Aussie Yarns - Dave Goddard

Stories about Australia

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Presentations

Presentations

Hi. We’ve been doing a lot of presentations on Aussie Yarns over the last two months. Organizations such as University of the Third Age (U3A), View, Probus and National Seniors have made the presentations very enjoyable. Part of what makes each one worthwhile is to see the passion that participants have for the goal of each entity. For example, and these are my words, the focus of U3A is for life-long learning. We’ve found when presenting in such forums, the themes in Hiding Place, Turn on a Light and The WILUNA Solution are seen as ideas to stretch the imagination and thinking of participants, rather than concepts to be challenged or ignored. As another example, people in National Seniors have a focus I describe as being a political voice for older people. And presenting in such forums to people with different views leads to differences in understanding, the product of each one’s analysis, which is then integrated into their ways of thinking. Those differences in thinking caused us to leave knowing that conversations on what had been presented would continue to debated long after we had left. That was particularly true of the National Seniors Group, Kalamunda with 111 people present. Such a wide range of views and the enthusiasm of participants in such meetings can only be healthy, we’re sure.

Different Ways of Thinking

Since embarking on the writing of novels, and mainly because my focus, either directly or indirectly, is on Aboriginal cultures and differences between those cultures and my own, I’ve been criticized on a number of occasions. The criticism is that I’m not an Aboriginal person and not, therefore, of a specific Aboriginal language group. On that basis, I should not be presenting Aboriginal views on such themes as assimilation, dependence and dysfunction. On a few occasions, organizations in rural towns have declined to take copies of my three novels. The reason each time has been that their representative had discussed the idea with local Aboriginal people who made comments similar those already stated.

I agree with the first two comment: I am not an Aboriginal person and as far as I know, am not descended from any Aboriginal person. Therefore, it’s accurate to classify me as not belonging to any specific Aboriginal group. I find, however, that I diverge from the thinking of those who criticize me for presenting on the areas stated. As I say on my home page:

desert pondCountry LeonoraDesertWalk12“Interpretations of things Aboriginal in these stories are mine and I am not an Aborigine. In terms of what I write about the Aboriginal world, I readily accept that only Aboriginal people can speak accurately for each one’s language group. So I don’t claim that my summaries and interpretations of Aboriginal ways of knowing and doing are accurate: only that my stories are a whitefella interpretation of what he’s come to learn about those things. And I’m happy to be told there is another way of thinking about them.”

Have a great week, spare a thought about the reason for ANZAC DAY on Tuesday and a reminder that my next short story will be on 101.7 on Saturday, May 7th. I’ll be with you again soon.

Dave G

 

 

An Australian Identity

Two things have recently come to mind related to Aboriginal and Indigenous people. The first was on social media and the second in The West Australian.

The social media comment came from an Aboriginal friend on Facebook. She is from the Pilbara and while I paraphrase her comment, there was substance in what she wrote. It comes from a person who spent some of her childhood on an Aboriginal reserve in a northern town, living through annual cyclones and appreciating the devastation they caused. Her comment was that while she felt sympathy for all the people of Queensland who faced the cyclone and the floods and devastation that it wrought, she wondered why all media coverage she’d seen showed wrecked yachts and motor launches, ruined double-storey houses and badly damaged four-wheel drives. Why wasn’t there, she wondered, just one still-photo or five seconds of video showing something of the devastation caused in remote Aboriginal communities along the coast and inland? She believed that the media was showing the devastation caused to wealthy non-Aboriginal people and nothing of what would have occurred for Aboriginal people. And that story leads me into the second part of this blog.

While acknowledging the special place of Aboriginal and Indigenous people as First People of this country, I shift from a singular focus on them to people who are not of white, Anglo-Saxon heritage. Why will become clear if you read on.

The focus on The West Australian is to an Andrew Bolt article on p.10 in today’s paper. Bolt’s article is entitled “Divided into a Nation of Tribes.” I enjoy reading Andrew’s articles because they’re challenging. Whatever his political leanings, he makes me think: he refuses to accept that “what is” has to necessarily continue. But this time, what he’s written left me with a sense of something irreconcilable unless I move beyond the view he espouses, with some validity, to a “what if” question.

For me, the main theme of his article is summarized in the following sentence:

“This (an ANU Ethnocultural thrust) is part of a broader push to make Australians identify not with the nation but with their racial, ethnic or religious tribes.”

There is some truth in that sentence. If people are only encouraged to hold or return to their traditional values and beliefs, and not try to “be Australian” and understand what that means, there is a danger that no common idea, goal or purpose exists. By the same token, if we invert that thinking and only focus on what it means to identify as an Australian, what are we asking people to sacrifice in terms of their current identity.

The sense I got from Andrew’s article is that an Australian identity is somehow synonymous with “white, Anglo-Saxon culture”. If that’s the case, review what’s occurred to Aboriginal/Indigenous cultures over 250 years, and ask Aboriginal/Indigenous people how they have felt about that journey.

So there are two question:

  • “What is it that people from many different cultural backgrounds are being asked to identify with?” In other words, what identifies us as Australians and what process is to be used among so many different cultures to achieve that?
  • What are people from all cultures being asked to sacrifice o develop an Australian identity and be part of living in an Australian culture? In other words, how much can people lose of their traditions and values, before they lose the capacity to be who they are.

Unless we ponder both those questions, there is every chance we will establish a process of assimilation. If that’s what people want, then ignore my two questions. If it’s not what people want, start to think  about answers to them.

Heading for April

Hi and updating on things that are occurring in my little area of the world of novels.

Next Saturday, of course, it’s time for another Short Story in 101.7 around 11.00 am. While I have a few superstitions, I’m not too worried about it being April Fool’s Day. Somehow I’ve survived such a day many times over a number of decades and I’m pretty certain I will again.

The two stories, by the way are humorous, lightening the tone of a couple of the previous ones. One is the story of the late Sid Simeon, husband of Fran, father of Peta and Claire and grandfather to quite a number of grandchildren. It’s a story that starts from Kojonup where I first met Sid as publican of “the bottom pub”. When I first wrote the tale, I sent it to Peta and Claire, who were children aged about eight and nine when I first met them as deputy principal of the district high school, to check if it in any way offended them. I got the sense it didn’t and I was pleased because it has a wonderful punch-line, as true as I write this, which also showed a marvelous capacity on Sid’s part for reflective introspection.

The other story came from a Noongar man from Northam, Mark or “Shadow” Davis. He was chairing a meeting in Northam with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people (mostly government officials) and his introduction at the meeting has stayed with down the years. It has to do with the downside of being an Aboriginal person but in a witty, challenging way. Both will be up on the website under SHORT STORIES after next weekend being read by Paul Goddard.

On other matters, I’ve done another three presentations on my novels to different group in the past two weeks. One was to the Bayswater City View Club and thanks to them for the welcome and interest. Having had a working connection with The Smith Family, the work of View clubs of interest to me. The two other clubs were to U3A clubs (University of the Third Age) and I’ve presented at a number of these. They are particularly stimulating because the participants attend in the interest of life-long learning. What a wonderful and refreshing sense of change seems to waft through U3A clubs because participants are there to have their ways of knowing and doing challenged, not to defend what they are currently thinking and doing.

I stress those words are not pointed in any way at Bayswater City View Club, which was also a refreshing, challenging place to present. But I have presented in several forums where I felt what I had to say about alternative ways to work with Aboriginal people was met with stoic indifference or was seen as anathema. That, I have discovered since, was because I suggested, as always, that whether we like it or not, what we are doing to Aboriginal people and their cultures, however unintentionally, is assimilating them through our educational, legal, religious and economic systems. If we keep doing that, Aboriginal cultures will die and there is an enormous amount we can could learn from those cultures in so many ways. So perhaps we should start treating them as people to work with, rather than doing to things to or for them, offering handouts and taking away their authority and responsibility for making decisions about their futures.

And finally, if you’d like to see what’s happening with my fourth novel, “Life Sentence”, go to www.aussieyarns.com and then to Novels, or else click here: http://aussieyarns.com/life-sentence/life-sentence-update-4/

You’ll find the latest report on it to read at your leisure. But, importantly, the writing continues. Set in 1900, and starting on and around Rottnest, it progresses to the mainland, a journey to Cossack, Roebourne and Yindjibarndi country, and then trying to resolve the issue that is central to the story by obtaining proof. In effect, it’s not about deaths on Rottnest: it’s about the failings of the legal system in the late 19th Century in this state, and perhaps into the 20th Century, and it’s effects on Aboriginal people.

Stay well and I’ll write again soon.

March Events

Hi.

  1. The first item below you may have seen on Facebook but I’ve put it up here as well. I’ve noticed that “See My Picture” as a short story on the www.aussieyarns.com website has created a lot of interest over the last few days. Thanks for the visits and hope those who did enjoyed or were at least challenged to see an alternative view of life.  As I said earlier in the week, the story will be played on 101.7 Capital Radio on Saturday 4th March around 11.00 am. A copy of “Turn on a Light” will be available to a lucky listener and I know Tony and Dale will be asked for comments, which can be left on dave@aussieyarns.com or by going to www.aussieyarns.com website and clicking on contact to send something through. As I’ve said, the story challenges current thinking about developing more positive futures for Aboriginal people and the information came from those people. The story looks at the difference between “equal outcomes” and “equitable outcomes” and as challenge, may not be how everyone sees things. So feel free to listen and comment. I’d appreciate feedback and I know Tony and Dale at Capital Radio would too.
2. Karen and I are going to England in mid-September for three or so weeks. Out of interest, I sent to a few publishers in London to see if there was any interest in the concept of Aussie Yarns and the novels I’ve written. Two companies responded after viewing the website, one requesting the manuscript for “Turn of a Light”, while the other was very interested in what I’d done so far with “Life Sentence”. I have no idea if this will lead anywhere: most approaches like this don’t, but who knows. It was at least heartening to get a response, which is more than I sometimes achieve with Australian publishers. I will keep you in the loop if anything happens.
3. We are undertaking a lot of presentations in the next three or so months with various clubs such as View, National Seniors and Probus, as well as book clubs and, interestingly, a WAFL Australian Rules club. That gives us the chance to spread the word and sell some novels and we are grateful to those clubs and people for providing the opportunities.

Outcomes, Process or Both

It’s been a long while since I felt moved enough to write to a newspaper, but recent themes in the cosmos got me going. This is what I forwarded to several papers. God knows if it will ever get published, but at least I can put it up here and on Facebook.

“Closing the Gap”: Targets, Outcomes and Process? by Dr Dave Goddard

Much has been made recently about “Closing the Gap” and its failure to achieve the targets set to overcome Indigenous disadvantage. Achieving such targets is of national importance and the focus is to be applauded.  Andrew Forrest’s review, “Creating Parity”, also has much to commend it.

The problem, however, is that most strategies designed to “close the gap”, and Andrew’s review, fail to uniformly define “parity”. Is it about equality, equity, both or something else?

The current image is that it means Aboriginal people living and being like white Australians. In other words, when parity’s been achieved, Aboriginal people will be assimilated.

That image emerges because the focus of “Closing the Gap” is targets and desired outcomes. Little or no attention is paid in practice to the process of implementing how these outcomes are best undertaken and achieved. Why? Think of it like this.

White Australian culture operates in a transactional mode: we meet, shake hands, do the business, and if that proves fruitful, relationships develop over time. Aboriginal cultures operate in a relational mode: meet, build a relationship, develop trust and then do the business. “Closing the Gap” implementation, centrally driven by government, has limited or no focus on the latter method and does not recognize the diversity of Indigenous cultures in Australia.

For both reasons, many Indigenous people feel they have limited ownership of the strategy and even less responsibility for its success. And that will continue until process happens before outcomes, Indigenous cultural diversity is acknowledged and Indigenous ownership and responsibility are made central to the strategy. If not, Aboriginal cultures will continue to be assimilated, or said another way, continue to wither and die at a cost to Indigenous AND non-Indigenous people.

I repeat: achieving the targets about Indigenous disadvantage in every sphere of life is of paramount importance. But “parity” does not mean making Indigenous people in a whitefella image; by shaping them through our education system, our health system, our employment system and our judicial system. But nor does it mean having two different systems. The clue lies in the thinking of Aboriginal people who say: stop doing things to us and for us, and start doing things with us.

Doing things with means:

  • learning how to work in a third world between each Indigenous cultural group and the authority residing in the rest of the Australian culture
  • redefining parity to mean something more than “be like whitefellas”
  • understanding Aboriginal people many groups with inherent pride in their history and values as independent groups
  • opening our minds to new and different ways of thinking about how to do things instead of simply focusing on what we, the rest of Australians, want to see happen for Aboriginal people

But doing it without recognizing, learning from and incorporating the inherent values and ways of knowing and doing of Aboriginal cultural groups will do a disservice to them AND to us.

For more information, go to: http://aussieyarns.com/short-stories-2/see-my-picture/

The link is a story from my website which explains where the idea for this article arose.

Feedback on Short Stories

Hi and hope all is well for you.

I had feedback that the story played on Saturday on 101.7 was very well-received. Apparently a number of people phoned the station and commented positively. While as the author of the story, I’m okay about taking some credit, I must acknowledge Paul’s reading of it: a delightful interpretation. If you missed it, you can get it on the following link: http://aussieyarns.com/short-stories-2/its-a-different-world/ as long as you have sound on your machine.

Alternatively, use the www.aussieyarns.com link, go to the SHORT STORIES heading, and scroll down to “It’s a Different World”. The recorded version is at the top of that page. Let me know your thought if you choose. Another story will be played on Capital Radio 101.7 on the first Saturday of March.

Capital Radio 101.7 Announcement

Tony Howes has informed me that he and Dale James and the program Capital Events, on 101.7 Capital Radio, want to continue to broadcast Aussie Yarns Short Stories this coming year. Apparently all their feedback has  been very positive. Thanks for the support, Tony and Dale and all those who have rung and left messages. Much appreciated.

The scheduled day over 2017 will be the first Saturday in each month. So this Saturday, 4th of February, is the starting date for this year.  As far as I know, the reading, still being performed by Paul Goddard, will occur around 11.00 am, although we can’t promise that will necessarily be the time. This week’s story is entitled, “It’s a Different World.” It will be up on the website as soon at it is read. This photo is of the reader, the shot coming from an advertisement for Jeep that he did a couple of years ago: “Are We There Yet?”

 

We’re Underway Again

Hi and trust all is going well for you. Items of news at this stage are as follows:

  • the Aussie Yarns short story segment on 101.7 Capital Radio will start again in February. I’ll let you know the exact date shortly. The story is entitled “It’s a different world” and once again will be read by Paul
  • The first draft of “Life Sentence”, my fourth novel has been completed and reviewed. That means, basically, I start re-writing to overcome issues identified by the two readers of the document. Once I’ve worked out how to deal with the feedback, I’ll be back into it and the story still really excites me. It’s a cross between fact and fiction or as Elaine Fry from The West Australian described my work, an extension of reality. If you want to know more about the story, go to www.aussieyarns.com and look under NOVELS for “Life Sentence”
  • A new short story is now up on this site, entitled “See My Picture”. I think it will be self-explanatory but it’s an issue close to my heart.

Stay well and I will be back in touch soon.

2017 and All That

Hi and just taking the time to wish you all the best for 2017. I trust the year brings some sense of fulfillment for you in terms of your personal aspirations and hopes . In saying that, I am aware of the wider world and the impetus for political, social and even economic change that seems to be occurring all around us. While not being immune to it, and hoping that next year brings a greater sense of consistency and optimism, I’ll focus on changes I can have some control over in the hope they may, eventually, affect the bigger picture:  things I can change, manage and adapt rather than worrying about things I have no control over.

And to start the ball rolling, I received the following touching comment from Pauline Walker who lives near Lancelin about my writing.

I have have lived in Western Australia all my life have now read the 3 books you donated and thoroughly enjoyed them.  You are a great writer and spend a lot of attention to detail. Hope you produce many more.

Thanks Pauline not only for the comment, but for taking the time to send it. In reply, kin italics, I sent the following.

In terms of the future, my next novel, which is nearing the end of the first draft, is called “Life Sentence”. If you are interested in knowing more about it, go to www.aussieyarns.com and look under the heading NOVELS. Then go down to the heading of LIFE SENTENCE. There are two entries there that give background. 

And the novel is developing well. I am the point of having shared a rough first draft with two trusted readers, seeking their feedback on the style and sequence of the work to date. I will post another update early in the new year on this website. But much of my enjoyment comes from the research I’ve had to undertake to preserve one of the principles I try to follow in the fiction writing. I’ll explain that principle by copying in another section of my reply to Pauline, in italics below.

I was particularly touched by your comment about “attention to detail”. I’ve always tried to do that by following the advice of an author I once heard speak about writing fiction based on fact. It was simple but powerful. If it’s a fact, don’t change it. If you’re uncertain of the factual base, research until you’re blue in the face and then only change it if you have evidence that the fact is incorrect. If it’s not a fact, give your imagination free rein and ‘go for it’. I’ve followed it as much as I can, and am following it scrupulously with “Life Sentence”. The new noveel is set in 1900, starting on Rottnest, then progressing to journey from Rottnest to the Pilbara, and finally, in and around Yindjbarndi Country (Millstream/Chichester National Park) and Roebourne. I’ve spent as much time researching as I have writing, but it’s been hugely enjoyable and very rewarding. Elaine Fry from the West Australian in a recent review of my third novel, “Turn on a Light”, made the comment that my novels seemed to her to be ‘an extension of reality” and I’ve taken that as an apt description and as a compliment.

So in summary, 2016 has, from the point of view of personal literary effort, been very rewarding. “Turn on a Light’ was published and is selling well, Tony and Dale and the wonderful people at Capital Radio 101.7 continue to publicise my work using the Short Stories I write and Paul, our son, reads (see the website), we have many bookings for presentation in 2017 on all three published novels, and “Life Sentence”, the fourth novel, is close to a completed first draft. My aim is to see if I can produce it in 2017 and if not, early in 2018.

Again, all the best for 2017 and hope we catch up soon.

Dave

Aboriginal Cricket Academy

The ABC today have done a story on a cricket academy operating out of Northam in Western Australia. You can see it on the following link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-17/indigenous-cricket-team-show-invincible-spirit/8129350

But it’s a story about will, commitment and what can happen when the wisdom of two worlds combine to make a difference. For those who have the time tonight, have a look at the ABC news in WA. It will show some of the information on the above link about the cricket academy. As bckground, however, it’s run in Northam by Mark (Shadow) Davis and his son Jermaine (Bomber) Davis. It’s been running for about ten years as an initiative of the Davis family and Ballardong people to engage Aboriginal youth in sport. Mark often speaks about it starting point behing in his backyard and knowing how much the kids enjoyed backyard cricket. But when they left his place, they had nowhere to go to play and most couldn’t afford it. Now, with the support of the WACA and the Department of Sport and Recreation, there are seventy young people engaged in the program, boys and girls, and there are non-Aboriginal kids in the teams as well. It’s now moving to it’s next phase of spreading into Ballardong Country. It’s a great story and a credit to those two men, their family and Ballardong people, a group of supporters and sponsors in Northam and the cricket and sports worlds that have supported them. But as I said, it is also an example of how two worlds can work together in new ways by walking together on a journey and sharing the control and decision-making. It’s a great lesson in progress.

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