There's a lot of science and a lot of solid, sound, critically thought-out knowledge around how children's brains are affected by trauma. When we're talking about being taken away from your family and being beaten and raped, not taught your culture and not being able to speak your language, that is some of the worst trauma you can imagine. There is a lot more research now about intergenerational trauma and how the things that happened to those kids affect us now. So, the way my brain responds in situations would be different to the way someone who hasn't been in those situations would respond. We as a nation need to sort of figure out how we deal with the things that have happened in the past and part of it is acknowledging that these awful, horrible things happened in this country, even though we are not personally responsible for them, just acknowledging that they happened, and also acknowledging that they have a lasting impact beyond the events themselves. I suppose every white person in Australia now is in some way better off as a result of things that were stolen from Indigenous people over the last two hundred years, but I don't think many people would be comfortable with that notion... I think it's a very difficult thing to acknowledge that your good fortune has come at the cost of someone else's life or good fortune, and I think that's probably why we have so much trouble talking about it, because nobody wants to admit it. Say, for instance, if your grandfather went and took that house there on the edge of that cliff over there and said, you know, "This is my house now,” and everyone who was living in that house was kicked out, left homeless and poor. Not only that, the children were allowed to come back in, but they would be beaten and they wouldn't be
44 The Beast August 2019
allowed to speak in their native tongue, and they wouldn't be allowed to work and get paid for it - they'd have to work as slaves. For you to admit that you were benefiting from that, I think would be really hard, and I understand that. I know that would be a difficult thing but, you know, I guess the way we move forward is by continuing to have conversations about it. Are you ever going to get people to acknowledge that? I think some people will always have the view that they have now. It's not my job to go around educating every single person who thinks differently, or who has extreme views one way or the other. It's my job to share a perspective that's different from the one that's been shared in the past and hope that people feel more compassion and love towards Aboriginal people and, you know, for there to be more of a respect and understanding between different people. You were the eldest of six kids brought up by your single mum in housing commission in Muswellbrook; how did you go from those humble beginnings to get to where you are today? It was pretty hard work. It's been a big thirty two years, I really don't know. I don't have to ask you how old you are now... No. You know, it's not just me though. Even though I've worked really hard and given up a lot, and been away from my family for a long time, the only reason why I've been able to do this is because my mum worked so hard, and because her parents worked so hard, and their parents worked so hard. I'd love to be able to think that I got here all on my own but the truth is that I don't think anyone, especially me, would be able to get to this position without a lot of help. I know that I've worked hard and I don't want to take the piss
out of that. I deserve the things I have worked for but there's no way I would've been able to get to this position or this level of success if it wasn't for the fact that my grandparents worked really hard. My grandfather slaved his guts away in a coal mine for fifty, sixty years in order for me to be able to get here. A lot of people have helped me along the way in my career, and people have given me chances when maybe I wasn't quite ready for them, people who've propped me up and that sort of stuff. I feel very lucky to have been put in the positions where I have been able to prove myself. I think that's sort of how it's gone.
"It's getting harder to overcome that sort of intergenerational poverty; that intergenerational unemployment and welfare dependence." And you've taken advantage of your opportunities? Yeah, well that's the thing, you have to be ready for it every time, every opportunity that comes your way. You can't be ill-prepared or undercooked when it comes to media because I think you get found out pretty quickly. Can I ask about your dad? Yeah, if you want to. So, my mum and my dad were together for a little while maybe just after I was born or just before I was born. I didn't grow up with my dad. I don't feel like I missed out on anything because I had such strong male role models around me. Your grandparents were a big part of your life? My grandfather, my uncles, even my little brothers. They're just such beautiful men that I didn't ever feel like, “Oh, where's my dad?” or, “Oh
The August 2019 edition of The Beast featuring Brooke Boney...