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Dear Prime Minister

The Lent Letters

You said yesterday that Australians are “sick of being lectured to” by the United Nations, as if the United Nations has no right to be critical of our treatment of asylum seekers.

I don’t believe you have the right to speak for all Australians, although that is implied in your statement. There are very many Australians who are sorry and ashamed because of our treatment of these victims of war, oppression and poverty.

You suggest that the fact that we have “stopped the boats” is justification for this treatment, but I don’t believe that this is a situation where the end justifies the means (if that can ever be the case).

How long are the lives of these human beings, who are already victims, going to be made so intolerable that other victims will decide that Australia is not for them?

I received a letter from you today…

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It’s time for Curriculum Review

Here in Australia, we decided to review a curriculum that was still in the hatchling stages of utilisation, but act like it had been brainwashing students for the past millenia. Over at The Conversation, they’ve asked a variety of academics to review the review. It’s worth a look.

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Rosalie Kunoth-Monks

I’ve been remiss in posting for a long time – but this needs to be posted here. The conversation on Q&A last night was pretty horrific in terms of the out-dated perspectives put forward, but Rosalie’s gracious response was resplendent indeed.

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June 10, 2014 · 9:21 pm

Australia slides further into the early 20th Century.

The Age (Melbourne) reported this article earlier today.

Taxi Drivers bar Aboriginal actors

When will this country break away from this kind of ridiculous mindset? I want to provide comment, but I’m too aghast, too infuriated, too frustrated by this land. Racism here is directed both passively and aggressively at any one who appears a little different. Yet people still refuse to accept that it is WE who ARE DOING IT. Oh no, it’s not Australians born and raised here that are driving cabs, it’s those ‘furriners’. Do we not hear ourselves? It was Australians at Cronulla. It’s Australians on public transport abusing Indians, Asians, Arabic people. It’s Australians abusing my highly intelligent Australian friend because surely she couldn’t actually be reading the Financial Review. After all, she’s of Asian descent and, God help her,  a woman.

And this is just the blatant racism. The passive racism is worse. It’s the looks that people give when a non-Indigenous person is seen talking to an Indigenous person. It’s the quiet, heads down, ignore and it will go away, attitude when confronted with blatant racism. The quiet disagreement, even disapproval, but the utter unwillingness to actively counter it.

We refused to play sport against South Africa until they removed apartheid. When will we wake up and realise that we, like South Africa, are racists and that we must change? When will we actively stamp out the ignorance and bigotry that plagues us? We applauded our PM when he apologised to the stolen generations. When will we actually mean it?

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If I hadn’t already left this country once, I’d be inclined to do so again. And never return. And don’t anyone dare say “but there’s racism wherever you go.” Of course, there is. Trust me, I was a ‘guiri’ in Spain for three years. I’ve experienced it. That doesn’t mean it’s justifiable. EVER.

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Ex-Principal interviewed re: Lands

I’m trying to get my act together and blog more regularly. But it’s hard, ok? And a lot of thought has to go into what’s said.

That’s why this link is interesting. Very rarely do people hear an inside experience of where I live and work – especially one that so candidly states some of the challenges.

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April 22, 2013 · 4:05 pm

…I haven’t had time to write since Term went back…

But someone apparently decided I deserved a Blogger’s award.

Fairly undeserved I’d say. And kind of more like a chain-mail game… but I always liked the idea of chain letters as a kid, although I always felt burnt when the postcards, money, chocolate etc, didn’t come through.

I don’t read enough blogs to continue this on from here, but for the sake of writing something, I’ll answer a few questions.

1. Which famous writer would you like to be, and why?
Ach, Bukowski. It has to be. His misanthropy, his love, his anger, his drinking, his bitterness, his beauty and his utter commitment to working class poetry. I never tire of Buk.
 
2. Favourite book, and why?
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
 
I would travel back in time and through fiction to save Tess. She is glorious. Her innocence, her unrelenting faith, her passion, her hope, her devastation. If I could, I would marry her to save her from her fate.
 
3. Where do you want to travel to in 2013?
I must return to Spain. I must return to Spain. I must return to Spain. I must return to Spain. I miss Madrid.
 
4. Who would you most like to sit next to on a long haul flight?
Nobody. I want the entire row to myself on a long haul flight. There’s plenty of people I’d like to have in front or behind. Zizek, maybe? Just to listen to him rant – but not next to me. God, no, have you seen how that man twitches?
 
5. Why do you blog?
To record thoughts, to reflect, to hopefully grow professionally… but it’s flattering that a few people I don’t know have been reading it.
 
6. How many roads should a man (or woman) walk down…?
As many as they like, so long as they are mostly overgrown. You know, the road less travelled…
 
7. Where have you been that you’d never go back to?
I don’t think there’s anywhere that I’ve been that I would never return. I’ve never felt enough disdain for a place to not go back. Maybe, just maybe, the outer commercial suburbs of Madrid – but then that’s only because they’re so bland and I would have no reason to go there.
 
8. If you were an animal what would you be?
Yeah, nah, I dunno. I never like that question. My dog’s great. She’s a dingo-kelpie-crossed-with-everything-under-the-sun. Can I be her?
 
9. Dream job (other than what you do now)?
A journalist in the Spanish Civil War. Working alongside Hemingway, Bolloten, maybe dropping everything to help fight in the Brigades or with the CNT.
Failing that, a music reviewer for something substantial like Pitchfork or the Quietus – with a finger on the pulse of the underground and a toe in the ocean of mainstream.
 
10. Best (or oddest) souvenir you’ve brought home from your travels?
I have two pieces of artwork by artists displayed in the National Gallery of Victoria. And they live in my town. That’s pretty cool, I reckon. I wish I still had my traditional Spanish cookbook written in Spanish, but alas, I gave that to someone who deserved it more. But no, the award goes to my two pigeon orphans – carved by a man I worked with on placement at a school near (in a manner of speaking) where I work now. Unfortunately, their parents were stolen by a man from here and sold to some unsuspecting ‘waipala’. But it was the nicest gift I ever received.
 
11. Your greatest achievement?
30 years.

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Learning Pitjantjatjara – the Final Day

It was the final day of the intensive course today, which was a little sad. We’d all bonded well over two weeks and 80 plus hours of Pitjantjatjara learning. I hope that once I’m back on the Pit Lands, we will get a class up and going and that I’ll be brave enough to broker detailed conversations with some of my colleagues in Pit.

I was pretty impressed with the accuracy of some of the guesses in the comments of the last post. They all seemed well-educated considering the sounds of Pitjantjatjara would be foreign to most readers. So here’s the answers:

  • tangkiyi (an animal) – donkey
  • patjikala (a vehicle) – bicycle
  • tarawatja (an item of clothing) – trousers
  • pulitjamunu (an occupation) – policeman
  • tiritja (an item of clothing) – dress
  • pitikuta (an item of clothing) – skirt
  • wayatjara (a cooking implement) – billy (metal pot for boiling water)
  • raipula (a hunting implement) – rifle
  • mutuka (a vehicle) – car
  • paatja (a vehicle) – bus
  • tjiya (an object) – chair
  • taipula (an object) – table
  • kapamanta (a very, very large organisation or employee of said organisation) – government/government employee

One last anecdote before my journey back to the Pit Lands begins:

When translating languages, confusion from mistranslation almost always ensues. Anangu must have had some difficulties with the idea that the missionaries’ God promised them everlasting caterpillars through Jesus Christ.

All it took was an omission of an    . There are three very similar words which non-Indigenous people (particularly English speakers) find difficult to tell the difference between when hearing, and

wanka – life, alive, raw etc

wangka – to speak/talk

wanka – caterpillar, spider, spiderweb

 

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