I will present five different sections here.
- Another reading of one of my Short Stories will be on Saturday 27th February at approximately 11.00 am on 101.7 Capital Radio. This one is entitled Dependency and Dysfunction and is probably, along with one entitled Assimilation, stories that I feel have challenge as well as substance . They outline not just why things are as they are in the Aboriginal world, but ways to think about and do something about them. In simple terms, the something is to listen to the ideas of Aboriginal people and support in them in executing those, rather than infiltrating their values and culture with ours and undermining their spirit. When I’m in this mood, I often think of the well-intentioned, and in parts, incisive work of Andrew Forrest in a review named Creating Parity. It was done for the Prime Minister’s Department a couple of years ago, when Tony was the CEO. My problem with the review is that it doesn’t give a definition for “parity”. Like, who will have parity with whom? On what basis and why is that better than the other way? What I get from the review is that parity means Aboriginal people will have equal outcomes with non-Aboriginal people because of linked opportunities through schooling, training, employment, housing, business creation and other strategies. Now while there’s sense in that from one perspective, from another it’s a wipeout. By that, I mean I have the sense that Aboriginal people will have to become like us to achieve parity. So, what of parity in other ways: in terms of culture, language and the soul and spirit of people. What will the cost be to Aboriginal culture and values if the answer is to be more like us? Imagine if white Australians had to give up certain values to ensure we had roofs over our heads and food in our mouths. Will Aboriginal values survive or isn’t the survival of those values deemed important in achieving parity? Is Creating Parity a new assimilation policy, however unintended? I don’t know. I am asking questions, and I’ll leave whatever thoughts you have with you. But if you get a chance to hear or read the two Short Stories mentioned above , they may help your thinking.
- I have put the first of the audio Short Stories, Me and Magic, up on this website. It can be accessed by going to the short story of that name. The audio version is at the top of the page.
- My recently published novel, The WILUNA Solution, is now being recorded as an Audio book through VisAbility here in Western Australia. While the organisation is focussed on providing for those with impaired sight, the production of the novel in this format means those who drive road-trains or long distances around paddocks or around mine sites in Haul Paks, or spend long hours on planes or trains or are unable to read for reasons other than impaired vision, can also be reached. So I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be involved with VisAbility, to Dinesh and particularly Susie Punch for all patient assistance, and to VisAbility for its faith in my product.
- Turn on a Light is nearing the end of it’s editing and I’m looking forward to taking the next steps in production. It’s been a labour of intensity over the past year to edit it back from about 480 pages to just over 300 pages. The difficulty I have in editing is to convince myself that some things I have written can be deleted. I believe that because I wrote it, it must gold. But with gentle criticism and assistance from a few people, I’ve come to realise more about repetition, where and how it happens, and, therefore, where and how to delete.
- Life Sentence is the tentative title of the new novel taking shape. Each day I seem to get a clue or an idea to help me to map out stages or characters in the story. I am at the point where a lot of the basic research has been done. But I will continue to browse Far From Home, which is Neville Green’s and Susan Moon’s recount of Rottnest Island as an Aboriginal prison. The synopsis on the back cover is particularly moving . The authors write: “Accompanying the biographical listing of prisoners is a (sic) historical account of the Rottnest establishment and prison life, describing the experiences of men who were separated from their families and sent to a cold and dreary island off the west coast of Western Australia. For more than 370 it was a one-way journey, and today, denied the recognition they deserve, they lie in unmarked graves, far from home.”
Twenty years after the publication of Far From Home, some things are gradually changing in terms of recognition, But what will never change is the truth of the last eight words in the quote above.