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.