thekooriwoman

Gomeroi. This is MY truth.

Oh it’s so shocking blah blah

Why are people shocked that Aboriginal kids die 5.2 times more than their non Aboriginal counterparts?

Most will live in substandard housing, be the object of racism, have one or both parents self-medicating via alcohol or other drugs, leading to vicious addictions, maybe a parent in jail, at least an uncle, cousin or Aunt.

They look around and see no way out of this life. So why bother.

Again I ask why are people shocked? You’ve seen First Contact, Utopia, why are you shocked? You’ve seen the 30 people in one house, you’ve seen the harsh reality of living in the far outback, so I’ll ask again, why are you shocked?

Some of these places don’t even have running water. Oh how shocking! But what can I do, you ask yourself, sitting and reading this piece.

You march. You rally. You organise a down tools for a half hour every day at 11am until the Prime Ministers Cabinet finally fixes at least housing and water in communities. Until they commit to Community Development and Education Programs that were working until they were cut for no reason. Programs that gave people pride and hope for their communities.

You stand up for decent and proper medical and mental health services in every community. You stand up for all the things you take for granted that People living in these communities will never have.

That’s what you do. Because if you don’t, that number is going to get worse. And you’ll pretend to be shocked, but deep down you know you’re not. Not really.

Expanding on Treaty

A treaty is the only real way forward for this country when it comes to Aboriginal/mainstream relationships. Sorry has been said, reconciliation has been shoved down our throats and now the recognise bike shows have flown through town.

None of these campaigns/projects have changed one life in any town in this country regarding Aboriginal rights. If anything, they are smokescreens while our rights are wound back. Here’s is one instance; the Queensland Government wound back laws to allow some oil and gas exploration in south-western Queensland. An article here – http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2014/s4141805.htm

I will leave at the one because if I tried to fit as many as I can in this post would be just links to the injustices we are facing on a daily basis. And thank Biame we have such staunch elders and spokespeople, who stand up and say NO. Because we are not people who roll over and have our rights and beliefs stolen. We have always stood up for what is ours, RIGHTFULLY ours, even though you will never see that in a history curriculum text book (but that is another post).

Im my converations with Indigenous people across the world they all echo the same sentiment, we should have added this to our treaty, we should have held out for better conditions. And there ladies and gentlemen is the basis for any and all future treaties for this country.

We already have excellent templates to work from. The Treaty Of Waitiangi being one. A treaty that is still honoured today for the precise reason that New Zealand does NOT have a constitution. There is no doubt that the Maori were cheated of sovereignty in the treaty document, and were robbed of a lot of their land, but I believe it is an excellent document to begin with concerning Australias treaty with its first people.

Kevin Rudd said sorry for stealing our children, but he made damn sure no one would be recompensed. I saw a brilliant sign at a rally recently, “saying sorry means you wont do it again” referring to the inordinately high number of Aboriginal children in out of home care, another Stolen Generation in the making. So Rudd said sorry, but we do NOT forgive him or Australia, because isn’t that the natural order of saying sorry? You say you’re sorry, the aggrieved party forgives you. We do not forgive, and neither do we forget.

What exactly is reconciliation? I get the gist of it. I just yelled at my sons down the hall what they thought it was, one yelled back ‘it’s a march across the Sydney Harbour Bridge’ the other yelled it’s when you cut out a hand and write your name on it. Seriously, who thought of this fucking thing that is all ceremony with no substance. There is absolutely nothing that reconciliation Australia does that makes any Aboriginals lives better (except maybe the people who work there) and the grants they lord over come reconciliation week. Grants that could be handled by any government agency.  Abbott wants to but to the bone? Cut away brother. But he wont and we all know why, because reconciliation is nothing but a feel good organisation created by government to make us shut the fuck up.

Now let’s talk Recognise. The saddest of the sorry bunch. And this one makes my heart hurt because so many Murri, Koori, Goori. Yolgnu, Palawa, Murdi, Nyoonga, Wongai and Yaniagi people seem to have taken up with this mob of government soothsayers. Again, not one thing will change in the lives of everyday Aboriginals if this constitution shit is passed. NOT ONE THING. But everything will change if we get a treaty. Of course it will not be all smooth sailing, of course there will be bumps in the road, but when my childrens children are involved in having a say about what happens on our land, then that is an excellent day indeed. So I ask all you recognise mob to hang up them recognise boots, and come and lace up the gloves for a treaty. A treaty that ensures we have dedicated senate seats, dedicated parliament seats and dedicated legislature seats.

I believe in every bone in my body that it is doable, and there’s no time like the present.

Treaty Now

I read a spectacular article today; about the growing grassroots Aboriginal movement in this country, but something struck me as odd. I disagree with Michael Mansell. This is a shock to me, I usually find his and my own views align significantly on many different issues. This doesn’t mean I no longer respect and admire him of course, but it does illustrate perfectly that not all of us Aboriginals agree on everything, even those of us who sit on the same side of the fence.

The article I am talking about is titled “We Need Aboriginal Sovereignty Not Constitutional Recognition” by Paul Gregoire, and can be found here http://www.vice.com/en_au/read/we-need-aboriginal-sovereignty-not-constitutional-recognition and I couldn’t agree more. In fact I have even designed a Tshirt that tells anyone who looks at it what I think of constitutional recognition. But I’m not here to push my deadly Tshirt. I’m here to weigh in on the questions bought up by the article above.

Australia is the only British colonised country without a treaty. I had a very long conversation with a journalist recently who asked me what a treaty would look like in practical terms. When I told him we were the only country without any recognisable treaty, he was visibly shocked, he didn’t believe me, I told him to google it sometime.

My response about what a treaty would look like is an elected spokesperson from each nation representing our interests in all matters that would take place upon our lands. A forced engagement of government and our own democratically elected spokesperson, not just lip service payed to a few paid representatives of mob. You will notice I do not use the term leader. I do not believe Aboriginal people have ‘leaders’ in the way mainstream society uses the term. Right here where I live there is an Elders Group that has no leader. They are a group that meets and votes on a variety of different things, and have a good old gossip while they’re at it (I’ve been to a few meetings to ask about this or that. I’ve heard ‘em).

And I feel I’m getting too long in the tooth myself, and am too far removed from where the action takes place regarding Aboriginal Rights. If I had more money I’d certainly attend any event that deals with matters of rights, treaties and recognition.

But I take heart in the young ones who are coming up in the ranks, the likes of Callum Clayton-Dixon and Bo Spearim. Creators of WAR, Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance, and the publishers of Brisbane Blacks. My sorrow in hearing that Brisbane Blacks will no longer be published was strong. I have every copy and have read them all from cover to cover, and I loved passing them onto my sons. Many a dinner argument and discussion was created by this magnificent publication.

Speaking of Callum and Bo, they have already been labelled as ‘agitators’ for their assertion of sovereign rights in leaving and coming back to the country using Aboriginal passports, and also for their never waning energy in organising G20 Summit marches. They are in excellent company though, with both Malcolm X and Dr Martin Luther King also being labelled as agitators. My thinking is, they must be doing something right!

I’m leaving this post short tonight (my apologies) but today was a scorcher, this house has no air conditioning, but it has a heater installed, go figure. It also seems to hold the heat in, like an oven. And I am absolutely exhausted. Night has fallen so I better get my chores done while it’s a little cooler. Tomorrows post will be doubly long to make up for it.

For Maria

A friend lost a close friend to a drug overdose yesterday. This post is for her, it wont take away any of the pain of losing someone in this tragic way, or help ease the grief that losing someone brings with it, but I hope to shed a small ray of light on why these devastating things happen sometimes.

I shy away from writing about my own past drug addictions. I know I do. I know firsthand the stigma that surrounds drug addiction, and I am also always aware of some of the terrible things I did to my family and close friends while I was in the full throes of addiction.

People become drug addicts for many, many different reasons. As I always state, I can only speak to my own experiences, and those were self-medicating for my mental health issues. I will never speak on behalf of somebody unless expressly asked to do so.

Drug addiction is an illness that eats away at your very soul. As I have said elsewhere, your drug of choice is the first thing you think of when you wake up, and even when you are high, you are still thinking about your next hit, and it is always the last thing you think of before you pass out.

There are many different triggers for drug users. And I will admit something here, I still crave drugs everyday. I am an addict. I may have learnt what my triggers are and how to avoid them but it doesn’t stop the craving. I have not touched my particular drug of choice since the week Cathy Freeman won gold at the 2000 Olympics. Since then I have probably thought about scoring a million times.

I will also admit I miss the chase. The chase that involves looking to get high. I always think of it as part of the adrenaline that comes with drugs. And I didn’t stop chasing that first ever high I got from the first time I tried what I call my drug. I chased that same high for years.

I stole money from my family, my friends, I lied, A LOT; I was never living my truth as I do today. My whole life consisted of one lie after another, and all for drugs. When I think about it from my perspective today, it amazes me that there aren’t more drug addicts. So many people live lives of desperation, of hopelessness, of worry and fear.

Even for reformed addicts the slope is always present, just around the corner. A job loss, the loss of a loved one, a break up, a car or house repossession. All of these things just triggers waiting to happen. I often think to myself, when I see news reports or articles about how strong some people are in overcoming something like losing their houses in a tornado or bushfire, that is not true strength. True strength lies in facing an addiction everyday and overcoming it. Houses can be rebuilt, but it takes a fuckton more to rebuild a person.

Most drug addicts deaths are accidental. Most of these addicts did not want to die. They more than likely miscalculated their doses. And I hope my friend knows that. I also know that my friends friend was going through a very rough time, which is more than enough to trigger a relapse.

Remember the strength of your friend in being drug free, don’t remember the shitty cards he was dealt. Because I happen to think the strongest people alive are the people who have said no at some point, not today.

Kindness Part Deux

I’ve been writing a lot about kindness lately, and I want to keep that theme going, because I think Australia, as a nation is sorely lacking in this most basic human trait.

This is the story of thousands and thousands of people. They could be riding beside you on the bus, living across the road from you or waving their children off to the same school as your children.

The only difference between you and these people is that you’re employed and they are not. But don’t be fooled. I bet dollars to dozens they are trying their utmost best to restore their potions in jobs anywhere, even jobs below their pay grades and with great salary losses.

How do I know? Because I’m one of them. This country still has the ignorant opinion that people out of work are dole bludgers and don’t deserve anything. That guy you sat by on the bus this morning? He probably skipped breakfast, and will more than likely skip lunch as well.

I count my lucky stars every day, that I get to move to a high crime neighbourhood, into a house in bad disrepair, because I will be free of this crippling rent I have been trying to pay for the last year and a half. The women who waved goodbye to her children at your Childs’ school may have only just applied for public housing. The waiting list is long. I live in a small town, the wait is over 3 years. I can’t imagine what it is in a major town or city.

Unless that woman can get a job soon then the rent is going to render her homeless or reduced to living in her car. This is the stark reality for people who are without work at the moment.

I am lucky, I write, tweet and sometimes get my work published for a fee. I also do the odd social consultancy role, which I wish I could do more of, as I enjoy them immensely.  What of the thousands of other people trying to juggle electricity, rent and phone bills? I hope they all have working spouses, but we all know this is not the case for many. Because being a single parent in this country is akin to a death knell.

It’s only through the kindness of strangers that I have been able to stay in this house and afford to pay my rent and phone bill, because God knows, a sole parenting payment only allows you to choose one, and all single parents I know will choose a roof over food, clothing, school excursions, phone and even electricity.

The town I live in averages 7 new job positions a week. Half of them are farm hand work. I can’t even fix the hole in my fucking wall, let alone fence a property. The other half are for food service (read McDonalds KFC) and occasionally, an office administration position. Has anyone ever been told they are over qualified for a position? It fucking sux.

Now this is where people say, well why don’t you move then. When was the last time you moved say, to another town or city? And do you remember how much it cost? This is assuming you have somewhere to move to, because the last time I checked, magical cheap units aren’t exactly growing on street corners.

This isn’t to say I’m not applying for positions in Sydney and Melbourne. I am. And if I do manage to land a position I will once again be relying on the kindness of a friends couch until I can get my own place for myself and my children.

Well why aren’t you doing that right now I hear all the people in snug jobs saying, the reason is because I can apply for jobs from here, without having to actually live in Sydney or Melbourne.

This post is to thank everyone who has ever helped me. You have no idea how you have made my life better in a million different ways. I wrote a post on kindness the other day. Kindness can and has changed my world. And when I am back on my feet, all the kindness shown towards me will be paid forward in every way I possibly can. This I promise.

And please, can everyone stop demonising people who are out of work, because with the way this economy is heading, you may wake up tomorrow and find you yourself are the person sitting on the bus having missed breakfast and showing the tell-tale signs of a stomach ulcer growing in your stomach because the worry and desperation is starting to eat you, from the inside out.

I’m Moving

And yes, I apologise to Twitter for all my whining, sooky and please help me fix the fucking hole in my wall tweets. I apologise profusely.

Did ya’ll know moving is the third most stressful event that will happen in your life? And I believe it, last weekend I woke up on a hospital bed gagging on a tube down my throat and that was less fucking stressful (don’t fall in love kids, or take drugs kids, neither end up well).

And these little stressful lists never include kids shit. Because kids ACCUMULATE. But when you go in their rooms with the boxes and garbage bags it’s like every single thing they own is suddenly precious (even though they haven’t worn that shirt, played the playstation 1 for years or used the damn sock hanger you bought 3 fucking years ago). Oh no, everything is all suddenly the fucking ring of power and they’re Gollum, mine, mine, mine. So apparently nothing is going in the garbage, it’s all coming to the new house. God Dammit.

But I can’t blame them entirely. I cannot throw out cords. Charging cords, computer cords, broken HDMI cords, Ethernet cables, long arse telephone cords, them old red, yellow and white cords that no one has used since 2010, TV aerial cords, all the fucking cords, you need a cord, I probably have it.

One good thing to come of all this mess though I guess is the weight loss, so a lot of clothes have bit the dust, and I’m saying hey how ya doin to my old clothes. Am I the only person who waits until like midnight to go do a clothes drop at the clothing bins? (probably – shut up)

And my books, I have at least two full bookcases full of books, I thought I would be able to part with at least a few rows. But no. What if I want to read it again? What if I need to reference something? What if someone gets it but doesn’t treat it right? What if someone wants to borrow it but I’ve turfed it? What if there is a zombie apocalypse and my library is the only one left to re build humanity (Doomsday Preppers ya’ll).

So we all have our things we cannot let go of I guess. And by the way, the hole in the fucking wall has not been fixed. It’s currently hiding behind a grey piece of construction paper. I don’t know how to fucking drywall, why do people assume I know how to do this shit. I may have books, but none of them pertain to house repair (note to self, buy house repair book).

I have no compunction whatsoever in throwing out kitchen paraphernalia. It’s all ugly and mis matched anyway. I’m making my long suffering mother buy me a whole new kitchen set. And if anyone out there wants to send me housewarming gifts, really awesome pots, frypans and a slow cooker that actually works would be ace.

Oh and I almost forgot, I have a site that sells pretty good t shirts, throw pillows, coffee mugs, iPhone stuff, iPad stuff and all that other really cool shit that no one else has. It’s here, and some new designs will be up after the stress of moving has left my body (I rang a friend today, and said hey don’t laugh ok, and she’s like yeah ok, whats wrong, and I said I was doin yoga this morning and I fucked my hip up pretty bad, then she laughed like a maniac, and I screamed at her you said you wouldn’t laugh, and she said I’m sorry, then she started laughing again) moral of the story, sometimes yoga isn’t all it makes itself out to be.  Site here http://www.redbubble.com/

Now I’m just flexin

Today I was listening to Koori Radios broadcast from Cairns, It was one of those regular phone in shows, and there were a couple of good calls then came a call from a woman talking about Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD).

She said ‘oh why can’t they just stop drinking, they know they are pregnant, they are breeding monsters, these kids look like monsters, they are just like Dr Moreau, with his monsters’ all this and the host said nothing.

Well lady, here’s some things for you to think about. Back when I used to binge drink I would never get my periods. Not at all. Never. I don’t know why this is or what happened. Maybe the same can be said for a lot alcoholic women? And as for your ignorant question about why don’t they just quit?

Have you ever been addicted to anything lady? Because let me tell you, there is nothing worse than being addicted to something and you have no control over it. It’s the first thing you think of when you wake up, the only thing you think of all day and the last thing you think of before you go to sleep. It controls every aspect of your life in a way that nothing in your life ever will.

Lets get the the facts straight on FASD. It effects  1-2 babies out of every 1000 born. Unless the facial features of the baby show distinct FASD characteristics it can go undiagnosed for years. FASD children are often recognised by small eye openings, a lack of  philtrum (the dent above your lip) as well as very thin upper lips.

FASD kids ae more likely to suffer brain damage, renal problems, skeletal problems and eye difficulties.

They are not fucking monsters and neither ae their mothers.

Fuck you lady.

CATS – Everywhere

Ok, so it’s day 6 of my post a day for a month blog spree. Apparently people like cats so this post is cats, cats and other cats. Our cats are named Yoko & Lenin (completely coincidental) and my foster sons cat is called Keyohay (I think he’s named after a Japanese anime character, so I have more then likely spelled his name wrong).

Baby Yoko

cat4 cat5

We got Lenin when she was older & figured out she was deaf and pretty much blind in her right eye almost immediately, so we had to figure out a way to call her. She loves chewing on circular things (hair ties, milk bottle rings, juice bottle rings, etc) So this is how we get her to come to us

cat1 cat2 cat3

I swear it works almost very single time. We also look directly at her and blink, once for food, twice for going outside, she does the same back to us.

Oh and this is Lenin when we first got her, she took straight to Mr16, so now she belongs to him

babylenin IMG_1293[1]

She also is never allowed outside without one of us with her, we’re terrified she’ll get eaten by a big dog or go onto the road.

This is Keyohay and Lenin waiting to go out for their evening exercise

IMG_1286[1]  Oh and this is Keyohay, who is quick as a flash and never lets me take pictures of him IMG_1284[1] IMG_1285[1]

And here are some pictures of Yoko who is a little demon and is sneaky as hell but we spoil her to bits

IMG_1296[1] IMG_1297[1]

So those are our little spoilt rotten babies who we love to bits. Hope you enjoyed 🙂

My T-Shirts! *Screams*

Go here now and get something for the racist in your life, they even print on coffee mugs!!!

http://www.redbubble.com/people/thekooriwoman

Black Deaths

I will not comment or opine on the Grand Jury decision regarding Darren Wilson and Ferguson because it is not my place to do so. I can and do however support the folks in Ferguson who are standing up to be heard in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy and silently stand in solidarity with them.

What I can and will do is talk about our own black people who have died and continue to die whilst in police ‘protection’. 1400 black people have died in custody since 1980. Before 1980 I don’t think they even bothered to keep records, but I’m guessing it was a whole lot more.

When these figures became so high, and tensions started to mount, the government decided to hold a royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The commission investigated 99 cases from the 1st of January 1980 to the 31st May 1989. The conclusion was that the 99 deaths in this period were not caused by police violence. In fact part of the ruling states – 23 of the deaths were from external trauma, especially head injuries. Make of that what you will.

399 recommendations were handed down at the end of the royal commission, one of them being recommendation 161. Which states – Police and prison officers should seek medical attention immediately if any doubt arises as to a detainees condition.

Two Aboriginal people come to mind when I look at this recommendation. The first being Mulrunji, the second being Miss Dhu. Both urgently in need of medical attention they should have received which may have saved their lives. But they didn’t receive any medical attention, despite the fact both were gravely ill and prison staff being asked repeatedly to get medical help for them both.

Approximately one Aboriginal a month dies in prison, but this statistic is rising, and it is rising fast. Even excluding deaths by natural causes and deaths from people willingly taking their own lives, a gaping hole still exists, and this hole I believe is filled by protection officer violence and/or negligence.

Two of the other recommendations handed down in the report were 87. Arrest people only when no other way exists for dealing with a problem & 92. Imprisonment should be utilised only as a sanction of last resort. I do not believe for one second that either of these recommendations are being followed, when our jails are filled with our youth, our mothers, our grandmothers, aunties, uncles, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, grandfathers and nephews and nieces for insanely minor offences. I believe the term currently being used is ‘racking and stacking’.

The question needs to be asked, what was the purpose of the royal commission if not to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody? Because if that was the case, then it has failed dismally. I call for retraining of all corrective services staff and police, to follow the guidelines set forth by the royal commission because this cannot go on.

And I must mention Trent from First Contact on SBS, a law enforcement officer who seemed to hold such disdain for Aboriginal people at the start of the series. If his attitudes are a reflection of most law enforcement officers then I now see why we are treated like animals. I was absolutely disgusted that this man had any right to engage with Aboriginal people with the views he held. I was more than disgusted, I was enraged. Cultural awareness is a must across all spectrums of governmental agencies. Especially law enforcement.

Governments across Australia have failed. They have failed in following all of the recommendations handed down by the royal commission and no one in power seems to care. The deaths of our people while in custody barely make the news on television, contrast that with what’s happening in Ferguson right now and I can only shake my head. What is wrong with this country when a black person across the ocean is more important than a dead black person right here on our doorsteps.

As an Aboriginal mother I have sat my children down and had the talk with them, on how to behave when they are stopped by the police. How to act subservient. How to avert their eyes. How to speak clearly and concisely. How not to provoke the police in any situation which may land them in lock up. Because as an Aboriginal parent I know one thing for sure, sometimes when our children go to jail, they come home in coffins.

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