Wednesday, 20 February 2008

I strongly recomment the following discussion from Late Night Live on the 19th February 2008. I have (hopefully) inserted the link correctly.

Bipartisanship on indigenous issues.

Following the announcement of the new joint commission on indigenous affairs, co-chaired by Kevin Rudd and Brendan Nelson, three former Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs at both state and federal level, discuss the possibilities.

Fred Chaney
Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia and Deputy President of the National Native Title Tribunal. He was Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs between 1978 and 1980.

Philip Ruddock
Former Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs between 1998 and 2003.

Dr Andrew Refshauge
Former Deputy Premier of New South Wales and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs for over ten years. These days he's a senior consultant with the Executive Central Group.

Phillip Adams

Story Researcher and Producer
Gail Boserio

Radio National often provides links to external websites to complement program information. While producers have taken care with all selections, we can neither endorse nor take final responsibility for the content of those sites.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

"Thinking in English changes the essence of Ngaanyatjarra people's view of the world, pushing its central meanings to one side and ultimately disempowering them."

A thought from Fred Forbes now deceased. I think it goes to the crux of the problems we have here.

Our cultures are so different, we think differently, it is difficult to get any common ground. Even with the sorry effort I make to learn language, I do not speak it well, I do understand most of words that I hear. I do not think in the language and I do not think like a ngaanyatjarra person; the divide is huge, even with the strong good will from me and from the artists I work with.

The saving grace is the great generosity of these people. They wonder what on earth we are about, we confuse them terribly, but they will spend no end of time trying to share their knowledge and ideas with us, trying to help us to understand them.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Freda Lane, a good catch! Photo by Jodie Lane.

A Busy week. I had news today, the concrete slab for the new building will be laid on the 29th February. The building should be completed towards the end of April. Such good news, such a relief!

The 29th of Frebruary, that is the day set for the Warburton Funeral. An elder from Warburton, a brother-in-law to one of the Papulankutja Artists, died in custody a couple of weeks ago. There has been a lot in the paper about this death' there is a formal equiry, I do not want to say much but ..... if the newspaper reports and the local gossip are right, this is a pretty bad business indeed. A man treated with little respect and little care. A man who in 40 plus degree heat was kept in the back of a paddy wagon, who collapsed in the heat and died. The coroners report will clarify the actual cause of death but even (and I doubt it) if the custody environment was not a contributing factor, there can be no excuse for the treatment this man got in the name of Australian justice.

In business terms for the art centre, the absence of the locals, who seem to have been travelling from one sorry camp to another for eons, has cut productivity to a minimum.

I am thinking that if sorry busines matter at Warburton carries on past the 29th February, I will have to pack up and move there with the artists to get some work done.

I put the paper workers on the train for Adelaide on the 28th February. We had hoped to have Elaine Lane go down as an elder, with the paper workers, but it will be the young girls who go, those we can drag away from the sorry camp. It will be a great experience for them and a hand full for Jodie. Still she is young and up for it. I am still jealous that I will not be down there.

I am looking forward to the Desart Managers meeting, there will be discussion about the new art centre worker training package, I can barely wait to get stuck into this.

The "Sorry" from the Australian parliament on Wednesday was momentus and very moving for me. A great relief that we have actually done it at last. For this mob however, the "Stolen Generation" issue is not too relevant. We are full blood Aboriginies who have lived as hunter gatheres until relevantly recent years, we are a bit lucky in that way, little intervention in our families. We were encouraged to Warburton back in the 50s when the nuclear testing was undertaken at Maralinga, we had missionaries at Warburton. Some of us went to the mission schools, boarded with the missionaries until the system was dismattled. We had interaction various mining explorations groups around the lands, even those groups did not seem to make much impact on us. It seems the biggest changes have come with the developement of the return to homeland settlements like Blackstone and Jameson. The mutitude of government schemes for funding and developing such settlements, the confusion of three generations of families who muddle from one system to another while they try to keep their own lifestyles together. I sometimes think that the art centre and other attempts at enterprise, simply interfere with people getting on with their lives.

I do think, however, if there is to be change, the Art Centre is the Hub, at least it is a positive and creative environment. A place where people gather and talk about their culture, tell their stories and sing their songs. A place where there is dignity and reward for effort. A place that touches and improves the lives of most families in the community.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Sunday Afternoon, I have just taken time off to see a fravourite movie, Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole in How to Steel a Million. I have not seen this film in years, I loved it all over again.

I am having difficulty focusing on all there is to do this first half of the year.

I am still strugling to get confirmation of the start date for the new building and this is drepressing me more than I should let it. I had been promised foundations in Frebruary, I can not get confirmation of this now and I feel a real sense of panic.

I worked through most of Christmas as I needed to get things ready for the April exhibition in Melbourne and paper products ready for WOMAD Adelaide 2008. We are working from the "Town Hall" which has been great for space and security, but no airconditioning and it has been like working in a sweat box. I should have kept a themometre for records, but I would guarantee we have been working in well over 40 degree heat on many days. The hall has a tin roof that used to include insulation but the kids have destroyed that and we are working under the relfrected heat from a tin roof. Still we did get quite a bit done.

Sorry business has made life slow now, there seems to be one funeral after the other and the mob are mostly camped at Jameson now, soon to travel on to Warburton once the Jameson business is over. So glad I got some work done earlier in January, we would have been up that preverbial creek otherwise.

I sent Wipu, my dog, to Papunya with Sara when she left Blackstone after Christmas, I had to go out to Adelaide and then Melbourne at the end of January and I was not happy about leaving Wipu here. I know she would be fed and carefully put to bed in my house each night. It is just that the kids know no bounds, their brutal teasing is horrific, I worry about what it does to Wipu and should she manage to retaliate and hurt one of the kids, she would be the one blamed, lord knows what would happen then. I miss her now and it will be a couple of weeks before I can get her back. Still she loves staying with Sara and her dog Purdie, Wipu just loves Purdie.

Without Wipu in the yard while I was away, the kids had run riot. The (just forming, not ripe fruit) has been stripped from the trees, my fire pit and garden table have been dismantled and the unused septic tan lid broken, the septic left open and dangerous should someone fall in, a breading ground for mossies and no doubt live with hepatitis. The CDA has asked the CDEP worker to fill it in and secure the top. I have taken advantage of having a large hole in the yard, to drop a lot of the rubbish that the kids created for me, into it.

I had been thinking that I have 5 good months in the community to get work done. Not so really. I have a trip to Alice on the 22nd February, will get Wipu then and collect Jill a consultant I am getting to help me with my ESUB application and to write a report on the past year. I have quite a bit I want to say about the dealings with our funding body and I want it to be clear and analytical, not emotive, which is what it would be if I wrote it.

I have to get the paper mob to Marla on the 28th February to catch the Ghan and then governance training with the artists at Warakurna on the 4th March. Back to the Ghan on the 12th Marsh to pick up the paper mob from Adelaide. 15th March another trip to Alice for the Desart Managers meeting, I want to be at this as there will be discussions about the new art worker training that we are setting up, an exciting initiative and one I hope will be on the way for the new financial year. 7th April on the plane with artists to Melbourne for the exhibition opening, back to Blackstone in time for the Ng Land Regional Desart Meeting which hopefully will be at Blackstone on St.Patric's day. A quarter of the year gone!!

Thisbe Purich will be in Blackstone middle of April getting ready for the big dance festival which is linked to the May Festival. Artbac NT, Desart, Ng Council and Papulankutja Artists are collaborating on this event, it should be a doosie.

On the 19th May, we begin this Year's big walk, with Thisbe at the helm again.

In Melbourne, with Dickerson Gallery Papulankutja Artists will be holding its first exhibition of the year. I took some "killer" works down at the end of january and I hope to have Cliff and Ruby Reid, Freda Lane and Jimmy Donegan with me for the opening.

WOMAD Adelaide 2008, should be a great experience for the paper artists and good exposure for the wonderful Paper products that Papulankutja Artists is producing. The mob will be camping at my place at Keswick and traveling to the Botanic Park where WOMAD is held each day. Lucky Adelaide is such a compact city, I am a bit jealous,the Adelaide Frestival, The Fringe Festival and WOMAD all coming together the place with he hopping.

My son and his wife will be in Adelaide for this time, unfortunately I will not get home to see them and share the experience, just too much on for Papulankutja Artists and hopefully that will include the construction of the new building.

Papulankutja Artists is endeavouring to offer a an outreach program to nearby communities for business, artistic developement and the art worker training program, this is a time consumer, some exciting artwork is coming out of it however. I am hopefull of getting some assistance whith this through the DEEWR, the plan being, to develope the artists business acumen as well as their capacity to market good quality art.

I was horrified to find that Edwina from Warkurna had to attend court in Perth, to defend a protection order she had taken, against a privateer traider who had made very public threats againts her at Blackstone last year. All power to Edwina who is a staunch advocate for her artists and an example to us all.