MDFF 17 February 2018

A territory Tale

I’d like to do a song of great social and political import…  it goes like this….
(Janis Joplin- ‘Mercedes Benz’)…

I’d like to tell a tale of great social and political import…  it goes like this….

A young mother we know and are very fond of lives in a flat in Alice Springs.

Some time ago a ruckus broke out near the flats. Noisy damage to motor vehicles and drunken swearing led to our friend calling the police. The police failed to attend, and still haven’t.

A week later, through circumstances, our friend found herself all alone in the flat with her baby daughter. Her mother was away at a “no signal” outstation (homeland).

Our friend suffered an anxiety attack and had no one to turn to. She called Lifeline and told them she wanted to talk to someone. The person at the other end of the line (and presumably it was a real person), had a questionnaire at the ready:

“Are there any dangerous objects in your home?” Naively: “There are kitchen knives in the kitchen”

“Is your daughter safe?”  “Yes, she’s asleep, I just want to talk to someone”

“Is your daughter in any danger?” “She’s fine, I just want to talk to someone”

“Are you having suicidal thoughts?” “No, I’m not, I just want to talk to someone”

“Are you hearing voices in your head?” “No, only my own voice”

“Is your voice louder than usual” and so it went on…. The Bushwakers- The Drover’s dream… when a very strange procession passed me by, first there came a kangaroo…..

Soon, first came the police, then the paramedics, and then the child protection social welfare mob.

“Is your daughter OK?” “Yes” “Can we see her?” “Sure, just don’t wake her up” All naivety having by now evaporated, she added “You might notice the place is clean and tidy and there are lots of toys”

“We’ll take care of her, while we have you assessed at the hospital?”. “ I’ve called my mother (who had just got into phone range on her return from her homeland) and she will look after her” “If you don’t co-operate we’ll register your daughter as being at risk”, “You’re not laying a finger on my baby”….

After her mother arrived they took our friend to the hospital. She returned home with a pharmacy of pills (I guess ‘pharmacy’ is the collective noun for pills)

Our friend wasn’t born yesterday, she wasn’t swallowing the pills without first looking up her medication on the internet. The pills were anti-psychosis medicine for schizophrenia etc.

The pills remain unswallowed.

In hindsight all she needed was a good sleep and someone to listen to her. She’s since had both, and all is well that ends well.

We’ve recently been sent a photo of the baby and her first ponytail.

All the same somewhere in a filing cabinet, our friend and her daughter are in some report. Some busybody may well keep an eye on them, and jump to conclusions.

Our friend told us that if in future she needs the police to attend to any matter, she’ll call Lifeline! She told us this with her tongue firmly placed in her cheek.

That our friend is Aboriginal should not be relevant to this tale, neither are non-Aborigines exempt from such experiences.

This happens to be the Northern Territory of Australia. If you’re Indigenous, your chances of being caught up in the euphemistically named Welfare net are significantly higher than if you’re not.



PS- If you haven’t seen it yet, you should look at the clip of Lucky Dubé’s “Respect”

Well may it be South African, but the tale is very familiar to us in the Northern Territory.

MDFF 9 February 2018



A lovely holiday down South. Barricades and brickwalls- Kasey Chambers (live)

Today is Australia Day or Invasion Day, whatever. The politics of distraction. While Australia has this great debate, children continue to be taken from their families. Fathers continue to be locked up, taken from their families, true land rights continue to be usurped by bureaucrats, Aboriginal languages continue to be slowly killed by ethnocentric policies. Must stop, can see the glazing over of eyes.

Macy Gray – There is beauty in the world

In ‘Innumeracy’ by John Paulos, the author points out that innumeracy has as great deleterious consequences on society as does illiteracy.

Chapters are sub-titled with such gems as “hair doesn’t grow in miles per hour”. My favourite (on Statistics) has “two out of three doctors prefer paracetamol to aspirin. They couldn’t convince Fred otherwise”.

Those with a reasonable grip on statistics would not consider a 52% electoral win to be a ‘landslide’, nor a “mandate” to carry out unpopular policies.

When our then illustrious Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (Jenny Macklin) declared after the introduction of Income Management that “More money is being spent on food. Aboriginal children are putting on weight”, as far as I’m aware, no one in our rather feeble Australian Fourth Estate posed the question “has the price of food remained the same?”

“How much is ten by ten?” “One hundred!” “How do you know?” “I just know, because it is”

When asked “How many are twelve twelves?” most of us, without hesitation answer “one hundred and forty four”. No need to envisage twelve rows of twelve and mentally count them.

K= Kardiya (white fellow or non Aboriginal person)
Y= Yapa (an Aborigine- in this case a Warlpiri person)

K:  “Where is Juka-Juka?”

Y:  “Karlarra”

K:  “What’s Karlarra?”

Y1: “Karlarra is (hesitates) East”

Y2: “Lawa (No) it is West”

K:  “Where is West?”

Y1&Y2 (in unison): “Karlarra”

K: “Where is that?”

Y: “You know! Where it always is”

Y2 (trying to be helpful): “Yuwayi (yes) it is West”

K: “I only know West when the sun goes down”

Y: “Yuwayi, karlarra, it doesn’t move.

Should the sun suddenly set yatijarra (North), it would be as world shattering an event as if one or both of those dangerously crazy men with weird hairdos press the button they boast about (“My button is bigger than yours”)

To a Warlpiri person, karlarra is karlarra. No need to ask where does the sun rise? what time is it? and where do the shadows fall? No need to wait for the clouds to move.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows… Subterranean Homesick Blues –Bob Dylan….

Many Warlpiri people have difficulty in accepting that kardiya often don’t know which way the wind blows, which way karlarra is. This usually doesn’t bother them a great deal. It puzzles and amuses them.

Kardiya on the other hand are often greatly bothered by Yapa- “Why don’t they grow veggies?”, “Why don’t they get a job?” “Why don’t they send their kids to school” “why don’t they….?” ad infinitum. They are not amused.

The answer my friend may well be blowing in the wind and may well be found in Maggie’s Farm…

Well, I try my best to be just like I am,

But everybody wants you to be just like them

Here again… “In Australia, our ways have mostly produced disaster for the Aboriginal people. I suspect that only when their right to be distinctive is accepted, will policy become creative”… Kim Beazley Sr.

Some decades ago, there were three blind old ladies in Yuendumu. Early in the morning they’d set off pakuru-junpurrpa-piya (like processionary caterpillars), lead by a sighted old lady. In single file linked by kalangu (digging sticks) they’d head karlarra-kurra (due west) Baby Elephant Walk (piano solo) Hatari soundtrack – Henry Mancini

At some distance from the settlement they would gather firewood. That afternoon, again kalangu linked they’d head back balancing large bundles of firewood on their heads.

Their day’s work having been done, they’d amuse themselves by playing blind man’s bluff, without the need for blindfolds. Go karlarra the sighted lady would sing out to one of the blind ladies who would promptly stumble over a recently placed pile of firewood. This would be cause for much shrieking and giggling. They all joined in.

When Sandy Blight (Trachoma) had extinguished their eyes, it had not snuffed out their sense of direction, nor their joie de vivre.

For the Warlpiri Nation’s joie de vivre to remain unextinguished, requires their right to be distinctive to be recognised. It requires the authorities to have a better sense of direction when formulating and implementing policies affecting Warlpiri lives. Bob Seger, West of the Moon



PS- Have just read Alexis Wright’s ‘Tracker’. Couldn’t put it down. All those who think they know better, read ‘Tracker’ and think again.

“Will the Queen be safe?”

Ira Maine is perturbed – read on

My dear Sratny of the Rozzle, and assorted associates,

In case you missed it (Front page of the Age, Thurs, Feb. 8) a visually impaired British journalist, one Mohammed Salim Patel, has been issued, not with a guide dog, but with a horse! 
(What next I ask myself? a heffalump or p’raps a giraffe?)
The poor bloke has a ‘dog phobia’ and to fix up the siddyashun, he has been given a two foot high American miniature horse. 
Where does it sleep? I ask myself.  Is it liable to shit itself in Harrods? Have a slash in the public gallery at the House of Commons? Break wind explosively at the Abbey? Leave steaming heaps at Buck House? Kick down the back door in the mating season and set about sexually assaulting unsuspecting Alsatians?  Will the Queen be safe?
This, as you can see, presents us with a swathe of equine equanimity problems the which, in the interest of proper public order must be immediately addressed.
What about the blue-arsed fly, or for that matter, the rust coloured European horse fly? One bite from any one of the aforementioned and the aforesaid horse, in self-defence might deprive an innocent bystander of his crown jewels.
Mark my words, havoc on the streets will be the only result. Multiply the situation a few hundred times and mayhem will prevail.
‘Doomed, I tell you, doomed! We are all doomed!’
Ira Maine