Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

Archive for the ‘Reconciliation’ Category

Polling Day in Surry Hills

Just past 8am and the polling booths will have just opened for today’s election. There will be no surprises in Surry Hills where Labor is 100% sure to win. But nation-wide? There were those at last night’s meeting still saying “landslide to Labor” but it does seem it will be a very close thing.

I have to say I thought Noel Pearson’s dummy spit yesterday was impolitic. He could have saved that for after the election. I really wonder too whether he bothered to look beyond the campaigning hype (on both sides) at actual ALP policy on Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs, particularly Constitutional Recognition Of Indigenous Australians. All he has done is tarnish his own reputation for a degree of balance and originality — for which I have up to now tended to respect him — and made life difficult for himself if Labor gets elected.

Here in Surry Hills it is a grey morning and the sound of crows fills the air. Is this ominous? If so, for whom? I go coaching in Chinatown shortly and will vote either on the way there or on the way home, depending on the crowds. Meanwhile I note, if this relates to anything, the relative readership figures for the past 21 hours on my blogs here at WP:
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National Coming Out Day 2 — Australia

But what a strange day it became. The syllabus itself turned out to be a model of cultural bipartisanship; for every cricket milestone mentioned, there was a nod to multiculturalism or a reference to Patrick White. Mr Howard modestly omitted the election of his own Government from the digest of “interesting things that happened between 1976 and 2000”, but included the inception of the multicultural broadcaster SBS.

If all that were not enough, the Prime Minister bobbed up last night with the casual revelation that he was planning a national referendum to include a new acknowledgement of Aboriginal Australia in the constitution.

On hearing this, Mr Howard’s culture warriors might well be forgiven for surreptitiously arranging an assessment by the platoon’s medical officer. In terms of reversals, it’s quite a doozy – imagine Shane Warne confessing a sudden fondness for sushi, or Elton John a distaste for sequins. What next? An honorary Howard chair in surfing at Griffith University? An Order of Australia for John Pilger? Vegetarians in the Lodge?

Today, the cultural battlefield will stand silent with genuine, bipartisan bafflement.

Indeed, Annabel Crabb!
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Written by Neil

October 12, 2007 at 9:10 am

Friday Australian Poem #5: Judith Wright "For a Pastoral Family"

This poem is in the 1985 collection Phantom Dwelling, in a section labelled “Poems 1979-1980”. My correspondence with Judith Wright, who supported Neos from Issue 1, began in 1981. We exchanged only a few letters, but I really treasured them. Of “For a Pastoral Family” and the later poems, Ted Kennedy, late and famous Redfern turbulent priest, has written:

Tim Bonyhady, an art historian, asserted (Sydney Morning Herald 15/7/00) that Judith Wright’s poetry suffered in her distraction into activism. I found what he said disappointing, in that nowhere does he credit Judith herself with any opinion at all about the debate over the so-called tension between poetry and her impulse to fight social causes. It appears to me a tribute to the accuracy of her own self awareness that she could accept that her capacity to write poetry could not be divorced from her need to express shame and responsibility regarding Aborigines, and for the destruction of the environment. She saw herself as now “grown up”. In her maturity she developed a real concern for Aborigines and what whites had done to their race. She saw her activism as the expression of the one poetic sensibility where the same sensual passion was at work and all the different levels of concern played the same tune. “It’s communication and memorability that make a good poem. It’s got to be memorable enough to keep it with you,” she said.

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Some good things on the Australian government and Indigenous Australians

So here I am right now downloading a podcast of last night’s jtv, not exactly for my demographic… However, as I half-watched last night I found myself drawn to an excellent segment on the current intervention in the Northern Territory: see Brough Love. While it confirmed that Mal Brough is one of the most interesting people on the government side of politics, it made more clear than anything I have seen elsewhere the problems with his military cast of mind and with the policy he is implementing, about which he is, I believe, genuinely passionate, if perhaps mistaken. (See also in The Australian Land council fears welfare fallout. Further, the intervention so far has led to just a handful of referrals to child welfare agencies.)

One of the most interesting revelations for me on the jtv presentation was the input of Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples at Southern Cross University. Its director, Judy Atkinson, has been writing about violence in remote communities for two decades. See A National Crisis: what John Howard Isn’t Doing and REMOTE COMMUNITIES: What I would do. See also an interview with Rachel Kohn in 2006:
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Legal Eagle on the Indigenous crisis

When I get time I will give Legal Eagle’s excellent post careful attention. I agree entirely that the word “crisis” is odd for a situation of such long standing. You may gather from my page on the subject that I am far from adopting a reflex left position on this one, much as I regret the line the Howard government has taken on such things as land rights and the Stolen Children Report. Like her, I hope that despite “a giant dollop of political opportunism” there may be good outcomes. I differ on reconciliation, and commend what Jackie Huggins had to say on that: see Some thoughts on the events of June 2007. I don’t think what you might term the spiritual dimensions of the issue will cause all the practical issues to go away, but I believe they profoundly affect how solutions are framed and how they are received.
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Written by Neil

June 29, 2007 at 8:32 am

Bookmarks while you wait — expanded

The need to re-embrace TRUE RECONCILIATION has never been stronger than it is today.

The issue I and many other Australians are wrestling with right now is best thought about after reading The Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse. The complete Northern Territory Government Report can be downloaded there. That should precede any considerations, whatever your views might be. I would also urge you to revisit without the damaging attitude that came via Quadrant and Keith Windschuttle Bringing them home: The ‘Stolen Children’ report.
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Productivity Commission report on Indigenous Australians released

As National Reconciliation Week nears its end, the Productivity Commission has Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2007. The actual document should appear on the Commission’s site later today. Much of it is bad news, but as the Sydney Morning Herald says, there is some good news too.
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Written by Neil

June 1, 2007 at 9:30 am