country—forget about bushfires and droughts, we won’t mention those— but you need to realise that we are normal people. There are high court judges who are Aboriginal, we have a lot of footballers, unfortunately, most of them my cousins, we have a lot of people who are lawyers, we have a lot of teachers… We are all just people who are still striving to achieve in a strange world. It’s not our land, it’s not our country but it’s where we belong and when you talk about Aboriginal people you need to acknowledge that we are unique, as you are unique, and that our heritage is of the country just as your original heritage is to the country of your ancestors and respect the fact that we do love our country probably a little bit more than you, just a little.
by Avni Bharadwaj and Jodie Ramodien
WRITING ON THE WALL
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants When I was little, my mum would send me into the kitchen to make her a cuppa. One tea bag, with milk, 5 sugars (shocking, I know). She loved the Chocolate Royal biscuits, and Cadbury Furry Friends. And sometimes on payday, she would let us get Maccas. Devon sandwiches were a regular on the menu, and her curried sausages were the best in the world. Growing up, my mum taught me many things. She taught me to always be proud of being Aboriginal, something that she wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always allowed to be. She taught me to be resilient, to stand up for myself, and stand up for others who may not always have a voice. She taught me how to navigate the world. She embodied a staunch warrior, who no one could ever stand over (even though she was barely 5 foot tall). My mum was a storyteller. Growing up, she was always sharing stories. Sometimes happy stories, but many were overwhelmingly sad stories. She told us about how she used to steal lettuce leaves from the garden, and fill them with sugar and eat them with her brother. She told us about the swimming holes she got to spend the summer in, and how there was bush for miles around her home. My mum was stolen from her family when she was eight-years-old, in 1966. She was taken around 500km away from her home, and eventually to Bidura girls home on Glebe Point Road. She was separated from her 5 siblings. This was the catalyst for a range of trauma in her life, all stemming from forced government removal. Despite the anguish, abuse and trauma she experienced from being stolen, she is the strongest person Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve ever known. She raised 5 kids, all on Darug Country in Western Sydney. She never missed a school event, or a parent teacher night, and did her best to make sure we never went to bed hungry. She surrounded us with love in all that she did. My mum passed away suddenly from complications relating to her emphysema in August 2018, aged only 60. She had smoked cigarettes since childhood. Some old people say we hold our trauma in our chests, and smoking can help ease the trauma we carry there. My mum is walking with the ancestors now. I carry her spirit in everything I do, and hope everything I do would make her proud. by Tamika Worrell
Warramba Dhulubang (Murray Turtle Spirit) (30cm x 40cm) By Dylan Barnes This painting depicts a Murray River Turtle swimming in the far South of Wiradjuri land. Every scale on these turtles and every pebble in our rivers has a rich history behind them and by understanding their natural beauty, we can reflect on the strong and vibrant culture of the Wiradjuri people.
Too White to be Black
I think I was about 14 when someone said these exact words to me – “You’re way too white to be anything close to Aboriginal.” I was enthusiastic because my sister was planning on entering Macquarie Uni through the Warawara Indigenous Unit, and I went around school telling all my friends about how exciting it was to be officially recognised (though I had no idea what that really meant). Every single friend knew my sister – she was blonde, paler skin than me, nothing to the naked eye that could identify us as Aboriginal, and yet that’s what we were. As I was proudly telling a friend about what was happening, that’s when she spoke those words to me, and I stopped talking. I just remember sitting there and asking, “What does that mean?” “Your sister is paler than you, and your mum is white, I’ve never met your dad.” “My dad has darker skin.” “But how do you know?”
Gabby and sister 34
I pulled out my iPad and showed her a photo of my grandmother, darker skinned, with curly hair and features that were unmistakably Indigenous. This friend, she wasn’t trying to be malicious to my knowledge, but it speaks to a larger problem – one that Australia needs to confront. I’m only 21, and while I am proudly Indigenous, I am careful with who I reveal this to – among friends around my age group, I am very open about my identity, but as we begin to get to middle-aged
generations and older, I am more reserved unless it is already known to them. As the world is currently following the Black Lives Matter movement, it has put into question my reservations of my own Indigenous identity and how little I have previously fought for Indigenous rights, my own rights. It called into question how little I have been educated in my history and how little Australia discusses some of its darkest points. 250 years ago, Captain James Cook landed on the shores of Australia and later declared it terra nullius, “land belonging to no one,” despite the fact that he encountered Indigenous inhabitants. Despite Australia’s best attempts to not call this what it is, Indigenous Australians experienced a systematic genocide at the hands of the European settlers and the White Australia Policy. Generations of kids were stolen from their families by the government, including my great-grandmother, who was born in Warren, 114km outside of Dubbo, to a white couple from Manly who had suffered many miscarriages. From family reports, she was told not to question her darker skin, and much of her community said that she looked like she came from the Islands, due to her frizzy hair and dark skin – because who would have an Indigenous child? This was part of the process of assimilation, to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander was not allowed in Australia, and the intention of assimilation was to Westernise and convert Aboriginal children to Christianity and pass it down through generations. These generations of stolen children were either adopted into white families very young (such as my great-grandmother) or kept on missions if they were older, where they were taught to give up Aboriginal Spirituality. These generations received an apology by the Australian Government in 2008, something they had asked John Howard’s government to do but he had flatly refused. After Kevin Rudd’s apology in 2008, Howard stated that he “[did] not believe, as a matter of principle, that one generation can accept responsibility for the acts of an earlier generation,” and disagreed with the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report, which stated that the forcible removal of children after 1946 amounted to genocide under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While his current generation may not be at fault, it was the actions of the Federal Government, State Governments, police services and churches that led to the legal forced removal of Indigenous Children for over 60 years, and it had to be acknowledged. After the National Sorry Day in 2008, it appeared the government patted itself on the back, implemented plans to “Close the Gap” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and had managed to compensate for the lasting effects of the Stolen Generations. Yet, in 2008, Indigenous children were still 6 times more likely to be removed for child welfare reasons, and 21 times more likely to be in juvenile detention centres. A 2018 report, based on statistics from 2016-17, stated that 58.7 per 1000 Indigenous children were still being removed from their homes compared to 5.8 per 1000 non-Indigenous children. It’s a reminder of how privileged I am to be fair skinned – how I can, and should, fight for other Indigenous Australians because it’s disgusting how much we have let happen to Indigenous communities. How they live isn’t a “lifestyle choice,” no matter what Tony Abbott believes, it is a poverty our government has kept them in, especially in rural communities. Australia has a dark and bloody history that we are uncomfortable facing; the actions of our ancestors, whether from the First Fleet or after, are still affecting our 35
society now. It is two very bloody centuries of genocide and assimilation, of building a system that ultimately benefits those of European heritage (or to put it simply, those with fair skin), that has led to Indigenous communities living in poverty and in prison, and Australia has let that happen. I still remember someone asking why Indigenous Australians are complaining so much about their situations when the government has already apologised – and it’s this that has led us to the present Black Lives Matter movement. They may have apologised for their actions, but they sure have not done as much to change the situation – Indigenous people are 3% of the Australian population, and yet they are 28% of the prison population (according to 2018 statistics); an estimated 31.4% of Indigenous Australians live in poverty, especially in rural communities who do not get as much support; and the Indigenous life expectancy is significantly lower than those of non-Indigenous backgrounds by a minimum of 10 years. Despite what some Australians believe, the gap has not been closed, we do not get everything for free, and yes, we are dying at higher rates in custody than you think. As of June 5th, 2020, 437 Indigenous people have died in some form of police custody since 1991. That is 15 deaths per year. And yet we still have to fight to be heard and seen as humans. This may seem like a long time ago in the time of 2020, but only last year, NSW One Nation Leader Mark Latham proposed that Indigenous people take a DNA test to prove that they were (in his words) at least 25% Indigenous. On June 11th, 2020, Scott Morrison did say that the colony in NSW was founded to be without slavery, and that slavery in Australia did not exist. However, despite what both these men said, I can exist as an Indigenous Australian and be fair-skinned, Mr. Latham, and slavery did exist in Australia, Mr. Morrison, as Indigenous men were chained up and forced into labour to work on sugar cane farms and become stockmen. Why does being Indigenous seem to mean that I am somehow less human? Why do I have to fight some people just to be recognised as I am? Why should other Indigenous Australians have to fight just to live? To be heard and seen? Not all of us are black, but we still get their experience, their pain is our pain. It shouldn’t have taken America burning for Australia to wake up – and we cannot keep denying that what has happened in America does not happen here. Senator Pat Dodson, a commissioner on the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, recently said in the Senate, “For too long – nice words, good intentions – but the lack of action and commitment has not seen a reduction to the custodies or the deaths in custody.” Don’t let this issue go to the back of your mind again. We must commit to fully ending this for our future generations, as Australians. Indigenous lives matter, now and always. And don’t forget, the land you stand on always has been and always will be Aboriginal land. by Gabrielle Green
Epiphany in Épernay
The first language we learn has been called our heart language. When my father went to school in Cowra, on Wiradjuri land, he would have been given physical punishment for speaking Wiradjuri. Thankfully I now own a Wiradjuri dictionary. This is due to the hard work of Elders who have preserved and now teach Wiradjuri. Our heart language is important – in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities there are words that describe things in a way that English fails to grasp. People talk about “The Dreaming” as if it were a myth. The Dreaming is much more and includes law and lore. This quote is one summary of the feeling about language:
“Our language is like a pearl inside a shell. The shell is like the people that carry the language. If our language is taken away, then that would be like a pearl that is gone. We would be like an empty oyster shell.”
“Our language is like a pearl inside a shell. The shell is like the people that carry the language. If our language is taken away, then that would be like a pearl that is gone. We would be like an empty oyster shell.” – Yurranydjil Dhurrkay, Galiwin’ku, North East Arnhem Land (Elcho Island). The current state of Indigenous Australian languages sees only 13 still being learnt by children. Some of these children in remote parts of Australia will enter school speaking 3 or 4 dialects and very little English. Before 1788 more than 250 Indigenous Australian languages including 800 dialectal varieties were spoken. Roughly another 100 or so are spoken to by older generations, with many of these languages at risk as Elders pass away. The concept of a heart language was understood by some of the early missionaries who, with the help of Elders, translated Bible passages into Indigenous languages. Some of these early passages are in a book held by the Macquarie University Library. The introduction reads: “This volume is issued by 37
the Government of NSW, as a record of the languages of native tribes that are rapidly disappearing from the Coasts of eastern Australia. John Fraser 1892.” For some time I had been aware that to codify a language, translating the Bible into that language would not only systematically arrange the language but preserve it too. A prime example is the translation of the Bible from the original languages into French by Jean Cauvin. The French are very protective of their language and have an institute devoted to the preservation of the language. This institute has fought long and hard to reject introduced words from computer communications and other languages, sometimes without success. The French might agree with this quote: “Strong cultural identity enables one to feel proud of themselves, and speaking and maintaining one’s language raises self-esteem and enables one to feel good about themselves. Traditional language is important for maintaining strong cultural connections. Where traditional languages have been taken away from communities, a sense of loss, grief and inadequacy develops. To keep communities and generations strong, traditional language being passed from one generation to another is vital.” – Brooke Joy, descendant of Boandik people from the Mount Gambier region in South Australia. Our languages are not dead and there are many people preserving them. ‘This Place Project’ produced by the ABC in partnership with First Languages Australia does just that. Across Australia, places are known for their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names. But what do they mean? What’s the story behind them?
From the name of a town or suburb, to a street or bridge, a creek or a bend in the river, mountain, landmark, outcrop, tree – place names are a starting point for sharing Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and cultures. ‘This Place’ invites Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to create a short video about a place name, and the story behind it. Another important resource for the preservation and revival of these languages is the Australian Indigenous Languages Collection maintained by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). The collection brings together over 4,500 items such as children’s readers, bible translations, dictionaries, grammars, vocabularies, works of imagination and learning kits in 200 languages. The collection’s significance was recognised in 2009 when it was added to the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register. The Bible looms large in the preservation of languages. The Aboriginal Bibles site is a collaboration of Bible Society Australia (BSA), Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia (WBTA) and the Australia Society for Indigenous Languages (AuSIL). The French language is a great example of codifying and establishing standards. In English we have the Oxford English Dictionary as our authority. In France they have the French Academy, started in 1635 to eliminate the impurities of the French Language. At the core of the establishment is the translation of the French priest Jean Cauvin’s translation of the Bible into French. Translation of the Bible into languages other than Latin have in turn codified many other languages, in particular our First nations languages.
While different policies of suppression were applied to First Nations Languages across Australia it was the highly educated missionaries who were driven to share their beliefs, who defied government policy by learning the languages where they were posted and then translating parts of the Bible into those languages. These missionaries could see and understand that the heart language of the local people was the best way to understand their beliefs. One example is L.E. Threlkeld who was a missionary around Lake Macquarie in NSW. He learnt the language and not only translated sections of the Bible but appeared in court with the Awakabel people to explain proceedings to them. In Gunbalanya Northern Territory, they now have a New Testament with a few Old Testament books that took 70 years to translate. It is the mother tongue of the tribe who adopted my wife and her family the Gunwinggu of Western Arnhem Land. The final collaboration included linguists from Charles Darwin University along with Elders and the Anglican Minister in Gunbalanya Lois Nadjamerrick. This translation took so long because it had to be culturally safe as the structure of the Gunwinggu language is very different to and uses expressions not found in English or the original languages of the Bible.
There are snippets of our languages in place and street names. My father was born in Wombat street Forbes. Yet using street names as a way of preserving language is not specific to Australia. In Ax-en-Provence, France there are street names in French and the local ProvenĂ§al, also known as Occitan which some people still speak. Like Australian Indigenous languages, over 200 years of suppression has seen this language rarely spoken outside homes. Travelling back through France close to the town of Ă&#x2030;pernay I had my epiphany! If the French, who treasure their language can tolerate the use of both languages then so can our local councils by allowing original Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names to be displayed on streets and places of significance. by Wayne Charters
My mobs are by birth the Galari Tribe of the Wiradjuri Nation at Euabalong and by marriage the Kunwinjku Tribe of Western Arnhem Land. Galari is the name of the Lachlan River in Wiradjuri and to highlight the difficulty in preserving the integrity of a First Nations Language, Galari has become Calare as the name of the NSW electorate that started near the Lachlan River but has moved east with boundary changes and now is around Bathurst, Lithgow and Oberon. This highlights the complexity of our languages and the need to systematically make sense of them.
Profile: On Indigenous Women in Leadership and Education Grapeshot in conversation with the current President of the Indigenous Students’ Association of Macquarie University, Natasha Balsdon.
The ISA is a cultural group on campus that aims to carry on important conversations around Indigenous culture and history between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The process of reconciliation and reparation has a long way to go, but through sharing and understanding the group hopes to encourage this process of growth within our university and wider community. What does your role as President of the ISA involve? As the president of the ISA I am ultimately responsible for the ISA as a whole. This means that I am responsible for running meetings, the correspondence between ourselves and the University or other parties we may be dealing with. Would you be able to explain the importance of having your voice heard within the University community? Since becoming President at the beginning of this year, it has been quite difficult for us as a student group to have a physical presence because of COVID-19. But in the future, I hope for the ISA to have a stronger voice within the student body. Indigenous students of Macquarie University are extremely lucky to have such an amazing Indigenous centre in Walanga Muru which has such an amazing presence on (and off) campus! Has your perception of yourself, as a young Indigenous woman in a perceived position of power, altered? Not particularly, I have definitely become more aware of what I share on Facebook and Instagram. I think because of COVID-19 it has made this a lot different. As all of our ISA meetings and events have been done online for most of this year, I haven’t really felt like I was, ‘in charge,’ as such. I am sure that when we are able to hold and go to events as well as have meetings face-to-face again this will change, but for now I’m just Natasha who can’t seem to use Zoom!
What has your journey to becoming the President of the ISA looked like? My journey to President was quite sudden and unexpected. I have been a member of the ISA since 2018, and stepped into the role of Media and Communications Manager halfway through 2019. I applied for the position of Vice President for 2020 and started this year in the position. Unfortunately, in an unforeseen turn of events, the then President had to step away from the Executive Team which meant I had to step up into the role of President very quickly. There were no struggles per se, but I did doubt myself and how well I would do as the President. But since stepping up, I have loved every moment and am so grateful to have such an amazing Management Committee supporting me personally and in the position of President. Has leadership always been something you have aspired to? Yes! Ever since I understood what a Prime Minister was, that’s who I’ve wanted to be. Working my way through the ranks to the leader of Australia has always been an ambition of mine. For as long as I can remember, I have always been someone to take control of situations and boss everyone about (but in a nice way, I promise). Leadership to me is something that can be achieved at so many levels, whether those be as extreme as becoming the Prime Minister or just ushering someone to move registers at the supermarket. Little acts of directing people to do better is something that I have seemed to do my whole life and I don’t think that it will stop anytime soon. Who are your role models? I have so many people in my life that have inspired me or guided me throughout. I am so grateful for everyone who has guided, taught or helped me along the way. But two of my main inspirations would be: My Mum, Sue. She is an amazingly strong woman with such passion and drive for everything that she does. My Mum and I are so alike on so many levels and I could go on about how terrific she is forever. If I can be half as brilliant as she is, I think I will turn out okay. And my favourite high school teacher, Ms D. She was such a down to earth educator who taught in such a comforting and supportive way, she encourages her students to do their best in such a kind, heartfelt and sincere way. I learnt so much from her but in such a unique and memorable way. We would learn creatively and in such an unconventional way which made it so much more enjoyable as a student in high school. She taught me for different subjects throughout high school and made every single one so much fun and I thank her for all her support and guidance throughout my high schooling years. She really has shaped the way I wish to teach students and I am so grateful for our paths crossing! You are studying a degree in primary education. In what ways do you see education playing a role in cross-cultural communication? [For example, in bridging the gap in White Australian education and Indigenous education] I feel as if bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous education is simple. 41
Engage Indigenous scholars, teachers, and Elders, in the creation of resources, syllabus and curriculum that will allow everyone to learn about Indigenous culture, history and everything in between. Cross-cultural education plays a large part in the education that children have of other cultures, not only First Nations culture, but the history and customs of so many others. This is an eye-opening moment for students and allows them to learn about their peers and the history of where their families may come from. It is so important for cross-cultural education in Australia as we are such a multicultural nation which makes us so unique, so our education system should be able to accompany that. Can you comment on the levels of power that currently pervade our education system in Australia? Whether they be negative or positive? I feel as if the people who are making decisions for Australia’s youth are quite out of touch with what actually goes on in their everyday lives. There are a lot of people in positions of power who have been there for ages, and haven’t spent a lot of time in a classroom setting to see how students are interacting with the set curriculum and syllabus. There are definite positives of the current education system, but unfortunately there are also some major negatives which need correcting. In your opinion, how should primary schools teach their students about Indigenous culture and history? Indigenous culture and history are two very important things that Australian students unfortunately don’t get taught to the greatest potential. Firstly, there should be a part of the curriculum that explicitly addresses Indigenous culture and history. In this topic, educators could call in local Elders, members of the local Land Council or the school’s [if they have one] Aboriginal Education Officer for some insight into the topic and give the students a more personal experience with Indigenous culture and history. If educators are nervous about teaching their students First Nations history, there are so many resources available to assist you and so many people you can seek assistance from and in my experience so many people are willing to share their knowledge, especially to children. What is your advice to Indigenous women looking to become leaders in their communities and work? Just do it! If you’re nervous, that’s normal – feeling a little bit anxious, that’s normal too! Look for opportunities such as internships or volunteering to put yourself out there. There will always be someone willing to assist you in your journey, you just need to keep an eye out for them. The best way to climb the leadership ladder is to make as many connections and relationships as you can through networking. The best advice I could give someone is, be the person you wish your younger self could have looked up to! by Sara Zarriello
A Sojourn in the PM’s Response The way in which we talk about subjects is directly political, it encapsulates, reinforces and persuades a set of ideals upon passive audiences. This really isn’t a new concept. We do it all the time in ordinary life. Say for example the way that our Australian swearing tends to denote a tone of misogyny. Key examples being: bitch, slut, whore, cunt, etc. It’s clear that the way we phrase subjects is linked to ideologies that we maintain or that were subtly handed down to us by our forefathers (because apparently foremothers don’t exist). Whilst this can be accidental, taught or desensitised by exposure, it does have frightening implications on the way we view the world. Rhetoric in this form has almost always been used as a tool for perpetuating racism and formalising distinctions between groups whilst promoting certain collectives, usually those that are steeped in Eurocentric ideologies. A quick dive into the rhetoric of our Prime Minister, the sweetly named Scomo, is an important exercise for every person. We’re gonna break down what Scomo has said and the meaning behind it. Simple as that. First though, let’s have a quick look at a nifty little Australian phrase as a warm up. Let’s start with every politician’s favourite “it’s un-Australian.” If we take the words at face value we get the simple fact that whatever it is, it is not Australian. But what does that actually mean? Does it mean it did not come from Australia, to which we draw the conclusion that something not made in Australia and anyone not born in Australia are un-Australian? By using this logic, immigrants who have lived here almost their entire lives and who have been immersed in our culture are un-Australian. Does it mean that it is not of the Australian ideology? That this is not what Australia believes in or values in society? Through this conceptualization a person who has never been to or heard of Australia could be considered “Australian” merely because they fulfill the ideological requirements. The biggest problem with the term un-Australian is that it tells us what Australia isn’t – rather than what it is, what it believes in or what it values. This use of ‘Orwellian’ language causes so much fundamental slippage in the meaning and makes the term “un-Australian” practically devoid of significance and hence empty rhetoric. The only thing it captures is the philosophy that you are either Australian or you are not – the phrase “un-Australian” removes the issue away from Australia by saying “it isn’t us.” Maybe that’s what it means to be “Australian.” Scott Morrison’s comment that, “there was no slavery in Australia,” is probably an honest mistake. I mean if we taught history from a factual perspective, it would be rife with genocide, dehumanisation and slavery, or slavery hidden behind a very, very thin veil of technicality. Yes there were no laws permitting slavery – but there were no laws against it either. So let’s delve into it. The question: On closing the gap, there’s been a lot of frustration from First Nations people this week about the lack of tangible progress in achieving those measures. How committed are you to closing the gaps? There’s many of them. And just in terms of your comments yesterday about Australia not having had slavery – do you regret those comments and do you accept that we have seen those actions here in Australia that First Nations have been very upset to hear you make those remarks?
I know this is a bloody long question but for the sake of clarity I’ve presented it word for word. Scott Morrison’s response was rather long winded and probably wouldn’t fit in this article so I’ll give you a brief synopsis with some key quotes: I’m not racist: in this section Morrison precedes to suggest several reasons as to why he is not racist, more so that he supports Indigenous communities. Rather than apologise he begins with the classic “I’m not racist and here’s why” scenario, I mean he went to the national apology right? • “I’ve had an enduring and committed passion to closing the gap.” • “One of the most important things I’ve had the opportunity to participate in as a member of parliament was in those first few weeks, when I was able to stand for the national apology.” • “...we have had problems in our past, we have acknowledged those and indeed in our federal parliament, we have acknowledged those.” (Because acknowledging it has definitely fixed the problem…) Actually technically I’m right: following this he runs into my favourite dialogue choice; the “I’m right about this.” I mean as I’ve said before, not having laws that approve of slavery doesn’t mean that slavery was deemed illegal – ironically enough it really doesn’t mean much. Neutrality and indifference rarely favours the oppressed. • “...one of the principles was to be that Australia, or in that case NSW, was not to have lawful slavery.” • “There was not the laws that have ever approved of slavery in this country.” Interesting apologies and more acknowledgment: in this section Morrison apologises, but only for the fact that his comments gave offence. Followed by a quick regression into Actually technically I’m right. In no part of this entire response does Morrison actually apologise for the comments. He does not take responsibility for his words and in fact makes a point that he is only sorry they caused offense. Funnily enough, he never uses the word “sorry” in his apology. •
“My comments were not intended to give offence and if they did, I deeply regret that and apologise for that. But this is not about getting into the history wars.” • “Australia, yes we have had issues in our history, we have acknowledged them.” I’m not racist (reprise): again we regress back into the beginning ideology that Scott Morrison is in fact not racist. I mean look how much he cares and invests in Indigenous communities. I mean it’s not like we just had protests because the treatment of First Nations peoples is so appalling. But hey what do we know. • “...those who I work closely with, in this area, would know that personally I have been heavily invested in these issues and I will continue to be heavily invested.”
A tribute to his predecessors: yes in a response to his historically inaccurate (and in my opinion severely ignorant) comments he brings up past Prime Ministers. He spends more time talking about past PM’s and PM responsibilities than he does actually apologising. Need I say more? • “I pay tribute to my predecessors as Prime Minister because you know when you’re Prime Minister you know this [Indigenous issues] is a responsibility that you have.” • “...that [responsibility] has always been the case from either side of politics.” • “I generally don’t believe there are large divisions when it comes to the issue of acknowledging the treatment of Indigenous Australians in this country.” (We’ve done a lot of acknowledging Indigenous issues but I haven’t heard a ‘sorry’ or a ‘we really need to do something about it.’) We’re not racist: this is the sister part to I’m not racist 1 and 2. In this part we back-track into why Morrison is the biggest advocate for Indigenous issues and how Australia is too. It appears that Morrison’s greatest poetic device is repetition – if you say it enough it will eventually become true, correct? • “But I tell you what there is an even bigger passion for and that is to ensure that the passage of reconciliation, the process of improving lives and outcomes of Indigenous Australians is foremost in our minds and I think all Australians of good will and good faith are endeavouring to achieve that.”
If we have a quick review of the entire response, which only lasted about 4 minutes, we find that barely any time is actually spent taking responsibility or even apologising for the comments. This is a simple matter, and the response is also simple – I’m sorry, I will do better. I could give you a lecture about how history is taught, how our language use perpetuates the “gap” and how we need to properly work with Indigenous communities to make amends. Unfortunately this is unlikely. Morrison’s response here is a perfect reason why. Properly committing to fixing these wrongs would mean that Australia has to change, that Australia has to take proper accountability for its actions. The truth is our Government doesn’t want to hold accountability. They would rather chase after acknowledgement and merely saying sorry. For them, sorry is enough. Scott Morrison did get one thing right though – this isn’t about history wars. We don’t care if you don’t think you should deal with these issues because you specifically didn’t cause this. I had a friend much like Morrison who once said to me, “I didn’t cause the Stolen Generations, why should I have to fix it?” Sorry isn’t enough. This lingering ideology that underpins and contextualises communication with Indigenous communities is the reason change is difficult. The entirety of Australia would have to admit that they are the reason why we see a continued gap between Indigenous populations and the rest of Australia. Scott Morrison, our elected leader, can’t even say sorry or admit he was wrong. I’m not holding my breath for the rest of Australia. by Rhys Cutler
Grapeshot sits down with Olivia Williams, the founder of the renowned Instagram account @blakbusiness
The Instagram account @blakbusiness first started making waves around January 26th this year. Known as Australia Day to some, and Invasion Day to others, the account provided accessible educational resources explaining the Indigenous perspective on Australia Day and the ongoing issues faced by First Nations peoples since the invasion of their land. Posts such as “Why Do Indigenous Australians Call Australia Day, Invasion Day?” were re-posted on mass to Instagram stories and generated an important conversation about our generation’s relationship with Australia Day. The now-renowned account was founded by Wiradjuri woman Olivia Williams, who was born and raised on Biripi country, studied in Narrm (Melbourne) and now lives on Ngunnawal Country. In the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter movement, Grapeshot sat down with Olivia to discuss her experiences running @blakbusiness and her views on allyship in the wake of our global reckoning on race. Can you explain what your Instagram page Blak Business is all about? At its core, Blak Business is about sharing information relevant to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Information on Blak Business includes significant dates, current affairs, TV programs, resources, creators, businesses, petitions and more. ‘Business’ is a play on the word – it means ‘stuff’ in the same way we say ‘business’ when we talk about Women’s Business, Men’s Business or Sorry Business, this is Blak Business. I strive to make Blak Business really accessible for both our mob and for non-Indigenous people too. Why did you start Blak Business? I started Blak Business as a space to share information about the topics I found I was often talking about with other mob and non-Indigenous people too. I felt as though people really wanted to learn more about our community but didn’t know where to start. I create content for Blak Business, share other mob’s content, recommended resources and invite mob to host Instagram story takeovers to share some of their passion and story with followers. What has the response to Blak Business been like? The response and support has been so deadly. I’m really pleased that Blak Business has resonated with so many people and that people continue to engage with the page. I really appreciate when followers share Blak Business content with their friends, families, colleagues, schools etc. as there are only a certain number of people I can reach by myself, but [through] the support of followers the content and conversation is opened to more and more people. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in running the account, which now has over 70,000 followers? Blak Business is my passion project that I do outside of my full-time 9 to 5 job. Avoiding burn-out is something I really struggle with. I would like to work towards making Blak Business more sustainable. I have a few sistas helping me now and it would be deadly to become more financially sustainable so that we could spend more valuable time developing Blak Business.
In light of the recent global Black Lives Matter movement, are you hopeful that the struggles and stories of Indigenous Australians will now be more at the forefront of Australia’s social consciousness? Black Lives Matter is more than just a 2020 movement. For decades we have been speaking the truth and calling for honesty, accountability and change. Nonetheless, it cannot be negated that recent events have brought more people to the conversation. The conversation started before this year and it will continue after this year. We will continue to share our experience and stories and I encourage others to continue to listen, learn and support when it’s not trending. You provide a wealth of educational resources on your platform. Do you ever feel the emotional labour of providing this education to non-Indigenous peoples? Blak Business can be very emotionally exhausting. For self-preservation and wellbeing, I am strong on my boundaries. For example, I do not entertain back and forth debates with those who are evidently close-minded to the content being shared, even if I am passionate about the topic. Also, other mob have shared with me that Blak Business has reduced the amount of emotional labour they do. For me this is a really rewarding outcome. If running Blak Business means that mob aren’t subject to as much emotional labour which can have negative impacts on health, then I am so proud to be doing that for my community. What are the key things non-Indigenous peoples/white folk should be doing in the wake of the BLM movement? The recent traction of the BLM movements has challenged many peoples long-held ideologies, perspectives and worldviews which can be very unsettling, uncomfortable and overwhelming. I encourage people to sit with this discomfort and persist. You do not need to read, watch, listen, see and do everything all at once; this will only burn you out. Continue to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content, resources and information at a safe pace. Sit with this new knowledge, discuss it with others, reflect on what feelings arise and be open-minded to new perspectives. You can follow social media pages run by mob, listen to podcasts and music from our community, read a book written by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander author, encourage conversation with those around you, purchase something from an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander business, the list goes on...
Olivia’s work has provided important resources for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to learn, grow and be challenged in their perceptions on race. Anti-racist work is hard, uncomfortable and harrowing, but it is vital. When people like Olivia reach out and speak to non-BIPOC people, it’s important to do the work and listen, so that the emotional labour of Olivia and other First Nations people is not done in vain. To be further challenged and grow in your understanding of Indigenous Australian culture go follow @blakbusiness on Instagram. by Katelyn Free
Budhiy-Galang (Small Islands) (40cm x 30cm) By Dylan Barnes This artwork represents the Torres Strait Islands and various language groups and communities that exist on each island. Every island is connected to one another. They are able to share their Dreaming stories, Lore, resources and kinship ties across the seas.
Grateful. I would like to pretend That things Are getting Better. But just like We had people Like Lachlan Macquarie’s men Then, Now We have companies Like Rio Tinto Now; Killing people Because they were Born into a Different culture, Destroying Places That stop Us from Drowning in This shallow World.
And you call Yourself “Civilised.” I am eternally Grateful For the sky, Because that Is the one thing You can’t takeaway From us. At least that Can be passed to The next generation.
by Kaveri Talukder
To Grandma, All that ’s left are memories of you. They aren’t even mine . You died before I was born , and I never got to ask what you wanted to be called – maybe Grandmother, Nan , Gran , Granny, but I guess I’ve always known you as Grandma. I didn’t really know who else I could talk to, besides I’ve always believed that the dead are the best listeners. It feels weird writing a letter to you, because I wonder who you were , outside the stories I’ve been told . You smoking on the front porch , harsh words, liquor, cigarettes – anything to ease , to dull the world . Honey to help the medicine go down – I guess honey comes in many forms.
Before we fell out, Dad took me to your grave .
To the cemetery, to the gardens and that closely mowed lawn . It was so maintained and proper – but it ’s what you asked for so it ’s what you got. We stood by the Ibis gardens in the close-knit tree’s shade . They scattered your ashes amongst the ibis statues.
Most people have their family dinners, a story, a name .
I do have those , or whatever we could find – the morsels and the breadcrumbs that we’ve followed . It ’s funny though . I thought that finding these small truths would alleviate some of the burden , some of the confusion , bring clarity to who I was and where I was from. But every breadcrumb we find only makes me realise how hungry I am, how starved I’ve been . One side of my family, mum’s (I don’t think you really met them), know where they came from and what they are – their tree has roots and flowers with the strong line of women and men that I see every Christmas and at special occasions. I’m lucky to see our family once a year (and that ’s me being kind). I do see Vicky and her children sometimes. They escaped the cycle , maybe we all did . I guess we have that in common – surviving the Smith anger. You’d be surprised how little has changed . The same cycles, just painted in different colours. Our family still struggles to communicate and the scars that coloured us have not disappeared . I guess it was passed down , the weight, the burden , the shame . I’ve been told stories of your childhood , how you had to stay inside in the summertime because your skin went too dark , how you refused to talk about where we came from, about our ancestry. All of that congregated into my father. People say Grandfather hated my dad . Maybe hate’s a strong word , more of a thorough dislike , a disdain for his existence . When you line the children up you can see why. His skin was too dark and his hair to black . My Father didn’t really care to talk about our Indigenous heritage – he preferred the pub and the thrill of gambling. I suppose I’ve picked up your harsh tongue and steadfast will .
We carry these burdens together.
The shame finally trickled down unto me , sinking into the skin and pervading my thoughts. When I was child my mother was accused of suntanning me because my skin had gone so dark in the summer sun . It doesn’t matter how much sunscreen I use , my skin darkens and my
roots flower for all to see . I didn’t know my heritage and mum decided that we should find it – so we searched and searched until the paper ’s ran out and the breadcrumbs were gone . When school came around I decided to tick a little box, the Indigenous box, and suddenly I was the kid that read out the welcome to country at every assembly. I got the ridicule in so many forms. I was told that I was too white , that my percentage was too small , that my hair was too blond . Here was that shame you felt again and it was so perverse , so encompassing, so demanding. There was so little I felt I could do. I stopped talking about it, I stopped reading the welcome to country, I laughed when people mocked me and my family. I made a joke with myself that if I concentrated hard enough that I could get all the Indigenous blood into my big toe . Needless to say it wasn’t really a joke . It ’s the reason I struggle with feeling like I’m part of the Indigenous community, I wasn’t enough for them and I wasn’t enough for me . I didn’t speak to anyone about what happened when we left my Father - I didn’t speak of the things that tormented me . I felt like we were playing out a stereotype , the destroyed Indigenous family, the broken record that should just fix itself. I wouldn’t give them more ammunition to throw at me . I was so tired of percentages, tired of skin pigment, tired of petrol jokes. I was saturated in shame , and what had once painted me so brilliantly was suddenly stripped and burnt for all to see . I played into my light-skin and wouldn’t raise my voice to argue , to defend my people , my family, myself. I could just be some white kid with tanned skin from too many days at the beach . I hid the pieces of my history that had built me , that made me who I was because the shame was so heavy. I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t be , but I am. I guess this letter ’s an apology. I’m sorry that I can’t survive with the little that I have – I want to know more and I’m going to ask questions, I’m going to fight for us and our family, I’m gonna bear our scars freely and not feel ashamed . I don’t want what ’s happened to us to happen to anyone else . Never again . It ’s time we let it go don’t you think , let go of all that shame . I hope you won't be angry with me , it must be hard because I’m so far away from you and I wasn’t raised the same way. We’re so similar yet so different – painted with the same colours but seeing a different scene , a different world , a different future . Even if you need to be angry, sad or tired that ’s ok . Let me take this burden and maybe we can move forward , just a step forward begins the march . Just know that through it all I love you.
One day it will be my turn to take my children to the Ibises.
Until then Grandma . Sunshine and Warmth , Rhys Cutler-Smith
Birramal Dhin-Galang (Bush Berries) (40.5cm x 40.5cm) By Dylan Barnes In this artwork I wanted to depict the vibrant colours, complex anatomy and spiritual essence of bush foods, particularly the bush berries that grow on Mother Earth. This artwork captures the spiritual presences that exist within the Dreaming, to which the spirits of humans, animals, the Earth, and bush foods exist on a physical and spiritual continuum.
by Aylish Dowsett Too Much Lip: by Melissa Lucashenko
The Old Lie: by Claire G. Coleman
Described as “gritty and darkly hilarious,” Too Much Lip weaves together drama, family and humour to create this must-read novel. Humour is a great way to approach difficult issues and this book is no exception. Too Much Lip was the winner of the 2019 Miles Franklin Award, so you’ll be in for a great read.
Although set within the science fiction realm, Claire Coleman’s The Old Lie explores familiar issues faced by Indigenous peoples today. The book follows a group of Indigenous characters who struggle with discrimination and who seek to return home to their culture and country. Coleman states she wants to “make sure that no one forgets Aborignal people exist” and indeed, you won’t with her emotional novel.
The Yield: by Tara June Winch Tara June Winch’s The Yield is an emotional and brilliantly written book. Having won many prizes including the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award, it explores the struggles and celebration of the Wiradjuri peoples as they reclaim their identities, language and stories. The cover image is also beautiful, so check it out! Australia Day: by Stan Grant What does it mean to be Australian? Stan Grant’s Australia Day raises this question of identity in his beautifully written novel. Grant divides the book into sections which include place, land, family, race, history and nation and, he hopes, that by reading it, it will “give you an idea of what it’s like to be an Australian.” Catching Teller Crow: by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina Love a good crime story? Catching Teller Crow is an award-winning novel written by brother and sister duo Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina. Follow Beth Teller as she helps her father, a detective, solve a crime in a rural Australian town. The twist to this story lies in Beth’s identity; she’s a ghost, and her father is the only person who can communicate with her. Catching Teller Crow confronts some dark themes, but is a must-read for crime junkies.
Dark Emu: by Bruce Pascoe A must-read for all Australians and anyone interested in Indigenous culture, Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu debunks the beliefs held over pre-colonial Australians. Pascoe weaves together diary and record extracts to create his profound novel. He says that by reading the book it is an “opportunity to learn the real history [of Australia] and learn your country,” yet it will also “make [you] proud of such an incredible history.” Growing up Aboriginal in Australia: Edited by Anita Heiss An eye-opening and inspiring book, Growing up Aboriginal in Australia is a must read for all Australians and those interested in Aboriginal culture. Well-known authors and new writers combine their voices to show the diverse experiences of being Aboriginal. Todd Philips, a tutor at the university, even has his own story in the book, so you should definitely check it out!
NO SUGAR: by Jack Davis
No Sugar is a play set in 1930’s Northam, Western Australia. It is a part of three plays in Jack Davis’s The First Born Trilogy and follows a Nyoongah family in their opposition against government ‘protection’ policies. Whilst the play highlights the harsh treatment of these peoples, it also shows their strength and determination to preserve their culture. Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature: Edited by Anita Heiss and Peter Minter Looking for Aboriginal writing in both fiction and non-fiction? The Macquarie PEN Anthropology of Aboriginal Literature offers a diverse range of work spanning over 200 years. Dive into the book to read petitions, political letters, journalism, poetry, prose, drama and much more. The White Girl: by Tony Birch A book driven by love and strength, The White Girl follows Odette and her granddaughter as they navigate the unjust laws in their country town. Tony Birch is an award-winning Indigenous writer and is the author of many books including Ghost River, Shadowboxing, The Promise, Father’s Day and Common people.
by Aylish Dowsett
NITV (National Indigenous Television) on SBS
National Indigenous Television (NITV) is a free-to-air channel on SBS. Since its launch in 2007, it now reaches over two million Australians a month, and is continuing to grow. The channel is made for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but it hopes to educate and open a conversation for all Australians. Watch NITV on channel 34 on SBS or through the SBS On Demand app.
Black Comedy (2014– present) Executive producers, Kath Shelper and Mark O’Toole Hilarious and politically incorrect, Black Comedy describes itself as a show for everyone to watch. Go on a journey with a cast of amazing writers and performers and, as the show proclaims, “go blackly where no blackfella has gone before.”
The Sapphires (2012) Directed by Wayne Blair Fun, bright and full of music, The Sapphires is a film most Australians would have heard of. Follow four intelligent Aboriginal women as they chase their singing dreams across the landscape of the Vietnam war. This film is based on a true story and is a beautiful sentiment to the original soul group. Watch The Sapphires on Netflix or buy on iTunes!
Redfern Now (2012-2015) Directed by Rachel Perkins, Wayne Blair, Leah Purcell, Catriona McKenzie, Adrian Russel Wills, and Beck Cole
Cleverman (2016-2017) Written by Ryan Griffen Directed by Wayne Blair and Leah Purcell
Redfern Now is a powerful series following six different families whose lives are forever changed by a single incident. With a brilliant cast of actors and writers including Wayne Blair and Deborah Mailman, Redfern Now is a must-watch during these long isolation days.
Set in a futuristic version of our world, Cleverman is a thrilling series based on Aboriginal peoples Dreamtime stories. Creatures named as the Hairypeople seek protection in ‘the zone,’ an area where humans and Hairypeople coexist. It is here where they hide from other humans that wish to silence and eradicate them. Watch the critically acclaimed show for free on ABC Iview.
Blue Water Empire (2019) Directed by Steven McGregor Are documentaries your thing? Blue Water Empire is a three-part dramatised documentary of Torres Strait Islander peoples history. An outstanding cast brings this show to life, including writer, producer and actor Aaron Fa’Aoso. Buy the documentary from Bunya Productions and learn your history!
Top End Wedding (2019) Directed by Wayne Blair Who doesn’t love a good Romcom? Top End Wedding is full of romance, drama and plenty of shenanigans that anyone would enjoy. In only ten days, Lauren and Ned must find Lauren’s missing mother and reunite her parents, all before their wedding. Watch on Netflix or buy on iTunes and enjoy!
Samson & Delilah (2009) Directed by Warick Thornton Amidst a rural town in the central Australian desert, love blooms. Samson & Delilah is a beautifully shot film, with wide, sweeping shots of the stunning Australian landscape. Though it may be beautiful, the film also highlights important issues faced by the Aborignal community, including poverty and the destruction of culture. But where there is love, there is always hope. Watch Samson & Delilah free on ABC Iview or purchase on iTunes!
Sweet Country (2017) Directed by Warick Thornton Based on real events, Sweet Country is a must-see Australian film. After an Aboriginal farm worker kills a white man in self defence, he and his wife are forced to flee their town. Watch Warick Thornton’s stunning film on iTunes.
Opportunities and Resources by Aylish Dowsett
First Nations Australia Writers Network
Born from a Twitter account in 2012, IndigenousX is a website that allows Indigenous peoples to have a voice. IndigenousX seeks to challenge stereotypes, by allowing the Indigenous community to share their opinions, experiences and knowledge with the digital world. Visit their website to learn more about politics, history, technology, education and upcoming events.
A resource created for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN) is dedicated to helping writers and storytellers. The FNAWN supports and fosters writers by helping to develop their craft and assisting them with opportunities. This service is available through free membership on their website.
Overland In particular, check out issues 230 Autumn 2018, 238 Autumn 2020 and 233 Summer 2018. Describing itself as “Australia’s only radical literary magazine,” Overland publishes print journals as well as an online magazine. The journal-magazine features a strong focus on underrepresented voices and is always looking for new, original work to publish. Interested? Head on over to their website to submit your fiction, poetry, nonfiction and art. AIME: Indigenous Mentoring Program The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (also known as AIME), has a website exploding with colours, information and opportunities. AIME provides mentoring for children aged 12-18 in the form of workshops known as imagination factories. The workshops aim to inspire kids, as well as providing much needed support between high school and university. Visit the website to get involved today! Australians Together Australians Together is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to bring Indigenous and other Australians together. With their voices, they hope to impart the true stories of Australia’s history, its impacts on the present and dreams for the future. Want to get involved? Check out their website and join the movement! Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Want to learn more about First Nations peoples culture? The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has a collection of over one million items including art, photographs, audio recordings, artefacts, film and much more. AIATSIS aims to promote and preserve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture by allowing the public access to these materials. You can visit the institute in Canberra, or hop online to explore Australia’s cultures and history.
National Indigenous Times Starting off as a print newspaper in 2002, The National Indigenous Times (NIT) has since evolved into a thriving online news site. NIT reports on issues that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across a range of areas including sport, news, business, the arts and culture. They also announce events, advertise jobs and even have an online shop. KARI: Aboriginal Support Services The Aboriginal Community Support and Preservation Services, also known as KARI, supports Indigenous peoples through KARI Limited and the KARI Foundation. KARI Limited is Australia’s largest Aboriginal foster care agency, whilst KARI Foundation provides opportunities and education. The website also allows you to donate to KARI, and advertises employment opportunities and news.
AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples Looking for a peer reviewed journal? AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, showcases Indigenous perspectives and experiences from all over the world. The journal is internationally peer reviewed and covers a range of issues like health, education, politics, literature, psychology and much more. View the range of articles online by preview or by purchasing. SEED: Youth Climate Network Climate change is becoming more visible every day, so why not get involved in creating a better future? SEED is Australia’s first Indigenous youth organisation for climate justice. Make a stand by volunteering with SEED, supporting them by donation or working with them. Create a sustainable future and get involved!
Artist Feature: Leah Flanagan Leah Flanagan is an Australian singer-songwriter hailing from Darwin. She is of Indigenous, Italian and Irish ancestry, more specifically the Alyawarre people of the Northern Territory and was raised in a melting pot of cultures. Graduating from the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, Leah earned her degree in classical music and has since made her mark on the Australian music scene. Not only does Leah write and perform her music, she has been part of theatre production and major arts festivals. Collaboration is central to Leah’s art. She has worked with many notable musicians including Archie Roach and Paul Kelly and has toured widely in Australia in a career that spans over a decade. Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, Leah’s own show Midnight Muses at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Shane Howard’s Exile: Songs and Tales of Irish Australia are just a few of Flanagan’s notable projects. Despite these fabulous collaborative ventures, Leah’s career and work as a singer-songwriter are also noteworthy. Often wielding her trusty ukulele, Leah shares captivating and heartfelt stories to her audiences, shedding light on narratives often hidden by time and distance. A compelling narrative can always be found at the heart of Leah’s lyrics, weaving intricate and nuanced tales that have yet to be discovered. Leah has released two studio albums, first Nirvana Nights in 2010 and later Saudades in 2016, as well as several singles. In an interview in 2016 Flanagan herself advised against reading too much into her own songs, as despite their autobiographical vibes, they are not. That being said, Leah has released three singles in the last year that speak to key issues facing our continent and in my opinion, they provide a perspective that is interestingly absent from mainstream discourse. I should preface this as being my own interpretation of the songs; however, I would argue that such an interpretation is reasonable. Two of those singles, Love Like 60
Water and Aralia, feature the Australian landscape as the subject of affection, longing and nostalgia. It is rare for a land, whose inherent character is wild and untamed, to be the subject of an endearing ballad. Owing to colonial influence, much of our relationship to the land is based on notions of domination and exploitation and so to stumble across an artist like Flanagan who redefines and humanises the Australian landscape is deeply refreshing. In a fashion similar to renowned Australian poet Judith Wright, Leah reminds us of the beauty of Australia’s harsher edges and does so in the form of crafting endearing ballads. In Love Like Water, released in late 2019, Flanagan addresses Australia’s water crisis. The line “who are you gonna turn to when the well runs dry?” is repeated throughout the song, and reminds us of the vitality of water and its role as a giver of life. In our sunburnt country nothing is more imperative than water. Aralia on the other hand, speaks to the nostalgic power of your hometown. Grounded in the natural world, the landscape is the main character of this song, the protagonist who undergoes a paradoxical evolution that reveals and hides its nature as time progresses. What defines Flanagan’s songs for me is the way in which she expertly shifts the lens through which we view the Australian landscape. She espouses a symbiotic and respectful existence with our nurturing continent. This is a perspective not often explored by the majority of artists and is one that provides an understanding of our country too often overlooked. It may be the key to a healthy and enduring presence on this sunburnt land of ours. To hear more music from First Nations artists, check out the Spotify playlist: Blak Australia. by Harry Fraser
I know you’re angry and believe me I’m angry too. Just be careful that your anger doesn’t turn into hate because that’s how we got here. You’re right, so many things need to change. Go out and change them.
Yes love, you posted a black square, now you’re an activist right? I guess it’s a start. But your faith means nothing if it isn’t tested again and again.
Maybe if you cared for Indigenous lives as much as you do for Captain Cook statues, we wouldn’t have a problem.
Perhaps you could learn from the past? Nah you’re right, that would never work for Australia nor lil’ old you. I don’t think there’s a mirror big enough for your ego.
Bro chill! We get it, you’d hate to have to admit that we’ve done irreparable damage to Indigenous cultures and peoples. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.
You know what Capricorn? Systemic racism isn’t bringing anyone joy – time to Marie Kondo that shit!
Tone that shit down, it’s not about you right now.
Heed my words Sagittarius, your privilege is showing. It’s not a good look.
I would say that you’re a nice person and that genocide is un-Australian but hey, history has me wrong on both accounts.
Yes Pisces, we know you got a HD on the essay – you’ve told us 3 times. But I think we’ve got bigger problems to deal with, try to keep up love. Congrats though x.
For once maybe you could drop the cynicism and actually try and fix things for a change. I’m prescribing you a healthy dose of self-reflection.
Damn Taurus, you look really cute in full riot squad get-up, but can you tell me why it’s legal to use chemical weapons on the general public when they’re prohibited in war zones?
There’s only one thing worse than a person denying being racist. Our government’s denial of racism. Fuck tolerance – people deserve more than your bloody ‘tolerance.’
Yeah didn’t think so.
But you’re not racist right? Really on brand with that denial Gemini.
I know iso sucks, feeling like you’re being wronged by the institutions, but yeah I’d really hate for the government to treat you unfairly. See what I’m doing here? It’s called irony for God’s sake.
P.S. Orwellian language? Really? How dumb do you think we are?
Yeah let’s talk about that…
You gotta stick to it man.
by Rhys Cutler